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Sno-Cats on the Slopes

Posted on 2/22/2023
We know that the season is coming to an end, but we want to recognize one of the most important machines that allows us to stay open as long as possible! Sno-Cats are an essential part of maintaining the quality of the snow on the slopes even with the ever-changing Midwest weather.

What is a Sno-Cat? 

Fun fact: Sno-Cats are heavy-duty snowmobiles with caterpillar treads! At Mt. Crescent we use our Sno-Cat to move, carry, groom, and flatten snow. 

There are five main components that allow a Sno-Cat to do its job. 

  1. The blade is a huge snow scooper at the front of the machine. It is used for cutting up chunks of snow, moving sledges, and rolling snow.  

  2. The tracks are made with lightweight materials allowing the Sno-Cat to easily stay on top of the snow despite how heavy the machine weighs. The tracks also help pack down snow before its properly groomed.  

  3. The tiller is on the back of the Sno-Cat and is used to slice up thick chunks of snow.  

  4. The cutter bar is a rotating pipe with sharp barbs that breaks up the snow even more. It’s used after the tiller to churn up the snow.  

  5. The comb is a flap that drags behind the Sno-Cat and rakes the snow leaving satisfying corduroy. 

These machines are used behind the scenes, but they a huge part of the experience at Mt. Crescent. Without our Sno-Cat, the snowy slopes wouldn’t be safe or fun to be on.  

 

The History of Sno-Cats 

Emmitt Tucker invented the first Sno-Cat in 1938 and had the first protype built in 1941. A little over a decade later, in 1957, the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition utilized one of the first Tucker Sno-Cats to cross the first overland of Antarctica. Since then, Tucker Sno-Cat® has designed several different models. Tucker Sno-Cat® made their motto "No snow too deep. No road too steep." They are not exaggerating one bit! These machines are heavy-duty and can push up to 8 tons of snow sledges and travel on icy terrains.  

Over the years, Sno-Cats have been improved to last longer. Tucker Sno-Cat® runs the market in the United States with high quality Sno-Cats. They have custom-made different models of Sno-Cats for different types of clients. Even though Tucker Sno-Cat® models are more readily available in the United States, we have two Prinoth BR 350s at Mt. Crescent. Prinoth is an international Sno-Cat company. When you first enter the parking lot of Mt. Crescent, there is a big 1966 Tucker 442 sitting on a pole. Sno-Cats have a unique purpose with a short history, but they have made winter activities a lot more obtainable. 

 

History of Sno-Cat
This is the 1966 Tucker 442 Sno-Cat that you see when you first enter Mt. Crescent!

 

Why are Sno-Cats Important? 

Mt. Crescent prides itself in creating snow and grooming it for winter activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. When the snow machines are running, we use the Sno-Cat to spread out the snow periodically to keep from huge piles from forming. After we are done creating snow, our expert snowmakers use our Sno-Cat one last time to distribute the sledges throughout the slopes before grooming. Once the snow is properly dispersed, the Sno-Cat then rakes the snow and leaves it freshly combed. 

It’s important to groom the snow for multiple reasons. Grooming packs down the snow which prevents you from sinking into the deep snow. Packing down the snow also reduces the amount of snow that is blown away with strong winds and it won’t melt as fast. In order to keep the slopes safe, grooming is needed. The Sno-Cat smooths out ruts and bumps while also packing the snow down. Safe snow conditions are crucial for a fun time on the slopes! 

Next Blog
Volunteer Spotlight: Kris & Laura of Mt. Crescent Ski Patrol (3/3/2023)
by Dana Kruse, Volunteer & Facilities Coordinator

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