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Back 40: Snowmaking at Big Sky Resort

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Before anyone can make turns on Turkey Day – opening day every year at Big
Sky Resort – the snowmaking crew spends long hours blowing snow, creating
the base for all the storms yet to come.

Known for being strong and tough, this crew is a bit elusive – they’re busy
working, after all. But the resort’s director of marketing Lyndsey Owens
helped EBS chase down the resort’s Snowmaking and Grooming Operations
Manager, Jake Porter, and get a few of our questions answered.


Explore Big Sky: How many people are on the snowmaking crew?

Big Sky Resort: 35
EBS: How many on at once?

BSR: 6-8 depending on temps and location
EBS: Any gals?

BSR: Yes, this season there are four making snow.
EBS: What kind of hours do you work?

BSR: There are three, eight-hour shifts. From 12 a.m. to 8 a.m., 8 a.m. to 4
p.m. and 4 p.m. to midnight.

EBS: What is ideal weather for snowmaking?

BSR: Single digit temps with low humidity
EBS: Worst?

BSR: Warm (above 25 degrees) and high humidity
EBS: How much snow can you make in one 24-hour period?

BSR: Our record is 900,000 gallons of water in 24 hours, which is about five
acre feet or 217,800 cubic feet of man made snow or 7,506,000 pounds of
water which made 6,534,000 pounds of man made snow.
EBS: How many guns do you have?

BSR: 56
EBS: How long into the season does the resort typically make snow?

BSR: We’re usually done around the first of the year.
EBS: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen while making snow?

BSR: I surveyed the crew and heard everything from UFO sightings, to both
green and red (separate of each other) northern lights and shooting stars, to
hoses exploding and watching others slip, fall and slide for a hundred yards
down icy slopes.
EBS: What do you like about the job?

BSR: I get to work with lots of great people who, along with me, enjoy working
outdoors in the place we all love. I was just told by another snowmaker that
he liked this job because of the hiking up and down hills and other physical
aspects, [and] that it helps him get into prime skiing shape before the season

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