SUMMER 2020 RESORT OPENING DATES [MTB from June 27 to August 30] [SUMMER SKI from June 27]

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Artificial snow, the challenge of the future

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Arnaud Guerrand, Les 2 Alpes Snow Operational Manager, tells us all about producing artificial snow in the resort. 

How do you make artificial snow in Les 2 Alpes?

Artificial snow is made using just compressed water and air with no extra ingredients. In Les 2 Alpes, water from the Grand Plan Lake, at an altitude of 2,400 metres, supplies the snow factory at Les Crêtes (2,200 metres) and the network of 250 snow cannons below that. We manage production remotely. Using gravity to transport the water lets us save energy. Rigorous monitoring using increasingly accurate software also lets us reduce the size of the compressor producing the compressed air. 

What conditions are required for the snow cannons to work?

Snow cannons need really specific conditions to work. The outside temperature must be less than or equal to -5°C and wind speed needs to be under 15km an hour. Obviously, the quantity and quality of snowflakes produced also depends on weather conditions. 

What difference is there between artificial snow and natural snow for skiers?

There’s hardly any difference between the two types for skiers once the snow has been groomed. Because it’s more compact, artificial snow tends to last longer than natural snow. 

How has the need for artificial snow changed in Les 2 Alpes?

We obviously have a growing need for artificial snow. And it’s becoming even more difficult to get the right conditions to produce snow because of how mild the winters have been recently. That means we have less time to cover the ski area with snow.

What are your plans for the future?

Our next project is to increase the snow-cover speed so that we can be more efficient when the right conditions arrive. At the moment, we need 195 hours of cold weather to be able to cover all of the runs equipped with snow cannons to ensure that there’s enough snow to start the season. This year, we only reached 60% of our goal because we had just 135 hours of optimum conditions. If the snow cannons covered more quickly, we would have achieved 100% of our goal for the start of the season. 

We’re also going to install new snow cannons on the Jandri 1 run for next winter season.

The other trick is to produce exactly the right amount of snow: not too much, not too little. To this end, we’re working with researchers and have improved the tools we use to collect increasingly accurate terrain data. A number of piste groomers are now equipped with radars that probe the thickness of the snow so that we can use software to more accurately determine how much snow is required on such and such a run. 


Photo Credit : Arnaud Guerrand.