Grooming To The Top Of Chair 2
On Tuesday morning the early birds to the top of Edelweiss Chair got the chance to enjoy a trail that hasn’t been groomed in over 15 years – Schluct. While the trail is only wide enough for one strip of cord, it’s very rare and quite a treat!
But why was Schluct groomed? Well, it was the byproduct or bonus of a specific mission. There is no such thing as “too much snow”, but there is no denying that some unique challenges arise when you get as much snow as we did during the month of February. Snow removal from areas that are not designed to hold that much snow requires a huge effort. You might normally think that only applies to roofs, walkways, and roads, but maintaining a specific snow depth around our lifts is also a constant effort.
At the top of Edelweiss Chair (Chair 2) we received over 281” in February alone and the snowpack is over 20ft deep. When the snow gets this deep the unloading ramp doesn’t work the way it was designed and requires constant clearing by snowblower and by hand prior to opening the lift after every snowfall. The snow between lift towers 11 and 12 also gets so deep that your skis start gliding along the snow as you travel up the lift. While the experience is quite incredible, just knowing that much snow is on the ground, it does present a hazard.
So, when the snow gets that deep – manpower just isn’t going to cut it and we start planning to get a groomer to the top. This is not as simple as you might think and requires a small team to make it happen. Patrol, lift maintenance, grooming, and our fabricator came together to pull off this mission to the top that actually started nearly seven years ago when we installed a new winch tower and a custom fabricated tool to pull the groomers winch cable straight up to the tower. The custom tool and tower make getting to the top in a cat easier, but it’s still quite a nerve-racking task.
Thankfully we have Jack, he’s an extremely skilled groomer operator who knows all the nuances of Alpental and our snowpack. He’s been to the top in a cat before and knows how to get the snow cleared safely and effectively. Once at the top he was able to get the area cleared out in just about an hour, then he and the team moved on to the task of clearing below the chairs between towers 11 and 12. Clearing below the lift requires two spotters at a distance and a very in-tune operator to keep the cable and machine from contacting chairs – threading a massive machine through a tiny space.
Once both snow removal tasks were complete, the groomer dropped back into Schluct and laid down one extremely rare strip of cord for you to enjoy. Due to the difficulty and challenge of grooming that trail, you unfortunately won’t find it groomed unless we have the need to clear snow from the top with a cat.
With a little bit of luck, maybe mother nature won’t wait quite as long to over-deliver and you won’t have to wait 15 years for your next chance to experience corduroy on Schluct again.