Crea­tures of the night

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - NEWS - JUSTIN JENVEY

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.

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