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

Kudos to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for an inspiring tribute to the front-line staff. It takes a village to make a ski area, large or small.  Let’s all remember it is the hard work of these frontliners who make it happen. You may have seen this video, but it is worth watching again as a reminder

Here is an article from by Drew Norman that discusses the issues of test your AC  motors with high voltage. This should have some interest for lift technicians as well as the service people in snowmaking. Maintenance professionals tasked with maintaining electric motor reliability are often concerned  with testing their critical motors at voltages well

Computerized maintenance management systems, CMMS, are by nature complex, wide-spanning systems that cover a lot of different factors. One of the most important of these is failure and defect codes. What are these codes and what do they do?  Failure and defect codes are alphanumeric codes that provide detailed information on why an asset failed. This information

Everyone thinks they want to be a leader. Many people are promoted to a management position without a thoughtful review of whether they are meant for leadership. So what are the right motives for being a leader? There are two fundamental leadership motives. They are: Reward-centered leadership: the belief that being a leader is the reward

CMMS systems do not run by themselves My experience with CMMS system failures is 99% related to lack of commitment from senior management, lack of resources, human and technology, and a vision for the desired results. When these elements are present, the CMMS system installation and use are successful.   CMMS systems do not run by themselves. The

These uncertain times are challenging for all ski resorts and areas Extensive press regarding the procedures being put in place to manage the sales of tickets and access to the mountains has been widespread. A form of reservation requirement exists at some ski areas, or season pass holders do not need reservations, and most ski areas

As of late this summer, all ski resorts and areas now have a useful tool to implement a solid and well-structured lift maintenance training program. This tool is the NSAA LIFT MAINTENANCE TRAINING RESOURCE GUIDE. This 148-page guide is the culmination of significant effort by NSAA staff and volunteers in the ski industry. The idea of the

The WHY of my decision to become a CAPAo mem I never thought after retiring from the ski industry that I’d be offering to help ski areas become healthy organizations. In fact, when I retired, I am not sure I heard of organizational health. I know I was aware of company culture, but not in the

What useful life can you expect from a motor if it is installed and maintained with an eye toward precision? While I have no data on the failure rate of lift motors, electric, the issue of vibration has to be one that many of you have had to deal with over time.  The elimination or near

Plant the Friggin Tree Mid-summer for most of us, some limited skiing is going on South of the Equator. Expect we here in North America will learn a bit from those operators in New Zealand, few in Australia and the few South America. My concern is that I hope we get the chance to apply that

Reviewing  my commitment to I never thought after retiring from the ski industry that I’d be selling a software system. How’d that happen? One winter day, I was searching for info relative to a T-bar installation, and I tripped on something called MountainOffice. Wondering what this was my curiosity triggered an inquiry, and the next thing

How to gain a competitive advantage In these unique and uncertain times, leadership and organizational health will be the keys to success going forward in the ski industry.  The information I am sharing here I did not have in my quiver while running a ski area, I wish I had. I do feel compelled to share

Build Team Leadership and a path to a Organizational Health during COVID 19 shut down The strange times persist with uncertainty ahead. Having bullwheels not spinning with plenty of snow on the hills, parking lots empty with snowy trails is all strangely eerie. For those who have been furloughed or laid off, the ski world is

Uncertainty, questions and fear running through my mind, but as look out my office window at the ski hill basking in bright sun with trails fully covered in white gleaming snow, the scene conveys reassurance that someday in the future life will resume again. Probably not as we know it before March 15th but hopefully

In my semi-retired position, I sit on many civic boards. The pay isn’t so great, but it is enriching. One of the biggest challenges I see quite frequently is the lack of buy into the strategy of the organization. I seem more conscious of it now, but as I think back to being involved in

The title sounds sort of like a title for a fictional novel, but unfortunately, it is not. Many operational silos exist within many ski areas. An operational silo is a vertically thinking organization such as mountain operations, even departments within mountain operations, or food and beverage, ski school, marketing, and accounting, to name some examples.

Learning from the ski lift While the average age of the ski lifts in North America is reported to be 27 years old, it is hard to think there should be a discussion about artificial intelligence, AI or MI, machine learning, and how it relates to ski lifts, but there should be. In Europe, the average

The times require creativity As more bullwheels begin to turn, many ski areas are still struggling to fill their seasonal staffing needs. From a mountain operations perspective, this can mean a strain on lift operations, snowmaking, and grooming. Not an easy challenge to solve. I’ll leave the recruiting solutions to the HR pros. Regrettably, it may

Based on Article from SAM archives The title says it all. These two stories are so tragic and yet were fully preventable. Mike Mechanic has done his morning safety check of lift A and found the brake needs adjustment. It is about 20 minutes before opening time, so Mike hurries back to the shop and gets the tools

Based on - A Winning Culture Keeps Score - John Case, and Bill Fotsch - Harvard Business Review. So, if you, as Mountain Ops Director, asked your Lift Maintenance Manger – What is the score of your department’s culture? What would you get back as an answer? Would it be an answer that you thought was meaningful?

Leadership is tough, not doubt about it I am sure you have heard the statement that employees don’t quit companies but managers/leaders. I bet if you look back at your own experience,m and if you had quit, that the reason you quit was more your boss than the company itself. Here is an article, 8 Things Leaders Do

A quick look at your maintenance status MountainOffice is pleased to announce that with the 2019 system update a dashboard is now part of the system. This dashboard can be configured by each user to the relevant information specific to the user. There are many different selections for displaying system information. The flexibility of the dashboard enables each

July 2019 Ski Area Maintenance Survey The survey that many of you participated in this July came back with what I would say were encouraging results. The response rate wasn't as good as I hoped, 8%. The pool was limited to mountain ops maintenance staff. The encouragement came in that a high percentage of respondents indicated that

The title question is a big fuzzy question, but one that should be important to you, as a manager, as an employee, and as a leader. Not much conversation in the ski industry about organizational culture, although I imagine it is thought about in Broomfield, CO. If you think about what many managers and leaders

Connecting six resorts via remote server Not usual for Steep to report on the activities of SEC Gmbh, partners in Steep Management, but SEC has just inked a contract with the Schultz family group, which owns six ski resorts, eight hotels, and a golf course. The news that is important is that this installation will be on a

Utilizing new tools for predictive maintenance From some of the folks, I know in the lift maintenance world what I am about to share is probably not news, but to many, I suspect it might be. The logic of it, I think, will resonate with all. The challenge is to see the upside versus the investment

Maintenance Facts Earlier this year, I wrote about the leadership needed to foster a maintenance culture. To support the need in a broader form beyond the ski industry, here are some facts I have found that puts the issue in perspective as to why it is difficult to raise the maintenance awareness. I have not verified

Summer seems to be here, albeit we still have skiing here in North America with plenty of snowpack in the higher Western mountains. It was a GOOD winter and hopefully, many of you are enjoying some added benefit from such. I know the late snow melt has created some challenges with scheduling work on the

Here comes one of those articles I write and know there is a good possibility that I am going to annoy many readers. In keeping with my strong advocacy of employee engagement, well-being/happiness as the keys to success, I am sharing an article from strategy + business,, that explains the risk of overplaying the

The way you use equipment can have a big impact. The ski industry has gone through a significant transformation in the last decade as it relates to snowmaking. The concept is the same, mix air and water at the right temperature and you get snow. The trick is how to reduce your costs, with the two

Ski patrollers across the country provide many services to the skiing and riding public. However, with the plethora of snow in the West this year many have been asked to go way beyond their normal duties. Shoveling out and doing the mitigation work to make the slopes safe is obvious. Throwing bombs. A recent article in the

Recently I had the opportunity to ski at two different resorts on back to back days. With my critical eye I often pay attention to small details at a ski area, guess I can’t let go. This experience gave me food for thought that the maintenance culture of a ski area really matters in the

As we move through March now is the time to think about next season. I know, the last thing you want to put effort into, but a little time now can make next fall and early winter much easier in terms of staffing and hiring for your seasonal positions. The Exit Interview can be a very

The last Steep newsletter includes a post on the ski industry having skiers and riders speak up to the policy and decisions makers that would slow down the earth’s warming. This is a follow up to that request prompted by a recent article read and hearing that the leader of the FIS does not believe

At the recent NSAA Trade Show at Snowbird and Killington, Mile Lane and Earl Saline of NSAA lead a presentation of the Lift Maintenance Training Guide (LMTRG). The LMTRG, and I quote from the opening page, “has been developed with the intent to help areas of all sizes develop and structure training programs for their lift

Six World Class Mountains all using MountainOffice. These world-class ski areas all use MountainOffice to manage their mountain operations including lift maintenance, vehicle maintenance, and snowmaking maintenance. Each of these mountains’ mountain operation teams has played a significant part in making MountainOffice what it is today. Features such as the mobile app, the inventory system and

The global climate issue is certainly one that can be overwhelming when one tries to envision solving this problem. Yes, we have some who believe there is no problem, but I would hope anybody associated with snow sports is a believer. Ski areas certainly need to do their part in trying to reduce their carbon emissions

MountainOffice is pleased to announce an upgrade to its mobile app. This upgrade provides new features that make the mobile app a much more effective tool for technicians out on the hill.   The new features include a more user friendly loading of schedules/work orders when going outside of wifi connectivity, easily allowing the technician to load

As demands on the guest and public safety within ski resorts increases and litigation can mean negative publicity, ski resorts must work hard to ensure every incident is well documented. Even with changes to the law, and in some cases specific local legislation to help limit liability for the resort, there is still the need

Over the past several years new technologies have come to market that are clearly starting to benefit the snow business. The high-efficiency snow wands and control systems of HKD Snowmakers are a good example of this and so is Vail Resorts’ EpicMix application. Various new technologies have proven their value to us all by now.   The

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.