The snowfall-challenged 2010-2011 season would have been a perfect time to crank up new snowmaking systems at two Mountain Southwest resorts, if they could have.
Both Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff and Pajarito Mountain in Los Alamos, N.M., had plans to install snowmaking this season in order to moderate the risk of low-snow years, but each was derailed. Snowbowl had to wait until after the construction season to get a federal court go-ahead for its plans, and Pajarito lost its reservoir storage to an ice floe last spring.
The two projects appear back on track for this summer's construction season.
Snowbowl officials say they are set to begin building a 15-mile pipeline from the city of Flagstaff's wastewater treatment plant to the top of the mountain, if all pieces are in place, once the lifts stop running in early April. Crews will log areas of the mountain for new runs, mountain management said.
Arizona Snowbowl has fought for a decade to bring artificial snow to the northern Arizona resort, which has been at the mercy of the fickle high-desert winters since opening its main lifts in the 1950s. This winter was no different, as a lack of early snowfall delayed Snowbowl's opening.
Tom Long, general manager at Pajarito, told OnTheSnow that ownership of the nonprofit area plans to have a snowmaking line down Long Spruce trail and tower guns on Lumberyard trail completed this summer. Both will work off a 10 million-gallon reservoir already built at the top of the mountain to provide 40 acres of artificial snow coverage at the 300-acre ski and snowboard mountain. The reservoir is filled by runoff, so the amount of snowmelt this offseason will dictate the amount of snow that can be made, Long said.