You might have heard us boasting about our plan for enhanced grooming before the 2011-12 season kicked off. Our fleet consisted of 18 machines and now we’ve ramped up to 22. So, to really get a feel for what our groomers get into at night, I decided to get out there and experience it for myself. Groomers have got a tough job- especially here at Squaw. Since we do not have your “standard” cut runs like most resorts in North America our groomers have to tackle the mountain with a unique strategy. Squaw is comprised of wide open bowls that mimics what you would typically see at European resorts. Our groomers must create an even snow surface all over a mountain that has a natural topography of rocks, brush, and uneven terrain. Quite the challenge. There is so much that we (the general public) would never even think about. I can hardly wrap my brain around all of the stuff they have to take into consideration.
To attempt to understand what it takes I went out with Dave Martini, a veteran of Squaw Valley grooming. He showed me his typical route and what it’s like to groom at Squaw.
Our journey started at Dave’s Deli at 5:30am. Dave had pretty much covered most of his standard course and saved the best viewing portion of his route for last (bonus!). You could not ask for a better guide then Dave. It’s no secret the man loves to ski. His love for skiing carries over to his passion for creating the best snow surface on the mountain. Because he is a skier, he knows what skiers want. And that means better snow surfaces for all. From what Dave tells me, the entire crew is that way. They live, eat, breathe skiing and snowboarding and they want to create the best possible snow surface for everyone. Some never even see the summer season because they’ll head towards the southern hemisphere to do MORE grooming.
I love skiing too and I’m so glad these guys are looking out for all of us and the sport we are all so passionate about.
Grooming is like art. And to ensure that their art is a masterpiece, you need the proper tools and experience. Maybe everyone can drive a cat, but when it comes to controlling the tiller and blade that takes some quality hours out on the hill and getting a feel for how everything comes together. During my time with Dave, we concentrated on moving the snow uphill on the road before ‘The Bullet’ right off the top of Headwall. Skiers and riders inevitably push the snow down and to the side. It is Dave’s job, with the help of his crew, to push that snow back up the hill so that come morning we all have a fresh clean slate awaiting us. This takes time. It takes maneuvering and precision. Dave gathers the snow from the side and pushes it inward. He also has to take in consideration…the edge. When it’s all said and done there is a beautiful delicate layer of corduroy on the hill. This may mundane to many, but without Dave manicuring the road so we can reach the actual trail- we wouldn’t be skiing it. Needless to say, I think we certainly enhanced our grooming and we will continue to focus on these efforts for the remainder of this season and in the future!
Enjoy the photo of the sunrise. That’s a pretty epic office view. Jealous? I am.
New this season
: Download the Squaw Valley app
to receive the most up to date grooming information straight from the groomers themselves. The info is updated at 7am every day. Enjoy the corduroy!