Our Snow is Better

8 Reasons Why

Our skiers and riders regularly comment that Saddleback's snow conditions are better than other large resorts.  It seems that regardless of what the conditions are in Maine, our snow is inevitably better.  Here are 8 reasons why:

1.  More Natural Snow

Saddleback receives more natural snow than other ski areas in Maine.

--  In the mountains, snowfall increases with elevation.  At 4120 feet, Saddleback Mountain is  one of only seven ski mountains in New England with a top lift elevation over 4000 feet. Our base lodge is the 2nd highest in New England at 2450 feet. Our high elevation means more natural snow.

-- Saddleback and several surrounding mountains create their own micro climate. As air rises to go over the mountains, its moisture condenses out as snow and the mountains intensify the snowfall. 

-- Early in the season, the ski area benefits from lake effect snow from Rangeley and other large lakes in the area.  Moisture evaporating from these large lakes condenses into snow as it rises up over Saddleback Mountain.

-- Saddleback benefits from "upsloping" after passage of a cold front.  It can be sunny in Rangeley and snowing at the mountain.  For a technical explanation of upsloping click here.

2. Better Temperatures for Snowmaking

At 4120 foot elevation, Saddleback has better temperatures for snowmaking. Temperatures drop 3.5 degrees for every 1000 feet in elevation gain.  The colder the temperature, the drier the snow that is made by snowmaking.

3.  More Trails per Lift Capacity = less skiers and riders on each trail = conditions that hold up throughout the day -- and aren't skied off by late morning.  The number of trails and glades serviced by our main lifts are:  South Branch Chairlift (easier terrain) - 14.  Rangeley Chairlift (intermediate and advanced)- 32 .  Kennebago Steeps Chairlift (advanced) - 20. 

4.  We Make Snow Differently

-- We usually only make snow in colder temperatures which results in a drier snow that skis better, maintains more porosity during any thaw and grooms into an easy-to-ski loose granular after a thaw.

-- Before opening a trail we make sure there is sufficient snow depth - whether natural or machine-made -- to cover obstacles and preclude any thin spots. A deeper snow base gives us more flexibility in how we groom the snow.

5. Snowmaking Additive Produces Better Snow

"Drift" is an environmentally-benign liquid that is added to snowmaking water to produce a consistent, silky snow that is better to ski, grooms better and holds up well under all types of conditions.  Drift converts more water to snow and results in a drier and fluffier snow.

6. We Treat Newly Made Snow Differently

After we make snow, we let it cure for 12-18 hours and then spread it into windrows and allow the snow to cure again.  Final grooming prepares the snow for skiing and riding.  This longer process means it takes longer to open a trail but the result is snow that is better to ski and which holds up better under adverse weather.

7.  Better Grooming

We groom a greater percentage of our terrain each night than other large resorts.  More grooming combined with fewer skiers and riders per trail means conditions are always the best possible. On steeper terrain we groom uphill so the snow isn't dragged down by the grooming machine.

8.  Classic New England Ski Trails

Our trails were built in the classic New England style to follow the fall line which minimizes cross hill slants where the snow gets skied or boarded off.  On the few places where there are cross hill slants, we make snow on the lower sides to level up the pitch.

  • Report Last Updated:
  • 02/11/16 @ 11:22am
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