Whistler Will Use Snow Guns to Save its Glacier

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 Randy Lincks / Getty Images

British Columbia's Whistler Blackcomb, North America's largest ski resort, recently announced preliminary efforts to combat increasingly warm temperatures due to climate change. Beginning in late July, environmental resource managers at the resort will begin to install four pilot snow guns, with plans to make snow for the endangered Horstman Glacier beginning in October. 

Horstman Glacier is part of the 8,200-foot Blackcomb Peak and the park plans to place the snowmaking machines above 6,300 feet, well into the glacier’s territory. Blackcomb already employs 270 snow guns on lower levels of the resort, but the Horstman setup will easily be the highest elevation at which snow-making guns have been used. The goal is for the snow guns to make quality snow, even in warmer temperatures, that preserve the glacier during the summer and help maintain early-season access for skiers and snowboarders in the fall and winter. 

This new battle to repopulate the snowpack of the Horstman Glacier is just the latest saga in Whistler's fight against climate change. In 2013, mountain planning and environmental resource manager Arthur De Jong released a 35-year report that detailed warmer winters, (a 0.5 degree increase on average), warmer summers, (a two degree increase), and decreased snowfall in the lower regions of each mountain.