How do ski resorts prepare for the next skiing season


Author: Lukas Ingold

To perfectly perform the job as a snow groomer operator, even experienced ski resort employees rely increasingly on accurate 3D snow depth measuring solutions – just like Leica iCON alpine snow management. This solution measures and visualises snow depths on the snow groomer’s display using a digital terrain model created from bare summer terrain without snow.

Ski resort employees relying on the information from snow management systems are often surprised to discover there is snow under the machine even though the system shows negative snow depths. The reason is often found in the underlying terrain model. Just as ski resorts need to maintain the machine park before the start of the season, it is important to maintain and update the field data, specifically the terrain model used for snow depth measurement.

Keep your data updated

Lukas Ganahl and his team from Silvretta Montafon Bergbahnen GmbH in Austria using the iCG70 T GNSS rover for terrain measurements.

Accurate snow depth measurements rely on the quality of the design model used. Up-to-date data must include all the adjustments made to the terrain and the infrastructure during the year. Preparing a new ski slope, installing or modifying a lift or other changes are part of the activities taking place outside the season – these changes must be included in the existing data. The data can be collected with a GNSS rover, like the Leica iCG70 T GNSS rover or other Leica Geosystems data collection solutions, and must be included into the terrain models.

Collecting points for large-scale mapping with the Leica Pegasus:Backpack for the terrain model for the World Cup in Ulricehamn, Sweden by Viktor Kastanius from Leica Geosystems.

Beyond terrain models

There are two general types of terrain models for 3D snow depth measurement. Leica Geosystems uses a model of the mapped surface from differently-sized triangles. The advantage of this model is that details in the terrain, such as edges, irregularities, single rocks and trenches are accurately depicted in the terrain model available for the snow grooming. In addition, the exact mapping is essential for cutting off for roads or trenches and for avoiding the risk of collision. Other systems work with regularly-distanced points of usually 1 metre that map the surface in a rigid frame. This type of terrain model uses a smaller amount of data that will, however, be reflected in the accuracy of the measured snow depth data.

Triangulated terrain mode with highly-visible detail

Terrain model from regularity distanced points with a low level of detail

Are your system components updated?

Leica iCON alpinePRO is a complete management system for the entire resort infrastructure.

Just as for other computer systems, there are continuous improvements in the hardware and software. It is recommended to always use the latest software version of the snow depth measurement system – this will ensure you can use all functions optimally.

The same holds for the continuously-updated system components. For the upcoming skiing season of 2019 and 2020, Leica Geosystems launched the MC1 software for iCON alpine solution as well as newly-developed sensor technology for the 3D snow depth measurement at INTERALPIN in 2019. iCON alpine can be installed and used on any manufacturers’ snow groomer. PRINOTH offers the iCON alpine READY-KIT with for all their snow groomers, reducing on-site installation and calibration of the solution by just one to two hours.

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