Sugar Bowl Resort, CA Launches $8 Million Snowmaking Initiative

Katy Shipley | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Sugar Bowl steeps
Sugar Bowl Resort, CA Image: Sugar Bowl Resort

Sugar Bowl Resort, CA sits nestled in the peaks of Donner Summit.  Known for its heavy snowfall and exciting terrain, this Sierra Nevada gem belongs on the bucket list.

Even though this resort sees record breaking winters, investments in snowmaking are still on the priority list.  According to a recent Sugar Bowl Resort press release, the resort has announced an $8 Million snowmaking initiative. This summer is the start of phase one and focuses on new low energy snow guns.  The additions will be seen in action during the upcoming 18-19 season.

Sugar Bowl snowmaking
The snowmaking initiative is underway. Image: Sugar Bowl/ Jon Slaughter

The first step is the addition of 120 new, low energy snow guns, along with increasing water pumping capacity by 50 percent.  They plan to install a mix of fixed and mobile stick and fan guns, including 17 tower-mounted fan guns positioned in large open areas where their “long throw range” can be put to maximum use.  A new strategically placed snowmaking spur with 10 fixed low E stick guns will also be added to improve top-to-bottom coverage.  The upgrades and expansion will mean “more snow, produced in less time, using less energy”.

snow making assembly Sugar Bowl
Sugar Bowl is already assembling their new snowmaking equipment for the upcoming season. Image: Sugar Bowl/Jon Slaughter

According to the press release, the initiative will be completed in three phases which at conclusion will result in the following:

  • More snow, faster – thanks to a 50 percent increase in water pumping capacity and the latest snow gun technology, the time it takes to cover Sugar Bowl’s snowmaking terrain will be reduced by two-thirds.
  • Reduced energy consumption – with the addition of over 150 low energy-use snow guns (low E’s), Sugar Bowl will significantly reduce its need for high-pressure compressed air.
  • Reduced carbon emissions – less compressed air equals elimination of diesel-powered air compressors and a significant reduction in CO2 gas emissions.
  • Snowmaking coverage on Mt. Disney – pending regulatory approvals, snowmaking will be added to the popular advanced terrain on Mt. Disney, including the black diamond run, East Face, Disney Traverse, Montgomery, and Upper and Lower McTavish trails.
Sugar Bowl Guns
Shiny new snow guns. Image: Sugar Bowl/Jon Slaughter

Phases two and three of the initiative include the planning, permitting and installation of snowmaking coverage on Mt. Disney.  They also plan to replace diesel-powered air compressors with electric air compressors, reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption.

“The commitment of Sugar Bowl to improve the ski experience and weather-proof the resort continues to be our focus for our guests and homeowners,” says Greg Dallas, President and CEO. “With these snowmaking improvements our local and regional visitors can depend on Sugar Bowl to provide great snow coverage and conditions across the resort, even if winter has other plans.”

Sugar Bowl Valves
Snowmaking upgrades could mean all the difference for opening day. Image: Sugar Bowl/ Jon Slaughter

Resorts all across North America have noticed the benefits of snowmaking.  As the industry constantly pushes early open dates, and quality snowpack, snowmaking is the best way to ensure consistent coverage.  Sugar Bowl plans to be open as soon as temperatures allow.  Their new additions to the team will ensure quality coverage, no matter what next season brings.


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