Creatures of the night
THEY’RE the snow gods responsibly for preparing the mountain at the start of the season and having it packed and flat every day after.
The life of a snow groomer isn’t a glamorous one - they work at night and sleep during the day when everyone else is out enjoying the snow they’ve worked hard to fix.
Jesse Ruming is a grooming supervisor at Mt Hotham and is part of a 10-man team tasked with building runs, opening new terrain and making sure it’s safe.
“Grooming’s very important, at the end of the day the mountain can’t open without it,” he said.
“We go out and make the snow nice and flat and if it’s a slim season and snow has to be brought in or moved from the top of the hill to bottom where it hasn’t fallen than you need snowcats to push it there.
“Sometimes we’re out all night until the sun comes up, but we love it and do it because we want to see people have fun.”
Ruming learnt the craft in Canada where he first drove a Zamboni (an ice resurfacer), before deciding he’d rather operate a snowcat.
Despite spending two years as a groomer at Big White, Ruming said coming to Mt Hotham in 2014 offered a whole new learning experience.
“I had no idea when I got here, grooming at Big White was challenging because it’s very rocky, but it also gets a lot of snow,” he said.
“Coming to Hotham where there isn’t the same amount of snow you have to be completely different with how you groom.
“We might open a run on 10cm of snow whereas overseas resorts won’t open on less than a metre.
“You find Australian groomers are really good because they can work with what they’ve got.”
Mt Hotham has seven front-line Kassbohrer snowcats that flatten the slopes and leave the corduroy.
They also have snowcats used for grunt work, like pushing snow, moving snow guns or digging out buried lifts.
Grooming Tours throughout the season offer people a unique snow experience, and are available every day except Friday and Sunday.
Ruming said, taking a tour was worth doing not just for the spectacular sunsets.
“Some people don’t know what a groomer is when they come to a ski resort, I know when I was a kid I just thought the corduroy formed when the snow fell overnight,” he said.
“Driving up the hill gives you a different perspective that you don’t get riding down it or notice on a chairlift.”
BOYS AND THEIR TOYS: Jesse Ruming is in his fifth season as a snow groomer at Mt Hotham.