Snowmaking fleet can produce up to 20 per cent more snow
Whistler-Blackcomb has just added some powerful artillery to its snowmaking arsenal for its seasonal battle against the elements.
Ten new snow guns arrived this week from the east coast and were flown into position on Blackcomb Mountain by helicopter almost as soon as they arrived.
These guns, called the Super Wizard fan guns, will be able to produce more snow than the older guns.
"We selected these snow guns because they can make snow at slightly warmer temperatures than the rest of the fleet," said Bob Pasch, Whistler-Blackcombs snowmaking manager.
"We can run them more and make more snow with them."
Now its just a matter of waiting for the right temperature. Typically the guns can make snow if its about 4 degrees and the humidity is low. These new fan guns can make snow about two degrees warmer.
Around 4 p.m. on Tuesday the conditions were just right and the guns were turned on.
"It looks like we have a reasonably good snowmaking window for 24 to 48 hours," said Pasch from the snowmaking centre at Base II.
His team of 41 staff has been working around the clock to capture any snowmaking opportunities that come their way, even its only for a few hours.
Even when the possibilities of making snow are very doubtful, the crews are on hand just in case there is a shift in the temperature.
"Thats simply because we cant risk missing a snowmaking opportunity," said Pasch.
Every hour is crucial right now as the mountain pushes to open as much terrain as possible for the Christmas holidays.
The new guns represent about a half a million-dollar investment for Whistler-Blackcomb. The purchase was made in response to the poor early season conditions and it was not planned.
"Its a pretty significant purchase at this time of year," said Christopher Nicolson, Whistler-Blackcombs public relations and communications manager.
"Its good to have a successful parent company."
About eight new guns have joined more than 10 old guns en route from the bottom of Catskinner Chair to the bottom of Solar Coaster on Blackcomb. This positional tactic was used to give skiers and riders another trail to ski, as well as to reduce downloading on the Solar Coaster chair.
"If it was ideal snowmaking weather we could open that run in three to four days," said Pasch.
Two new guns have also been placed at the top of the Magic Chair to ensure there are some beginner runs open to the pubic as well.