Objectives and Solutions
Big Bear Mountain Resorts located just east of Los Angeles has taken another significant stride in a multi-year plan to upgrade snowmaking capacity while reducing energy requirements and improving efficiency. The sister resorts have installed 120 SMI® fan snowmakers and extensive SmartSnow™ automation as the latest stage in a long-term plan that was initiated in 2003. With snowmaking capacity boosted by 50%, the ski areas can now dish up 3-5 feet of snow in just a few days to cover 95% of all trails.
“Compared to traditional air-water snow guns, this SMI design is much more self-contained,” said Planning Manager, Bob Sokolowski. “In most conditions, they can deliver far more snow per unit of power,” he explained. “We estimate that the amount of energy needed to operate just three air-water guns can now run TEN of the new fan guns.”
The upgrade also means that the ski areas will use about 30% less diesel fuel for generators this season, helping to reduce their environmental footprint.
Of the new PoleCat snow machines, 107 are on wheeled carriages, so they can be located wherever they’re needed most. The remaining 13 are tower-mounted, giving them exceptional reach and coverage. Half of the fan-driven units at Snow Summit are completely automated, and the rest are semi-automated. Using SMI’s SmartSnow™ automation control software, the resort is able to control all fun guns via RF radio communications, while constantly monitoring weather, pumps and water flows. The Bear Mountain equipment is all manually controlled, but automation is part of the future plans.