How We Make SnowFeb 11 2015
You’ve probably seen our snow guns pumping out snow since late November so we could triumphantly open Glen Eden ahead of schedule for our beloved pass holders. We wouldn’t have been able to start the season without our snow making operations: the snow guns, and the snow makers who operate them.
Several components are needed to make snow besides water and compressed air—like, wet bulb and nucleators. What’s a nucleator? What’s a wet bulb? These things are important parts of the actual composition of a snowflake, and the climate needed to make snow.
We learn in school that snow is made in nature by the water cycle: warm water turns into vapour that floats up in the sky. Depending on the temperature and density of water, a cloud becomes heavy and snowflakes, or rain, fall down to the earth. Snow guns have the same end goal as nature: to make snow; but, snow guns have a very different scientific means than nature.
Snow guns need water, compressed air, and a special material called a nucleating agent. The compressed air disperses the water into miniscule droplets, shoots the droplets into the air, and keeps the water cold. The interesting part of the mix is the nucleating agent.
In the natural water cycle, pure water vapour in the clouds will not necessarily freeze at the freezing point of zero degrees celsius. Water stays in vapour form until temperatures as low as minus forty degrees! What changes vapour into snow is something we never pay mind to at all: dust and particles floating in the air. Dust and floaty materials are like magnets for water vapour. Tiny water droplets will stick to the dust floating through the cloud and eventually form a snowflake. Think of high school biology: the dust is the ‘nucleus’ of the snowflake molecule! This is why we call it a “nucleator”.
Snow resorts and ski hills, like Glen Eden, use an artificial agent like Snomax. Snomax is made of a type of ice nucleating protein that is harvested from the outer membrane of the naturally occurring bacteria Pseudomonas syringae (don’t worry, the bacteria has been sterilized & irradiated to ensure there are no live bacteria left in the product as an added safety measure). The shape of the protein is ideal for ice crystals to form around and a water droplet seeded with it will require fewer calories of energy to freeze that those seeded with say dust in the air or impurities in the lake water. On most of our snow guns, there is a set of nozzles that mix the air and water to form ice crystals around the Snomax product.
This is what happens inside the snow gun, but the snow gun will simply make rain if we do not have ideal ground conditions. Snow makers operate the snow guns in the appropriate weather depending on the temperature and the humidity. The combined measurement of the temperature and the humidity is called “wet bulb”. The more humidity in the air, and the warmer the temperature, the harder it is to make snow. However! If the humidity is very low, our snow guns can still make snow at temperatures a few degrees above the freezing point! This is how Glen Eden can extend the season on the hills. Our expert Snow makers also know how to toggle with the snow guns to make the perfect powder depending upon the wet bulb temperature.
Written by: Paul Brownridge - Snowmaking Lead
Dress for WinterDec 10 2014
We all remember the difficult winter of 2013. The Ice Storm arrived at the Escarpment and ravaged the landscape of Halton Parks. It took months for power to return to some areas. Staff were busy clearing the paths of broken trees and fallen branches. The weather forecasts for the upcoming winter look eerily similar. It’s highly probably that the temperature will drop to minus thirty degrees for a few days and nights this upcoming winter. The savvy skier or boarder at Glen Eden knows how to appropriately dress for the cold.
Here are a few tips and tricks on how to dress for the winter for beginner skiers and boarders:
- Dress in Layers: A winter coat is not enough. It is only the outer barrier.
- The layer on your skin should be a wicking layer. The material ‘wicks’ away sweat and moisture from your skin. If the sweat is trapped, it will cool your body, and make you feel cold.
- Layer warm layers on top of the wicking layer. Wools and other blends are best because these fabrics trap heat.
The key for cold weather is that your outfit must “breathe”. Moisture trapped near the skin will cool your body, and therefore you will feel cold. Layering socks and footwear follows the same principle: if you get wet, you get cold. Put on fresh, dry socks, and dry boots just before hitting the slopes. Don’t put your boots near a fire or heating source to warm up. It may have the opposite effect of what you intended. The heat will make your feet sweat which creates moisture that freezes your feet! Keep your boots at room temperature.
Lastly, remember your body has unique adaptations to the cold. If your core temperature begins to drop, that is, your torso and major organs, your body will pull heat from elsewhere. To keep your major organs warm, it will pull heat from your extremities: hands and feet, and then your arms and legs. This is why fingers and toes are the first to become cold. Keep your core warm to help keep your fingers and toes warm. However, you still need warm mitts and gloves!
It is not expensive to dress warmly. Invest in socks and base layers, and the other layers can come from your closet.
Beat the cold so you can best embrace winter at Glen Eden. See you on the slopes!
Snow School, Mountain Biking and Summer Camps Manager
Opening Day AnnouncementDec 09 2014
Yes! It’s true we’re opening December 13! Not just a few runs either, we’ve got 7. With 2 chairlifts, 2 carpets and a Terrain Park setup you’ll have lots of options to satisfy your sliding needs.
With the first chair at 8:30 a.m. Hours of operation for the first week will be;
- Saturday December 13 and Sunday December 14 – 8:30am to 9:30pm
- Monday December 15 - Thursday December 18 – 4:30pm to 9:30pm
- Friday December 19 and onward will be regular business hours - 8:30am to 9:30pm
We will also have special lift ticket pricing of $20 in effect until more skiable terrain opens over the upcoming days and weeks. Super Value and 5Day 7Night holders passes are valid during their respective times.
Get Your Equipment Ready for Winter!Nov 19 2014
With the frosty mornings and even some snowfalls in recent days it’s time to start really getting ready for the ski and snowboard season.
While you should be looking after your body and maybe doing some sport specific preparation for the slopes all that can seem like a lot of work!
The best and easiest performance boost you can give yourself this season is preparing your skis and boards before you hit the snow. Aside from getting your equipment to a good shop this takes almost no effort on your part and will instantly make you a better skier or boarder.
The importance of a good tune-up is often overlooked but whether you are a 6 year old beginner skier, a teenage handrail ninja turtle or a more mature blue square cruiser having a fresh tune-up can go a long way towards improving your performance, and your experience on the slopes.
So what do you need to know?
The edges of your skis or board are what give you grip against the slope or let you slide rails and boxes without getting hung up. We all know that powder days are few and far between in southern Ontario and a good edge tune will give you more confidence on firm snow. Racers and performance oriented folks will want a nice clean, sharp edge on their equipment while park riders will want a something little less razor sharp but can still benefit form a clean, smooth edge. With a bit of knowledge, and the right tools you can maintain these by hand throughout the season but it’s always a good idea to have your gear run through a tuning machine at the start of the season at a minimum to get everything exactly how you want it. Our Tech Shop Pros can talk you through the ins and outs of base bevels and side edge angles to get you exactly the performance you need for your style of sliding.
While you’ve got your equipment in the shop, get them to apply a good hot wax to the base. Waxing your base not only helps you slide on the snow but also protects your investment. Over time your base will dry out and become less resilient but applying wax regularly will extend its life. Racers will get very specific with the type of wax they apply based on the temperature and moisture content of the snow but a basic all-purpose wax will serve the rest of us just fine in most situations. You make think that wax will make you go too fast but in fact having your base skis or board slide more easily over the snow will make them easier to control and less fatiguing over the course of a day. People are often surprised to hear that you should wax your equipment after every 4-5 days on snow, and even more often with some high performances bases but the effort will be worth it.
A small investment in getting your equipment tuned up before the season starts will help this be one of your best seasons ever!
Manager, Programs & Services
CSIA IV, CSCF II, CASI IV