We’re often asked about Mt. Hood, the phenomenon that allows Windells to offer skiing and snowboarding camps all summer long. There are natural aspects that cater to year-long snow on the Palmer snow field that we discussed in a recent post, but there is a tactic that Timberline Resort has used summer after summer to maintain skiable terrain into the summer months, called snow farming. Resorts throughout the world have been practicing snow farming for years, in ways that we may not even notice as skiers and riders.
To give a brief introduction to the system; snow farming happens in a few ways. One way of farming snow is to utilize grooming machines to plow snow from all over the mountain and move it to skiable areas, thus increasing the base depth. The second way is to physically install fencing around a resort, that act as retaining walls, where snow can stockpile. Strategic placement of this fencing allows the wind to deposit snow into a desired location, where the resort can use it to improve snowpack in that area.
A third way of snow farming, and the most common form of snow farming on the Palmer snow field, can be easily seen from a quick glance upon Timberline Resort. The view of the ski area from the Highway 26 allows you see almost to 30 rows of snow running down the west side of the Main Palmer Run, where there Windells Summer Park is located. These rows act like the previously mentioned snow fences and trap snow drifting laterally during storms or windy days. The snow that has been trapped between the lines is then condensed by a snowcat to reduce snow melt and the process is repeated.
Timberline’s freestyle grooming manager, who doubles as the Windells Head Groomer throughout the summer, Caleb Hamilton has been proactive in sculpting these rows all over Timberline’s top-half, to ensure quality snowpack as Timberline heads into the Spring and Summer Seasons. Although this year has been unseasonably warm, we have had almost average participation; and while it may be raining at lower elevations (and even at the resort), it is important to note, Windells’s Summer park location has been receiving snow as it resides above snow line at 8,000 ft.
With years of experience and the current efforts of Timberline’s grooming team and Windells park builders, we are not only confident but excited as well to ride winter waves all summer long!