Five seasons ago, Mt. Hood Meadows fabricated a metal dump box and mounted it to the chassis of a “retired” snowcat. It was a timely investment, heading in to what would be one of the lowest snow years in Meadows 50+ year history. The high capacity trailer was put to work in November that season, hauling snow plowed from the main lot and transporting it to Buttercup. With a natural base of less than a foot, and ramps on Buttercup built out of harvested snow, we opened for a preview day the week before Thanksgiving. The investment of a snow trailer paid off big time, as the meager snowfall that season was supplemented with harvested snow.
Having weathered a pretty much worst case scenario, we continued to invest in snow harvesting equipment with the purchase of a snowcat-mounted dump bed and front-end scoop buckets.
And with a favorable forecast for above average snow conditions this winter, we are doubling down on snow harvesting and fabricating two dump beds with larger capacities to attach to our snowcats. With the acquisition of additional loaders, we will have three sets of loaders and “dump” snowcats along with the high capacity snow trailer to fortify our snow harvesting efforts.
This will allow us to harvest snow simultaneously from the main and Hood River Meadows lots, improving our chances of opening Hood River Express earlier in the season. HRM lot snow will also be used to build snow bridges in Heather Canyon, providing the egress needed to open the Canyon.
Jeff Andrews designed and is fabricating the snowcat dump beds in our Vehicle Maintenance Shop.
The Northwest already has a significant natural snow advantage over the rest of the country - Meadows averages 430 inches of seasonal snowfall, which is double what other areas of the country get. Being able to supplement and maximize our natural snow will help assure we have optimal conditions, regardless of how much snow we receive.
KGW News Channel 8: Maggie Vespa and photographer Ken McCormick interviewed Director of Fleet Operations Jeremy Evans for a news story on how climate change affects the ski industry, and what ski areas are doing about it. The story is scheduled to air at 6 PM Friday, October 4.