It is 5:00 a.m. at Kitzsteinhorn. A smooth yellow line on the horizon heralds the nearing sunrise – and down below, in the valley there is a broad carpet of white puffy clouds. The higher the sun rises, the more magnificent the interplay of yellow, orange, rosé and blue becomes. Those who are here in the morning looking into the far must be happy.
Snow groomer driver – a dream job
Andi Rainer experiences views as the one described before, every day. The auto mechanic by trade is the workshop manager for the snow groomers at Kitzsteinhorn. Being a passionate snow groomer driver, he can be found in the driver’s cabin quite often. “When I was a child, I had the chance to ride along with my father and I could drive a little bit myself,” says the 29-year old man. So it basically has been clear to him ever since that he wanted to be a snow groomer driver. The path to get him there led by an auto mechanic’s training on trucks and construction machines and some years at a workshop for construction machinery. The know-how acquired there, is valuable to him today since maintenance and repair of snow groomers is done by the drivers themselves. Andi Rainer and his team are responsible for 14 of these powerhouses of up to 14 tons. This being the number of snow groomers used on Austria’s first glacier skiing area, which was opened in 1965 and has presented new highlights every year since then.
Maintenance and repair are done on the mountain
“We do most of the maintenance and repair jobs that occur ourselves”, Andi Rainer says and explains that many Würth products are used. “Up here, we can neither afford to have longer downtimes nor compromises regarding quality. Würth is reliable. It’s as simple as that.” Be it ZEBRA® tools, impact wrenches or lubricants: For Andi Rainer looking into the Würth catalog is a daily routine – just as brilliant sunrises and star-bright nights.
Impressive technology of the combined chair and gondola lift
Gerhard Wenger is also closely connected with the glacier and its lifts. The fitter by trade is a cable car operator of Gletscherjet 3 + 4 installed in 2015. The cable car moving from 2,448 to 2,926 meters altitude is interrupted by a halfway station, however, offering the possibility to ride all the way to the top. “The special feature of Gletscherjet 3 + 4 is that it is a combined chair and gondola lift,” Gerhard Wenger explains. 8-person chairlifts move in the lower section and 10-person gondolas in the higher section. Gondolas run all the way from the bottom to the top as well. In order to have carrier units move downhill again or further uphill, special fast-moving switch rails are used which open and close constantly. “In the beginning, we were worried to see whether this extremely innovative technology is fail-safe,” Wenger says. However, after more than one season of operating the system, he is confident. “This technology is top and we are proud of this special cable car.”
Safety first for cable cars
For maintenance and inspection tasks, Gerhard Wenger and his colleagues like using Würth tools and they also appreciate the work wear and personal protection equipment, such as gloves and helmets. Every two years, the operator completely disassembles the cable clamps of the gondolas and chairs, checks them for damages and cleans them. In addition, pillars are checked regularly and cables are looked at every day. “Safety is essential up here,” Gerhard Wenger says, “that’s why we work with partners whose products offer us safety.” Würth’s strict quality tests and perfect service are well appreciated at Kitzsteinhorn. For this reason, the two technicians from the snow groomer and the cable car workshop are happy to give us some insights into their work for our short video.