When a ski area with an average winter snowfall of 300 inches has a year whose total snowfall is 30 inches, it can still keep its slopes open for skiing through that miracle of winter, man-made snow. With the discovery that a fine mist sprayed under pressure into air at or below the freezing mark would turn into snowy crystals, dependable skiing from Thanksgiving to mid-April became a reality.

Until a few years ago there was a tendency among western resorts to belittle the snowy eastern playgrounds because “they have to make snow.” Snorting ceased when shifting weather patterns made it clear that, even in midwinter, Colorado and California and Idaho and Utah resorts without the capacity for snowmaking could only moan when muddy bare spots

began to show through their thinly covered slopes in January. Bring on the snow guns.

The roaring snow guns originally planted along the sides of the runs produced a heavy snow easily distinguishable from natural stuff. These have long since been replaced by new-style guns and high snow towers, and today’s man-made snow is amazingly light and powdery - though still never as fluffy as the new-fallen natural stuff.

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