Photo Essay: Good Morning Squaw Valley Part 3

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And Greg Trinker

7:30 am

The unsung heroes of today's ski resorts, groomers are trusted by management to safely jockey a $200,000 machine through the thick of night. Weighing 15,500 pounds-with a 17-foot-wide blade in front and a 1,500-rpm tiller that can chew up 6-inch boilerplate in the back-these snowcats can be as finicky as a colt to control. Go ahead, tip your ski instructor, but don't forget these guys.

7:45 am

The ride to High Camp takes on a new dimension when you're straddling a tressle above the tram 575 feet off the slopes. Every morning, operator Moriuchi inspects the cables and wheel assembly for problems, much like a pilot does during a "walk around" before take-off.

7:59 am

Obsessive about service, Squaw founder Alex Cushing instituted a "courtesy patrol" to aid skiers in the early Seventies. It was the first major resort to do so. Today, that tradition lives in Squaw's mantra "We Care," which Cushing still insists be sewn onto each uniform. (Some wiseacre locals translate the motto to "Like We Care?") Minutes before the Funitel opens, mechanic's helper Anna Henningsson-Crocker embodies Cushing's finest intentions.

Photo Essay: Good Morning Squaw Valley Part 1

Photo Essay: Good Morning Squaw Valley Part 2