Mini-Series – Lifting The Curtain on Indiscernible Mountain Jobs: After Dark Jobs
Recently featuring on our student website, Line-S, check out Clem’s mini-series Part 2 to ‘Lifting The Curtain on Indiscernible Mountain Jobs’ below.
The sun sets across the snowy peaks, the pistes are cleared and closed whilst après is in full swing – yet for some, the working day is just starting. The hours of darkness signify the commencement of some of the toughest, loneliest jobs on the mountain.
The Piste Bashers
This crucial task is performed nightly to prepare the runs for the following day. It’s lonely work, in dark, icy-cold conditions with only your GPS in the cabin to guide you around the mountain range. Each night, the machines spurts, churns and dashes the snow into place like it’s candy floss; bumping, bumbling and bashing the piste into corduroy for next day’s turns. Some piste bashers come with 1km of cable, so the machine can be attached to very strong fixings (typically metal loops buried in the ground) to provide some security and slide prevention. Good if you want to ride all day long (shifts normally finish around 6am) but bad for your topsy-turvy social life.
Providing pristine pistes
This is for the hardy, gung-ho types. You’ll be working the snow-making machines in the icy darkness. Moving heavy machinery, hiking the slopes, and facing danger from metal and ice (think spraying nozzles that loosen occasionally whipping back and forth) making this no job for the faint hearted. You’ll be pulling guns into places, hooking up the hoses and determining the quality of the snow blasted out by the machines. You’ll need to close valves fighting hundreds of pounds of pressure, dig frozen hoses out from the snow whilst staying alert to potential dangers in the dark, blisteringly cold and small hours of the morning. All whilst working amidst the wildest elements, exposed to the very whims of nature. Good for lusty lone wolves who want to grow a beard for practical purposes.
Operating these machines are no mean feat…
Not all evening jobs are restricted to the slopes. Starting around 8am, our beloved cinema man in La Rosiere, Pat Lam prepares the cinema for the evening sessions. Once his tasks are complete, he’ll spend the day on the mountain – snowboarding in the winter, and hiking in the summer, returning to the cinema at 4pm. He’ll open for the first film at 5.30pm, finishing for the day around 11.30pm. His favourite part is of course, watching and discovering the new films, yet the best is when the outdoor cinema is in operation. You can’t beat watching a film under the stars – although in the winter this is little more difficult to arrange… Difficulties and nuisances arise if the projector isn’t functioning – or the key that has been sent to open films is not compatible. When it happens, Pat says, “we feel very alone!”. Spectators sitting chomping popcorn in the stalls are waiting and one must find a solution rapidly with “sang froid” – calm nerves and diplomacy. This could be possibly the best job on the mountain since you’ll be riding everyday – and be the first to see the new Wes Anderson or Tarentino flick. The downsides? Perhaps eating too many M&M’s…
Operating the cinema allows for plenty of time to ride
Photo: Clementine Gray
Starting in the evenings, with minimal (to zero) colleagues, these lonely Alpine roles are the crucial jobs that most seasonaires and tourists never see. Providing pristine slopes and evening entertainments are all fundamentals of a ski holiday. These guys provide a superbly smooth service (or surfaces, in the case of the piste bashers) for the ski resorts – often whilst we’re softly snoring away, oblivious to these invisible cogs that keep our ski holidays spinning.
Merci Pat pour ton aider!