Winter is almost upon us and Mother Hulda has already paid a visit. Just a few weeks left until the start of the season in the skiing area Bad Kleinkirchheim and then it's back to skiing on 103 kilometres of perfectly groomed slopes.
So that we can keep on providing the highest quality slopes, we’ve invested in four new snow grooming vehicles this year. The new Prinoth Leitwolf models have impressed us with their even more efficient performance. But how does a snow groomer like this actually work? What did we pay particular attention to when purchasing the vehicles? And what happens to the scrapped ones? Today we’re taking a deep dive into the technical side of our snow grooming fleet.
Unboxing the snow groomer.
The new snow grooming vehicles arrive at the skiing area Bad Kleinkirchheim on a large articulated lorry. But nothing’s ready to go yet because the many individual parts can only undergo final assembly on site. Our fleet mechanics Heinrich and Christian are supported by the Prinoth service staff as well as plenty of helpers from our cable car technology and slope teams.
Together, they tackle the machine's attachments first. They roll out the running tracks next to the lorry, set them on the ground at the exact distance from each other and place the blade and milling cutter in the right place.
Now things get exciting: with the help of the crane, they lift the new 11-tonne machine off the lorry and place it on the running tracks with centimetre precision. After clamping and bolting the running tracks to the wheels, the blade and milling cutter must be fitted too, the hydraulic lines have to be connected and all nuts and bolts tightened.
Et voilá – after about three hours of working together, the first of our new powerhouses is ready for use. And it goes without saying that our employees receive in-depth training in all the new and special features the snow groomer has to offer.
|Year of construction:||2023|
|Engine:||Mercedes OM471 LA T5|
|Engine power:||530 PS / 390 kW|
|Width of milling cutter:||4.30 m (excluding winch) or 4.60 m (excluding winch)|
|Weight:||approx. 11 tonnes (including chains, blade, milling cutter)|
The lowdown on snow groomers.
Or to put it another way: how a snow groomer actually works. After all, there’s a lot of unseen technology that goes into such a large vehicle:
The heart of the machine. A 530 PS engine helps the Prinoth Leitwolf drive up and down the slopes in the skiing area, some of which can be very steep. So if you’ve ever wondered how we prepare the Franz Klammer Worldcup slope: it’s easy-peasy for our power machine.
The movement. Unlike a car, the snow groomer moves on two so-called running tracks. These consist of several steel or aluminium struts and a sturdy belt made of natural rubber. Being built like this means the machine weighs over a tonne – thanks to the large contact surface, the weight is distributed evenly across the slope, keeping the track secure as it moves over snow and ice.
The plough. Over the course of a day’s skiing, the groomed slope has to withstand several skiers travelling over it on their descent. Don’t worry if a lot of larger and smaller mounds form because of this, it’s all quite normal. Using the large blade, the hydraulically controlled plough levels the slope again and ensures an even distribution of snow. And if somewhere else needs a bit more snow – no problem! The plough can push it there effortlessly.
The fine rib. While the running tracks tear up the snow cover beneath them, an electronically and hydraulically controlled milling cutter crushes the snow, smoothening it out again using so-called “finisher flaps”. This is what creates the typical grooves on the surface that we recognise as a freshly groomed slope.
The operator's seat. The modern driver’s cab also includes some advanced technology that makes a significant contribution to smart snow management in our skiing area. One example is, how GPS measurements are used to help our team determine the exact snow depth under the track and know where more snow is needed or which parts need to be reworked.
The driving force. Three of the four new snow groomers also come with a cable winch. This is necessary to secure the snow groomer on very steep terrain too. 1,200 metres of steel cable, 4.5 tonnes of tractive force and a range of automated processes go into this latest generation. For example, the winch now automatically detects how much force is needed to pull in which direction, making our work smoother (in the truest sense of the word). You can read all about how a cable winch works in our blog post: 530 HP.
Important: Despite barriers and flashing lights, the winch’s steel cable is barely detectable at night; this poses a danger to human life, even when the snow groomer is not in sight. That’s why it’s so important for people to stay off the slopes between 5 pm and 6 am!
What our new fleet can do.
A new model also means some new features for work in the skiing area:
Did you know? The Leitwolf can move its milling cutter on both sides by up to 45 cm, allowing it to work with even more accuracy and precision. Prinoth has even gone as far as to patent this socalled parallel shift.
And what are we doing with the four old snow groomers?
… they’re being given a second life by the manufacturer Prinoth, reconditioned and used again somewhere else – mostly in smaller ski resorts. However, some are also stripped for parts, which are used on other vehicles.
Wow, quite a lot of technical details, right? Well, it’s important to us that we keep you up to date on these topics as well. Our aim is to make sensible investments in the development of our company, the region and Carinthian tourism and to continue creating jobs with a focus on the future.