Snow making crews work hard to make sure Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival a success |

Howelsen crews are busy making snow for Steamboat’s Winter Carnival

A snowmaking gun at the base of Howelsen Hill Ski Area was running hard Tuesday morning as crews make and stockpile snow for the upcoming Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival’s Street Events on Lincoln Avenue. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Three weeks from now, the time-honored traditions of the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival will begin, but some of the work for that week is already underway at Howelsen Hill.

“We started off making a little bit of snow to make sure we had enough, and then as the years have gone by, we have leaned more heavily on snowmaking,” Howelsen Hill Ski Area Supervisor Brad Setter said. “Last year, without snowmaking, I don’t know if we would have had Street Events.”

Making snow at Howelsen Hill in late December, January and February has been the norm the past eight years.

“We run a snow gun or two, typically for about six to eight weeks leading up to Winter Carnival,” Setter said. “Not necessarily every day — just when the temperatures work or we are running lifts. We will also do a couple of overnight shifts.”

Some people might be surprised to learn the snow used to cover Lincoln Avenue for the Street Events is completely manmade.

Before the city made snow for Winter Carnival, crews used front-end loaders and dump trucks to “farm” snow from unused parking lots and the area around Howelsen Hill.

These days the snow is made at collection points around town where it can be easily loaded onto trucks and transported to Lincoln Avenue. This year, Setter said his crews have made all the snow at one location in an effort to make the process more efficient.

Setter said crews have made about two-thirds of the snow needed for Winter Carnival. He said the manmade snow is clean without rocks, nails or other items that could result in an injury to a horse, rider or competitor in the Street Events.

“It has definitely evolved, and it’s a more expensive, higher labor event than it used to be,” Setter said.

For him, snow making means the 106th Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival goes off without a hitch.

“We have had a few of these years, the past five or six years, where it has been warm temps, and there has been rain, and there has not been a great snow pack to farm snow from,” Setter said. “I expect us to continue making the majority of the snow for Winter Carnival going forward.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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