Much more than the Games this winter 

Pass sales surpass last year as Whistler Blackcomb prepares for season

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"The last El Nino year (2005-06) was the fifth snowiest year on record," he said.

January 2006 was the snowiest on record going to back to 1979 with 469 cm falling. Another 114 cm fell in February. By the end of the season 1,194 cm had fallen.

Some fast snowmaking facts:

• Whistler Blackcomb has 270 snow guns in its snowmaking fleet, including 39 automated guns, 69 manual fan guns and 162 air/water guns.

• The water reservoirs have a capacity of 52 million gallons with 20 million gallons of that on Blackcomb and 32 million on Whistler.

• 39 million gallons of water is needed to cover the Olympic Downhill courses and the training runs.

• Snow guns range from fully automatic (start, stop and adjustment automatically) to manual guns that require hourly checks by staff.

• Snowmaking begins at -2 Celsius. As the temperature gets colder staff are able to put more water through each gun, making more snow in less time. Minus 15 Celsius provides maximum production out of each gun and they can continue to make snow well into the -20 C range.

• In 24 hours the snowmaking team can fill an NHL hockey rink to the top of the glass with snow.

• 10,000 gallons of water per minute can be converted into snow on Whistler Mountain and 5,000 gallons of water per minute on Blackcomb Mountain.

• On average each year the snowmaking team turns 130 to 180 million+ gallons of water into 650 to 900 acres a foot deep of snow. Envision an American-sized football field covered in snow that is 650 feet high. That's the size of a 65 storey building.

• Whistler Blackcomb could fill GM Place three times over with snow each season.

While the Olympics are a priority, Rempel assures guests that snowmaking will also be enhanced outside the alpine venue, on both Whistler and Blackcomb.

"I know there's a rumour going around town that we won't be making as much snow outside the Olympics runs, and that's far from being the truth. We will be doing the normal amount of snowmaking in the alpine and on various runs... we've expanded our reservoir capacity and our pumping capabilities so we can do both quite easily."

(With files by Clare Ogilvie)

 

Renewable Energy

Several years ago Whistler Blackcomb partnered in a project to install a run-of-river hydro station on Fitzsimmons Creek, which is reaching completion and could be producing power sometime this fall. The project is a joint venture by Innergex Renewable Energy and Ledcor Power Group, but Whistler Blackcomb has been a "strategic partner," providing access, data and space in their tenure area, while encouraging the development of the project to offset their own power usage.

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