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Grooming FAQ's

The club grooms with a 2014 and a 2007 Piston Bully 100.  These machines are specifically designed for cross country ski areas and have powerful tillers which can groom and track set 3.3m in one pass.  We also have two snowmobiles specifically for pulling grooming equipment, a 2013 Expedition 1200cc SWT and a 2010 Skandic 800cc SWT.  Primary grooming equipment includes a 2m Tidd Tech G2 snowmobile groomer with track setter, a 2m Yellowstone Ginzu snowmobile groomer with track setter and a 3.2m roller to compact snow.
The PB 100’s can’t be operated in low snow conditions due to the depth of the cleats on the tracks and the aggressiveness of the cutters on the tiller.  This prevents it from being used in early season as the tracks and tiller will bring debris to the surface and spread it through the snow pack.  Ideally, there needs to be a minimum of 60cm of moderately compacted snow before the larger machine is utilized.  Each time the snow is tilled, the snow crystals are altered and become finer.  This improves the skiing surface in the short term however when the snow is tilled too much the crystals become small and rounded, creating a less than ideal surface and reducing the durability of the snow surface. The snow pack can be renewed with the introduction of fresh snow but the cycle starts again until another snow renewal.  The idea is to find a balance to prolong the life of the ski surface.  Snowmobile groomers (G2, Ginzu) have a less aggressive action and do not alter the snow crystals as much.  The snow surface remains more easily skiable for a longer duration.  The G2 or Ginzu are also narrow enough that the skating lanes can be groomed without affecting the classic tracks.  In addition, the snowmobile groomer can travel faster than the PB 100, so more km of trail can be covered in a similar time period. In the spring, when there is frequent freeze/thaw cycles, the PB 100 tiller does a great job of chewing up the ice.  Unfortunately, each time this is done, the snowpack is reduced and the ability of the snow crystals to adhere to each other is further diminished.  Snow crystals have a finite capacity to be worked.
Snowmobile grooming is the only option in low snow conditions.  They are fast and economical to operate and reduce the damage to snow crystals.  The narrow width of the implement also allows the grooming of the skating surface without damaging the existing classic track. In the spring, if the snow is not too hard, the G2 or Ginzu, with additional weight, can grind up the top layer of snow without reducing the snowpack as much as the PB100.  This allows the trails to be groomed more frequently. I like fast skiing on hard trails. Why are the trails groomed so frequently? The club tries to provide conditions suitable to the majority of skiers.  The goal is to provide stiff dependable classic tracks and a firm, non-icy skating lane.  These two objectives can be challenging to reach at the same time.  The trails which are generally more challenging and are ranked as “more difficult” or are part of designated race courses are groomed to suit more experienced skiers.
The CNSC is one of a handful of BC clubs that have the capacity to groom daily and, conditions permitting, generally this is the case.  A groomed trail can remain in good condition for several days depending on skier traffic and grooming it unnecessarily is neither cost effective nor productive in terms of the workable life of the snow. Grooming staff strive to balance the longevity of the snow pack with providing the best possible skiing surface for members. Weather conditions have a significant effect on grooming and if the weather is inclement the club will not groom.  For example, if the snow is too warm or too wet, grooming will quickly turn the snowpack into concrete.  The Pine Flats area of Otway is in a cold microclimate which allows the trail in this area to be groomed more reliably than those higher on Cranbrook hill.  Some trails require a greater depth of snowpack before they can be groomed and are not open in early season.
The clubs executive and grooming staff feel that the trails and the grooming of trails is the clubs number one priority.  The goal of the club is to have outstanding trails when snow conditions allow.  The club has a capital plan to continuously invest in its grooming fleet with additional equipment purchases and preventative maintenance.  In addition, it tries to ensure that back-up grooming staff are available 24/7.
Grooming staff strive to provide a selection of trails of varying difficulty levels for different users, as well as grooming the favorites, within the timeframe of the grooming schedule. The order in which trails are groomed is selected each day by each operator, taking into account, each days specific requirements and the most logical order to avoid double grooming any one section of trail. 
The PB100 tiller can chew through ice but grooming in warm weather will cause more harm than good, as a smooth even trail can’t be reset.  Snow temperature needs to stabilize and water needs to pass through the snow pack to better facilitate grooming.
The club has over 55 km of trails and the PB 100 can average 5 km/hour in ideal conditions.  It takes a minimum of 11 hours to groom all the trails at one time.
Please move to the side of the trail, well off the compacted area.  This will allow equipment to pass and continue grooming the trail network without interruption.  The operators must take additional care when passing skiers, which slows operations.  If you are approaching a machine from the rear leave a wide gap between yourself and the implement.  The operator may not see you and may stop suddenly.  The resulting collision between skier and implement could result in serious injury.
The engine of the PB100 is a conventional diesel and can be maintained locally, however, diagnosis of the Piston Bully specific electronic controls and hydraulic system is very complex and specialized.  Our efforts to obtain specialized assistance locally have been problematic in the past.  In some cases we have no choice but to send the machine to Kelowna (the western Canadian PB Service Center) for a complete detailed inspection, overhaul and maintenance which could take weeks.  Members determined that this down time was problematic.  We purchased a second machine in the fall of 2014 to reduce that down time.  In addition we have a plan in place to quickly ship machines to Kelowna for repairs rather than attempting repairs locally or having the technician travel to PG.
Grooming may take place at any time of the day or night, but there are two preferred times for grooming.  When there is snow in the forecast grooming will take place in the early morning to better facilitate the compaction of fresh snow onto the trails.  With no snow in the forecast the trails will be groomed overnight to better facilitate curing times for the snow pack to make them more durable to skier traffic. Grooming during the day or early evening is avoided because of the number of skiers on the trail, resulting in safety concerns and because in the late winter and spring this is the warmest part of the day.  Grooming typically takes 4 to 6 hours per day and grooming staff will be adapting their schedule to the weather conditions to provide the best trail surface conditions for users.  Groomers typically try to be off the trails by 10 am.
The club uses paid grooming staff to ensure the quality of grooming.
Please do not ski behind the groomer and avoid trails that are very freshly groomed, as you will punch ski tracks into the snow.  It takes a minimum of one hour for the snow to set up after grooming to provide that smooth firm corduroy that the majority of members love.  Try to preserve classic tracks when herringboning up hills or skate skiing by staying well away from set tracks.
The CNSC is continuing its partnership with the Greenway Society to occasionally groom the Greenway trail.  The intent is to groom the Greenway at regular intervals, when time and conditions allow.
Please use our feedback form on the website. We will do our best to respond in a timely manner.


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Snow phone: 250-649-1144
Phone/Fax: 250-564-3809
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Mailing Address
P.O. Box 1243
Prince George, BC
V2L 4V3

Physical Address
8141 Otway Road
Prince George, BC
V2M 7B4