New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Being a snowmaker...

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hey all,
I am just posting to get some input on what it's like to be a snow maker at a resort. I have an interview for the position on Wednesday and want to know what to expect from the job, how a day usually goes...that sort of thing. Also any tips on the interview would be greatly appreciated. thanks
post #2 of 28
It helps to be a night owl, and apparently it helps to be from New Hampshire, as every new snow maker at Snowbowl over the past few years has been from NH. Ducks to water, and all that.
post #3 of 28
It looks like a cold job to me.

Wondering where, generally, you would like to work?

At Jiminy Peak, which is all snowmaking, snowmakers work hard. There is a lot of walking. They drag hoses with the snowmobile and by hand. Setting up the tower guns is routine but still work.

It's cold.

They wear ear protection, helmets. They work in slippery conditions. It's up to them to thaw pipe freezes and prevent them as well.

The snowmakers at Jiminy seem well qualified and willing to get the work done. I don't kown what the pay is like but they perform their jobs as if they are pros.
post #4 of 28
Jiminy's job post:

Snowmakers
Responsible for enhancing our guests’ experiences by creating safe and high quality snow conditions. Responsible for monitoring and positioning snowmaking equipment. Must be 18 or over, available full-time and able to work a flexible schedule including holidays. Must be able to push and pull substantial amounts of weight, withstand extreme weather conditions, and physically negotiate steep terrain. 3 shifts available, full-time
post #5 of 28
I hope you enjoy being blasted in the face by firehoses in sub zero weather. From what I've seen, that is typical in the day of a snowmaker. I'm certainly glad they do what they do, but don't think I'd last long in that occupation. Not sure if it would be fit Most Dangerous Jobs or Dirty Jobs show content best, probably some of both.
post #6 of 28
They forgot that you get to inhale in all of that toxic stew from the recovery ponds.

Take a look at the pond .... some aren't bad .... but some are pretty gross!

post #7 of 28
One look at that reminds me to rinse and dry my skis before putting them up after a day on the "snow?"
post #8 of 28
Killington's snow smells. Worry about Chollera.

Jiminy Peak used to add abacteria to improve freezing time
post #9 of 28
I was a snowmaker for several years, albeit back in the early 1980's.

Most of the work is done at night. They may run two shifts, or just one long night shift. You will need a pair of sorrels or similar boots, Grundens, good rubber work gloves, ear protection and a beard.

On a typical night, you head to the top of the hill, either on a lift or on snowmobile. You pull the guns into place, and hook up the hoses. Turn them on, then stand under the snow to determine the quality. Repeat for the next 3 hours. Take a break and drink really bad coffee in a noisy pumphouse. Go back to the top of the hill and check the snow again. Drink bad coffee. Check the snow. Drink bad coffee.

Then you need to put the guns away. Turn them off, and pull all of the frozen hoses out of the snow. Slog them to the side of the trail. Repeat for the next three hours.

It helps if you have background as a fisherman, logger semi-crazed hermit. Any questions?
post #10 of 28
If you became a snowmaker out west, you would be unemployed after the new year since most resorts stop making snow after the natural snow starts piling up. You get to keep your pass though!
post #11 of 28
Snowmakers I've known often work 12 hour shifts, three or four days a week, often overnight. This kind of schedule leaves LOTS of time for skiing, if you still have the energy!
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayPowHound View Post
Snowmakers I've known often work 12 hour shifts, three or four days a week, often overnight. This kind of schedule leaves LOTS of time for skiing, if you still have the energy!
Hahahaha. That's what I thought too.

I worked 12 hour night shifts for a while last season. It was a great experience. As someone trying to make a career in the business, it is good to understand all on-mt. departments.

But I don't think I'll ever work on a snowmaking crew again. I like skiing too much to do that to myself. I would head up the hill to start at 7PM, I'd work all night slugging guns and hoses around, adjusting mixture, standing in the plume, post-holing balls-deep, etc. I'd get off work at 7AM, drive home, and pass out until around 6PM, at which point I'd eat and start over.

I don't want to discourage you from making snow. It can be an absolute blast at times, and it is certainly a valuable experience (perhaps even character building!). But just don't expect to have the energy to be on the snow everyday.

I'm taking the other night route this year: grooming. I like the idea of an 8 hour night shift. That way I'll be able to make some turns everyday.

Best of luck!
post #13 of 28
Yeah - my first year at Alyeska was when the snwomaking system was new. We had a lot of trouble shooting to do, besides making a bunch of snow. I worked 12+ hour days for every day from October 20 to Christmas eve. Did not ski once, but had enough dough to make the rest of the winter go by sweet.

All places are different, but I ended up as the go-to for a couple of years. Once the snow was made, I would do whatever they put me on. If a liftie called in sick, I was a liftie. Or a lift mechanic, cat mechanic, groomer, painter, slush-cup builder. Kinda fun, in a way.
post #14 of 28
I'd love to drive a groomer. I think that would be a sweet gig.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn J View Post
I'd love to drive a groomer. I think that would be a sweet gig.
Yeah, I'd love to drive a groomer too - it sounds fascinating.

For about a week; after that point I'd probably be bored out of my mind.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
Yeah, I'd love to drive a groomer too - it sounds fascinating.

For about a week; after that point I'd probably be bored out of my mind.
It's only boring on calm nights on gentle terrain.

For the most part, it's very mentally demanding, if you actually want to do a good job. There is a lot to pay attention to, especially blading. Then you've got a rear implement. And every night is different, depending on snow conditions.

A lot of people dedicate their entire career to operating snowcats.

Also, just a little technicality: there's a huge difference between "driving" a snowcat, and "operating" a snowcat. You could teach a five year old to "drive" a snowcat. Operating, that's another story entirely!
post #17 of 28
Western resort or eastern resort? If it's a western resort, your job can start in October and last through December (possibly). Most of the work is done at night and the shifts tend to be long. There can be decent opportunities for overtime. It's hard work, no doubt about that. It can also be dangerous. Generally you're paid more than other resort employees because of that.

Here's some things you may not have considered. By starting earlier than other employees, you'll have an opportunity to meet more managers and folks who can offer you a great job during the rest of the season. Folks in departments like slope maintenance generally have pretty good jobs and are fun to be around - working in snowmaking will give you a good leg up on getting a job somewhere like that. You also get an opportunity to see parts of the mountain at a time of year most folks don't get to see. Snowmaking can also be very hit or miss. Early in the season you may get called into work and the temps never drop enough to make snow. Other times things are set up and dialed in and you don't need to make a lot of adjustments. When you interview, try to get a feel for how good the snowmaking system is. The newer it is, the more automated it is and the less work for you. Also, find out how long the snowmaking supervisor has been there. If he's been there for 10 years, chances are he's got everything running really smooth and it'll make it easy on everyone.
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn View Post
Western resort or eastern resort?
That's the question right there. I made snow for a season and a half here in JH about 17 years ago. It left me time plenty of time for skiing. It was great. I'm not sure if I'd want to do it at an eastern resort, but at a good western resort- where you get "laid off" in mid January- and get to keep your pass...that would be great.

One strange side benefit: working (at times) in subzero temps with water and frigid brass hose connections gave me a new appreciation for being really cold and wet. Working ungloved changing spray nozzles on the blowers must have dome something to the capillaries in my hands...stronger? more blood flow? Who knows???

It has to be really cold for my hands to get cold. And I can always seem to warm them up pretty fast.
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
its a western resort... i like the idea of really working my butt off for a few months then getting "laid off"
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
also, I know its kind of last minute, cuz the interview is tomorrow, but do you guys think I should wear a tie to the interview, I guess you can never really overdress...
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by superse7en View Post
also, I know its kind of last minute, cuz the interview is tomorrow, but do you guys think I should wear a tie to the interview, I guess you can never really overdress...

post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by superse7en View Post
also, I know its kind of last minute, cuz the interview is tomorrow, but do you guys think I should wear a tie to the interview, I guess you can never really overdress...
Wear a neon fartbag. With a tie, of course.
post #23 of 28
Wear what one of my college buddies referred to as a Vermonter going to a funeral. Shirt, tie and Carhart pants.
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushMogulMaster View Post
For the most part, it's very mentally demanding, if you actually want to do a good job. There is a lot to pay attention to, especially blading. Then you've got a rear implement. And every night is different, depending on snow conditions.
Indeed. I'm always impressed when I see an operator that really does a good job. Especially at hills that haven't bulldozed everything planar.
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
Indeed. I'm always impressed when I see an operator that really does a good job. Especially at hills that haven't bulldozed everything planar.
True. Grooming is really only boring when all the terrain you're working on is already flat as a pancake! Then all you do is drive with your tiller/c-bar down, and you will automatically leave a nice pass!
post #26 of 28

ive been a snowmaker at timberline 4 season resort for 11 years your only as good as your gear its a cold wet job but can be really fun its long hard hours that no one notices untill your jobs not done we are treated as if we dont exist 

post #27 of 28

A 7 year bump!!

 

Nice job.

post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by lildave22682 View Post
 

ive been a snowmaker at timberline 4 season resort for 11 years your only as good as your gear its a cold wet job but can be really fun its long hard hours that no one notices untill your jobs not done we are treated as if we dont exist 

Welcome to EpicSki!  Any idea when you are going to start working for this season?  I had a good time on snow whales during early season in early Jan checking out Tline for the first time.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion