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Snow Farming Cultivates the Foundation of a Great Season

Categories: Guest Connection Inside Meadows Media Center Weather Blog

Mt. Hood Meadows built a snow trailer to haul early season snow.We'll be the first to admit it - Mother Nature wasn't too kind to us last early season. With 18" in November and another 19" in December, the snow depth was admittedly meager compared to our normal conditions. Anticipating such a season, our grooming and vehicle maintenance crews designed and built a snow trailer to assist in early season snow farming. The trailer was built on a snowcat chassis and is hauled behind a snowcat. Hydraulics are used to tilt the trailer bed, just like a dumptruck, and the bed is lined with a silicone to prevent snow from sticking.  

With innovation, hard work and ingenuity, our crews hauled tons of early season snow from the main parking lot to the base area. We received a foot of snow in mid-November, and our teams worked round the clock to harvest the snow from the parking lot and take up to the base area. The first priority was building up the lift loading and unloading ramps which require a considerable amount of snow, especially the Mt. Hood Express load area to accommodate the extended RFID gate maze. Meadows also rented a Marooka high capacity snow hauler snowcat dumptruck to move snow.

Snow Farming Video

Snow was dumped at Shipyard which was the first rail park to open on Mt. Hood. And snow was liberally distributed over Buttercup providing mid-season conditions for those learning to ski or snowboard. Literally hundreds of loader, snowcat and grooming crew hours were spent to harvest this mid-November snow. And as it turns out it was an investment well spent considering the stingy snowfall we received the rest of the year. 

And while snow was sparse at the base area and below, we were receiving ample snow on the upper mountain. The same storm system that dropped just 4 inches in the base area dropped 18 at the top of Shooting Star. So with the base area covered, Meadows opened Thanksgiving weekend with three high speed quads in operation and good coverage on Cascade and Shooting Star. It was an opening that involved more terrain than most other years. 

The trailer served another vital purpose in the construction of Vista Park. Since Hood River Express was not able to operate to serve the terrain where Forest Park and Park Place were built, we set our sights up on Vista, where enough natural snow was being held. This time we hauled trailer loads of snow down mountain (much more efficient) to build the jumps, landing and rail decks of Vista Park. Thanks to the trailer we had the first rail park and the best jump park operating on Hood. 

Meadows also has a small yet reliable snowmaking system - fans that blow air through a water mist to make snow when the temperature and humidity allows. The system is used primarily to fortify scraped off areas during the early season before we have enough natural snow to cover bare spots. Our capacity grows by 25% this season as we have added a fourth fan to our fleet. 

Snow in a box - Meadows receives its 4th snowmaker!
Mt. Hood Meadows has four snow fans to make early season snow.

So while Mt. Hood Meadows receives more snow naturally than most every other ski area in the world, it's great to have a talented and hard working crew, these great technical implements and the commitment to use them to kick off our season.