In light of the recent (non) weather, we've had many customers asking us to invest/utilize snowmaking machines to help Mount Washington when Mother Nature doesn't. As a mountain resort, we realize how precious the snow commodity is and thankfully for us, a normal winter brings us some of the deepest snow worldwide.
Based on the start to this winter season, it would seem to be an easy decision to have invested in some form of snowmaking. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as buying a few snow guns and flipping a switch.
Over the years we've had international experts in the field of snowmaking perform in-depth analysis to determine the viability of snowmaking at Mount Washington. Here in very short form, are some of the answers for whey we don't make snow on Mount Washington.
Temperature/humidity ratio Our location has some of the mildest alpine temperatures coupled with the highest relative humidity levels in snow country. This combination makes for some of the worst snowmaking conditions possible. Sure, we can make snow, but it would be in very limited time frames and definitely not in vast quantities.
Access to water To make snow, we need water and lots of it. We have no alpine lakes or water sources to draw enough water to make snowmaking viable. We can build a massive reservoir at a higher elevation point on the mountain but the costs are astronomical when combined with the actual snowmaking equipment required to get limited runs open.
Resultant product At a cost of many millions, snowmaking in a best case scenario would provide us with limited mountain coverage. We may be able to open a few runs at best. The key is that opening these few runs would only be possible in a best case weather pattern. So far this season milder temperatures have been more prevalent than temperatures below freezing. Snowmaking would not have been viable for the majority of this pre-season period (with the exception of a week and a half cold snap in early December).
Our goal is to open the mountain as early as possible and we've worked hard over many years to achieve this goal. One project that has improved our ability to open earlier than normal over the last few years is brush-cutting. We brush cut the entire front side of the mountain in 2009. Since then, we've selectively brush cut areas that continue to grow.
Considering the technical and significant financial challenges, our historical weather data and the product offered as a result, snowmaking has not been a viable option for our mountain.