Photo Credit: Powderhorn
After a long-term coordinated effort that included the City of Grand Junction and the US Forest Service, Powderhorn Mountain Resort has successfully completed one of the most innovative and energy efficient snowmaking systems in the world. Thanks to low temperatures, Powderhorn was able to operate the new snow guns for the first time for most of the day on Tuesday, and the fully automated system lived up to high expectations. The new system, and 10 inches of natural snow this week, mean the resort is on its way towards a projected opening date of November 27th , which would be the earliest recorded opening at Powderhorn.
As Powderhorn’s mountain operations team turned on the system for the first time, water flowed from Anderson Reservoir atop the Grand Mesa and down to the resort powered primarily by gravity, a process distinctive to Powderhorn’s system, making it one of the most energy efficient snowmaking systems in North America. By contrast, most ski resorts must pump water up from a water source located at a lower elevation than the slopes, requiring much greater power usage.
The $2.75 million infrastructure improvement at Powderhorn, backed by resort partners Andy Daly, Gart Companies and Zoma Capital with resort operators Pacific Group Resorts Inc., has been a long time in the making. Most recently, the City of Grand Junction approved a plan in February 2019 for Powderhorn to draw water from Anderson Reservoir. The US Forest Service then approved the snowmaking project in early 2020 and construction began in June. By combining the snowmaking project with construction of a trail connecting Powderhorn’s bike park with the Palisade Plunge, the environmental impacts of both projects were minimized by utilizing the same alignment.
“Despite some initial public skepticism due to the difficulty and technical nature of the project, success was ultimately attributable to our partnership with the City of Grand Junction and the US Forest Service,” noted Powderhorn partner Andy Daly. “We’ve now established snowmaking infrastructure that will take Powderhorn well into the future,” added Daly.
The finished project allows for top-to-bottom snowmaking on a portion of the mountain this year, a first in the resort’s 54-year history, and provides the infrastructure for snowmaking expansion on additional trails in the future. This phase of the snowmaking project includes 2.5 miles of aboveground and subterranean pipe delivering 2,000 gallons of water per minute to 15 Demac Lenko automated snowmaking fan guns spread across Bill’s Run and Peacemaker trails, two of Powderhorn’s most skied areas. The system was designed so that water flow can be increased to accommodate planned expansions in upcoming seasons.
“This is an historic moment for Powderhorn, further drawing the resort into our modernization plan, sustaining the resort and its employees for future years, and reinforcing our company’s commitment to sustainability,” explained Powderhorn General Manager Ryan Schramm. “It is also an investment in our season pass holders, delivering earlier openings and better conditions for many winters to come.”
Powderhorn contracted with local vendors and industry experts throughout the construction process including, Demac Lenko, Towsley Welding and Construction, SE Group, Ward Electric, DSA Electric, Enviro Land Management, Forterra, WD Yards, Grand Valley Automation, Grand Valley Engineering Solutions, Leitner-Poma of America, and JetBoat Colorado.
For more information, please visit www.Powderhorn.com.
About Powderhorn Mountain Resort
Located near the top of the Grand Mesa on the storied Western Slope of Colorado, Powderhorn celebrates its 54th year as a scenic, family-friendly resort featuring 1,600 acres of terrain suited to a variety of abilities and preferences. Powderhorn is known for extending exceptional value to guests, thanks to improvements at the resort and a mountain focused on creating one-of-a-kind, year-round experiences. Western Colorado is known for its wide-open spaces, distinctive topography and friendly local residents. To learn more about Powderhorn Mountain Resort, visit www.powderhorn.com or call 970-268-5700.