A New and Super Lift Mechanic Training Option

A New and Super Lift Mechanic Training Option

Last month, I listened to a podcast shared by the PNSAA executive director, Jordan Elliot, and I was blown away by what I learned.

The short story is Oregon State University, OSU, has secured substantial funding to fund The Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy, CORE, led by Lee Davis. “The Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy is delivering a new kind of workforce development to meet the unique needs of the vast, extremely entrepreneurial, and rapidly growing outdoor recreation industry.” Through Jordan’s and ski area leaders’ leadership and OSU’s desire to start a program, a Level 1 Lift Mechanic training program was developed. I have written about lift technician/mechanic training many times, but what I heard about and subsequently have seen is the future of training for the ski industry. In no way do I disparage any other existing programs; they are all good. My take is this is the first time this level of financial and human talent has been provided to build such a program. I encourage you to visit the CORE website and see the depth of human talent on the CORE team. Here’s an intro video.

With input from many discussions with ski area operators, Selkirk College, and the NSAA Lift Maintenance Resource Guide, the CORE team built an interactive and engaging training program, Ski LMT 1,  for Level 1 lift maintenance mechanics/technicians. The program starts with the Basic, Chapter 1, through to Preventive Maintenance, Chapter 22, and then a final exam. Each Chapter requires the student to achieve an 80% on a quiz before moving on.

The OSU staff has allowed me to enroll in the course. I am presently through chapter 7, 32 separate lessons. I have found the course spot on in terms of subject and, most importantly, engaging and inviting.

An example of an interactive diagram from the Chapter on Sheave Assemblies.

The visual design of the course material is very engaging. Diagrams such as the one above are interactive, allowing you to click through the different subject matter components. Others allow you to rotate the diagram to get a 360-degree view of the specific component.

Lessons may include audio of the material and often videos with a deeper view of how something works or a discussion with a ski area expert. The quality of both the videos and the audio reflects the high level of professionalism in the course.

To register for the course, you need to be employed by a ski area, and there needs to be a designated supervisor to oversee the student’s work. Currently, OSU and the CORE team are working on the requirements for the onsite supervision and the required work hours by the student by course chapter. The cost is $1,000 per student. Courses are in development for Level 2 and Level 3.

In my discussions with members of the CORE team, I get a sense of commitment and excitement in the desire to take what has been developed and continually improve the material and its delivery. The marriage of knowledge and expertise from lift maintenance technicians, e-learning, innovative multimedia experiences that increase user engagement and end-product effectiveness, and academic research is beyond what has been available for lift maintenance training to date. The knowledge of the CORE team and OSU developing a leadership course for the Outdoor Recreation industry and maybe even a ski area-specific leadership course also raises my excitement level. Having this level of professionalism available to the ski industry is enormous. I strongly encourage all ski areas to enroll their apprentices and level 1 mechanics in this course. No more excuses for not having great training available.

Data and Information

Database of record: Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Rapid, intuitive retrieval of current and historical data (accessible on or offsite) improves decision making at all levels of management.

Simple report generation.

Reduces risk and potential lawsuits.

Supports visualization of current and future mountain infrastructure (e.g. Gazex explosives locations, forest thinning, designing new runs, parking, etc.).


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Ski Patrol

  • Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).
  • Use of common language allows for consistent communication and information sharing.
  • Increases safety by minimizing accidents through pattern analysis of incidents.
  • Accident Investigation and Risk Management.
  • Snow Safety (Ski Patrol) Training.

The web and mobile application suite will provide editing and data collection tools for mapping incidents (wrecks, accidents) of any kind.

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Avalanche Module


Ability to document, track and analyze slope conditions with one tool.

Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).

 Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Provides detailed current and historical weather patterns for visualizing/predicting.

Saves money through more precise use of explosives. 

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The dispatch and risk module leverage Esri’s Survey 123 for ArcGIS, providing an intuitive survey-form, data-driven workflow for point feature collection and reporting. Data collected with SmartMountain Survey apps, which are available for both web browsers and native desktop and mobile apps for standard operating systems, are integrated with one or more SmartMountain modules, providing real-time or disconnected and later synchronized workflows for data collection and integration.

Each ski resort decided what they wish to display on the Dispatch Dashboard including on-hill incidents, walk-in incidents, on-hill refusals,  missing persons, work details for different departments, ski patrol rosters for the day, clearances, and sweeps.

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  • Logs for Lift Maintenance, Lift Operations, and Groomer inspections, as well as building inspections.
  • Logs can record data and signatures, can record stops, station assignments.
  • Logs are tracked by calendar.


  • Management review made easy through the use of Excel – reviewing a major grouping of assets or a single component of an asset such as a drive or a gearbox.
  • All information related to a system(asset) is in one place whether it be a lift inspection report, a manual, oil analysis, a service bulletin, or a letter from a vendor.


  • Every user has a unique dashboard.
  • Dashboards can be customized to reflect a user’s specific needs.
  • Quick access to the status of work and cost .


  • The schedule function in MountainOffice provides for detailed instructions by task, recording of data such as the temperature of a gearbox, and service bulletins.
  • All schedules can have a time or counter trigger.