Bowler Mountain can now make snow when the temperature is above freezing.
Bowler Mountain says it is on track to open its slopes to skiers and snowboarders as soon as later this season, using new technology that can melt snow in warmer temperatures.
The positive temperature snowmaking unit is the first in Canada and is now operating at a London ski resort. The machine was designed in collaboration with French company WeSnow and HKD Snowmakers, which handled manufacturing in Quebec.
“There’s really nothing formal about it,” said Mark Horton, vice president of HKD Snowmakers. He added that the unit is a first-of-its-kind solution for ski hills in North America with warmer climates during ski seasons. There is a delay.
According to Horton, the machine sits atop Bowler Mountain and operates automatically without much supervision. It basically freezes the city’s water and grinds it into snowflakes that are blown away with compressed air.
“It’s basically a giant ice machine,” he said.
Bowler Mountain is one of four partners behind the project, which cost about $1.1 million. About half of the funding was provided by a $500,000 grant from the Government of Canada. Bowler Mountain covered the remaining balance.
The ice making unit is housed in a trailer large enough for maintenance personnel to move in. One section handles the conversion with a network of pipes, generators and computer control. Another room grinds the ice into “razor-sharp” chunks before it’s dumped out the tubes. The ice produced by the unit can withstand warmer temperatures than conventional ice makers.
“Once it’s set up and running, it just runs 24/7 and produces a small amount of snow. But over time, it’s a good Makes a big mound.” The snowdrift then spread over the hills like butter on toast, he added.
The snow is also 100 percent natural, and the meltwater is returned to the water basin, Thodi added. Even on warm days, skiers and snowboarders will still feel the cold around them.
The new unit has been producing snow since early November without a break. Bowler Mountain crews will test the snow before opening the slopes at an unannounced date.