by Lu Snyder
At Copper, the snow season doesn’t end with winter.
April can be a bittersweet month as Copper’s winter season comes to an end. For many folks, closing day marks the time to hang up skis and snowboards and plan for summer adventures: hiking, biking, rafting, camping. Noah Schwander has his eyes on summer, too, but as Copper’s Terrain Park and Progression Manager, it’s his job to ensure there’s no end to the snow even though the lifts are no longer spinning.
Copper is one of only a few resorts in North America that offer skiing and riding opportunities during the summer months. Whistler, in British Columbia, and Oregon’s Mt. Hood also offer a summer snow season, but Schwander, who has ridden both mountains in the summer months, believes Copper still has the edge when it comes to summer snow.
“Whistler and Mt. Hood are on giant glaciers, so there’s more room to ski, but we have a superior terrain park,” he says. “We work really hard to put enough snow in there to have the footprint we need to give us the competitive edge.”
From the moment the snow guns are poised in the fall, Schwander and his team are planning for the summer season. They’re not just making snow for the winter, but for the summer, too. As soon as the lifts close, the grooming team will tear apart the mountain’s winter terrain parks – the Super Pipe at the base of American Eagle and the smaller parks along the Union Creek lift – and farm that snow to Copper’s Central Park, where it will build the summer terrain park, the central base for Woodward Copper’s ski and snowboard summer camps.
If you’re thinking Copper’s summer terrain park looks like its winter park, only surrounded by green instead of snow, think again. Each summer, Schwander’s team builds a park with unique features specific to the summer season. Take, for example, the park’s giant snow surf wave, about 30-feet long, 9-feet tall and 8-feet wide.
“We do a lot of cool, custom features for the summer terrain park, so there’s always something special about coming to Woodward in the summer versus coming to us in the winter,” Schwander says.
One of the many creative features found in the Pipeline Park
Two years ago, Copper built a magic carpet – one of the longest and fastest in North America – for its summer terrain park, allowing for maximum laps with little to no hiking required.
“That’s something you don’t get with the glaciers,” he adds. “At Mt. Hood, there’s a lot of hiking or slow lifts. Having that carpet makes more of your day.” And, ultimately, more of your summer, too.
(Note: Copper’s public summer terrain park will be closed this summer due to construction involved with the replacement of the American Flyer lift.)