The perfect groove

Grooves in snow create a softer surface and therefore a more enjoyable skiing experience than a completely flat slope. They also expose a larger surface area, which allows the night air to cool the snow down better.

Extensive tests prove that the increased surface area, with more contact to the cold night air, promotes the sintering process in the snow and results in an ideal slope.

Some snowflake 'info'

Loose fresh snow

a very porous, compressible material

As it gets colder, the snow becomes harder

The snow's strength increases with its density

With dry snow, its grains fuse together at their points of contact.

What does sintering mean?

A stable and firm slope, but not an icy one

During sintering, the individual snow grains bind together without melting. The closer the temperature is to 0°C/32° F, the better it works. Over time, the interconnecting snow grains form a stable and firm base without becoming icy.

This process takes time, however. For a slope to be able to withstand the demands of snow-sports enthusiasts for at least a day, the snow on that slope needs about eight hours of sintering time. This sintering time is needed after all preparatory or grooming work.

This is why the slopes are often still too soft on the first day after a snowfall.

Heavy snowfall and poor visibility make it difficult to work with the snow groomer

The route to the perfect slope

The final touch for flawless fun on the slopes: the typical groove structure for snow sports

On a busy slope, the skiers and snowboarders shift snow throughout the day from the middle of the run towards the edges, and downhill towards the valley. Hummocks and uneven areas are created.

To prepare the slope (aka piste) for the next day, the driver takes on three essential steps with his PistenBully. In a first step, the driver uses the front-mounted plow blade and pushes the displaced snow back uphill and towards the center of the run, corrects the main uneven areas and fills holes with snow. In steep terrain, the winch prevents the vehicle from digging itself into the snow and ensures perfect traction. At the same time, the weight of the vehicle compresses the snow. The biggest challenge is to continuously adapt the plow blade to the terrain.

However, this is only the preparatory work for the efficient use of the AlpinFlex snow miller. Here, the sharp teeth on the milling shaft at the rear of the machine shred and refine the snow. The snow surface is broken up, loosened and crushed. Air escapes from the snow covering, resulting in fewer pore spaces. Smaller, irregularly sized snow grains also generate a better bond between one another.

The final touch

The finisher undertakes the final step and provides the typical groove pattern in the snow: the snow surface is then compacted so that perfect slope conditions are guaranteed.

Technology with Wow!

PistenBullys in action. Credits: Eric Katich, R View Productions, Stefan Belwald

Teamwork – the success factor

Bucher Hydraulics works closely with its customers from the early development stage of a project – including the new PistenBully 600. Thanks to excellent cooperation with the Kässbohrer design team, we know what is important when preparing the slopes.

The result of this teamwork is outstanding quality in the speed and response of the hydraulic functions.

Getting the best out of hydraulics, CAN technology and stepper-motor control

When you sit at the controls of the brand-new giant from Kässbohrer, it's difficult to put the handling into words. The proportional, ultra-responsive hydraulic control system implements the driver's commands quickly and smoothly, no matter how heavy the snow load. The valves are controlled via the CAN bus interface, which enables extremely precise movements by reliably holding the control spool in the required position via the stepper motor, regardless of the working pressure. The compensated valves offer simultaneous, pressure-independent operation of all actuators. When shaping a halfpipe, for example, the contact pressure and the inclination angle of the snow miller can be controlled simultaneously.

Stay tuned! We will soon be publishing another part of this success story about an outstanding partnership and the hydraulics in the new PistenBully 600 both here and on our social media channels.

More information about our LCV series of proportional directional control valves

More information about Level Red - PistenBully 600

Created By
Gabi Olpp


Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG

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