By: Kristen Connolly
WAUSAU (WAOW)-- A plow, a tiller, and a joystick: Those are not common terms you think of when Granite Peak comes to mind.
But they're the reason many people enjoy Rib Mountain….
It's a behind the scenes job people rarely see and as I experienced its give you a whole different appreciation to the work that goes into making a ski hill.
Strap on your boots, grab your skis and head to the chair lift. If you're a skier or snowboarder, it is a routine you're probably familiar with.
But behind the scenes there is a small group of people that make this all possible.
"There can be 15 or 20 people here at night nobody ever sees." Explains Rick Wolf, a snow groomer at Granite Peak. "That world: the little gnomes, the little snow people that come in and make the snow and they leave in the morning."
These groomers spend countless hours trying to make Granite Peak safe and enjoyable for visitors. But for Rick Wolfe, this mountain is home.
"Its beautiful up here, as a kid I used to come up and play, just being outside. I work at my other job is outside, and what better place in Central Wisconsin to work outside then at Granite Peak."
Rick has been making and grooming snow for seventeen years so skiers and snowboarders can enjoy the white stuff.
"I saw them make snow one night and when they turned that water on and snow came out, I fell in love. And I'm like I have to do that. And that following year I came back and I made snow and I love it. There is nothing better than the snow, it's like white gold."
As a groomer it's not all fun and games. There are many hazards, including avoiding visitors, and of course mother nature.
"The other thing I always fear is ice and gravity. They don't work hand and hand. You can control it but you can't always know find out where you are going to go. And yes I have went over the edge a couple times, it's not an easy feeling, but its just part of the business."
It's peaceful. But the wildlife and scenery make the long, cold days and nights all worth it.
"It's nature, some of the mornings, when the sun comes up it will be orange, and red and purple and nobody sees that five O'clock in the morning or quarter to six in the morning. It only happens for about two, three minutes and its gone."
Wolf says one of his favorite times at the hill is when he sees a child give him a thumbs up.
I think that would make anyone smile....
For an exclusive on how a groomer actually works, check out the video attached to this article.
Online Reporter: Kristen Connolly