A wide variety of professions are essential to the smooth running of a ski area like Verbier 4Vallées. From jobs out in the field, such as snow groomers, ski patrollers and electricians, to office-based professions, including human resources, IT and marketing, as well as customer-facing roles – the list is endless.
In this series, we’ll be showing you some aspects of our ski area that usually go unseen.
Verbier 4 Vallées has been considered a top ski resort since the 1950s. It owes its reputation to the exceptional skiing conditions it offers every year, from November until the end of April. The season is particularly long for two main reasons.
Firstly, thanks to the altitude and orientation of our resort, we get snow early in the season, abundantly all winter and the snow coverage is still good come the spring.
Secondly, we have invested in ultra-modern snowmaking facilities over the years. Producing artificial snow is a complex job which requires a lot of very specific knowledge.
Find out more about it in the text and video below.
Contrary to what you might think, a snowmaker’s job is not confined to the winter. During the summer, there is a lot of maintenance work to be done, as well as renovations and improvements.
This summer, for example, the entire snowmaking system between the Lac des Vaux, Les Attelas and Les Ruinettes was replaced by a much more efficient one.
At the beginning of the autumn, between mid- September and mid-October, we start preparing the snowmaking network and, from the end of October until mid-January (depending on the weather), we produce artificial snow to guarantee the best possible conditions for our customers.
A complex and exciting job
There is no particular training available to become a snowmaker. In our Verbier 4 Vallées team, there are eight snowmakers, trained in a variety of different fields, who work full-time.
David, Vincent, Franck, Arnaud, Julien, Sam, Loïs and myself (Fabien) all have good technical knowledge in various branches, such as mechanics, electricity, hydraulics and civil engineering.
This allows us to run the snowmaking network by making optimal use of the resources. Our job is also our passion because, not only do we enjoy working in the mountains, but we are lucky to be part of a close-knit team, in which we can put our knowledge to good use for the benefit of our customers.
Of course, the working hours can be awkward, but our great team spirit helps us through even the most difficult moments.
Production and technical data
Producing artificial snow is not just a matter of switching on the fans. A number of other conditions are required, the two most important being:
- Temperatures of -3°C or lower
- Minimum air humidity of 70%
1m3 of water is required to produce 2m3 of snow. We take the water from a number of sources, including lakes (Lac des Vaux, Lac de Louvie) and the specially built mountain reservoirs (such as the Monneyeu in Bruson). The water used comes solely from melting snow, so it’s a sort of perpetual cycle.
Artificial snow is made from compressed air and water (6 bar for air and 10 to 40 bar for water). The conditions mentioned above are the minimum required to produce snow. However, for optimal production, we prefer temperatures of -10°C with 50% humidity and a water temperature of 2°C.
In ideal conditions, a fan produces 25m3 of snow per hour, while a snow lance produces 15m3 per hour. Currently, we are unable to create artificial snow on all th
A long-term commitmnt
Our company has engaged in a long-term commitment to the quality of and respect for the environment. We do everything we can to reduce our environmental impact and to guarantee the safety of our employees.
During the summer, a lot of work is carried out to reduce the amount of snow required as well as our energy consumption. Currently, our slopes can be operated with 25 cm of snow coverage without any impact on the ground below.
We are also investing in more modern and efficient facilities and use cutting-edge equipment which allows us to assess the state of the slopes and snow coverage at all times.