Welcome back to 20 Days of Chill - Let it snow (or not).
I live in Switzerland, and I'm pretty sure the common perception is
Switzerland equals snowy mountains all-year round.
Which for the alpine region, where most of the peaks are 11,500 feet and higher, is mostly true.
In the lowlands that I call my home, real snow that lingers for a couple of days, is rarely happening, but if it does, I'm certainly excited! (Never mind the driving and general chaos that snowfall brings.)
Snow has something calm and magical about it, don't you think?
2010 there was a case of perfect timing, and we actually had a white Christmas! This has been the only time I can remember, and I have been around for a while.
Compared to when I grew up, snow has become more scarce, and not only in the flatland!
Even in the higher regions it's become hard to plan a ski vacation. November thru February used to be a surefire period of time to go to the mountains for some snow sports, and accommodation had to be booked way in advance. Typically on the day of your departure of one year you would make a reservation for the following year.
"Snow reliability" was a national asset just like "bank secrecy" or chocolate.
These days you may get lucky - but you may just as well not!
What to do?
You let it snow!
How? Here's what you need:
- Low temperatures and low humidity: for ideal snow making you need 20°F or colder, and the less humid the air, the better.
- Water - lots of it, ideally there is a rotation system in place: ski resorts pump water from tanks, reservoirs, lakes or streams in low-lying areas. The run-off water from the slopes feeds back into those reservoirs, so the same water can be used over and over again.
- Compressed air to break the stream of water intp droplets to become snow crystals.
- Electricity to pump up the huge amounts of water to the mountain top and to operate the countless snow guns along the slopes. Even the airless snow guns still use a lot of energy.
- Hydrants, hoses and cables - not visible to the skier, but crucial to transport water, high-pressure air and electricity.
- Labor: dedicated and trained people often work 24/7 to produce enough snow for the ski resort to be open several months every season.
That's why certain resorts have taken up "snow farming": in spring they make a big pile of the remaining snow, cover it with fleece, and in fall they remove the fleece and spread out the snow to prepare the slopes.
Freezing leftovers to use them later - nothing that this part-time working hockey mom wouldn't do as well!
*I tried to google a reliable statement about the costs of snow making. I found so many "facts", and they range so broadly that I'm not going to mention anything here. Let's just say, if you ever wonder why ski passes are so expensive, it may not be because of the gondola rides!
All-right, we made snow, that was exciting! Do you even like snow? Let me know down below and don't forget to find out what my fellow writers have come up with!
What's next? Tomorrow it just so happens that I'm combining two writing challenges:
- Top Ten Thursday
- 20 Days of Chill
The prompt is 10 Things that make you happy - perfect fit, don't miss it!