KEYSTONE, Colo. (CBS4) – It may look like a gigantic sprinkler system from the ground, but CBS4 discovered that the snowmaking system at Keystone Ski Area is quite advanced.

(credit: CBS)

Micke Christensen drives a snowcat. (credit: CBS)

The system covers 600 acres and is able to pump more than 4,000 gallons a minute.

“We have a fully automatic system where we can control guns, machine rooms, compressors and pumps with the click of the mouse,” said Bill LeClair, the head of snowmaking.

The snowmakers prepared for three weeks to get ready for Friday’s opening of about 65 acres to skiers.

“We started making snow on Oct. 10 and with any temperatures that are good for snowmaking production we have been running,” said LeClair. “We like a temperature of below 26 and low humidity is key for snowmaking.”

Trail maintenance crews were able to start grooming trails a week ago. They worked around the clock to get ready for Friday’s opening.

“It’s got 350 horsepower and a tiller on the back,” said Micke Christensen, a snowcat driver who let the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom crew into his vehicle during a grooming ride on Thursday. “We’re just tidying up things.”

LeClair said unless there’s an unusually heavy dose of snow between now and the end of the year they will continue their snowmaking operations at full tilt.

In addition to Keystone’s opening on Friday, Copper Mountain also opened to skiers, bringing the number of ski areas open in the state to five.


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