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.