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Heavenly Mountain Snowmaking & Grooming

If you’re looking for the BEST surface conditions in the Lake Tahoe ski area, then Heavenly ski resort is where you need to be!

Our dedicated groomers and snow makers work tirelessly, using Lake Tahoe’s largest grooming and snow making fleet, to ensure you’re presented with perfect corduroy across our 4,800 acres of terrain. You won’t find conditions like ours anywhere in the Lake Tahoe area!

Watch the video below to learn more about Heavenly Mountain's "midnight riders."


Best Grooming Around

When it comes to grooming, our experts know the ins and outs of the mountain, and the snow on it, better than anyone else.

Numbering twenty, the fleet grooms the slopes daily, ensuring maximum corduroy enjoyment. Heavenly replaced three older snowcats with three new Prinoth Bison X’s. The resort’s grooming fleet now includes seven Prinoth Bison X snowcats, four Prinoth Beast snowcats, two Prinoth Bison snowcats, two winch cats, three haul cats, one personnel transport, and one mobile DJ cat.

About Our Snowmaking

Heavenly offers one of the largest snowmaking systems in the world and most certainly, the largest in the West.

While we recieve on average 360 inches of snowfall each year - more than any other region in ski country, including both Colorado and Utah - our snowmaking crews make an additional average of 120 inches of snow each season.

Frequently Asked Questions About Snowmaking

1. What is machine-made snow made of?

Heavenly's machine-made snow consists of two ingredients - water and air, just like natural snow.

2. How do you make snow?

Water and air are pumped through a network of pipes and hoses on the mountain. A hydrant, acting like a sophisticated faucet, controls the amount of air and water that flows through connecting hoses and into the snowmaking gun. The air and water collide in the snow gun, where the water droplets are blown apart by the compressed air. The microscopic water particles are then shot out of the nozzle and into the air. As the vaporized water falls through the cold air, it crystallizes to form snow.

There are a wide variety of water/air combinations and nozzle settings that affect the snow texture. Based on water temperatures, air temperatures and relative humidity, the water and air settings are adjusted to achieve the desired snow quality and texture. In general, the more water added, the denser the snow; add more air and the snow is lighter. Early in the season, snowmakers attempt to make a heavier snow to establish a base. As a good base is developed, the snow is made with less water, producing a softer skiing surface.

3. What are optimum snowmaking weather conditions?

There are two basic elements that affect when and how much snow can be made - air temperature and relative humidity. The lower the air temperature and the relative humidity, the better. Optimum snowmaking conditions are zero degrees Fahrenheit and 20% relative humidity with calm winds. South Lake Tahoe's crystal clear, cold nights are perfect for snowmaking.

4. Can you make powder?

Sure. The process uses a lot of air and almost no water. Although not exactly like natural powder snow, machine-made powder is excellent for skiing and riding. And you can even make your "figure eights" in it.

5. I've heard that machine-made snow is icy and hard. Is this true?

Properly made and maintained, there is virtually no difference between machine-made snow and natural snow. In fact, machine-made snow, when properly groomed, is often superior to natural snow. All snow natural or machine made has an aging cycle. As snow ages it becomes denser or icy. Look at any glacier at one time it was light powder and through time it becomes clear blue ice.

6. How much snow can Heavenly make in one night?

With optimum snowmaking conditions, Heavenly can make snow at the rate of 3.6 feet on one acre in one hour or one foot of snow over 43 acres during a twelve hour period.

7. How many trails can Heavenly make snow on at one time?

Heavenly's snowmaking system can cover 73% of our runs. However, we do not make snow on all those trails at once. The number of runs we blanket nightly depends on several factors, including temperature, humidity, wind, trail width and length. In optimum conditions with temperatures in the mid-teens and humidity at 20%, we can make snow on up to ten trails at any one time.

8. Can Heavenly really open with no natural snow?

Absolutely. During the 1990-91 ski season Heavenly opened on November 23, 1990 without having received a measurable amount of snowfall until mid-December. Heavenly made enough snow during the 1992-93 ski season to cover the equivalent of 100 miles of highway one foot deep! That's a lot of snow.

9. How can Heavenly make snow when it is 75 degrees in the Bay Area?

Weather conditions at sea level in the Bay Area vary significantly with weather conditions in the mountains. The 6,500-10,000 foot change in altitude causes a dramatic decrease in the temperatures and humidity. Generally, the higher the altitude, the colder it becomes. For instance, it can be 75 degrees in San Jose and 30 degrees in Tahoe.

10. How many inches of snow does Heavenly need to open its trails?

This amount varies depending on the surface of the underlying terrain. The coverage must be adequate to cover all natural obstacles. On trails that have smoother natural surfaces, we need only a foot of snow to provide good skiing. Other trails that have larger boulders and heavy vegetation need much more snow to open.

11. How much does snow grooming really affect snow conditions?

Grooming improves the condition of the skiing surface and neutralizes the effects of skier traffic. Grooming has had a huge impact on skiing over the past ten years. Modern grooming technology has significantly improved the quality of trail conditions, thus making the trails easier to ski.

12. Heavenly Snowmaking Statistics

Air Pressure:100 psi (pounds per square inch)
    Air Capacity: 55,000 cfm (cubic feet per min.)
Pipe: 20,000 feet of snowmaking pipe
    Hydrants: 950
Guns: 200 with a variety of manufacturers and models
    Fan Guns: 65

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