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Grooming FAQ

The Night Shift

Grooming perfect corduroy and setting crisp tracks is a complex art and science that is influenced by multiple factors including: temperature variations, wind, snow type, sun and shade exposure, frequency and amount of snowfall, type of grooming machine and the attached implements, time of day grooming occurs, speed of the machine, experience of the groomers, and more.


When Kimberley Nordic Club’s groomers work on the trails they consider all of these factors. We are lucky to have experienced groomers who have been laying down corduroy and setting classic tracks on the trails for years. They work late night and the early morning hours to prepare the trails for skiing.

Many trail users want to know more about grooming and how it affects trail conditions. Please read on for responses to our most frequently asked questions:

  • What Kind of Machines Does Kimberley Nordic Club Have and What Do They Do?
    We have three machines for grooming: a Prinoth BR350 snowcat and two snowmobiles, an Arctic Cat Bearcat 7000 and Polaris 800 each with an 84” Ginzu grooming implement attached to the back. The Prinoth BR350 is our primary grooming machine, it is outfitted with a blade, 4.3 m tiller, grooming mat and three track setters. It was purchased by Kimberley Nordic Club in Sept 2016 for $235,000. The snow cat's weight (8400kgs) and power (350 hp) allow us to manage heavy snowfall and churn up hard-packed snow. Under normal conditions, grooming the main double track/skating trails takes approximately 6 hours. The single tracks take 2-3 hours with the snowmobile/Ginzu. Depending on snow conditions, the BR350 uses 24-36 litres of diesel fuel per hour. The snowmobiles, with the Ginzu attachments, complement the snowcat and allow us to groom the narrow or twisty trails and touch up the primary trails when there has been little change in the trail conditions. In low snow conditions, we use it so we don’t find ourselves grooming dirt into the snow. In addition to the Ginzu groomers, we employ a drag or roller after heavier snowfalls. This compacts the snow so the track setter can be more effective. The drag or roller may run over the trails more than once if there is considerable snow.
  • What is Tilling and How Does It Help?
    Tilling is essentially “churning” up or rototilling the snow. The tiller is attached to the back of the snowcat and contains a spinning auger bar and heavy plastic combs. The speed at which the auger bar spins impacts how well we are able to tear apart the snow or ice and lay it down again as corduroy. When there is fresh snow, the tiller does not have to work very hard. When conditions are icy, the auger bar needs to spin quickly to churn the trail surface into fine particles, which the combs press into new corduroy. With hard snow the auger bar has a hard time maintaining speed, so we travel forward at a low rate of speed in order for the auger to better churn up the snow and ice. Immediately behind the tiller is a series of combs. The combs are attached to heavy rubber mats and press into the snow to produce the nice corduroy finish we all enjoy.
  • How Fast Should the Cat or Snowmobile Go?
    The cat always moves at a relatively slow pace. When conditions are ideal, the cat can go full speed at approximately 10 km/h. During hard icy conditions we run the cat much slower to allow the tiller more time to process the snow. The snowmobile also moves at a slower pace when the conditions are hard. We may run over a trail multiple times with the snowmobile or snowcat especially when the snow pack is particularly hard in order to produce a quality product.
  • What is the Function of the Blade?
    The snowcat is equipped with a 12 way, 5.1 meter wide blade attached to the front of the cat and is mostly used to grade and flatten the trail. The blade cuts into high points and brings the snow into holes or to the low side of the trail. Under tough hard conditions it can be used to cut the surface crust which helps the tiller process snow, but the primary function of the blade is moving snow to create a flat, level trail.
  • How Do Snow Conditions Impact the Quality of a Groomed Trail?
    In an ideal world, we would receive moderate amounts of snowfall every couple of days that could be mixed into the existing base to keep the trails fresh, smooth and firm. However that is rarely the case. When the area experiences cold temperatures and low humidity and receives no new snow, good trail conditions can be maintained if there is already a firm base. Too much snow all at once makes the trails too soft and as a result, trail users’ poles punch through, which creates challenging skating conditions. No new snow conditions, accompanied by significant temperature fluctuations and higher humidity create a freeze-thaw cycle. When this happens, the trails become icy and require significant mechanical assistance to churn up the ice and set nice corduroy and classic tracks. In the case of wet and heavy snow, it’s best to wait until it dries before grooming rather than risk creating a groove in the trail.
  • What Is the Best Time of Day to Groom?
    After grooming the trails the snow needs time to set. Our grooming team continually monitors the conditions and weather forecast to determine the best time to groom. Ideally grooming takes place at night which allows the snow to “set up” by morning. But if it is snowing or there is significant snowfall in the overnight forecast grooming will take place very early in the morning. When the temperature fluctuates significantly above and below freezing, it can be beneficial to groom in the late afternoon when the snow is somewhat melted and softer. But with this, early morning skiers will experience icy corduroy, but as it warms the trails become soft. Grooming can be particularly challenging during the spring freeze thaw cycle. Late afternoon, early evening grooming is considered but groomers are cautious about this given the number of skiers that can be on the trails. Each situation is evaluated based on the current conditions, the forecast, safety of the skiers and preferred trail conditions.
  • Why Is There Only One Track on Some Trails?
    Only one track is often set on advanced or black diamond runs because these runs are predominantly skate skiers and it allows them more room. But a track is still available for those that prefer to use it. Single tracks on steeper hills give skiers more room to navigate up or down.
  • Why Is There Sometimes Only One Track or None on the Curves?
    Sometimes the radius of the corner is too sharp for the groomer to set a smooth consistent track throughout the curve. In some cases the track radius is too small and skis are too long to negotiate the curve while inside the track. With no track, the skier can pick their own line through the curve.
  • Can We Ski on Fresh Grooming?
    Please don’t! Fresh groomed snow is what skiers love, but skate skiing before the snow has set up causes problems. When the snow is soft and freshly groomed, ruts are formed by the skating motion. By morning the tracks are frozen in place. Skiing on fresh tracks creates dangerous conditions and less than happy morning skiers who are out to enjoy the trails. In some cases, depending on your route, you may come across flesh grooming but we ask you to avoid it if possible and please don’t follow the groomer. Skate skiing over a fresh set track will also break the track wall, and thus damage the track.
  • Why Are There No Tracks at Some Intersections?
    We often remove or limit tracks at the bottom of hills to reduce risk. Skiers coming down could hit the track causing them to lose control. Groomers typically set the track by the largest flow of skiers. At secondary intersections skiers are coming from two or three different trails and turning on to another. Without the set tracks joined or going in a specific direction skiers can easily transition from one track to another without having to step in and out.
  • What Do the Track Setters Do and How Do They Work?
    Track setters are attached to the rear of the implements and are designed to cut into the snow to produce the classic ski tracks. They are hydraulically controlled by the operators. They can raise or lower them depending on the trail configuration or use, topography, curves, intersections or hills. The Ginzu groomers are each equipped with a track setter. It is centered to set tracks in the curvy single tracks. If the Ginzu is used on the double tracked trails the operator will do a pass on each side in order to add the two tracks. The snowcat is equipped with three track setters. Typically we use two for the main trails, but will reduce it to one for hills and many black diamond trails. Three tracks are generally only used during race situations.
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