Last week, snowcat drivers from around the world landed at Mount Hood for Timberline's annual Cutter's Camp. Acting as a pseudo brain trust of snow movers that aim to make safer and greater terrain park features, the camp, now in its 11th year, is spread over five days. Drivers share ideas and learn new building techniques in the classroom and on-hill with different building exercises.
"Small mountains sometimes send two guys here, a head groomer and a terrain park manager," says Ricky Hower, a snowboarder YoBeat once called a local legend. Hower also works as Timberline's Events and Promotions Manager. "I went to this small mountain, called Bluewood, this year and was stoked to see they actually implemented what they learned at the camp into their terrain park. And the park was small but well built."
Prinoth and PistenBully, two acclaimed cat and groomer manufacturers, sponsor the event along with Ski Area Management Magazine. The classroom setting is broken up into eight pods—specifically, an air bag pod, shaping pod, social media and events pod, to name a few. The students pick which pod they'd like to attend every half hour. At night, they skate at Windells, grab dinner, and a few après-build drinks.
Hower, whose first job at the resort was cleaning toilets, believes the advantage of having a great park, especially in the East or Midwest, is important to distinguishing between similar ski areas. "If there are a bunch of small hills in the same area, kids will often choose the one that has the best park," he says.