Wet winter means more digging out, prep work for ski resort employees

Mar 9, 2023, 12:40 PM | Updated: 1:05 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Before many Utahns were awake, Solitude Mountain Resort’s employees were at work, clearing all of this snow that has continued to hit Utah and preparing to open.

The resort’s snow total this winter is just under 600 inches. Wednesday’s snowfall added to the count.

“It’s just such a rare day to get a bluebird powder day so we knew we had to be on the lift early,” said skier Mary Oneglia.

Early birds get the first runs of the day, but before they line up, a lot of work has to get done.

After a storm, employees will come into work to find more fresh powder, piled high. Before anyone can walk, drive or ski anywhere, they need to clear it.

Lift operations director Casey Hall gets to work around 6 a.m. every day.

“The lift mechanics head out on the hill, they get the lifts going, they’ve got (maintenance) checks they’re performing on all the lifts,” he said.

While the rest of us shovel our driveways, this team shovels an entire resort daily.

“It’s been endless, endless it seems like,” Hall said.

Resort employees have to battle traffic, road closures and slick conditions, too.

“This last Sunday was a pretty rough day just because what was going on in the canyon, plows were having issues,” he said. “We normally will have anywhere upwards of 40 liftees here to get the lifts ready and we had seven.”

Snow or shine, those liftees are busy shoveling and clearing snow off of eight lifts, top to bottom.

“You get something shoveled off and then the next morning you come back and you do it all over again,” Hall said.

While they clear the snow, ski patrol is busy up on the mountain peaks doing avalanche mitigation work.

“We’re just hearing the blasting,” Oneglia said. “It started at 5 a.m. We’re watching the snowcats doing the grooming over the moon rising.”

Employees said they’re used to the snow, but this record-breaking wet winter keeps them extra busy, and sometimes start times can be delayed.

“We love what we do so, it can be some frustrating mornings, but in the long run it’s a fun job,” Hall said.

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Wet winter means more digging out, prep work for ski resort employees