Power packs in the mountains


With about 500 hp and a maximum speed of 30 kph it goes up and down. And in case the slope is too steep, the winch is used. In case of particularly steep slopes as for example the "Harakiri" in the Austrian winter resort of Mayrhofen with a gradient of up to 78% the winch is used. The snowcat hooks into a massive mount at the top of the slope. After having finished the steep slope, the extremely powerful winch pulls the snow groomer upwards. During that, the driver sits comfortably in his driver's cab which thanks to an optimum insulation guarantees pleasantly warm temperatures even in case of particularly low temperatures.

The first snow has long been fallen in the mountains. Snow groomers make sure that winter sportspeople always find the perfect conditions. The small power packs perform far more important tasks in the skiing regions than merely grooming the descents.



The snow groomer seems to move effortlessly up any slope. The chain drive and the low centre of gravity ensure a perfect traction on the snow. Every normal vehicle with four wheels would just sink and get stuck after a few metres in the fine ice crystals. The relatively high average weight 11 tons is perfectly distributed over the large contact area. The basic equipment of the snow groomer comprises the shovel at the front which pushes and distributes the snow ahead of the vehicle. Thanks to the large drive chains the weight solidifies the snow. At the back, there is mostly a cylinder that further evens the snow. The perfect slope is ready.

In some cold and glacial regions of the world you need a snow groomer to go from A to B.


The excessive range of accessories enables the snow groomer to fulfil even more tasks than grooming slopes. Well-known manufacturers as for example Kässbohrer, Formatic and Prinoth also offer special snow blowers for halfpipes or ice channels. There is a cabin module which converts the snow groomer into a ski bus. Off-piste, the vehicles are also used in agriculture, in the peat extraction in moors or at biogas plants for bringing silage in movable silos.



The exterior mirrors and the ample panes provide the driver with optimum visibility around the machine. Since the driver must observe many factors at each call, you being a winter sportsman should be particularly cautious in the vicinity of a snow groomer. When you see the warning light and hear the warning sound, you should better avoid the snow groomer and wait until it has driven past you. Unfortunately, there are always accidents between the vehicles and winter sportspeople. Great fun!



In many winter sport resorts the cable railway companies offer layperons the possibility to sit behind the steering wheel and the joystick of a snowcat themselves in order to plough across the snow on specifically closed and under qualified guidance. For the younger holiday guests there is often the possibility to accompany the snowcat drivers at their work in the skiing area. And in case there is no mountain available, you can also test your skills on a snowcat simulator on the PC.


Photos: Daniela Czekalla, Heike Georg