Interview 2 – Patrick Peintner (Catedral Alta Patagonia S.A., ARG)
A snow-making system is extremely important for any ski resort. But it's the person who operates and manages it that is fundamental. This is why we've decided to take a look behind the scenes, starting a series of interviews with snow-making technicians from almost every corner of the world. We will discover their opinions on snow-making, why they have this passion (because they do have a real passion for snow and the mountains), what a typical working day looks like, and much much more. Happy reading!
Patrick Peintner, Snow-making Systems Manager in the Argentinian ski resort Catedral Alta Patagonia made himself available for our questions at the start of the season in the Southern Hemisphere.
What made you decide to take this job? Did you always want to work in this industry?
In the 1990s, I had my first experience in the ski industry while working as a ski instructor. A few seasons later, I wanted to advance professionally and turned my mind to how I could combine my training as an electrical engineer with my passion for snow and skiing. At the time, my brother had been representing TechnoAlpin in Australia for 10 years, had sold the first system in Mount Hotham and was looking for technical support.
That was how I went to Mt Hotham in 1999 for three months’ training at TechnoAlpin and stayed for the winter season. I worked there all season as a snow-maker and maintenance engineer with Tony Kewish, from the last snowmaker interview. When that season ended, I stayed on at TechnoAlpin, and remaind for the next 15 years.
Then, a year ago, I decided on a radical life change and moved with my wife to Patagonia in Argentina, but without any concrete job offers. In 2014, Cerro Catedral Alta Patagonia, Bariloche, bought a small TechnoAlpin system and was therefore looking for someone to operate and maintain it. During my many years at TechnoAlpin, I’d got to know the TechnoAlpin dealer in South America, Santiago Hardt, very well and he approached me about the job. I agreed and was there for the final assembly and commissioning.
What exactly do you do in the ski resort? How long have you been at it?
I’m responsible for the operation and servicing of the snow-making equipment, as well as its further development. I’ve been at it for a little over a year. I also help with other projects such as improvements to the slopes and various infrastructures.
What do you like about your work?
I can identify with my work in many respects. First and foremost, it brings me to my beloved mountains and I’m part of the huge ski-industry family, where everyone knows everyone. Worldwide.
At times snow-making has something almost magical about it. It’s a great feeling when you see the result after a good night’s work and you’ve been able to make a lot of people happy. That’s especially so in a country like Argentina, where expectations are not yet so high and you can still wow people.
It’s almost a privilege to find yourself on the mountain on a starry night and experience the special atmosphere there until the spectacular sunrise.
The fact that snow-making technology is still in its infancy here in Argentina is also an important aspect for me. It’s a great challenge to contribute to the development of this sector. The whole thing’s really interesting because it’s based on a mature and stable technology.
What’s your usual working day like?
That depends on the season, of course, but I’m generally involved in everything the snow-making department is doing. I lead a team of 3-5 people, organize their day and night assignments, participate actively in all their work, and take care of the bureaucratic and logistical side. I communicate with other departments or external partners such as suppliers or engineering offices and coordinate the work with them.
How has snow-making developed or changed in recent years?
I can really only talk about the last year here. Before that, not much attention was given to snow-making in Argentina. The first high-pressure system was, in fact, built in 1998 with HKD but it’s never really worked properly, mainly because of the marginal temperatures. Basically, the sector has been in a development phase since last year. The new management at the ski resort has invested in a snow-making system with eight T40 mobile snow guns, four T40s on lifts, an upgraded snow circuit with 30 pits, and an ATASSplus control system. The trend is towards automatic systems that can be expanded.
What do you do outside the ski season?
I work at the ski resort on the continued development, improvement and maintenance of the snow-making system and, as I mentioned earlier, take part in a number of other projects.