In Pursuit of Snow, Ancient Tradition Meets Modern Technology

January 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on In Pursuit of Snow, Ancient Tradition Meets Modern Technology

The northeast isn’t the only region of the United States starved for snow this year. Across the country, from Utah, to Colorado, to California, ski resorts have received just a fraction of the snowfall that they receive in a typical winter — and much less than last winter, which was an epic La Niña season from coast-to-coast.

So ski resorts have had to resort to drastic measures to bring on the winter.

Here at Ski Butternut, we’ve been running our snowmaking system at full-capacity whenever the weather permits us to do so. As a result of these efforts, we’re amongst the  first 3 mountains in all of New England that has managed to open and maintain operation on 100% of its trails (shout out to Sundown, CT and Pats Peak, NH for sharing this achievement with us). So, while we love natural snow for the beauty it brings to our mountain and the surrounding region, and for the wonders it does for our surface conditions, we can get along just fine without it.

Out west, they’re not so fortunate. Those mountains don’t have nearly the percentage of snowmaking coverage that we do, and without natural snow, many of their trails simply lie fallow, waiting for nature to do its seasonal duty.

And nature hasn’t cooperated.

So, at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, they decided to appeal to nature for help. And they turned to the Northern Ute, a tribe that has called that area of the country home since long before the first Mexican settlers or Mormon Pioneers ever laid eyes on the majestic Wasatch mountains.

On Saturday, before an audience of skiers and boarders, members of the Northern Ute performed a traditional blessing for the snow, or as we colloquially refer to it, a “snow dance.”

But, being that this is 2012 – the age of instant-on, always-connected, text, tweet, friend, fan, follow social media – even the most traditional snow dance gets a modern touch. In order to share the blessing both near and far, Park City Mountain Resort live-streamed the event in a Hangout on Google+. I think it’s probably safe to say that this is the first time that this ritual has ever taken place in a multimedia, multi-user, interactive online environment.

And we’re hoping that just maybe the blessing traveled via the internet to Great Barrington, Massachusetts (despite the fact that our internet access is a bit unreliable around here), and that we will soon be bestowed with plentiful flakes from above.

You can see images of the ceremony, mixing the beautiful, the ornate, and the solemn with – Hey, what’s a MacBook Pro doing there?! – on Park City Mountain Resort’s page.

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