The Lecht ski area in Scotland will offer guaranteed snow this winter thanks to their purchase of a ‘Snowfactory’ all weather snow making machine.
All-weather snowmakers are proving increasingly popular at ski areas to guarantee snow cover whatever the weather but The Lecht’s approach of ensuring the snow it makes has been matched by green energy produced by the centre’s wind turbine is believed to be a world first – and possibly a sign of things to come in the ski business in this era of climate change.
Unlike conventional snowmaking which pumps water through usually underground pipe networks when temperatures are low enough for snow to form, the Snowfactory units create snow within refrigerated units, then spray it out on the slopes through a long, flexible hose, so it doesn’t matter how warm it is outdoors. Of course the snow, which is just made with water and no chemical additives, will still thaw if it is above freezing, but more snow can be made to maintain snow cover.
A spokesperson for The Lecht revealed that they had successfully run the unit in June this year,
“The GB Park and Pipe youth team also enjoyed the benefits of the Snowfactory with a very successful training camp at the Lecht on three of the hottest days in June. The run in to the jump was made with real snow on top of matting and the landing was onto the airbag. From now on we may be seeing more snow in the summer months as well as in the winter,” he said.
Three of Scotland’s five Highland ski areas are believed to have purchased the all-weather snowmaking units from the manufacturer Techno Alpin. Glencoe on the West Coast had been aiming to acquire one for over a year and like The Lecht tested a unit last season. Cairngorm recently announced a £1m spend on snowmaking which appears to include purchase of a third unit.
The area that each Snowfactory unit can physically cover is limited and they are mostly used to guarantee snow for beginner areas or for terrain parks. One ski area in Germany is known to have purchased three of the units to cover a longer run.
Unlike most Scottish winters through the history of snowsports in the country, The Lecht have said with some confidence that they will open some of their slopes in early December thanks to the Snowfactory.