Frozen crystals flying through the air, high on a mountain on dark winter nights. It is a rare person who possesses the fortitude and resilience to be a snowmaker. This is raw, soulful work with a front row seat to the extremes of nature.

When the sun goes down, they suit up and head up the mountain. But what they do up there is more than pointing cannons and watching snow come out. Way more. Making snow in all different conditions means they have to know the science behind it. They have to know every detail of the complex systems from the pump house to the controls to the pipes to today’s modern snow guns, not to mention how to do it safely, efficiently, and sustainably.

There’s nothing easy about it. Creating a winter wonderland every day all winter long – whether nature shows up to help or not – is grueling work. It’s also work that demands camaraderie and cooperation, the qualities of a true team. Because even with all the best equipment, skills, and knowledge, none of it can be done without teammates who have your back.


Recognizing the extreme challenges snowmakers face, Ski Area Management (SAM), a professional trade publication for mountain resorts and the people who make them run, created a one-of-a-kind contest for this extraordinary job. “I AM A SNOWMAKER” was launched in 2014 to recognize these mountain pros and shine a bright light on their critical role in making the ski and snowboarding world go ‘round.

After all, mountains wouldn’t be all they are without snowmakers. All those unforgettable skier and rider days would be much fewer and farther between without snowmakers. Winter would still be cold and often unforgiving, but it just wouldn’t be as big and beautiful without snowmakers. Our epic days on the mountain would be few and far between. Instead, we have more great runs, more epic days, and more fun all season than ever before. Thanks to these intrepid souls.

Vital to it all, the I AM A SNOWMAKER project tells the story of team unity, determination, mentorship, and hard work that are all basic facts in the snowmakers’ work world. While grit and guts are basic job requirements, these are also people driven by passion and purpose.

Just this winter, for example, the Belleayre Mountain snowmaking crew got the mountain open November 18, and even with the all-over-the-board behavior of nature this fall, the entire mountain (63 trails, 100%) was open December 19. And it wasn’t even officially winter yet!

Even in summer, they’re all about winter, laying the literal groundwork up and down the mountain for our great winter on the mountain. The Belleayre team laid a massive 60,000 feet of new pipe this year, installed 300 brand new low-energy, high-efficiency snow guns, added a new pump to their fleet, and brought on and trained new crew members. Now, they can make more snow, faster than ever, using less energy than ever, too. Summer and fall were non-stop for Belleayre snowmakers, who successfully laid a solid foundation for a fantastic winter.

Rock Stars of the Mountain

This is why the ski industry sometimes recognizes snowmakers as the rock stars of the mountain. But the truth is, rock stars do their thing on a stage, getting fame and fortune and endless attention from adoring fans. Snowmakers work behind the scenes. Largely out of sight. As skiers and riders, we see the snow guns and enjoy the result of the snowmakers’ hard work, but we rarely get to see them – the skilled and determined people who make up the snowmaking team.

The honest fact is we need them far more than actual rock stars if what we want are great days slicing through pow. Because with every tiny crystalline flake, they make this one run, this one day, this entire season, all possible. They are the team behind our turns.

The Snowmaking Team at Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills is one of seven crews selected for this year’s I AM A SNOWMAKER contest. Each team creates a video taking viewers behind the scenes, highlighting their strengths, and sharing why they love making snow at their mountain.

Now is time to give recognition where it’s due.

Take just a moment to pay tribute the hardworking team at Belleayre. The team who laid it all on the line to get the mountain open earlier than any other in the Catskills. Click here and vote for their video.