California’s historic four-year drought has correlated directly with historically low snowpack for the Lake Tahoe region of the Sierra Mountain Range. Many Lake Tahoe resorts were forced to close a few weeks early, some even at the beginning of February, due to low snowfall and unseasonably warm temperatures. Diamond Peak, which stands on the northeastern, Nevada side of Lake Tahoe was one of many resorts that struggled to keep a consistent snow base. However, with the installation of SNOWsat in the fall of 2014, Diamond Peak found itself better equipped for the hard season. Diamond Peak Groomers and Snow Makers used the SNOWsat system to evenly distribute snow, resulting in a longer season and a safe, fun surface for customers to ski and ride on. PistenBully was able to catch up with General Manager, Brad Wilson to see just how large an impact SNOWsat had on their season.
PistenBully News: How many weeks is an average ski season for Diamond Peak (provided a good snow year)?
Brad Wilson: We normally open 16 to 18 weeks usually first part of December to middle or end of April.
PistenBully News: How many weeks were you able to stay open during the 2014-15 season and what were the biggest challenges that you faced?
Brad Wilson: Even this season we could open for around 14 weeks. The biggest challenge was to make snow and get trails open when snowmaking temperatures were not optimum. The region saw the warmest and driest (snowfall) in history last winter. The shortened snowmaking windows forced us to build trails as fast as possible. The snow depth measurement function of SNOWsat inside the groomers was a huge help in this process.
PistenBully News: From a finical standpoint, can you speak to how important it is for a resort to open and close on projected dates in a given season?
Brad Wilson: Being open for the Christmas/New Year holidays is critical to the success of the season, accounting for over 25% of our total revenue. Maximizing our snowmaking capability this year, in part due to SNOWsat technology, allowed us to open and maintain our coverage during the most challenging snow and weather conditions in history.
PistenBully News: What contribution has SNOWsat made to extend the season 2014/15? To what extent?
Brad Wilson: The SNOWsat system provided and installed by PistenBully was extremely helpful for Diamond Peak being able to provide a quality experience to our customer. This past season brought historically low snow fall to the Tahoe region. We were so excited to have the technology for our operators to be able to understand snow depths on our slope system. This technology allowed us to be able to move snow with our PistenBully fleet to appropriate areas of slope to optimize coverage of snow. The mapping features also allowed our slope maintenance manager to print out real-time snow depth maps and provide them to our groomers and snowmakers.
PistenBully News: How was the support that PistenBully provided to your resort from the SNOWsat installation to technical support throughout the season?
Brad Wilson: When you look to purchase and install new technology at your resort you are sometimes dissatisfied with the support that follows up the installation. Not the case with SNOWsat and PistenBully. I was so impressed with the data collection and installation of the product, the multitude of follow up visits from your technicians for training and user interface. Could not have more pleased. The relationship with Diamond Peak and PistenBully is very impressive.
PistenBully News: Was SNOWsat a good investment for your resort? Would you recommend the technology to other resorts?
Brad Wilson: I would highly recommend the SNOWsat technology to resort operators, this technology is so useful and helpful to managing the snowmaking and grooming departments. The system was new last season so we have not taken full advantage of all of its uses. I look forward to learning all aspects of the technology and introducing it to our grooming systems.
PistenBully News: Where do you see yourself with the SNOWsat technology in future?
Brad Wilson: Because of the highly technical aspects of this system, I don’t think we have even scratched the surface of what this tool will do for us in the future. Showing our snowmakers where we need to make snow and our groomers to know exactly how much snow they have to work with, will allow us to deliver the highest quality snow surface product to our customers. I am looking forward to continue working with PistenBully and your support technicians.