A ski resort in the Ceres mountains: Feasibility Study

Ceres, nestled between the majestic Hex River and Witzenberg Mountains, with a pleasant climate and beautiful scenery, makes for an ideal holiday destination. It is situated just over an hour's drive from Cape Town and is very accessible from other major inland and coastal cities. What make this village even more attractive are the natural snowfalls occurring during the winter months. Combined with the steep Matroosberg slopes bordering Ceres, it involuntarily brings to mind an exclusive winter sport being practiced here - skiing.

A few years ago GPB Consulting was approached to conduct a study as to whether it would be feasible to develop a ski-resort in the Ceres Mountains.

Was the snow produced by natural snowfall sufficient to justify the development of an expensive, though certainly most popular ski-resort?

  • Due to the rocky nature of the slope, a snow-depth of at least 750mm is required for safe skiing.
  • The slope anticipated for skiing receives afternoon sun, consequently the snow tends to soften quickly.
  • According to statistics, giving the number of days during 1984 to 1988 on which the slope could be used for skiing, it became clear that natural snowfalls producing enough snow for skiing were indeed limited, varying from nil to a mere 7 days annually.
  • Thus the natural snowfall needs to be supplemented by artificial snow.

Artificial snow is manufactured by electrical or diesel machines. Large amounts of water at high water pressure are needed and the atmospheric dew point has to be below freezing temperature. Temperatures taken at Matroosberg were generally too high and it would not have been economical to manufacture artificial snow. More temperature readings need to be taken over an expanded period of say another 2 to 3 years in order to arrive at a final conclusion.

Indications are that should a ski resort be technically feasible, economic considerations would require summer and 'no-snow' activities such as rock climbing, hiking, horse-riding, etc. to be developed parallel to those related to skiing.

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