We desire the perfect consistency— the snowman-making, ball-rolling type of snow. It’s the middle feel between dry fluff and heavy wet snow. And what we need, is a whipped up batch of wet-bulb temps, a touch of patience, and a trained eye to make our heaping mounds of homemade flakes into perfect and consistent groomed packed powder trails.
It’s more than meeting wet-bulb temps for snowmaking. It’s needing the time, temperature, and patience to get the right snow pile conditions for pushing. Since temperature (and humidity) can change from cold to warm in a short period of time, snowmaking conditions can fluctuate quickly, often causing piles of snow to become too wet. Hence, our dearest ski bums and snow bunnies, the process calls for a touch of patience.
When piles are too wet, we leave them to cure between eight to ten hours to allow excess water to drain out. If we break wet piles, the snow will stick to the front end of the groomer blade. If we break piles in frigid temps, we risk making death cookies. You know, death cookies, those little pebbled, cookie-sized chunks of ice that form on groomed trails. Eek.
Knowing the right consistency is knowing the snow. A trained eye knows when the consistency is ready. We’re not talking bulldozing or snowplowing, we’re talking snowpushing.
It’s all about feeling the trail— the low spots, the incline, the fall lines. It’s about working the snow side-to-side for a smooth even surface. It’s about seeing the trail as a whole picture, and bringing the landscape to life.
If you think riding double black diamonds is tough on the knees, imagine the strength necessary for moving mounds of snow. It’s like going head-first down Razor’s Edge trusting that our cat’s balance and ability to stop will allow us to keep working our way down—and up— the mountain. Groomers, also known as snowcats, are massive machines with significant power, stability, and mobility. The cab sits at the front of the machine with a blade ahead for pushing piles and a tiller behind for churning snow.
In the barn sleeps ten snowcats. We have five Piston Bully 300s, one Piston Bully Park Pro 400 for park building, a Piston Bully 100 and 160 for making tubing lanes, one bucket groomer for gun maintenance and repairs, and one Piston Bully 600, also know as the 4.5 T winch— the lion of the pride.
We play with big toys for a big purpose— to groom swift so you can ski smooth. And what makes the consistency perfect? Well, you might just say it’s all about finesse.
See you on the slopes,