Wait for winter or make the snow?

27 Oct, 2010

As I made my way to Main Lodge at Mammoth Mountain yesterday morning, it was the sight of the snowmaking guns, swirls of snow billowing up and loud sounds of the snowguns that kickstarted my heart.  As much as I love snowflakes falling from the sky, I truly appreciate that snow guns allow for early season snowboarding to happen.  It means that Colorado resorts like A-Basin and Loveland can battle it out for first year after year, or Sunday River in Maine can totally blindside the industry with a opening or in California, resorts like Mammoth and Boreal get a jump start on the early season of snowboarding.  There’s no relying on nature to start the season, there’s relying on cold temperatures and a workforce willing to spend the cold bitter nights getting it done.

Mammoth Mountain Photo

I thought about the early season debates I read online where some riders jump right on the snowmaking bandwagon and others are more hesitant wanting the natural snowfall to decide when a mountain opens.  While growing up in Washington I used to watch the early season in Colorado and wish that we had that.  Some of my favorite days on snow have been early season just cruising and enjoying snowboarding (without new natural snowfall).  There’s still that love for an amazing powder day but I enjoy being on the mountain regardless of conditions as long as there’s snow to ride and good people to be around.

I’m anxious to see when Mammoth will open, crossing my fingers for a storm to roll through but also enjoying the comforting feeling that snowmaking has given me (it’s that backup plan).  I’ll keep watching the webcams, looking outside the window and if a mountain opens within driving distance with a WROD…you bet I’ll make my way there to have one fun day on the slopes before winter fully begins.

So I’m curious from everyone what you think, does your mountain invest in snowmaking?  What are your thoughts on resorts that open due to snowmaking?  Do you make the trip to ride the white ribbon of death?  Or do you wait it out for the natural snow storms to arrive?

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!


  1. Ethan W.
    October 27, 2010

    That’s a funny question because I live in Boone, NC, where Appalachian State is, and if it weren’t for snowguns we probably wouldn’t have a season. Maybe like a month long season. So for me, snowmaking is like a grace of God.

  2. Todd-O
    October 27, 2010

    Snow making = thumbs up. I live in Buffalo so for us too, if we didn’t have snowmaking the season would be maybe, two months long.

    Shay, hows the job? You really haven’t talked much about it and I’m really interested. What are you doing there? What are your days like?

  3. October 27, 2010

    I’m glad that Mammoth has the ability to make snow. Without it I’m sure the this year’s opening would occur in December. I’d ride the WROD.

  4. PILmo
    October 27, 2010

    I’m against snow making as it uses a ridiculous amount of water and energy. I think it would be better to wait on Mother Nature to decide on which resort opens first every season – more like a lotto!

  5. lisevolution
    October 28, 2010

    Growing up and living in NY I’m so desensitized to riding man made snow that its really what I’m used to for most of the season. That said I definitely do understand the ecological concerns people have with it, but without I wouldn’t be riding so…

  6. Keither
    October 28, 2010

    Snowmaking is the bombizzle. Riding mostly in Quebec (I live in Ottawa), it usually takes until Christmas for anything more than a couple inches to fall from the sky. Mont St. Sauveur (home of the Shakedown) opens well before any other resort in the area (Oct. 19th last year) due to their snowmaking. Not only does this provide early season awesomeness and bro-downs, it makes the season last longer. While most of the other ski hills close the last week of March, Sauveur has been known to close the SECOND WEEK OF MAY! So I say YAY for snowmaking because it makes my season last almost 7 months instead of 4. On top of that, I’m getting knee surgery in a week (finally getting that ACL fixed) and if it wasn’t for snowmaking, I wouldn’t even have a season this year. But thank you Mont St. Sauveur for giving me hope that I will get to ride this year. They may open next week, and will definately be there for me in four months when I strap in with my new knee. Though, I was lucky enough to ride the glaciers in Austria and Switzerland this summer, so I shouldn’t complain about not riding this year 😉 Regardless, you REALLY have to love snowboarding to drive 2 hours to ride one trail of WROD, 30 feet wide. Anybody who says NAY to snowmaking it’s because they’re in the weekend warrior crowd who only goes out 5 times a year and only when there’s a foot of fresh.
    Me, I’m 28 years old and would ride the WROD with all the stoked out teenie boppers for the rest of my life if I had to. As long as I am snowboarding.

  7. Keither
    October 28, 2010

    Whoa that ended up being really long, sorry.

  8. Dianna
    October 31, 2010

    Ride the WROD, you bet. Last year was my first season ever and I am HOOKED! As far as snow making goes I like to look at the big picture. Yes it uses lots of water but in most cases most of it returns to the source or the water table. Yes it uses lots of energy but it also kick starts the economy of entire communities and longer employment opportunities. Mountain High is my home resort and as a So Cal. resort depends on snow making. I 4track when I ski and 3 track when I board and while man made groomers are great I love the float of a board on fresh pow. I am 49 yrs old and when I board I like to park also. No rails, but jumps and slide boxs and the like. Happy shedding, Dianna

  9. October 31, 2010

    Definitely a mix of thoughts on it. Great for everyone’s comments and input!

    Todd, thanks for asking. It’s good, really liking it and getting settled with it. I am the copywriter in the marketing department so being able to write is my job. I usually don’t talk about jobs since I like to keep them. All the stuff you see on shayboarder.com is done in the evenings in my free time and basically my hobby.