Trail Grooming Frequently Asked Questions
What equipment does the club groom with?
The club grooms with a 2008 Piston Bully 100 specific designed the cross country ski areas which has a powerful tiller which can groom and track set 3.3 m in one pass. We have an older Piston Bully 70 that is used primary as backup and grooms 2.5 m in one pass. The other key machines are a 2 m G2 snowmobile groomer with track setter and a 3.2 m roller which is pulled by a snowmobile to compact snow. The club is in the process of purchasing a second high performance grooming snowmobile, a second snowmobile grooming attachment with track setter as well as a snow leveler to allow the club to have increased equipment redundancy.
Why not use the PB100 all the time?
The PB 100 can’t be operated in low snow conditions due to the depth of the cleats on the tracks. This prevents it from being used in early season because the tracks will dig up rocks. It also has an aggressive tiller which can easily cut down to gravel or dirt and spread it throughout the snow pack.
When there is sufficient snow to groom with the PB 100, each time the trail is tilled the snow crystals are altered and become finer. To an extent this can improve skiing however when the snow is tilled too much the crystals become small and rounded which causes the trails to quickly become very hard and icy. The G2 groomer has less aggressive action and does not alter the snow crystals as much so one reason it is used is that the snow will remain easily skiable longer. Another reason to groom with the G2 is that it is narrow enough that on many trails the skating lane can be smoothed and groomed without affecting the classic tracks. The snowmobile and G2 also travel faster than the PB 100 so that many more km of trail can be groomed in a single day.
In spring when there is frequent freeze and thaw the PB 100 tiller does a great job of chewing up the ice. Unfortunately each time this is done the snowpack is reduced by a few centimetres.
Why does the club groom with a snowmobile?
The snowmobile groomer is the only option in low snow conditions. It can soften the skating portion without damaging the existing classic track. It is fast and economical to operate and does minimal damage to snow crystals. In the spring if the snow is not too hard the G2 pulled by a snowmobile can grind up the top layer of snow without reducing the snowpack as much as the PB100. This allows the trail to be groomed more frequently and extends the life of the snow.
I like fast skiing on hard trails why are the trails groomed so frequently?
The club try’s to provide conditions suitable to the majority of members. The goal is to provide stiff dependable classic tracks and a firm non icy skating lane. These two objectives can be challenging to reach at the same time. The trails which are generally more challenging and are ranked as “more difficult” or are part of designated race courses are groomed to suit more experienced skiers.
Does the club groom every day?
The CNSC is one of a handful of BC clubs that has the capacity to groom every day and conditions permitting, over much of the ski season, many trails are groomed every day. A groomed trail remains in good condition for several days with little skier traffic and some trails are not groomed daily because they receive less traffic.
Weather conditions have a great effect on grooming and if the weather is inclement the club will not groom. For example, if the snow is too warm or too wet, grooming will quickly turn the snowpack into concrete. The Pine Flats area of Otway is in a cold microclimate which allows the trail in this area to be groomed more reliably than those higher on Cranbrook hill. Some trails require a greater depth of snowpack before they can be groomed and are not open in early season.
My favorite trails were not groomed one Saturday morning?
The clubs executive and grooming staff feel that the trails and the grooming of trails is the clubs number one priority. The goal of the club is to have outstanding trails when snow conditions allow. The club is in the process of strengthening the reliability of this grooming fleet with additional equipment purchases and ensuring that back-up grooming staff is available 24/7.
What is the order that trails are groomed?
The order in which trails are groomed is selected each day by each operator to match that days specific requirements and the most logical order to avoid double grooming any one section of trail. They try and provide priority to the most popular trails while still providing a selection of trails of various difficulty levels for different users.
The trail was icy after yesterday’s rain why wasn’t it groomed?
The PB100 tiller can chew through any ice but grooming in warm weather will cause more harm than good as a smooth even trail can’t be reset. Snow temperature needs to stabilize and water needs to pass through the snow pack before grooming can take place.
How long does it take to groom all the trails?
The club has over 50 km of trails and the PB 100 averages about 5 km/hr including the extra time required for intersections and short connectors. It takes over 11 hrs to groom all the trails at one time.
What should I do if I see a grooming machine heading toward me?
Please move to the side well off the compacted area. This will allow equipment to quickly pass and continuing grooming the complete trail network without interruption. The operators must take additional care when skiers are near to them which slows operations.
Why does the club not have a back-up Piston Bully 100?
The club’s executive have considered this option but these are very expensive machines ($225,000) to have available “just in case” and given their complexity and distance to trained service technicians having a “good used” machine is not a viable option. The club has decided to put an aggressive replacement schedule in place, has back-up plans for rapid repairs, rental and replacement options. The club is strengthening the economical snowmobile grooming fleet to provide back-up alternates.
Why did it take so long in 2011 for the Piston Bully 100 to be repaired?
The engine of the PB100 is a conventional diesel and can be maintained locally, diagnosis of the Piston Bully specific electronic controls and hydraulic system very complex and specialized. Our efforts to obtain specialized assistance have been problematic in the past. To reduce down time we now have a plan in place to quickly ship the machine to Calgary (the western Canadian PB Service Center) for repairs rather than having the technician travel to PG.
Why does the club groom in the morning rather than at night or during the day?
Although grooming may take place at any time of day or night, particularly after large snowfalls, there are two good times for grooming. One is to groom at night and the other is early morning. Grooming during the day or early evening is avoided first because of the number of skiers on the trail and resulting safety concerns and second because in later season this is the warmest part of the day. After grooming the snow must set up which takes longer at warmer temperatures and if it is too warm the snow cannot be groomed at all.
Grooming at night or early morning both have advantages and disadvantages. Snowfalls do tend to occur most frequently in the early morning which makes grooming in the late evening less attractive. Grooming typically takes 4 to 6 hours per day and it is more difficult to find groomers willing to regularly work from late night until the early hours of the morning. At this time the your executive and grooming staff feel that morning grooming provides the best compromise for the majority of members. Groomers typically work from 5 or 6 am and try to be off the trails by 10 am.
Do groomers get paid?
The club uses a combination of paid and volunteer groomers.
How can members help make better trail conditions?
Please do not ski behind the groomer and avoid trails that are very freshly groomed as you will punch ski tracks into the snow. It takes approximately one hour for the snow to set up after grooming to provide that smooth firm corduroy that the majority of members love. Try to preserve classic tracks when herringboning up hills or skate skiing by staying well away from set tracks.
The Greenway trail is groomed from time to time. Is there a schedule for grooming?
For 2012/13 the CNSC is working in partnership with the Greenway society to occasionally groom the greenway trail. The intent is to groom the Greenway about once a week.
Who should I direct my grooming suggestions, concerns too?
Please send an email with your comments/questions (please provide your phone number) to email@example.com and we will try our best to get back to you within 48 hours.