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Snow blanket tested

Brief by Allen Best

Climate – January 2009 – Colorado Central Magazine

The snowpack never completely melted this summer at the Snowmass ski area, where a mound of snow 20 feet high survived even the 80-plus days of summer. The mound is the remnant of a massive jump that was part of a snowboard terrain park built last winter.

Until early October, the snow was covered by a blanket produced by a Swiss company called Landolt. The product is called Ice Protector Optiforce, and it’s being used in European ski resorts, which tend to be lower and more vulnerable to the warming climate.

Rich Burkley, general manager of mountain operations for the Aspen Skiing Company, said the snow blanket is expected to be most useful in protecting snow or ice at critical connections or access areas, such as at ramps below chairlifts that get skiers to trails. One goal, he told The Aspen Times, is to reduce the energy consumption needed to make snow.

However, whether the blanket is cost effective is still being evaluated, he said. Also testing the blanket for effectiveness are the Vail and Telluride ski areas.