Breaking Snowmaking Records

Snowmaking at Bogus Basin

It’s no secret – much of the West and the nation has experienced an unfavorably dry and warm start to the season, delaying opening dates and limiting open terrain. In times like these, we are grateful to have a Plan B – Snowmaking. The first phase of our snowmaking capital improvement project began in 2017 after we raised over $6 million in 8 months for 20 PoleCat Snowmakers, two 400 horsepower pumps, and the installation of a 13,670,000 gallon retention pond.

Since then, your not-for-profit mountain acquired 24 more snowmakers, reinvesting more than 4 million dollars from the community into your mountain’s snowmaking infrastructure for increased snow production and terrain expansion. This year, we have been busy breaking snowmaking records on the hill.

Bogus Basin Employee Making Snow At Bogu Basin October 2019 - Photo By Luke Tokunaga

An Industry Reliant on Snow

Snowmaking is an increasingly important practice in the Ski Industry. Variable and extreme weather patterns negatively affect our operations and can delay opening dates, which can be frustrating to our community. Snowmaking supports the snow base in the early season and ensures a consistent opening date projection in seasons that lack help from Mother Nature.

“Without snowmaking right now, and without the community support in getting snowmaking, we would not be able to be open and there would not be all of these guests here smiling and happy for the holidays,”

Austin Smith, Director of Innovation and Marketing

Idaho’s 2nd Largest Snowmaking Systems

Our snowmaking system is the second largest in Idaho, second only to Sun Valley. As snowmaking systems go, our current configuration is substantial and can produce many tons of snow under the right conditions. Unlike some systems that use water from a local running water source, our system captures run-off during the winter and spring, allowing us to recycle that run-off back to snow on the mountain for the Treasure Valley to enjoy.

The best part? Aside from evaporation, all water is 100% reclaimed in this process, making our water use non-consumptive and sustainable! This method of water recycling also allows us to make more snow throughout the season to bolster the existing base and is part of our commitment to sustainability. Water and labor are not the only resources involved in snowmaking – Electricity plays a key role in the production of snow. In 2020, we transitioned to purchasing 100% renewable energy from Idaho Power – Learn more here.

“Snowmaking, powered with 100% renewable energy, has become an essential component of winter operations as we face the realities of climate change.

Brad Wilson, General Manager

Bogus Basin’s System at a Glance

Breaking Snowmaking Records

Days ofSnowmaking
Hours ofRun time
MIL Gallons of water

Bogus Basin’s snowmaking crew, affectionally dubbed by the team as “Snow Sorcerers,” have spent 429 hours, or more than 17 days, making snow – sometimes working around the clock to keep y’all gliding smoothly.

Our Best Snowmaking Span Yet

Between December 23rd and December 26th, the Snow Sorcerers were able to make snow for 74 consecutive hours. During this span of time, they broke several snowmaking records.

Snowmaking Fall 2022 Photo By Luke Tokunaga

Previously our record for most water through our system in a 24-hour period was 900,000 gallons of water. This go around, the team was able to discharge 2,604,380 gallons of water at a peak flow rate of 2,223 gallons per minute. To put that into perspective, in just 24 hours they covered a football-sized area over 72″ deep.

All told, the team was able to convert 5,579,000 gallons of water into snow in just 74 hours, covering that same football field 13 feet deep in snow – quite the feat if you ask us!

The Basics of Snowmaking

Our Snow Sorcerers work with high-pressure water electric fans that blow droplets of water into the air, which freeze and fall to the mountain as snow. Proper temperature and humidity are necessary for quality machine-made snow production. This is measured on a wet-bulb temperature scale, which is the suitable temperature-to-humidity ratio for those atomized water droplets to optimally freeze.

As soon as conditions on the mountain reach the proper snowmaking temperatures and humidity in late October/Early November, crews get to making snow in the base area, Explorer Terrain Park, on Coach’s Corner, and Stewart’s Bowl.

“Snowmaking at Bogus Basin allows us to prepare the mountain for a late November/early December opening, even if natural snowfall comes late. It is important to us that we provide our pass holders access to enjoy mountain recreation in the winter time as soon as is safely possible.”

Nate Shake, Director of Mountain Operations

A Look Back at a Season of Snowmaking at Bogus Basin

This year, the Snow Sorcerers began testing the system on October 27th, when pre-season weather cooperated. Then early November, we were off the races, blowing snow every chance we had. With Lowtide, a Snowboy Productions event, on the books for mid-December, there was no time to waste. The success of Lowtide 2023 marked our opening weekend and demonstrated the power of our system in the face of challenging weather. The first two weekends of operation attracted 1,800+ Treasure Valley locals to the mountain for their first few days back on snow.

Throughout the season thus far, the Snow Sorcerers have turned 19,427,000 gallons of water into snow, spending over 25,740 minutes making magic while you dream of carving turns down your favorite frontside runs! This is no small task and that amount of snow is hard to imagine. To use the example from above, this amount of snow equates to a football field-sized area, 45 feet tall.

A New Leader Arrives

This year, we welcomed a new snowmaking manager at Bogus Basin! While he is not new to Bogus Basin, Rob Harms assembled his team of Snow Sorcerers to supply winter for all of the eager Treasure Valley residents.

Rob’s history at Bogus Basin goes way back, where he spent countless years grooming the slopes at night, repairing builds, and much more. Knowing the importance of the job and the odd hours of the shifts, Rob Harms was the perfect fit for the role. His team of sorcerers work through the long cold nights to ensure that all of the snowmaking machines are working properly. Once the sun rises, the fruits of their labor can be seen as the snow piles, named whales, are ready to be spread out for guests to enjoy. Rob’s grooming background ensures that we are blowing snow in the right location in just the right amounts.

Rob Harms, Snowmaking Manager At Bogus Basin, Smiling While On The Job In November Of 2023 - Photo By Austin Smith

We are all grateful for the crews that show up day in and day out, working hard to make the mountain beautiful for us every night.

About Bogus Basin
Opened in 1942, Bogus Basin winter operations offer 2,600 acres of daytime skiable terrain and 200+ acres for night skiing; eleven lifts – including four high-speed quads – and three people-mover surface lifts; an 800-foot tubing hill. The Nordic Center offers 37 kilometers of groomed trails. Environmental education and community outreach programs serve over 20,000 individuals annually, primarily youth. Bogus Basin is located 16.5 miles north of Boise, Idaho, and operates under a special use permit with the Boise National Forest.

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is one of the largest non-profit recreation areas in the country. It is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to engaging the community to provide accessible, affordable, and fun year-round mountain recreation and education. Bogus Basin summer activities include a challenge course, mountain coaster, summer tubing, climbing wall, bungee trampoline, gem panning station, The Basin Gravity Park, cross-country mountain biking and hiking, free community events and educational programs, chairlift service to access hiking and biking trails, and guided nature hikes.