When we go through long stretches without much natural snow, grooming becomes the name of the game! Last summer, we decided to flip our old grooming equipment for a new fleet of Pisten Bully groomers with new tillers. One machine is equipped with a winch. The winch allows the operator to lower the machine onto the steepest pitches and then pull the machine back up the steeps. Winching has a huge advantage over grooming downhill. When grooming downhill, the operator is constantly pushing the snow down off of the steeps. With a winch, the operator can pull snow back up the hill and always keep base depths on the steeps constant. Not too long ago we needed two machines and two operators to winch a trail. This was very costly. Today, things have changed. During the summer we installed winch anchors on top of our steepest headwalls. Now we need only one machine and one operator to winch. Expert Groomer Chris Hull merely drives to the winch anchor, hooks the cable onto the anchor and begins the grooming process. It is quick and efficient which means we can groom the headwalls of Supervisor and Tight Line almost every night.
Chris has also learned how to create machine groomed moguls. Two nights ago he created a small mogul field on skier's left of Tight Line. They looked a bit rough at first, but by today, the skier traffic has smoothed them and they are skiing quite nicely. I expect that they will continue to improve with time. We are considering constructing a similar mogul field on the middle steep of Royal Coachman. In addition to the steeps and mogul fields, the grooming strategy is to groom nightly on most of our major trails. We even have added some of the natural snow trails to the nightly grooming list including Lower Jane Craig, Lower Professor & Upper Green Hornet. These trails have good natural cover and are grooming out exceptionally well.
Remember from past blogs when I mentioned that we make snow using an additive called drift. Drift creates bigger & dryer snow flakes and this snow lends itself to a softer and dryer byproduct after grooming. Lastly, today’s modern tillers do such a better job than older tillers. The combination of the new tiller technology and snow with drift result in a beautiful packed powder corduroy surface.
So, we have a very good skiing & riding product going into the school vacation week. The photo depicts today’s conditions. The groomers will do their work nightly to keep it that way. I hope that you will choose to ski Saddleback this week and ski the difference!
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