At 7:40 this morning, on the way to drop off my children at school, there was frost on the ground and the outside temperature read a brisk 18 degrees. That can only mean one thing — snowmaking! In response to the first really cold night of the year, the snow guns that dot Dollar Mountain fired up and began to lay down a blanket of white. As the sun rose behind the Lodge and the Pioneer Mountains, John Matteson, Brian Callahan and their team were starting to put down a foundation for the amazing season to come at the Terrain Park and on the trails.
By the time I saw it “snowing” on the hill (thrilling, truly), a crew had been hard at work behind-the-scenes for hours, arriving as early as 3 a.m. “This early-season temperature drop gives us the chance to crank up the guns, trouble shoot and solve any issues early,” Matteson explained. The man behind Dollar’s vast snowmaking apparatus, Matteson is thrilled at today’s taste of winter. “This is the earliest we have been able to start the process,” he said. “We look for consistent temperatures generally below 23 or 24 degrees, so last night was perfect. Getting going in early October means that all the literal and figurative kinks will be worked out early and snowmaking will be right on schedule.”
On schedule for the 2012-2013 season means that plans to have Terrain Park features operational by Thanksgiving Day are a “go.” If the weather continues to cooperate and nights stay cold, Matteson said they will undertake the alchemy that turns water into snow every night from now on.
To help make this process as seamless as possible, Matteson has new “toys” in his arsenal. This year, he installed a few individually automated snow guns that will communicate with the Resort’s sophisticated computerized system. Most of the guns on Dollar are still managed manually. Snowmaking is a true science, based on temperature, humidity and all kinds of other variables and the automated guns will help everything run smoothly. Matteson is sure the entire system on Dollar this year will be up to the task of making skiing and riding even more eye-popping and fun.
Callahan, who is in charge of the Terrain Park, said he, too, has new toys this season and cannot wait to unveil them (more on that in a later blog)!
It is always an exciting day when the snow guns kick on and preview the season to come. I cannot wait to watch the team on Dollar build that mammoth playground and then cover it with snow. Game on!