Steamboat 2008/9 season improvements

Thu 18 September 08

US$1m spent on Snowmaking and and 2 new grooming machines make up the bulk of the changes for the new season


Steamboat’s snowmaking system will undergo more than $1 million in improvements as new pipe is replaced extensively on Right-O-Way, See Ya, Bashor, Lower Vagabond and Lil Rodeo. Maintaining its industry leading snowmaking position, the new pipe is ductile iron pipe from US Snow Pipe, utilizing the latest in snowmaking technology.

The pipe is lined with concrete and rated to last an average of 50 years, twice as long as existing pipe, as well as able to handle pressure upwards of 1,000 pounds per square inch. Steamboat was the first resort in the industry to invest in this type of pipe, which costs more, but in the long term proves to be more efficient, durable and better for the environment. Over the past three seasons, the resort installed more than 70,000 feet (13+ miles/33km) of snowmaking pipe, including nearly 20,000 feet (3.78 miles) just this summer. This year’s total pipe length alone equates to stacking 36 Washington Monuments on top of each other.

Overall, these comprehensive snowmaking improvements enhance water management, increase capacity, and reduce energy consumption while providing the highest quality machine-made snow. The resort’s system covers nearly 400 acres of top-to-bottom terrain (3,668 vertical feet) and includes a network of over 300 available hydrants, 4 pump houses across the resort, state-of-the-art digital computer operating system and an arsenal of low-energy, high-efficiency snowmaking guns, which use 30 percent less energy than conventional guns while producing the same amount of snow.

Grooming Equipment

New Prinoth BR-500 and BR-350 tower winch grooming machines, powered by six-cylinder, 500- and 350-horsepower engines respectively, will be added to the resort’s fleet for the 2008/2009 season. The new BR-500, which stands an amazing 26 ft wide, five feet wider than typical snowcats, excels in power, agility and finishing snow surface. The 500 is 24% more productive and will be matched with two top-of-the-line BR-350 Bison machines acquired last season, all able to maintain 12mph ground speed, one of the fastest in the industry. The BR-350 Tower Winch snowcat utilizes a 3,000 ft wire cable, hydrostatic drive system and powerful C9 engine to handle the steepest terrain on the mountain. This machine is well balanced with superior traction and reduced slipping, resulting in a better-quality finished corduroy product on the steepest inclines. In addition, the resort will retain its old tower winch cat and realign it to the terrain park. Including the tower winch snowcat, three grooming machines are solely dedicated to the terrain park and superpipe.

The resort’s grooming fleet, operated in two shifts, re-surfaces approximately 545 acres nightly to a premium corduroy finish and encompasses 19 grooming machines (1-BR500, 2-Bisons, 7-BR350s, 2-tower winch cats & 7 utility machines). Steamboat’s grooming team has more than 215 years of combined experience with an average tenure of a decade, which truly means the resort gets the best combination of equipment and operators, thereby providing one of the best grooming products in the industry.

Meadows Parking Expansion

The resort’s remote parking facility, the Meadows, will expand by more than 38,000 sq. ft. on the north end. The new expansion will be able to accommodate roughly 200 additional FREE parking spaces.

Advanced Life Support/AEDs

Having already been credited with saving the lives of several individuals, the resort will add a Q-CPR automated external defibrillator (AED) unit for the 2008/09 season. This special AED unit, available only on the Philips HeartStart MRx Monitor/Defibrillator, is the first and only comprehensive technology integrated into a monitor/defibrillator that provides real-time CPR monitoring and feedback for both chest compressions and ventilations (breaths). The resort first purchased an AED Life Pak 300 during the 1992/93 season. Currently, the resort employs fourteen AED units in its rapid response cache.

Rental Ski Fleet

Approximately one third of the resort’s ski rental fleet is revamped annually. This winter, $250,000 goes toward new skis from the best in the industry, including a selection of the latest equipment from Salomon, Rossignol and Volkl. The new skis will be spread across the resort’s Ski & Sport locations in Gondola Square, Sheraton, Ski Time Square, Steamboat Grand and downtown.

Resort Master Plan

In conjunction with the US Forest Service, the ski area is beginning the initial steps to modifying its master plan with industry-leading design firm, Ecosign (ECOlogical DeSIGN) Mountain Resort Planners Ltd., based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Ecosign has firmly established itself as a leader in the design of successful, award winning and profitable mountain resorts completing over 350 resort development projects in over 32 countries spanning 6 continents as well as the design of 4 Winter Olympic Games and several World Alpine Championships venues.

The resort master plan lays the foundation for possible on-mountain development over the next 5 to 10 years. The overall encompassing plan addresses issues focusing on capacity, resources, mountain improvements, base area improvements, guest convenience and the overall resort experience.

One Steamboat Place Planning

The resort is working with One Steamboat Place developers on a series of planning, design and engineering projects during the construction phase of One Steamboat Place. This luxury development, just steps from the gondola, will include space for several resort services including a new one-stop ticket facility combining lift tickets, season passes and ski & snowboard school products, expansion of the Kids’ Vacation Center and a new shipping & receiving location.

The Ponds Employee Housing

The resort is replacing and upgrading the exterior sliding on four buildings in its employee housing pool. Overall, the resort provides 15 buildings capable of housing 432 employees in 120 units, in a variety of layouts.


In addition, the resort will replace the gear boxes for the Gondola and Thunderhead Express lifts; install magic carpet covers/belts; conduct extensive summer brush cutting on numerous trails; enhance warehouse and banquet/wedding equipment as well as augment the resort’s eco-friendly, 4-stroke snowmobile inventory.

[Adapted from press release]

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Steamboat, USA

Snowboard Guide rating 8 out of 10 “On the mountain this a great place to ride with some excellent treeriding to try out and some cool carving runs. But off the slopes the place is way too stuck up.”