We will tell you first-hand about the experience of conducting a snow groomer
Have you ever thought about becoming a snow groomer operator, where to learn and how to run your training courses? Although in Catalonia the ACEM organises courses every year in autumn in the Val d'Aran, there is also the option of attending specific courses organized by the manufacturers in the Alpine resorts.
In this article we will learn how training sessions that PRINOTH organizes at the Passo Stelvio Glacier, work.
Albert Rota tells us about his experience at the PRINOTH Summer Training: a training session organized in the summer at the Passo Stelvio glacier in the South Tyrol, in northern Italy. The question-answer format, allows us to better understand how, when and why of these days organized by PRINOTH. Albert Rota was there from June 19-22, 2018.
- Who organizes it?
Rota: This course is organized directly by the snow groomer manufacturer PRINOTH. This course has been done for the first time, as it has emerged as a necessity for the Alpine areas to train operators correctly. It takes place in the perfect environment which is the Passo Stelvio glacier. The dates of the following courses can be found on the PRINOTH website
- Who participates?
Rota: As reported on the website, anyone over 18 can participate and the course is adapted according to the level of each participant and how they see the skills and desire, and above all the attitude, of each one. Not everyone is allowed to drive a machine worth half a million euros.
There are usually places available on the website or, alternatively, you can contact PRINOTH directly. The course is conducted in three different languages; English, German and Italian. Normally there is one trainer for each participant.
These trainers are true experts in the field, as they have been in the machines for many hours and are a pool of wisdom, which allows you to learn.
- How to contact PRINOTH?
Rota: To contact them is very easy, on the PRINOTH Training site there is a link where you can raise your own questions with your email and your data. After a short while they respond to you, and I say this from experience, because you end up dealing very closely with them. At night you send them a question and in less than 24 hours they have already answered you, always with a lot of kindness. And that treatment is very much appreciated, since you are not treated like this everywhere, moreover PRINOTH is an international company , which is part of the LEITNER group.
- What do you do once in Passo Stelvio?
Rota: As I mentioned earlier, this course does not follow an established plan, as it is very different depending on the level of each participant. There is usually a small theoretical part per course and the rest is practical.
The course usually lasts 8-9 hours including 30 min lunch break. You work with the machine and you do a little bit of everything: mainly milling, winching (cable...), and, depending on your personal interests, you can also do bordercross and other work. They practice while people ski on the glacier, on slopes that are closed. Then, once the tracks are closed at 00:30 (taking into account that they open at 6:30), the milling process starts until the work is finished on all the tracks.
The course is mainly about learning how to maneuvre correctly the two jewels of the brand, the BISON X models (which is one of the best snowpark machines) and the LEITWOLF. The LEITWOLF and the BISON are available with cable.
And my experience...
- Who attended?
Rota: In my case, it was very curious, since there were only two of us, one of whom was I, learning everything from scratch. The other was a professional engineer from the Austrian station Planai.
Therefore, as can be assumed, the course was approached differently for each of the participants. It must also be said that each one had a trainer. In my case I had the course coordinator, Florian, and the other student had an Austrian trainer. My course was done in English and for the other student in German. Both of them were great people and real experts, which made me learn a lot from them. They answered with so much knowledge that it was impressive. You truly realize the complexity of this job.
- What did you do there?
Rota: Even though I was an apprentice, I could do anything during the course. We started with the theoretical part, but with the practical part, we did everything based on maintenance and safety in a practical way and already directly with the machines. That way you learn much better, because you know where to look for the oil, hydraulic and coolant levels, or how and where to access the engine. Also the theoretical part in the booth, how to understand the errors that the console announces and in which device and sheet it is located. When in doubt, always consult PRINOTH, as everything is now computerized.
In the case of the practical part, I did a little bit of everything. The main job was to mill and operate the machine correctly, as it is a little different from what we are used to see here in the Pyrenees. The course models are driven in the centre of the cabin with levers in the left hand corresponding to the direction (chains) and the rest of the functions are done with the right hand with the multifunctional joystick. Once they see that you have mastered the machine, you start to mill tracks and use the milling cutter with counter slopes and on tracks with bumps, which makes you constantly watch out for the machine not to deviate. Additionally, the snow, being spring quality, did not help. I also learned how to use the blade correctly with the construction of a bump track. It seems very easy, but it is complicated and requires a lot of concentration, technique and grace. Finally, with the LEITWOLF I made a winch track, which I could say was one of the most exciting things and that I liked the most. It seems very complicated to work with winch, but you really do the same as when you work without, but with greater concentration.
In short, I had the opportunity to do what I liked and I was able to play a little bit of everything that also helps to capture the complexity of this work.
Now all I have to do is add up hours of operating a machine during the seasons to put into practice what they taught me and gain even much more experience.
- How did you find out about the training?
Rota: I found it after contacting an Austrian station, who recommended that I look at the training courses offered by snow groomer producers. And all of a sudden, one day I went off the grid and went to PRINOTH's website. I read about the summer training there. I went straight into it and started to report back. Then I got in touch with them and at the end of my visit was settled. For me it was one of the best experiences I ever had.
- Personal opinion
Rota: For me it has been a great pleasure to be there and to be able to take a step closer to achieving one of my goals, which is also one of my passions that I have had since I was a child. And if I could, in a while and after taking more hours on a machine, I would go back there so that I could become much more professional and learn things that I couldn't, as I wasn't up to it yet.
And to all of you, thank you very much for reading my experience!
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