Top Five Fridays - March 25, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: Own a Piece of Stowe: Two Double Chairlifts for Sale:
If you stuck with us last Summer and read our Top Five Fridays each week, then you might have realized that Summer time is when the ski industry has its yard sale. Over last year’s off months we reported on numerous ski resorts being put on sale. This year, it looks like the lack of snow is causing the yard sale to start a bit early on the East Coast. Earlier this week, we caught word that Stowe has listed two of their old double chairlifts for sale on Resort Boneyard, a website with classified style listings of ski resort equipment. Included with the sale of each of these lifts are all of the chairs, poles, and operating stations required to run the lifts. So if you’ve got some extra space or are looking to get into the ski resort business, this could be the deal for you! Otherwise, check back soon as we’re sure to see plenty of other ski areas and ski resort equipment go on sale as the snowy slopes turn back to grass.
#2: Introducing: Avalanche Rescue Drones:
Well, it’s been another week which means we’re due for another story on how drones continue to work their way onto the ski scene. This time though, the news isn’t in regards to capturing epic footage. No, this time around it’s a video from Robodrone Industries that shows a drone being used to find a buried beacon in the wake of an avalanche. While the video itself appears to be conceptual, the idea of using drones to aid in avalanche rescues is actually pretty smart. In using drones, it’s conceivable that a small group of them could form a grid pattern, enabling them to locate a buried skier much quicker than fellow skiers who have to trudge through deep, steep snow while tracking the buried beacon. Still, the idea does raise some questions such as how can skiers deep in the backcountry notify the rescue drones of an avalanche, how long will it take for the drones to arrive on the scene, and what rescue equipment will the drones be equipped with to use upon finding a buried skier. That said, there are always new questions with new ideas, but at the very least this is a promising idea that we hope to see explored more in the near future.
#3: Scientists Can Now Play God and All of the Snow is Ours! Well, Sort of:
Here’s a bit of shocking news: the entire ski industry is heavily reliant on the weather. Ok, so you probably knew that already, but what you might not know is that a couple of meteorologist-snowboard bums out in California are getting close to perfecting a technique known as cloud seeding that can literally make it snow more. On paper, the idea is pretty simple. Snow forms when water droplets in clouds get cold, turn to ice crystals, get heavy, and fall to the ground. So to make more snow, all you should have to do is put more ice crystals into the cloud to turn to snow and fall back down. Obviously the idea is much more difficult in practice, but scientists have found that by seeding clouds with silver iodide, a compound that is structurally identical to ice crystals, they can encourage the formation of even more ice crystals. The results of their can work is an average of 10% more snow per storm. Read that again and think about it- scientists can make it snow, real snow. Now, the science does have its limitations. For instance, in order to seed a cloud, there needs to be a cloud. On a bluebird day, this technology is totally useless. Also, an average of a 10% increase in snowfall means that a 10” storm becomes 11”. 6” of snow becomes 6.6”- not even an additional full inch. And you can imagine the effort it takes to seed a cloud. Still, being able to manifest snow is a down right amazing feat, and we have to imagine that if this approach catches on, scientists will be able to improve their efficiency with the ultimate goal of easing the impact of low snow years on the ski industry.
For a longer, more informative article, check out this post from Transworld Snowboarding.
#4: At Just 15 Years Young, it’s Been a Hell of a Ride for Silverton Mountain:
If you’ve ever day dreamed about finding a nice open patch of land and starting your own ski resort, we’d highly recommend reading this article from the Denver Post about Silverton Mountain’s founders. 15 years into the venture, founders Aaron and Jenny Brill were asked to reflect on their experience with starting the mountain, and continuing to operate it despite a unique business model in a perennially risky business. The result is an amazing article highlighting how the mountain came to be, the challenges that the two founders have faced, and a glimpse at the future now that they’ve hired a new high profile Chief Operating Officer. We don’t want to give too much away as we encourage you to read the full story for yourself, but we will say that the mindset and determination of Aaron and Jenny Brill is inspiring to say the least. To read about Aaron digging holes for chairlift poles, blowing up rocks, fighting lawsuits, and sleeping in old mining huts, check out the full article on the Denver Post. We guarantee you won’t regret it!