Offering performance improvement for Mountain Operations through development of healthier organizations and deployment of process improving technology.

Ski Area Late Summer Check List for Mountain Ops departments As I commented in Bob's Bits for Aust 2022, a simple checklist can possibly make your time between now and bull wheels turning for the public a bit less stressful.  I am sharing my generic checklist with you in hopes that it will assist and incentivize

Being someone who promotes and sells digital products, I found this article from inductive Automation on What is Digital Transformation to be a perfect explanation for what taking the step from paper to digital means. The article puts things in perspective for any ski resort, no matter what stage you are in of your digital

In paraphrasing, an article from STRATEGY+BUSINESS NEWSLETTER, in this unsettled time of labor shortages doing it the old way may not work anymore. "As organizations shift from command-and-control leadership to more decentralized decision-making, the "frozen middle" is melting—and managers have to step up."   What does this mean? The referenced article utilizes the issue of determining whether people should

After pushing out the new web app for MountainOffice Mobile last winter and collecting input from ski areas using the app in Europe and North America, a new update is being rolled out this month. The update flushed out and corrected some bugs found over the past winter, and new features were added, some subtle and

Steep Management is now an authorized seller of SmartMountain™. Earth Analytic, the developer of SmartMountain™, and Steep Management have agreed to a relationship whereby Steep Management will be the primary seller of SmartMountain™ to ski areas throughout North America. "We know that understanding your ski area's terrain is integral to ski area management and planning. Developed

Skier visits record for the USA and a not so great a snow year – who could guess that would happen.  Let’s all thank a snowmaker for enabling such a thing. This a bit of a surprise but it demonstrates how dependent the ski industry is on snowmaking and how the skiing public takes it

I am a strong believer that data is needed to make good decisions and the more data the better. I qualify that there is still the need for a review of the data and exploration of all the possibilities. Data is something that is needed to migrate from preventive lift maintenance to predictive maintenance. I am

I was honored and appreciative to have the opportunity to facilitate a discussion with a room full of ski lift personnel to discuss the Future of Lift Maintenance. The discussion was not a technical one on lift design or operation but rather on having qualified and sufficient numbers of lift personnel to maintain ski lifts

The title above comes from Claire Humber’s article I mentioned in this month’s Bob’s Bits.  I know many of you think of strategy as terrain expansion, snowmaking upgrades, lift replacements, additions or upgrades, and new lodges or facilities. Yes, these are legitimate expensive things that play into what might be your strategy.  However, as Claire

Last month I shared how I came about asking the question in the title above.  I made the analogy to a three-legged stool and addressed one leg of the stool, engagement, and inclusion.  In closing last month’s piece, I said I would address the other two legs in the future. If you recall the two

A scary question. Right? But I imagine many front-line lift maintenance managers and directors are asking that question in the back of their minds. I have spoken with two lift maintenance managers in the last week at prominent mountains that are understaffed and say if they lost one more person, they don't know how they

I’d say from East of the Mississippi, we finally received a reasonable amount of snow. Granted, those in the Mid Atlantic got some earlier, but I’d have to say this is one of the worst natural snow years I have seen. Climate Change? Many of you have seen too much snow and now a bit

Leadership and a Healthy Culture are not words you often hear about in the on-hill locker rooms and mountain operation offices. They should be. Most folks in the mountain ops world are focused on what they have to get done today and tomorrow to ensure the hill is safe and ready for skiers and riders

The wait is over. The new app for MountainOffice is over. It is here and ready for you to take a look. Steep recorded a video that admittedly is not professional video quality but the product, the ne MountainOffice App certainly is. Not only has the new app brought the Operations Logbook to life, but it

Does monitoring vibration make sense for your ski area? After reading Neville Sachs, PE article Wear, Why and How in the September issue of SAM magazine, reading another article from, and seeing a blog on vibration sensors, I began to think about how much exposure there is to the effects of vibration within a ski

Their importance in retaining talent The following is a paraphrasing of an article published in strategy+business titled "To Build Trust with Employees, be Consistent" by Reid Carpenter, Christopher Hannegan, and Varya Davidson. I have taken the liberty to try and make it relevant to the ski industry. It has a significant relevance for how the ski

Snow's falling, a few lifts are turning – let in begin. Great to see that most ski areas are moving forward getting close to normal operations and dealing with COVID in a responsible manner. The labor shortage will impact the ski industry for sure It was great to see Mike Solimano of Killington address the issue

A Tough Month in Many ways As the summer winds down, all of us should try to pass on good karma to the California ski resorts and their communities as they battle these horrific fires. This has been a troubling month, Ida, Delta, fires, and political dysfunction. They all collide together in our lives at some

Team is Key! In my years in the ski industry, we would often joke about hiring warm bodies and then complain about the no-shows, the lack of initiative, and the list goes on. The problem may be exacerbated by Covid, the current state of the labor market, and our lack of clearly defining who we want

Drought for all technically and skilled labor Last month’s Steep Newsletter had a post on Steep’s thoughts on addressing the current lift mechanic situation in the ski industry. This post shares some deeper thinking, not Steep’s, on why the drought of skilled tradespeople exists. All ski areas, big and small, have an ongoing need to maintain and

Take the time to enjoy the summer Where I live, Vermont, Covid is on the run. Over 80% of eligible population vaccinated with one dose and 64% fully vaccinated., restrictions fully lifted, no more mask except for unvaccinated folks and life is returning to normal. As a country I know we have a long way to

In these newsletters, I have written about what MountainOffice can do, why it is essential to utilize a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), the benefits of a CMMS, and why a CMMS is critical for the future – short labor supply and training. My journey over the past six years of speaking up on this

TRAINING,  PAY, and CULTURE ARE the KEYS It is no significant revelation that there is and has been a shortage of lift technicians, mechanical and electrical, for several years. The problem is currently exacerbated due to the North American labor shortage brought on by the pandemic. My opinion is that the pandemic did not cause the

July is on its way out. It has been a tough month with an uptick in COVID cases, heat, fires, and drought. I have read more about the actual impacts of climate change this month than I think I have read cumulatively in the last year. Those who don’t believe maybe see the reality of

Mobile App now on all platforms The groundwork for this rollout has been laid out to you in the past two newsletters. Now, I can actually show you what I have been so excited about during the last year.  The Operations Logbook has been built with lifts top of mind, but the use of this feature can

Finding the balance I am sharing with you a podcast/article from McKinsey & Company. On the surface it seems a little heady or touchy feel for mountain operations folks, no disrespect intended. The podcast is a discussion between the moderator and two McKinsey partners. The subject matter is the purpose of work. Yes, I know it sounds

Of the many things learned in my experience in management, the value of good meetings would have to be at the top of the list. Think about how much time you are in meetings, how important they are to you in setting or getting direction, developing budgets, establishing programs, and the list goes on. Being

The ski season is a wrap except for Big Snow and Timberline Well, there are still two areas still open today, June 7th, in North America. They are Timberline, and Big Snow.  For practicality, we will call it a wrap on the 20/21 season. I will declare it a season of challenge, perseverance, innovation, and sacrifice—many

What's ahead There is no way I should be writing about drones as I have no experience, very little knowledge about their use, and the regulations that apply to drones. But the following article written by the professional safety staff at Val Thorens in France makes a lot of sense to me. I recognize we do things a bit

New features plus availability on multi platforms While the Covid 19 pandemic has had a global impact on the ski industry, I am happy to report that SEC Ges.m.b.H. weathered the storm well, having had to slow down development efforts, but now can release what has been anticipated for over a year. This coming May, the

Based on an article from the Vail Daily by Nate Peterson I am sure many of you have either seen or heard news. I believe it is worthy of some thought. I am not advocating for what the bill proposes. However, some of the general tenants of the bill are things that should be internalized by

Tuckerman's Ravine - still skiing The ski season is wrapping up. Indeed it is a ski season to go down in the history books. After all, is said and done, my takeaway it was a much better season than I had expected, my personal assessment. I do know there were variations of impact from the pandemic.

Lift Maintenance Training isn’t just important to any ski area, it is vital. Speaking in support of lift maintenance training is something I have done several times in the Steep Newsletter. I can't always say I was an advocate for such training. During my leadership years at the helm of either Mad River Glen or Sugarbush,

Better Meeting - All Leaders Should Read In a past post, I wrote about the importance of meetings as meetings relate to an organization's culture; . Not surprisingly, there was little response to the post. It isn't a subject that grabs this audience's attention, especially those immersed in the maintenance end of mountain operations. But meetings

Sunshine Coming and Covid Going (we hope) For most of the country, the ski season is about half over. It sure has been an interesting one. I heard a comment from John Hammond of Sugarbush Resort, "we have never worked so hard to lose money." I think this is a very appropriate comment for this season. Usually,

Paying Attention to Injuries There was a recent article written by Jason Blevins published by Colorado Sun. Jason is a talented writer and one who supports the outside world. Jason brings to light a lot of information relating to skier and rider injuries. The relevance of these injuries during the Covid pandemic is the possible impact

Covid has hit the MountainOffice normal enhancement development hard. European ski areas are in more difficult situations than here in North America. With the Alps being where MountainOffice earns most of its turns, the company had to hunker down with reduced development efforts. But the effort never stopped; it just took longer than planned.  Interestingly many

Great podcast on organizational health Listen Here I am pleased to share with you a podcast from the ED EPPLEY EXPERIENCE – how to build and maintain smart and health business – minisodes and full episodes with guests. ED EPPLEY is a leading global expert in professional management, sales strategy, and performance management. He is a former

HAPPY HOLIDAYS Not to make fun of our colleagues across the pond but here are examples of stark contrast on safe mazes.  Park City vs. Verbier The season has started. Snow has been plentiful for a few and the rest are doing the best they can with what mother nature has offered and snowmaking. Let’s hope the

Are you a fan of meetings? You should be. Meetings are the stage you work on if you are a manager, director, VP, GM, COO or CEO of a ski area. I know, you probably never thought of meetings that way. Meetings are a puzzling paradox. On one hand, they are critical. Meetings are the activity

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.).


Please click on the images to learn more

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.

Please click on the images to learn more.

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. 

Please click on the images to learn more.


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.

Please click on the images to learn more.


  • 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.