The four-track tractor – an increasingly popular solution for trail grooming
The Caribou Snowmobile Club decided to change from a dedicated grooming unit to a four-track tractor when they saw a demonstration by Mountain Grooming Equipment, a dealer-ship that has been operating in Vermont for around 20 years.
In 2013, the president of the club first tried his hand at using a four-track tractor to groom one of the club’s trails.
“The track system manufacturer, Soucy International, had come to do a demonstration. I was able to try the tractor and I really liked it. The following year we bought a tractor with a Soucy track system,” said Gary Marquis, club manager for more than 21 years.
With over 115 members and 110 miles of trails, Caribou Snowmobile Club takes trail grooming very seriously.
“We can boast some of the best groomed trails, because we do it every night,” said Marquis. “A tractor is much heavier, so it compacts the snow much more and slows down the melt at the end of the season. Also, it’s easy and quiet to drive, and because I’m in a tractor I can drive on roads as well as trails, and the visibility is always excellent.
“Tractors are designed to pull heavy loads and work long hours without stopping. They rarely break down; re-pairs and maintenance are cheap and they are very reliable. We’ve been using our track tractor for three complete winter seasons and we haven’t spent a cent on repairs! All we’ve done is basic maintenance and regularly greased the track systems.”
Year-round use varies the work
For Doug Wilson, the owner of Mountain Grooming Equipment, another special aspect of four-track tractors is that they can be used year-round to carry out other jobs. “I always tell my clients that not only can they groom trails in winter but they can also use it to clear undergrowth in autumn,” he said.
A new track system to face winter extremes
Soucy International, a Quebec company, is always seeking innovation, and has recently introduced a new type of rubber specifically for extreme winter conditions.
“We’ve redesigned our tracks to offer greater durability, even in the most difficult winter conditions. Both the inner and outer layers are made from this new recipe rubber, so they last longer and float better, too,” said François Soucy, vice-president, Sales at Soucy International.
To date, more than 100 clubs in Canada and the United States have opted for the Soucy four-track tractor system to groom their trails.
New tool helps reduce evacuation times for ski resort ground personnel
Quicklyne™, a new tool invented by Jim Glazier of Shaker Corporation, reduces the time it takes to evacuate skiers strand-ed on dysfunctional chairlifts. The patent-pending device was shown at the National Ski Areas Association convention in Arizona in May for the first time to enthusiastic attendees.
“Being a ski patroller for 10 years, dealing with the risks, problems and time to evacuate guests from disabled chairs, led me to create this device,” said Glazier, president and CEO of Shaker Corporation. “Quicklyne allows personnel to more quickly place a haul rope and evacuation seat directly to each chair without the need to climb towers or advance ropes down the cable. The time this tool saves could be lifesaving when the wind is blowing and temperatures drop!
“Mounted to the head of each chair, Quicklyne is easily activated by seated guests, who then lower a cable from the tool to ground personnel. The evacuation team connects the haul rope to the cable ring, and elevates the rope directly into position on the chair. No more climbing towers and endangering evacuation personnel!
Costs are minimal when compared to a climbing accident and priceless when reducing the evacuation of guests. For more information, visit Quicklyne.com.