Courtesy Perisher Resort Marketing
They often say that the real action in the ski fields takes place at night. And that’s true in more than one sense.
With bars, restaurants, nightclubs, band gigs, night skiing and boarding and all sorts of apres ski activities this is usually what people think of when they imagine the Perisher nightlife.
But behind the scenes, on the mountain there are hundreds of hard workers getting ready for another heavy night on the slopes.
You know the scene, you’re sitting in the bar, peering out the window, toasting your aching limbs by the fire, when by the window walk a whole crew of men and women decked out in reflective clothing.
They jump aboard their skidoos and head up the slopes into a world that most of us would never imagine.
Perisher employs plenty of experienced snowmaker’s working 12-hour shifts, allowing the resort to make snow 24 hours a day, seven days a week if needed.
Both men and women make up the team of dedicated snowmakers, who live an unusual life. The graveyard shifts start work at midnight.
Snowmaking Manager at Perisher sees this task as one of the cornerstones of the resort.
“We make snow whenever climatic conditions allow us to. If the temperature is right, even if is dumping natural snow, our snowmakers will be hard at work pumping it out.”The fact that resorts can make snow guarantees what Mother Nature cannot? It is dependable, reliable, and great to ski on.
Snowmakers come from all walks of life, from sunny Queensland, to the USA but all share certain characteristics to cope with this unique lifestyle.
The night is spent checking guns, sorting out pipes, and testing snow quality. The day finishes after the sun comes up, often long after eager skiers have claimed first lifts. A beer at 9am to wind down after a hard night’s work is not unusual. Often much to the surprise of the bar staff!
For such a technical job it’s amazing how hands on it actually is. “People often assume we are out there pushing buttons, and configuring computers, but when it comes to making snow we need to be there physically monitoring what is going on.”
“We check snow quality throughout the night, you grab a handful, squeeze it and let it fall on the sleeve of your jacket. The amount that bounces off, and the amount that sticks then lets you know if it’s wet or dry enough. And people think we only wear those fancy clothes for fashion!”
It is when the guests are draining the last of their Coronas, or having that last schnapps shot, and the aches of the days skiing are fading into a blur, that the Perisher’s groomers really get going.
Snowgroomers play a vital part in resort operations. Just about every skier and boarder typically judges the state of the resort by how well the trails are groomed.
The Grooming Manager, has a crew of up to 35 operators. Some of these guys and gals have 16 season experiences in Australia and North America. Many of the operators employed at Perisher are among the best in the world, from resorts such as Whistler Blackcomb and Squaw Valley.
“It’s hard work, but it’s satisfying. There’s the jaw clenching nights of whiteouts when you can’t see up from down, side from side, nor cliff from rock, but then there are those nights where the moon shines, the snow glistens, and the whole resort is fast asleep unaware of what the new day will bring.”
For guys like Didj, Louis, John and Blanchie there is not a job in the world that compares to creating snow, or grooming it to make it perfect. It is on those moonlit nights, with mornings of the most spectacular fuchsia and ochre sunrises in the world that they can’t imagine being anywhere else.
So next time you are partying on, feeling beat from that long day of skiing powder, remember the mountain crew. They are out there all night, no matter the weather, no matter the strength of the wind, putting things back in shape for another day on the slopes.
And the purpose of the reflective clothing? Well that’s for when the crew finish work – so when they ARE bustin a move, they are already in their party gear!