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Saved snow - a safe way to early opening

How can we open the majority of our slopes early in the season even if the cold is shining 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 with many slopes 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. In Branäs, we therefore always try to be at the forefront and take advantage of all new research that exists in both snow production and saving of 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 the snow that remains is excavated and formed into large piles, reminiscent of the shape of a loaf, of about 10,000 cubic meters. The mounds are placed in strategic places, usually just above the place where the snow should be, so that we can quickly and easily get it out on the slopes 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 bark and geotextile cloths
To make the melting slower, there are different materials to cover the snow with, everything from wood chips and shavings to bark. In Branäs, we use bark and so-called geotextile cloths, which have a Goretex-like function. When the snow melts under the canvas or bark, water evaporates, 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 on the slopes that lasts a long time.

Three quick questions

Anton Renström, Group Engineer at Branäsgruppen

Why does Branäs save snow?
- By saving snow, we can open more slopes faster in the winter. If we already have a layer of snow on a slope from the beginning, we can focus on producing snow on other slopes when the cold comes.

How much snow does Branäs save?
- It is different from season to season and can differ quite a lot. It all depends on how cold the winter is and how much snow we can produce during the season, but we often lie somewhere between 40,000-60,000 cubic meters.

How much snow is left for next season?
- Of the snow that we save under bark, we have about 70-80 percent left and of the one under the canvas, about 60 percent remain. Bark is thus more efficient, but it is also more difficult to get out on the slopes and it is not always as easy to get access to. We can place geotextile cloths anywhere and this is also an important factor to take into account. So it is not just the amount of melting that is crucial.

This is how we save snow in Branäs 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 bark 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, 70–80 percent of the snow that has been under bark and about 60 percent of that that has been under canvas remain.

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.