we got started - By Mark Herishko
It all started on the cold morning of October 27,1990. That night
the temperature dropped to a chilly 20 degrees and it was to be
the first night that Tom and I were ever to attempt making snow.
Our system was crude, consisting of a small electric compressor,
a spray gun, and a couple hundred feet of garden hose, but me
being only 13, and Tom 11, we were very impressed with our little
sytem. Sad to say we didn’t make a lot of snow that night
but it was to be the foundation from which Polar Peak would launch
into the highly technical field of snowmaking.
The original system behind guns consisted of a small gas powered
pump and three electric shop compressors as well as more garden
hose. This allowed us to make snow on the Beginner Novice slope
directly adjacent to the shop. With the addition of the pump,
we no longer used well water from the house in our snowmaking
operation because when things went wrong we would pump air from
the compressors back into the well. I can remember numerous mornings
coming in after making some snow and turning on the faucet to
get some water for a cup of coffee but hearing a tremendous whoosh
of compressed air coming out instead. It was quite an experience,
but it did convince dad to buy us the pump.
a few years behind us now, it was time to move up on the big hill
but (The main Peak) to do that we would need a large compressor
and more pumps. Finally, in the fall of 1994 we purchased our
first large compressor. For water we had one electric pump and
one gas pump. This was to be the first year that we ever made
snow on the main peak and things worked out very well aside from
the irregular weather patterns.
many years of expirimentation, from the small garden hose guns
through our bout with glacier making, we continued to develop
and build our own guns. Each gun we created was given a series
name, beginning with "Peak" or "P" for short.
We created a range of different guns, some worked, some didn't,
others needed re-engineering but were successful. Today we have
an arsenal of over 10 different snowguns used in different weather
conditions, from our P-1000 which produces good snow at marginal
temperatures, to our P-4000, which is used to produce a more powdery
snow (smaller crystal size). The P-4000 has a 4:1 air water ratio.
We also have a few old Killington K-2000's that are used occassionally.
Our power house guns are Ratnik Baby Snow Giant X-2s, we have
two of them that we utilize the majority of the time to cover
our Upper & Lower Glade slopes as well as the Tundra Tubing
area. The X-2 produces a larger crystal which results in a mor
durable snow. This is visible in our ability to ski well into
June and July.
complete system consists of 2 electric pumps and a small gas pump
that we can use if needed as an alternate to the electric pumps.
We have over 800 feet portable PVC piping along with several hundred
feet of 1" high pressure, and of 1.5" jacketed, snowmaking
hose. Stem lines and hydrants exist on the Lower Glade/Tundra
and Chute slopes. There are 4 snowmaking hydrants that are used
to deliver water on the hill.
is an expensive endeavor, we continue to dial in our system to
maximum production and only focus on windows of opportunity that
are ideal. Future plans include increase pressure and flow to
each hydrant to maximize production.
continued reading up on some of the fun facts and pictures of
snowmaking production. We hope this gives you some insight into
the complexity and science of making snow.