For Andrew Deitch, job satisfaction is the smiles he sees as visitors look up the hill first thing in the morning and think about their first runs.
“The steepest pitches are winched. We have two cats specific for that. Show-off for instance is winched and some of the stuff under Stairway to Heaven chair has to be winched, but it needs good snow for us to work it. Flags, barriers and warnings are set out so no one can get in the way. Believe it or not, there are people who sneak out for full moon runs and that can be really dangerous.”
I make a note to nominate the trespassers for the Darwin Award.
We rolled up to the summit where light spills from the massive windows at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant. We do a lap around the building. Only a few diners look up to see what we are doing. In their defence, I’ve eaten up there and the food steals the show.
Moving at a blistering speed of maybe 5 kph, we crept up Cloud Nine to groom along Redemption Ridge Road. If you’ve been down that run to pop into Feuz Bowl, you know there isn’t much room to turn. Try that in a snow cat!
As he maneuvered to return to the summit, Andrew talked about how he usually listens to podcasts when he’s driving the machines. Yeah, he was trying to get me to NOT look over the edge! There was no doubt he had the ability but hanging out over the edge was unsettling.
The skier/visitor is always top of mind
“It’s all about balance,” he assured me. “I’ve fallen off roads before. You just have to stay calm and know your machine and surroundings. As a groomer you are more worried about what could go wrong for the skier. That’s probably more of a scary part.”
Enough with the scary stuff, I ask him what’s the best part of the job and he doesn’t hesitate to answer.
“I’ve laid thousands of miles of corduroy, but I think I like carving the roads best right now. I also really like helping train the new guys. I get to ski all I want. And I like that my job brings so much pleasure to so many people. I’ve worked for other big companies, but never felt the instant reward that I get everyday here. Kids get to learn to ski, tourist come and see how great our mountain is.”
Does he mind that no one knows how much effort goes into prepping the slopes?
“Its too bad we don’t see anyone. It would be nice to get a wave or two. But, it’s cool to walk away in the morning and see the excited people look up and dream about how great the day will be. Nothings better than grooming fresh pow. I love setting up the day for everyone.”
After a few hours, Andrew drops me back at the base. As I walk away, I remember to give a giant wave. I can see him laugh and nod before heading back up to set tomorrow’s corduroy.
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