Fake snow blankets ski runs — Boreal open, Heavenly prepares for Thanksgiving | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Fake snow blankets ski runs — Boreal open, Heavenly prepares for Thanksgiving

Jim Grant/Tahoe TribuneSnowmaker Woody Carrillo checks the quality of snow from a gun on Ridge run at Heavenly Ski Resort.

Like cannons firing rounds of ammunition, Heavenly Ski Resort has launched its snowmaking guns, blowing acres of the manmade white stuff in preparation for the 2002-03 ski season.

With temperatures this weekend dipping to the high teens and low 20s, conditions have been excellent for snowmaking, said Jim Larmore, Heavenly’s snowmaking manager.

“We’ve had an excellent (night) of snowmaking,” Larmore said. “Temperatures started started dropping and the humidity has fallen to 40 percent.”

Snowmaking continued throughout the weekend, building on the base of 12 acres already covered by Friday.

With the gondola now shut down for maintenance until opening day, riders on Saturday got a glimpse of all that’s involved in the snowmaking process, with several guns blowing snow onto Heavenly’s main ski runs.

Heavenly is scheduled to open for the season on Nov. 22, joining several other Tahoe area resorts opening on or around the Thanksgiving holiday.

“The ski and snowboard season is less than a month away and we want to have as much terrain open as possible by Thanksgiving weekend,” said Blaise Carrig, chief operations officer of Heavenly. “It’s all about the guest experience and our goal is to provide the best snow conditions at Lake Tahoe — opening day and through the end of the season.”

Last week, Boreal Mountain Resort again became the first ski area in the region to open.

With temperatures cooperating and snowmaking crews working throughout the night, the resort was able to open Halloween day, with a base of 4 inches and one chairlift running, officials at the Donner Summit resort reported.

Mammoth Mountain at Mammoth Lakes is set to open on Thursday, with a predicted base of 12-18 inches of manmade snow.

But it’s Heavenly Ski Resort that is known as having one of the highest capacity and most efficient systems in the country.

Heavenly’s extensive snowmaking system has more than 100 snowmaking fans and guns, 200,000 feet of pipe in the ground that can blanket 70 percent of the resort’s mountain trails with snow.

To enhance early skiing and snowboarding, Heavenly recently upgraded and increased the size of its snowmaking operation. A complete run has been added, with top-to-bottom coverage on Cascade run on the Nevada side of the mountain.

New, low-noise snowmaking fans were also installed on Gunbarrel run in California. Such on-mountain improvements have increased the overall efficiency of the system and will reduce the noise snowmaking generates at the same time, Heavenly spokeswoman Molly Cuffe said.

“With optimum weather conditions, the snowmaking system can produce 3.5 feet of snow over 1 acre in an hour, or enough snow to blanket a football field with 8.5 feet during an average three-hour game,” Cuffe said.

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