The glacier in its summer dress
May 4, 2020
Snow farming and covering the glacier have a long tradition at the SkiArena. Due to the fact that ski operations had to be ended earlier than planned this year, large amounts of snow and ice can be conserved for the next season.
«The glacier is the start of the piste, it is located just below the Gemsstock mountain station. If this natural bridge of snow and ice is missing, we have to build an artificial ramp or a staircase, for example, so that the skiers can get on to the ski slope», explains Dani Meyer from the SkiArena. He is responsible for snow-making and snow farming. The Gurschen Glacier, about one hectare in size, is covered with a fleece to prevent it from melting in summer. Before the fleece is spread out, the SkiArena employees also knock snow on this section to ensure that this snow ramp doesn’t melt. For 16 years now, the fleece is rolled out over the glacier in spring and gets sewn together using large industrial sewing machines and weighed down on the sides with sandbags and filled water hoses from the snow-making systems.
Save energy and costs
While covering the glacier is primarily a protection against melting, snow farming serves to preserve snow, which can be used again in the fall to create slopes. Ten such depots were created between the Gurschenalp and the Gemsstock. «The snow is free by nature, but if we technically produce snow before the start of the ski season, it becomes a financial value. With the snow kept over summer, we can already lay a good foundation for the next winter. So thanks to snow farming this year, we have to produce less snow», explains Dani Meyer.
|All snow deposits combined||about 175,00 m3|
|Large fleece||about 36,150 m2|
|Dry fleece weight||about 200 kg per track|
|Fleece weight with snow||about 600 to 800 kg per track|
|Sandbags for weighing down||865|
|Full water hoses for weighing down||about 500 m|
|Number of man-hours per deposit||36|
|Snow preserved over summer||about 130,000 m3 (approx. 75%)|