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Coronet & The Snow Factory

There seems to be lots of news about ski areas at present! Yesterday it was Ruapehu not giving free skiing to seniors this season (unless you applied early for a season pass).

Today it's NZSki's concession application to the Department of Conservation in Queenstown. The ODT reports that Environmental physics lecturer Dr Inga Smith, made the only submission against NZSki's application for a 40-year concession over the recreation reserve at Coronet Peak.

Seems the opposition was on two grounds.

  1. The impact of the new “snow factory” and more snow on the ground longer.   
  2. And a request to shorten the lease to 20 years with a 10 year review, due to the unknown effects climate change might have.

You might recall Ruapehu installed a snow factory several years ago in Happy Valley, allowing them to open in earlier with more certainty of snow. Snow factories allow snow to be made at warmer temperatures than traditional snow making guns and are installed in many areas globally, including Australia. Snow geeks can read more about TechnoAlpin snow factory here.

Without question a snow factory at Coronet would offer more reliable snow at the bottom of the mountain, which is important given they have the lowest base elevation of any ski area in the country. Skiing in summer? Possible, but not likely, the cost and amount of snow would be far too great! And while they have publicly talked about summer operations, the true value of this proposition is almost certainly making snow at lower elevations in warmer temperatures.  So they can keep open, in the event of lean snow years. 

There’s certainly increasing pressure on ski areas to considerable environmental impacts, and in that’s a good thing. But ski areas are acutely aware of the impacts of climate change, and the industry, and bodies such as “Protect our Winters" (POW) are working towards making snow sports more sustainable. It’s a tough one, we want to go skiing, but by the same token that has an impacts. We’ve liked Mt Hutts initiatives this season to car pool. And Cardrona is a supporter of POW. And there are many initiatives not reported (we should do that!) like groomer replacements with newer more efficient models.  

Hopefully better judgement will prevail, and Coronets application will be approved. 

Image: TechnoAlpin Facebook