Piste map
Brand logo

Saved snow - a safe way to early opening

How can we ensure an early opening even if the cold shines with its absence? The weather is a factor that we unfortunately can not influence, but with produced snow, which consists of air and water, and by saving snow during the summer months, we can even in poorer winters guarantee an early opening and skiing for our guests. Here we tell you everything you need to know about how, why and when we save snow.

Surely it would have been nice if the natural snow came perfectly to the premiere date every year and if the cold was a guarantee in the same way that the sun rises every morning? But that, as you probably understand, is not the case. And the fact is that natural snow is not always the best way to go in our Swedish climate. A mixture of produced snow, which has a higher density and is significantly more durable, and natural snow creates the optimal conditions for skiing. But even for us to be able to produce snow, cold is required. How do we eliminate factors such as weather and wind so that we can open as planned? There is a simple answer - by saving snow. At Ulricehamn Ski Center, we therefore always try to be at the forefront and take advantage of all new research that exists in both snow production and saving snow - so that our guests will have the best possible experience on the ski slopes, regardless of the weather.

We save all the snow that is left
As soon as we close for the season, the work to save snow for the next ski season begins. All snow that remains is excavated together and formed into one or more large piles, reminiscent of the shape of a loaf, of 10,000–20,000 cubic meters. The mounds are placed in strategic places, usually just above the place where the snow is to lie, so that we can quickly and easily get it out on the slopes and the cross-country trail again as winter approaches. But how can the snow remain in the summer heat? Does it not melt away? Of course, we can not stop melting completely, but we can slow it down.

The snow is covered with sawdust and geotextile cloths
To make the melting slower, there are different materials to cover the snow with, everything from wood chips and sawdust to bark. At Ulricehamn Ski Center, we mostly use sawdust, but also so-called geotextile cloths that have a Goretex-like function. When the snow melts under the sawdust and the cloths evaporate water which in turn creates a cooling effect. In this way, the melting is slowed down and a large part of the snow remains after the summer.

A perfect foundation
When autumn comes, it is important to be on your toes all the time and follow the forecast for when the cold seems to come. Just before the predicted cold, the snow is uncovered and preparations for excavating it on the slopes begin again. Because the saved snow has accumulated, it has a significantly higher density than natural snow and also newly produced snow. The fact that it has a high density means that it is very durable, which makes it a perfect foundation that lasts a long time.

Three quick questions

Per Johansson, site manager at Ulricehamn Ski Center

Why does Ulricehamn Ski Center save snow?
- The biggest reason is that we can open earlier, while we can also go out with a clear opening date for our guests, regardless of whether the cold comes or not. We save so much snow that we can open one of our largest slopes, Vistbacken, on only saved snow.

How much snow does Ulricehamn Ski Center save?
- It depends on how much snow has come and how much we have been able to produce during the season. We produce as soon as the temperature allows and when the season is over, it is not uncommon for there to be about 50,000 cubic meters left that we save for next season.

How much snow is left for next season?
- Now that we have largely switched to sawdust, we estimate that around 80 percent will remain after the summer and autumn. About 50–60 percent of the snow that lies under geotextile cloths remains. The reason why we do not use sawdust everywhere is because there are simply no good ways to drive it up the hill everywhere.

This is how we save snow at Ulricehamn Ski Center in five steps

Step 1 - Place the snow in the right place
Immediately when the season is over, we excavate the snow that remains in large piles in strategic places where they can easily be excavated out on the slopes again.

Step 2 - Create the perfect shape
The piles are formed into large and smooth "loaves" to prevent water from lying on top, which can eventually run down and melt the snow.

Step 3 - Cover the snow for the summer
We cover the piles with sawdust or geotextile cloths. When fabric is used, we have three layers - a geotextile fabric, followed by insulation and finally another geotextile fabric. When it gets hot, the snow melts and water evaporates under the cloth, which creates a cooling effect that makes the melting slower.

Step 4 - Uncover the snow as winter approaches
When the forecast shows that the cold is approaching, we remove the cloths and bark from the snow. After the summer months, about 80 percent of the snow that has been under sawdust remains and about 60 percent of the one that has been under canvas.

Step 5 - Excavate the snow on the slopes again
During this process, we get air into the snow, which increases its volume. We can cover larger parts of the slopes and thanks to its high density we get a perfect foundation that lasts a long time.