Their best work is done in the dark. The finished product – a well manicured surface featuring world-class corduroy. You seldom see this crew of highly skilled individuals, but their work is of the utmost importance to the quality of skiing at Canyons Resort. Who am I talking about? The grooming crew. Our man on the mountain, Brian Valle, gives you the rundown on what a typical day looks like for him and other members of the Canyons Resort grooming crew. Enjoy!
5:30pm: The alarm goes off. Pound a shot of day old coffee. Check. Out the door for a 5-7 mile run. Check. Two hundred pull-ups, 400 push-ups, 1000 sit-ups. Check, check, and check. Bed time, right? Maybe for you, but I’m just getting going. Why all that madness, you ask? Because sitting in a snow cat for nine hours tends to slow you down a bit.
Next, time to take care of some everyday stuff and maybe get a bite to eat. But only a small snack. Digesting a large meal in a snow cat, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a ski run? You do the math.
11:15pm: Time to go. Yup, that’s PM. Get to work, clock in, game on.
While you lay your head down and drift off to la la land dreaming about the turns you made today and the ones you can’t wait to make tomorrow, we’re meeting at a table filled with snowmakers and groomers, planning our nightly attack. Remember – Mother Nature has not been good to us this year. Almost every inch of snow you’re skiing on has been made and laid by man. What do I mean? Well, since October, the snow makers have been cranking the snow guns all over the mountain. Depending on where and what mountain these piles are on, they can be anywhere from 20 -35 feet high and 40 feet around.
Enter the grooming department. Stand on top of said pile and throw a football as far as you can in every direction. Add a 20-35% grade and another football fields’ distance. That’s where the snow SHOULD go, spread anywhere from four inches to four feet, all around the mountain.
It’s a long night that can sometimes be very frustrating. Snow cats can break down on the hill. Fuel truck can breaks down. Heck, it could be anything.
Just a reminder – It’s now 2, 3, or maybe even 4 o’clock in the morning. At this time most of us are wishing we were home in bed like normal human beings. Some of us have girlfriends, fiances, or wives that are home alone.
Why do I do it? Did you not see the picture? YES, it IS that fun to drive. Did you ever have sandbox when you were a kid? Well, this is just a bigger sandbox. A sandbox filled with Snow! With good communication, some funny jokes over the 2-way radio, and a killer playlist over a sweet sound system, most of the time, things go smoothly as we work our magic on Utah’s single largest resort.
6:15 AM: Time for another awesome sunrise. I don’t care how many you’ve seen; they never get old! But work isn’t done quite yet. As the mountain comes to life with employees and guests, we tie up all of the “little” loose ends, readying the slopes for our guests.
8:00 AM: Your alarm finally goes off. Your fresh coffee is brewing and your gear is waiting.
8:45 AM: We call ourselves clear of open terrain. Now the runs are ready for you to tear into. What has taken two shifts and 18 hours to make perfect is now ready for your skiing and snowboarding pleasure. Maybe you’re not into the groomed runs and would rather hit some powder. Either way, it’s these trails that will take you from one side of the mountain to the other, or from one fresh stash to the next.
We don’t do it to become rich or famous. We do it because we love it. Although getting a little love every now and then is never a bad thing. Sothe next time you see a snowmaker or groomer, maybe buy them a cup of coffee. Chances are, they could probably use it. I’ll take mine with a packet of Sweet’N’Low. If not coffee, at least give them some props for their hard work. They’re probably the guys sitting on the lift next to you, giving you better directions than any trail map ever could.