Behind the Scenes: Grooming Pajarito

Grooming is an essential part of the mountain operations at Pajarito. It takes daily upkeep to keep the runs smooth and to preserve new snow. Grooming is very similar to mowing the lawn, a very steep lawn. It can take one cat two to three hours for a single run with 10-12 passes. Pajarito has three regular cats and one winch cat.  The regular cats can only groom blue and green trails while the winch cat is used to groom the steepest slopes.

Cat on snow
Why is grooming important?
Grooming the snow helps breaks up pockets of air trapped in the snow, and keeps the runs smooth. Pockets of air under the snow can allow the snow to deteriorate, so breaking up the pockets and compressing the snow helps preserve our runs.

How do you decide what runs to groom?
Lone Spruce, Bruce’s Boulevard, Pussycat and the beginner area are groomed daily because of how popular they are. We also groom Daisy May, Bananza, and a wide variety of green and blue terrain on a weekly basis.
Cat on snow with lights on
Is there a difference between grooming natural and manmade snow?
Natural snow is lighter and is compressed easier than manmade snow. There are settings on the cat to help till and compress the different types of snow.

When does grooming start?
We only groom after 4pm, when the mountain is closed. If it snowed that day, grooming starts right away helps preserve the snow. Grooming ends very late at night depending on how much terrain is being groomed.

Have you ever seen any wildlife while grooming?
Most of the time the loud noise the snowcat makes keep animals away. It is not uncommon to take a pass up the slope and come back down to see tracks across the fresh corduroy. I have seen deer, elk, coyotes, and even a bobcat tracks running across the snow.
2 Cats on snow
Grooming is a balancing act. When grooming we have to keep in mind guest preferences and mountain needs. Someone’s favorite bump run can be someone else’s favorite groomer.