The capability to make snow is vital to the success of ski areas around the country. Man-made snow is more durable and makes a great base for natural snowfall. Early season snowmaking at Sipapu enables the resort to meet scheduled openings year after year with a long-lasting base,
Our elevation, cold temperatures and low humidity in the Southwest all contribute to efficient snowmaking at Sipapu.
Sipapu has excellent snowmaking capabilities. Even though Sipapu consistently gets 100-200 inches of snow annually, it is not dependent on early or heavy natural snowfall. Snowmaking at Sipapu also adds to the length of the season in the spring.
Sipapu Has Excellent Snowmaking Capabilities
Snowmaking at Sipapu begins in mid-October as soon as temperatures get cold enough and concludes in mid-December before the Christmas holiday. A small amount of supplemental snow is made in January for the annual snow castle and any “hot spots.” This assures adequate coverage through the end of the ski season in springtime.
Sipapu’s Snowmaking System
Sipapu uses a 20-gun fleet consisting of a mix of fan guns and fanless machines called Lances. Currently the fleet includes 18 portable fan guns and two portable Lances. Portability means the snow guns can be placed in different parts of the mountain depending on the need for snow. This may be due to traffic, weather and special needs such as terrain parks.
Fourteen of the TechnoAlpin snow guns operate automatically with onboard weather stations and a computer control system. The Water flow adjusts according to changes in temperature and humidity to maximize the snowmaking volume and quality in constantly changing weather conditions.
How It Works
Fourteen TechnoAlpin automatic fan guns include five M-20s that, while older, are one of the highest volume snow producers in the industry; five M-18s that are super-reliable workhorses; one M-15; and three M-12s that work in tight spaces and produce large volumes of snow.
Two TechnoAlpin A-9 Lances, which appear as a long silver pole rising into the air. Without fans, the guns rely on the elevation of the snowmaking tip to make snow and are electrically very efficient.
One TechnoAlpin manual M-18 fan gun and three manually operated Polecat fan guns round out the fleet.
The system is supplied with water from the Rio Pueblo river that runs through the base area between the Sipapu Lodge and ski slopes.
With a return flow of 72 percent of the water withdrawn from the river returning to the river, this frozen “reservoir” of water created by Sipapu at a time of the year when other users have no need for the water (during the winter) ensures a reliable source of water in the Spring and Summer months when other agricultural users need it most.
One 200HP pump and one 75HP pump in the base area shop move water through three snowmaking pipes up the mountain. One line follows Lift #1 to the top of the mountain. Another on Thumper and Butterfly supplies water to one of the busiest trails on the mountain as well as the trails used by the University of New Mexico and Santa Fe Ski Teams to practice and host races. The third line follows Badger’s Trail and Howdy on the western edge of the resort and will support snowmaking on future terrain in that area. Two mid-mountain pumps near tower #6 of Lift #1 boost water pressure to the upper mountain.