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Ski resorts aim for more efficient snowmaking amid drought


The Boreal Mountains California Resort, Soda Spring, Ca. Snowmaking machines

The San Francisco Chronicle | The San Francisco Chronicle | Getty Images

It can be quite jarring in extreme droughts. Snowmaking guns are positioned on the mountainside blasting crystal flakes onto a ski slope while the rest is starving.

In the United States West, snowpack has fallen by approximately 20% in the last century. Man-made snow is now more crucial than ever to open ski resorts in America and support the economy of these communities as they face uncertain times.

The ski industry is investing millions in snowmaking equipment that will be more effective to combat the impacts of climate change and drought. However, there are questions as to whether this practice is an efficient use of water and energy.

There are many impacts. They’re regrettable. Auden Schendler is the senior vice president of sustainability for Aspen Skiing Company, Colorado. But, the economy of our ski town and that of other regions depends on you operating your resort. It is therefore a necessity that this happens.

Since at least 1950s snowmaking was practiced. However, the West experienced a more severe drought in late 1970s which led to the widespread adoption of the technique. The Colorado-based National Ski Areas Association estimates that snowmaking is possible at around 87% of 337 U.S. resorts.