Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Under the "hood"

I know many of our skiers and riders have seen our snow grooming equipment in action either at night or during the day. You see the gleaming machines headed in from a night out on the slopes as an early morning skier or you may see the lights of the mammoth machines making their trips up and down the mountain. Have you ever wondered where these machines hide during the day while everyone is skiing and riding?

The headquarters for grooming and mountain operations is located at the bottom of the Village Run trail. If you come down Village Run or if you come down The Plunge, you will see the Okemo Maintenance shop. This 9,000 square foot maintenance shop is headquarters for the Grooming fleet.

Every day each grooming cat is brought in behind the closed doors and given the once over. The machines are washed down with a power washer and the tracks looked at, the power tiller looked at, the lights, horn and alarms are all checked. Once the outside is looked over, the cab is flipped up and a look under the hood begins. Hoses are checked, belts checked, filters looked at. The entire process takes about 2-3 hours per machine. At any one time there will be 3-4 machines being serviced and checked out. On certain days, the machines will be put on the vehicle lift and fluids changed, track bolts tightened and the rig is given an even more thorough once over.

All is this is accomplished by the top-notch Vehicle Maintenance crew. Led by Bill Johnson and Bill Palmer, the staff of mechanics are certified by the Grooming Company "Prinoth" to work on their machines. They have years of experience at Okemo as well as work as a mechanic. The newer machines have more computer processing which the guys have had to learn. Oh yea, and these same mechanics also work on the 30-40 vehicles and 15 shuttle buses that Okemo has. To say those guys are busy is an understatement. They are on a flat out run!

So the next time you are out skiing and think, hey these groomers did a great job today, also keep in mind that if it wasn’t for the Vehicle Maintenance departments and the dedicated souls "in the shop", Okemo wouldn’t be known for the grooming like we are.

March will soon be here, lets hope for some great spring skiing.

Bruce Schmidt
Vice-President & General Manager


Mont said...

What I want to know is why you insist on laying down a thick slab of ice on the base so that that no matter how much snow we get, it's always icy by 2:00 PM on Saturday? The groomers are top notch but wh ever put down that six inch layer of ice this year needs to be fired. I'd rather hit a few dirt spots and rocks occasionally than have the icy conditions that prevail at Okemo.
Monty Nebinger - Oxford CT

Dave said...

A 6 inch slab of ice? There are things you need to consider before blaming this on the grooming team.

As someone who skis Okemo almost daily during the winter, (I do not work for Okemo Mtn) January saw day after day of outstanding conditions, Ice was virtually non existent. In January we were lucky enough to have sustained cold temps, virtually no freeze thaw cycles and a very good amount of natural snowfall.

Weekdays were excellent, weekends were very good as well despite the fact that weekends are going to have a significant increase in the skier volume.

Recent weather, has been a bit all over the map. The natural snow machine has been a bit uncooperative lately, there have been several warm days, several freeze thaw cycles, couple that with a holiday week, with a LOT of skiers on the mountain, it's going to get skied off. No one laid down a layer of ice. The grooming team at Okemo does an amazing job. I just got back from two weeks in Utah where we also had a freeze thaw cycle, and you know what? They had ice! It happens, It's part of skiing. It's not by design. It's weather related, it's skier traffic related.

And you mention 2 PM, if with the recent weather, the snow conditions held up pretty well few or no slick spots until 2 PM on a Saturday, I would say that's pretty impressive work by the mountain ops team.

I would say that overall the conditions at Okemo this winter have been outstanding.

Dan said...

BRUCE Unfortunately, for the folks that live on ALPINE WAY, your location is not hidden (NOISE).....

Okemo1-2 said...

we try to keep the noise down, but it is a maintenance area. We've tried to only run the compressors when necessary and not back up the machines too much in the middle of the night so the backup alarms are on. At least you are close to the ski trail.........