Outdoors Blog

Playing Outdoors: Brundage Mountain to add snowmaking for trouble spots

The area around the Bear Chair at Brundage Mountain has plenty of snow this season but can cause problems early in the season.
The area around the Bear Chair at Brundage Mountain has plenty of snow this season but can cause problems early in the season. ccripe@idahostatesman.com

Brundage Mountain ski area near McCall plans to join the snowmaking trend next season to deal with traditional trouble spots.

First up, the area surrounding the Bear Chair. In lean snow years, that’s one of the last places on the mountain to get full coverage.

The next target, for the 2017-18 season, is the lower section of Main Street that feeds back to the lodge and BlueBird lift.

The need for snowmaking developed during Idaho’s recent winters with less snow than Brundage had received historically.

“Those areas can be the last to get good coverage and prevent us from opening for the season,” Brundage communication director April Whitney said. “... The main reason we’re going to the expense is an insurance policy for the (Christmas) holiday. If you miss the period between Christmas and New Year’s, that’s really hard to recover from. That’s when the demand is there.”

The Activity Barn tubing hill in McCall added snowmaking this year. Bogus Basin near Boise and Tamarack Resort near Donnelly upgraded their snowmaking. Eighty percent of ski areas nationwise use snowmakers.

Bogus Basin’s reasoning was similar to Brundage’s: By making some snow on the front side of the mountain, it can produce a more reliable opening date and more reliable lesson schedule. Bogus also used snowmaking to help its tubing hill.

Bogus opened the day after Thanksgiving this season. When a warm spell hit after that, “the natural snow melted but the artificial did not,” John Hart of Bogus Basin said.

“It’s really durable snow,” Hart said. “It’s really good for a base.”

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