As you stand at the base area outside the Main Lodge and put on your gear, the top of the slopes beckon to you. If you are lucky to catch one of the first chairs, you look down to see rows and rows of immaculate corduroy. The excitement builds as you can't wait to make those first runs of the day. As you carve, turn and coast you probably don't think much about how all this came to be. A behind-the-scenes look with our snowcat operators tells the story.
Each night, our three PistenBully Snowcats take to the hill to begin the transformation of the slopes. A very well-choreographed dance takes place between the three as they follow one another through the trails laying down the perfect corduroy. Once the first phase is complete they split off to do their solos runs with a combined time of 42 hours of grooming every night. Two PistenBully Snowcats run two eight-hour shifts, 4pm-midnight and midnight-8am. The new addition to the grooming fleet is the PistenBully Park Pro that is specifically built to create and maintain terrain parks. This snowcat runs a 10-hour shift every night, 4pm-2am.
Behind the machines are the men who do the real work to ensure the job is done to the best of their ability and the product is something they can be proud of. Our operations crew has 11 groomers who work hard to provide our guests with the best conditions possible. With more than 70 years of experience between them, they ensure our runs and terrain parks are top-notch when you arrive. Peter Breighner, freestyle terrain park manager and a veteran groomer, explained, "Many people don't realize that grooming is almost a 24/7 operation, with staff here all hours of the day."
As maintaining the slopes is an ongoing affair, communication is key among the operations crew, ski patrol, lift operators and snowcat drivers. The grooming crew begins to tidy up the slopes during night skiing and riding; crew members have to be alert at all times to ensure the safety of the guests on the slopes and themselves. Radioing locations, where they are headed to next and what to be on the lookout for is key, all while laying down those beautiful rows of corduroy. To become a snowcat operator, it takes in-class training, ride alongs and controlled environment driving. In and out of class training easily exceeds 80 hours before one can groom alone.
At the end of the day, or night in this case, our goal is for the guests to experience the pride we have for our slopes while understanding the importance we place on safety. Breighner says his favorite part of his job is creating a beautiful product for people to enjoy in the morning.
If you see our hard working crew out making the slopes look good, give them a wave and a thank you! They've earned it. If the video has you itching for an even closer look, schedule a ride-along with one of our veteran snowcat operators.◂ Return to News & Updates