A Day in the Life of a Vehicle Maintenance Technician

Posted on Mar. 22, 2024

They’re the unsung heroes of ski areas everywhere: while most of their work is done off the mountain, resorts couldn’t operate without them. When everything is running smoothly, you’d never even know they’re there! They’re our vehicle maintenance technicians. We sat down with Tommy Abell, advanced vehicle maintenance technician, to learn about the critical work his team does behind the scenes to keep our guests skiing and riding all season long.

CBMR Vehicle Maintenance worker Re-Tracking a Snowcat During a Spring Off-Season Project
A CBMR Vehicle Maintenance Technician Re-Tracks a Snowcat During a Spring Off-Season Project
At Crested Butte Mountain Resort, vehicle maintenance technicians are responsible for keeping our resort fleet operating. The fleet includes snowcats, snowmobiles and snowblowers in the winter. In the summer it includes trucks, trailers, backhoes — even pressure washers and grass seeders. As Tommy says, “If it has an engine, we work on it.”

All our on-mountain and base area operations teams – and many others – depend on the vehicle maintenance team. Snowmaking, lift maintenance and ski patrol all use snowmobiles to get around the mountain; without snowcats, none of our snowcat operators could groom trails for guests to enjoy; snowblowers enable our base area crews to create safe walking paths after big storms. CBMR’s talented vehicle maintenance technicians help ensure that all other departments can complete their duties and open the mountain each day for the public to enjoy.

So, what does a typical day look like for a vehicle maintenance technician? Tommy begins every day around 7:00 am at the CBMR maintenance shop, located on Gothic Road north of the resort. He addresses messages received overnight from snowcat operators, snowmakers and other graveyard shift team members about equipment that needs attention, then moves on to his daily inspections.

Every snowcat undergoes a daily inspection to ensure they are operating smoothly. Vehicle maintenance technicians look at nearly every part of each vehicle: parking brake, headlights, backup alarm, tires, cat tracks and more. Inspections can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours depending on the work that needs to be done. Technicians also inspect snowmobiles monthly, checking suspension, skis, steering system, drive belt and lights; topping off all fluids; and more.

One of Tommy’s favorite parts of his role is “rescuing” a vehicle on mountain. Tommy says rescues are exciting as he uses his years of experience to think critically about what the problem may be. With an educated guess, he takes his tools and skis to the stopped vehicle to investigate. Solving an issue and enabling a snowcat to drive off the mountain is incredibly rewarding, knowing that our guests will be able to ski that terrain because of his efforts. Plus, he says, it’s a great excuse to break out his skis in the middle of the workday!

CBMR’s vehicle maintenance team is small but mighty, with a handful of team members maintaining more than 100 vehicles and engines across the resort.

Vehicle maintenance technicians are busy in the offseason as well. They perform summer maintenance projects to make sure the resort’s vehicles are optimized for the following winter season — including replacing parts, oil changes, rebuilding suspensions, repairing snowcats and snowmobiles, re-building tillers in snowcats, and much more.

Technicians also prepare summer vehicles for operation. They assess our fleet of ATVs, trucks and trailers, prioritizing work on vehicles that will be needed first. They also attend training in the offseason to stay up to date on the latest technology and best practices.

Tommy says he enjoys working independently, knowing that his work is quietly essential to the guest experience and his fellow team members. When a ski patroller gets on her snowmobile to respond to a call, Tommy says, she isn’t responding alone. Her teammate in vehicle maintenance is assisting, too.