Masses of snow, explosives and sunsets - The slope boss and snow master

Johnson Carnot

Der Wintermacher von Samnaun: Johnson Carnot. Bild: Dominik Täuber.
600-horsepower machines, hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of snow and dreamlike sunsets are his métier, satisfied winter sports enthusiasts his only goal. As piste manager and snow master, Johnson Carnot is responsible for the perfect winter in the Samnaun ski area - a big, varied and sometimes wonderful job.
Spurenbeseitigung mit grobem Gefährt. Bild: Dominik Täuber.

Removal of traces with rough vehicle

Johnson's workday begins where the ski day ends for others: At 4:30 p.m. at the edge of the slopes on Alp Trider Sattel. He climbs into his Pistenbully and sets off with a dozen other drivers to remove the countless tracks left by enthusiastic winter sports enthusiasts. In around eight hours - shortly after midnight - Samnaun's slopes will be perfectly groomed again and ready for the next ski day.

Dem Winter vom Sofa aus auf die Sprünge helfen. Bild: Dominik Täuber.

Helping the winter from the sofa

In addition to man and machine, the most important thing is a lot of snow. If not enough of it falls from the sky, Johnson turns on up to 150 snow cannons. Thanks to modern technology, this can also be done remotely. Depending on the weather conditions, he controls the individual cannons himself from home and then bids the employees to check them. In total, the Samnaun mountain railroads produce around 500,000 cubic meters of artificial snow per year with the highly efficient system - even double that in winters with little snow.

Fluch und Segen der weissen Pracht.

Curse and blessing of the white splendor

Every now and then, winter also needs to be tamed. As popular and desirable as the masses of snow are on the slopes: on the wrong slopes they pose a danger. That's why the Samnaun native is constantly in touch with those responsible for the piste rescue. They are the ones who close the slopes when there is a danger of avalanches or decide together with him and his team at five in the morning what is to be prepared or closed.

3…2…1…Zündung! Bild: Dominik Täuber.


By remote control via blasting masts or quite conventionally with blasting charges on the rope, the piste rescue team frees certain slopes from snow where necessary and then releases the underlying slopes for clearing and preparation by the snow groomer drivers. Intense winters demand that these two teams work perfectly together in order to always offer guests both maximum fun on the slopes and the greatest possible safety.

Struktur und Rhythmus, aber keine Langeweile. Bild: Dominik Täuber.

Structure and rhythm, but no boredom

Despite the demanding task, Johnson appears completely balanced. The grandfather of four radiates a calmness that probably comes with his job. After all, everything in winter sports has its rhythm - railroad operations and slope preparation alternate, blasting and clearing takes place after every snowfall, every winter is followed by a summer, machines are used intensively, then serviced, then used again, and so on. This rhythm gives everyday life a firm structure without ever degenerating into a boring routine.

Pistenbullyfahrt in Samnaun.

Workplace with the best view

What Johnson certainly never gets enough of are sunrises or sunsets. Whether on early or late duty, snow groomer drivers always work in the most beautiful light mood. The passionate hunter, who also prefers to spend his vacations in the mountains rather than by the sea, knows about the magic of such moments. While the guests in the valley are winding down their day of skiing at après-ski, he enjoys the spectacular spectacle of light on the horizon in the middle of the huge ski area - and this anew every day.

The music plays at the top

Of course, the "winter maker" often spends his working hours alone, but never lonely. After all, the mountains of his homeland surround him like loyal old friends. And he has never been afraid of missing out on anything during these long silent hours: "If anyone misses out, it's those down there," Johnson points down to the valley, referring to the winter sports enthusiasts who are already looking forward to the next day of skiing - on perfectly groomed slopes - while enjoying a well-earned dinner.

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