Post-Rain Routine
February 15, 2016

Rain is (literally) a four letter word. We don't like talking about it, much less actually seeing it during ski and snowboard season. However, it's proven itself an evil that we're forced to deal with from time to time. So this is how!

 

The first thing we need to keep in mind is that a small amount of rainfall, like 5mm for example, doesn't really have much of an effect on our snow and operations. The real issue comes when we get heavier rainfall combined with warm temperatures and wind. Manufactured snow can stand up to quite a bit of wear and tear - it's heavy, hard, and resilient, even in times of excess of 20mm of rain. In any case, after the rain subsides, there are a few steps we need to take before we can safely let our guests get out on the Mountain to ski and ride again.

 

The first and most important step is that we need to wait for the snow to "dry out". Essentially, we need to wait for the temperature to drop so the snow can harden, and so that excess rain water can drain off the Mountain before we can even think of grooming out the snow. Speaking of grooming, it is 100% essential after rainfall, otherwise we would be skiing on frozen bumps once the temperature drops again. Also, once the snow freezes up, new snowfall is not able to stick to it. Once it's groomed and those beautiful corduroy grooves are restored, snow can accumulate and sitick, which is exactly what we need after a rainfall.

 

Part of the reason we need to wait for the snow to dry out is because a groomer physically cannot climb the soft snow - it needs something for the tracks to dig into that can hold its weight. Imagine clibming up a muddy mountain face right after a rainfall, vs. climbing that same mountain face when it's in a dry soil state. Your super great hiking boots can lock into the dry soil, but they're no match for soft, slick mud on a steep pitch.

 

The other part is that the groomer can actually sink straight through the soft, wet snow all the way to the ground. This would ruin the snow base, while also potentially causing huge damage to the machine itself by running the tracks through rocks and mud hidden under the snow. (We'll let you in on a little secret - groomer parts are NOT cheap.) Nevermind the fact that the groomer tracks could lose their grip and slide down the Mountain with the poor groomer operator in tow, with no way of gaining back control on the slick surface. This hasn't happened many times, but there have been a couple of nail-biting instances in our history where creative and skilled groomer steering while in "slide mode" has prevented a more serious situation.

 

As you can see, grooming soft snow is a high stakes game for a number of reasons, and we play it safe by being risk averse.

 

It's for these reasons that sometimes, even if we didn't get a lot of rain, we need to skip a day of operations to let the rain rain go away. We need that time to let temperatures fall, and to get the Mountain groomed back into the great shape our guests are accustomed to skiing and riding on.

 

For Jibfest weekend 2016, February 19-22, we can confidently say that we will be open for skiing and riding after the mild weather that's in the forecast for this week. Stay tuned to skimarble.com/lifts-status for the most up to date information on our operations. We're looking forward to welcoming everyone to all the festivities this weekend!

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