The his­tory of snow mak­ing on Mt Buller

Mt Buller News - - FRONT PAGE -

MT Buller has led the way in Aus­tralia when it comes to snow mak­ing.

In 2018 the to­tal cov­er­age ski­able area is over 78 hectares.

Re­mark­ably, this rep­re­sents 25 per cent of the re­sort and equates to 19km of trails.

Snow mak­ing is now car­ried out at ev­ery avail­able op­por­tu­nity, de­pen­dent on suit­able weather con­di­tions.

Buller Ski Lifts has eight full time em­ploy­ees in the de­part­ment, six of who work nights.

They con­trol a to­tal of 244 guns, of which 163 are au­to­mated.

Our Mt Buller snow mak­ers are pro­duc­ing 530,000 cu­bic me­tres of snow per sea­son, led by snow mak­ing man­ager, Paul Rich­mond.

The cov­er­age area in­cludes Bourke Street, Baldy, Sky­line, Magic For­est, Chamois, North­side Dis­cov­ery Area, Burnt Hut, Sum­mit, Howqua, Howqua Ex­ten­sion, Fam­ily Run, Lit­tle Buller Spur, Whisky Creek Trail, Kof­flers, Wom­bat, Chute, two to­bog­gan parks, and Bonza Ac­cess Trail.

It re­ally is phe­nom­e­nal, and will get even bet­ter in the years to come.

In 1970 John Hil­ton Wood es­tab­lished a snow mak­ing pilot sys­tem on Enzian ski run and later moved it to Lit­tle Bourke Street.

Gus Syme and Bob Ba­teup were in­volved in the de­sign and in­stal­la­tion.

It was in 1990 that McMa­hon Hold­ings pro­ceeded with the first stage of the present sys­tem and it was in­stalled on Bourke Street with a tem­po­rary pump sta­tion near Faulty.

It was a great sea­son in 1992, with ski­ing through to Melbourne Cup week­end.

How­ever, 1993 was the op­po­site with the Mt Buller vil­lage shut­tle hav­ing to trans­port skiers to the sum­mit well into Au­gust just to get a few turns.

Back then the shut­tle com­prised a horse and cart.

In 1994 the Grollo fam­ily as­sumed to­tal con­trol of the lifts and snow mak­ing with sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture.

This in­cluded the wa­ter stor­age dam, air com­pres­sors, pump sta­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion pipe­lines for com­pressed air and wa­ter.

This in­vest­ment in­creased the snow mak­ing to Baldy, Sky­line, Sum­mit, Lit­tle Buller Spur and Wom­bat ski runs.

In 1995 the dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem was ex­panded to in­clude Howqua, Howqua ex­ten­sion and the lower sec­tion of Fam­ily Run.

Dur­ing 1997 and 1998, fur­ther cov­er­age ex­pan­sion in­cluded Chamois (and the newly cre­ated World Cup Aerial site), Burnt Hut be­gin­ner ar­eas, Pole line #6 ac­cess trail and the Tube Park.

With con­ges­tion grow­ing in the LBS/Wom­bat area, in 1999 it was de­cided to ex­pand op­er­a­tions down the Whisky Creek trail to Fed­er­a­tion Chair.

In 2001, snow mak­ing was extended down the Kof­flers lift line from the top of Wom­bat Chair to en­sure peo­ple could get out of the Sum­mit area in low snow years.

In 2002 fan guns were first mounted per­ma­nently on tow­ers down Lit­tle Buller Spur.

And in 2005, Shakey Knees had 20 auto York Bo­rax guns in­stalled.

A year later sim­i­lar au­to­mated equip­ment was in­stalled on the Sum­mit.

In 2008 the six seater chair was in­stalled, now called Mercedes Benz Chair (yes, it has been al­most a decade).

At the same time four Pole­cats and one Su­per Pole­cat snow mak­ers were in­stalled right of Bourke Street.

Also, two Pole­cats were pur­chased and in­stalled for the RMB vil­lage to­bog­gan run.

Since then there have been a num­ber of up­dates to au­to­mated guns on Wom­bat, Howqua Ex­ten­sion, Lit­tle Buller Spur, the Ski School Area, Fam­ily Run, Burnt Hut and Chute.

To­day, 163 of 244 guns are fully au­to­mated.

The re­sult is amaz­ing. For ex­am­ple, an op­er­a­tor can now turn on around 60 guns in less than 10 min­utes.

Our Mt Buller snow mak­ers are among the best in the world, recog­nised glob­ally with work op­por­tu­ni­ties in many north­ern hemi­sphere des­ti­na­tions.

Mt Buller is now us­ing ap­prox­i­mately 200 me­gal­itres of wa­ter per sea­son.

Snow mak­ing on Mt Buller has been a mas­sive col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Buller Ski Lifts, Re­sort Man­age­ment Board and the Mt Buller com­mu­nity.

It has been driven by an enor­mous com­mit­ment by the Grollo fam­ily, right from the very time they took over the lift com­pany.

All skiers, board­ers and snow play vis­i­tors have been the ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

Once we get our new wa­ter stor­age fa­cil­ity in 2019/20, stand by for ma­jor new de­vel­op­ments on the south side of the re­sort.

It will be fan­tas­tic.

MOD­ERN TECH: Nowa­days, the auto snow guns blaze in the early morn­ing sun­rise. PHOTO: An­drew Rail­ton

STICK ‘EM UP: Mark (Cricket) Osler in 1990 with the orig­i­nal Bourke Street snow gun.

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