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SNOWsat use increasing in the U.S., helps grooming operations know snow depth on any trail

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Diamond Peak was the first to add SNOWsat capability to a couple PistenBulley groomers for the 2014-15 season.  It turned out to be very useful to be able to know snow depths during grooming given the low snow levels.  For the 2015-16 season, three other U.S. ski resorts used SNOWsat: Heavenly in CA/NV, Timberline in OR, and Jiminy Peak in MA according to a Dec 2015 article.  There are at least 100 places in Europe using SNOWsat.


http://www.rgj.com/story/life/outdoors/recreation/2015/03/10/tahoe-resorts-climate-change-snowcat-skiing/24725885/ - about Diamond Peak


"The SNOWsat helps by measuring snow depth and displaying it on monitors where snowcat operators and resort managers can see it. It's a high tech version of the previous measuring system, which involved ski patrollers working throughout the day to use sticks to measure and record snow data.

It works by using a computerized, three dimensional map of the mountain without snow as a baseline. Then sensors mounted on snowcats allow satellites and a base on the ground to pinpoint the location of each vehicle that's outfitted with the technology.

By measuring how far the snowcat is above bare ground the system can tell operators the snow depth with an accuracy of less than two inches."


Timberline could use SNOWsat in 2015-16 to easily check on the snow depth on the Palmer terrain.  This blog article include examples of the mapping provided to groomer operators in real time.




post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 

PistenBully has interviews online for Diamond Peak (2014-15) and Jiminy Peak (2015-16).  They talked with The Diamond Peak General Manager, Brad Wilson.  The system cost about $100,000 and the GPS system for snow depth mapping was installed on two of the five snowcats.  The interview for Jiminy was with Tyler Fairbank, CEO. Jimmy Peak has two SNOWsat systems and four PistenBully 600s.





post #3 of 7

Wow, this is a really cool technology, and for a hundred grand, relatively cheap for what it does. I imagine this is something that will be standard equipment on groomers soon. 

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

I was surprised that Diamond Peak was the first place to give SNOWsat a try.  But then discovered that the U.S. headquarters for PistenBully is in Reno.


The video on the PistenBully website explains how the system can be used in detail based on examples in Europe, which involve a lot more acreage.




Have to install a base station and repeaters, as well as map all trails before the software can provide detailed real-time mapping. Using SNOWsat does not require using PistenBully snowcats.  Can be added to other brand snowcats as well.


post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

The scale in the European Alps really is different.  Another interview on the PistenBully website is with managers in Jungfrau (40 lifts) in Switzerland.  They made a relatively late decision to install SNOWsat and didn't get it going until Dec 2014.  It was installed on 17 groomers (not the entire fleet), which are working on slopes totaling 206km (128 miles).  The payback is expected to take about three years based on savings in fuel and time.



post #6 of 7

This is really interesting. @BushMogulMaster has a lot of experience in this field, curious if he has any thoughts to share. 

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Not in the U.S., but discovered that Cardrona in New Zealand is the first place in that region to implement SNOWSat. They started using SNOWSat in 2015 in order make more efficient use of their snowmaking equipment.




"So far, a lot of our changes have happened behind the scenes. In 2015 we moved our snow guns to new locations for reducing snowmaking operations. Our new GPS snow tracking software SNOWsat, has allowed us to make better use of the snow we have, with groomer drivers able to see where snow is needed & where there is more than enough right from inside the cat."

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