Manali Gets First Snow Making Machine

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Manali: Tourists can now not just see snow but even snowfall everyday for five months in winters as the snow-making machine (snow gun) imported from Europe starts making artificial snow.

The trial of the machine brought and installed by four young men has been successful and made 30 cm of snow at Solang Nullah.

It took nearly two weeks to install the machine on private land in Solang valley. The machine was started at night time and nearly 30 cm of powder snow accumulated on the ground in a few hours.

Snow making machine at work in Solang Valley, Manali

The snow playing field was opened for all tourists for free where they did skiing and other activities. Youths, who expect self employment from this, are planning to charge some entry fee from visitors in coming days. The machine has cost them nearly Rs 40 lakh.

Mahavir retired instructor from mountaineering Institute of Manali speaking to Hill Post said that the artificial snow in small particles of ice that are used to increase the amount of snow available for winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding. It is produced by a machine that uses a high-pressure pump to spray a mist of water into the cold air. The water droplets subsequently crystallize to form fake snow.

He disclosed the first commercially successful machines were developed in the 1950s and improvements in technology have steadily been introduced. With the increase in the popularity of winter sports, the artificial snow market is expected to show significant growth.

Mahavir further said the machines that produce artificial snow are designed to mimic the way that natural snow is made. In nature, snowflakes are formed when the temperature falls below 32° F (0° C). Atmospheric water then condenses on particles in the air and crystallizes. This action produces snowflakes that have a variety of sizes and shapes.

He explained in a snow machine, water is first mixed with a nucleating material.Than they are then pressurized and forced through an atomizing nozzle. This breaks the water up into a mist, which is then injected with compressed air to break it up even further. As it exits the snow machine, the mist crystallizes on the nucleator and turns into tiny snow-like ice particles. Depending on the quality of the snow machine, the artificial snow can be as good as natural snow.

Expressing his happiness, one of the youths Sunil Thakur, said, “The experiment has been successful. We were earlier worried if machine will work properly or not. This is new thing for tourists and all. The machine is making perfect snow. Not depending on weather for natural snowfall, tourists can now see snow here from November till March when temperature dips below freezing point. The best thing is the whole technology is 100 per cent eco friendly.”

Hira Lal, Gokul Thakur skier from Manali and Mohan, other three partners were explaining to others that how powerful fans of the machine breaks water into superfine droplets which start floating in air and cool climate turns them into ice which eventually falls on ground in form of natural snow.

The technology is not new in Europe and many developed nations where snow guns are used to make snow in ski resorts, but technology has never been tried in Himachal before this.

The local skiers have been demanding from government to installs snow guns on slopes from many years but youths from small villages did this before government could. However, their machine cannot be used on government land.

Roshan Thakur, former secretary general of Winter Games Federation of India helped youths in importing machine. “The snow quality is great. It’s great that the technology has eventually reached Himachal. I am in talk with our sports minister so that more such machines are installed on our skiing slopes.”

This way our skiers can do rehearsal everyday in winters. And we can host winter sports competitions anytime without depending on weather,” said Thakur.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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