Snowmaking Generates a Flurry of Activities
Written by Janet Juroch
The sound of the snow guns at the Idaho X-Sports tubing hill is noticeable as you approach the hill. The excitement at the Adventure Park builds knowing that tubing and other winter activities are just around the corner. With 4 feet of snow on the ground at the top of the hill, just shows that early snowmaking can bring winter fun sooner than later.
Jason Sawin, General Manager of the Idaho X-Sports Adventure Park, has been paying particular attention to temperatures and forecasts to find the optimal time for snowmaking. Temperatures have to be in the low to mid 20’s at night for the pumped water to crystallize into snow and lay on the ground.
Sawin has two generators now that will help run the pumps and all three snow guns. Originally they could only do about 150 gallons a minute. Now they will be able to do 300 to 350 gallons a minute with the new pump and 4 low-energy stick guns. This will cover from top to bottom on the hill at the same time, which is 900 feet long.
“Then the next cold snap predicted for Thanksgiving weekend could mean we make enough snow to open,” says Sawin. The projected opening was Friday after Thanksgiving but know that is not going to happen until the old snap brings cold temperatures of 24 degrees.
Some of the best times to make snow are at night. Sawin and his 12 year old son, Noah, tend to the snow guns at night and catch some sleep in between. Sawin wakes up often to make sure the snow guns are running. “Sometimes I will just let Noah sleep more,” Sawin added, though Noah indicates he likes to be right there helping.
The preparation of the tubing hill has been a project that started in the summer. New pipe for delivering more water was needed. Since 2008, the hill could only run one pump and one stick gun. Sawin felt that in order to get the hill ready, the addition of pumps and generators was needed so that the extra snow guns would produce snow faster. “Maybe at some point we can be open earlier than some of the big mountains….wouldn’t that be great for Garden Valley?” Sawin says with a big grin.
Another addition to the park is the Ski/Snowboard Terrain Park. “We hope to have that open by Christmas. We tested it last winter and had mostly local kids here. It is not lift serviced, riders walk up. We keep pricing low for all the local kids. Remember, it is an hour to hour and a half to go to Bogus or Brundage, so now kids can come here and get better on their boards so they will be ready for the big mountains.”
The Idaho X-Sports snow tubing hill has several kilometers of cross country ski trails, also. This winter they are improving them and will allow snowshoes and fat tire bikes on them as well. The bungee trampoline will be set up all winter and can be used when the weather is nice.
Snow on the ground is really important to make the whole operation work great. He says they need 6-8 inches of snow for the lift line to work best. He can make snow on the lift line but Sawin indicates it does take away from the tubing hill prep. Regarding the changes in the park, Sawin says, “It is always work in progress.”