“Nature dictates our work”
“I’m going to set off a blast at the fore-summit, are you at a safe distance away from there?” asks Carlo Danioth, Head of Slope Maintenance and Rescue at Andermatt at the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun, radioing with his colleagues operating a snowcat in the area. Safeguarding the ski area against avalanches, especially on the Gemsstock or at Nätschen-Gütsch, is one of the greatest challenges of his job. “We have to survey the area every morning and reassess the slopes – and at the steep parts of the Gemsstock, working on the high alpine terrain, that’s quite a task.” The determining factors in the assessment are wind, fresh snow, and temperature. Together, they make each day unique.
The work of Carlo Danioth and his team depends very much on the weather. “It’s best when we can groom the slopes in the evening. This means we have to work until late at night, but it gives the snow time to rest and to strengthen before the skiers and snowboarders return.” Whenever there’s heavy snowfall during the night, the team heads out at 4 a.m. the next morning to make sure the slopes will be in perfect condition when they open. “Our workday is dictated by nature. And that’s good. I have over 25 winter seasons under my belt and I’m still fascinated by working with snow.” For Danioth and his team, being weatherproof is a necessity. “We have a long winter season – you could say that I wear my ski boots six months of the year,” laughs Carlo Danioth. Whoever likes being on the slopes or spending free time freeriding is at the right place on the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun slope team. Then the experience in assessing slope situations is sure to be spot on too.
“This year we had a good start at the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun. With the early arrival of winter at the beginning of November, a good base accumulated, especially on the Gemsstock. Of course we have snowmaking equipment, but when it’s too warm we can’t use it.” Besides all the work on the slopes, Carlo Danioth and his team are also responsible for first aid during the day. When an accident occurs, they initially check the victim and decide on the mode of transport – either by sledge or helicopter. “We have a lot of freeriders, especially on the Gemsstock, so sometimes we have to manage rescues on very difficult terrain. But we have relatively few incidents, despite the challenging high-alpine ski area.” One good reason for this is certainly that Carlo Danioth, with his decades of experience, can assess the snow situation in the mountains very well, and he closes any slopes that may be at risk of an avalanche. Day in and day out, even after 25 years, his number one priority remains the same: safety of the winter sports guests.
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