Skiing & Snowboarding Blogs

Everything You Need to Know about Mammoth Mountain Snowmaking

Mammoth Mountain Snow

It’s never too early to start thinking about winter right?

As pretty as Mammoth Lake’s fall foliage is, when we see it we can’t help but think how much prettier the trees and mountains would look with a heavy layer of snow on them.Thanks to the snow pros over at Mammoth Mountain we don’t have to wait until the first big storm of the season to get our snowboards waxed and our binding’s set for opening day, but the snowmaking process at Mammoth Mountain and all over the country is much more complex than most people know, and it can have a serious effect on how your day on the
mountain goes.

Here’s everything you need to know about snowmaking at Mammoth Mountain.

For starters, did you know that Mammoth Mountain has over 1,000 sub-surface manholes from the bottom to top that allow members of Mammoth Mountain’s snow placement department to blow snow?

Chances are you’ve only seen a few because they are typically either hidden by snow or out of service until night-time rolls around and cooler temperatures allow for more efficient snowmaking, which is a big deal at Mammoth Mountain.

The Mammoth Lake area is no exception when it comes to California’s water problems, so making sure that water is actually freezing when it is sprayed into the air at night is incredibly important. One way ski resorts all over the country maximize their snowmaking is by blowing at night when temperatures are lower and they don’t have to work around guests on the mountain.

Some ski resorts also add chemicals to the water used for snowmaking. When a snowmaker blows water and air out, the snow placement team is hoping that the mist turns to ice before coming back down. When a chemical like Snowmax is added to the water, it is more likely to clump together.

The more the water clumps together, the less you make rain and the more you make snow. As much as man-made snow may look like regular snow though, its structural differences makes for a very different surface, which means a very different ride for you.

Below is a micro-level picture of natural snow on the left and man-made snow on the right:

Notice the difference? Man-made snow has a less crystal-like structure, making it much easier to pack down into compact surfaces. As a result, on man-made snow you won’t get the classic power sprays that we all dream about, but you also get a smooth, durable surface that is perfect for bases and runs that experience heavy traffic like those at the bottom of the mountain.

While man-made snow may be exactly what the snow placement team at Mammoth Mountain needs to create a solid base that will last throughout the season, it may not be the type of riding you’re looking for so check the trail reports before you get to the mountain!

While you’re at it, go ahead and check the weather report for the day too. If the temperatures rise and then drop during the day, you can bet that the runs with man-made snow are going to be hard which no one wants to ride on.

The good news is that an world class crew like the one at Mammoth Mountain knows that and will close the slope to groom it, leaving fresh corduroy for those lucky enough to hit the trail first.

No matter what type of surface you prefer or the gear to need to ride it, at ASO Mammoth we have everything from the latest trail conditions to the perfect ski gear waiting for you. Stop by and help us countdown to November 8 th when Mammoth Mountain’s season officially begins!

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