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Human powered grooming

Posted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:16 am
by Cloxxki
I'm interested in low-tech solution to prep a fresh dump for skating.
I've never done anything but ski up an down a stretch of trail to compact it some.

My latest though is inspired by the donut and surfboard shaped inflatible sleds used by kids lately. These offer an even pressure distribution, and might even spread out snow better over the trail than the wind can.

I foresee one person on the sled, donut, truck innertube, or even rubber boat. One or more skaters in line or 2 pedestrians (either side of the trial) dragging it over the soft snow. Perhaps working down from a large compacter to multiple passes on much smaller, more firmly inflated sleds would work best.

Originally I had thought of a wheelless chariot. A plastic plate ~1.5m wide, hout strengthed on the back, and a handle going up for the person to hold on to. This would be toucher to drag along, but would compact snow better in one pass. I however fear it would be uneven, due to start-stop action not to be prevented. Might be might for a final pass though.

From my recent local experience with fresh dumps on dry soil, I think it's worth it to not wait with grooming until 20cm has been dumped. Especially for human powered grooming with low staff.

Posted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:39 pm
by kaNUK
From my experience you will not produce nearly enough pressure/area to pack it dense enough for skiing. It may be a good first step before skiing in a classic track.

To pack hard enough for skating I'd recommend a roller with substantial mass. A heavy lawn roller might work. Otherwise there is always side-stepping with skis (find a wide set for this) or boot packing the initial dump.

I'm getting flashbacks of boot & ski packing the Jump-outrun on a 45+ degree incline :?


Posted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:55 pm
by Biffbradford
Well, knocking the air out of the snow will definitely help to keep the tips from catching when you skate and I think it will speed up the process of making your own trail. You'll still need to compact it with weight, either by skating it, or other means. I wonder if a roller with knobs would work better than a simple flat roller. Perhaps take less mass to pull around?


You could probably make something simple with a plastic barrel and bolt some wood blocks to it. Then filling it with snow or ? (neighborhood kids?) to add as much weight as you desired.


I'm all for human powered trail grooming because there are so many great places to ski that won't allow any kind of motorized equipment to get the job done.

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:39 pm
by kuan

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:56 am
by Cloxxki
kuan wrote:Or just purchase one? $135

Amazing, thanks! Seems it's not that easy to make, unless you know the exact dimensions...

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:17 pm
by brad
kuan wrote:Or just purchase one? $135

That thing looks sweet! Be some nice resistance training!

Human Powered Grooming

Posted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:10 am
by CCxcskier
Has anyone bought one or know someone who has?[/quote]

Posted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:55 am
by kuan
Nope not me. Maybe one could attach it to a team of dogs. Yeah, that's it!

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:27 pm
by 1295tom
I recently saw the human powered groomer as well. It looks great. I've been grooming my own skate lane for the last few years. All I use is a piece of plywood with a row of screws along the edge about 1 inch apart. This way it can refresh some of the ice that eventually shows up. It can also make it very difficult to pull. I hook it to a harness I wear then put the snowshoes on and go. The loop is about 450 meters. I have to do at least 2 laps to get it good, and 3 laps is more than enough. If the snow is really deep, I only use snowshoes for 4-6 laps then I grab the plywood. I've only had to do that once this year. Overall it works pretty well. I found that adding weights makes it really hard, and you don't get much better results. Stomping it down with the snowshoes works best, and that's a pretty good workout as well. If there is some fresh snow it's actually very easy to pull the plywood around, and you will get good results. There are only two of us that ski on it, so the "course" doesn't get too beat up. It makes skiing convenient. Some days I just don't feel like driving to ski.

Posted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:37 am
by moomba
Would it work to use snomobile tracks that would be double or triple wide? Just drive the snomobile were you need to skate 2 or 3 trips side by side?

Posted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:32 am
by kuan
moomba wrote:Would it work to use snomobile tracks that would be double or triple wide? Just drive the snomobile were you need to skate 2 or 3 trips side by side?

You can just get a piece of chain link fence and drag it behind your sled. THey do that at Woodland Trails in Elk River.

Re: Human Powered Grooming

Posted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:18 am
by T-Pines
CCxcskier wrote:Has anyone bought one or know someone who has?

I do approx. 80% of my skiing at an ungroomed forest preserve. A couple years ago, one of the guys bought one of those HPGs. The HPG is about half the width you want for your trail, so you need two passes to establish your width. Then, depending on the amount and the consistency of the new snow, weight is added with successive passes to further compact.

In practice, one or two guys will make a couple passes pulling while wearing snowshoes. After that, further compaction doesn't seem worthwhile and we ski it down from there. It's still pretty soft after the HPG passes ... but it looks nice with a corduroy finish. Not compacted enough to "set-up" overnight.

The skating trail is only 1.5 miles long, so it doesn't take very long for a handful of skiers going back and forth to ski it down. A day or two later and the trail is identical to "skied in" results as done for over 20 years prior to the HPG.

Some guys think it's a big plus, and others (like me) think the effort is best spent skiing it down from the start.

The HPG is useless for "freshening up" an already compacted trail.


Fatbike damage repair? Re: Human powered grooming

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:52 am
by JeffOYB
Here are two links that the HPG guy posted for more info:


I find that for classic that a single snowmobile pass does the trick. New bindings give so much more control that I just don't need tracks anymore. My friends seem to agree. So we are no longer snowmobile haters. The tread-width can be an issue. I'm not sure what snowmobiles are ideal.


I've seen reports on the main principles: they say AERATION is the #1 key. But it sounds from the previous post here that compaction is also needed. The fatbike groomers seem to rely on aeration. Taking air out of snow lets it settle which lets it set up, is the main idea. But I guess you need some weight as well.

We've pulled chain link fence around by humanpower and it worked fine as I recall.


I wonder if the fatbikers are doing better on the science of smallscale trailgrooming. They're going great guns at doing their singeltrack grooming. All machine pulled at this point. But it's quite minimal.


Our local situation is that we need a groomer that can bust up a fatbike U-profile and set a trail that everyone can use. The fatbikers have invaded and are trashing our local multi-use trail without apology. ("We're sharing.") These are fattie riders who are NOT interested in snowgrooming but only in riding what's there til nothing's there anymore for anyone. The frozen groove they make ends up so nasty that even they can't ride it. We do have a couple guys who are willing to help but nobody yet so bold as to really want to take leadership.

So the skiers are gonna have to take a big role in developing a groomer that can fix the fatty damage and prevent further damage. We've long had a situation where skiers use the center and hikers/shoers use the sides and everyone got along. We'd keep good tracks for about a month of solid use before they washed out. No grooming at all, just skiing. But those days are gone.

It's possible we can stay ahead of the fatty damage with a regular groomer but I think we'll need a HPG with capacity to bust up a U-profile damage situation. I have no idea if this is possible.

I wonder if we could create a 2-person groomer... If you had attachments with bungies built in then that might help offset any variation on pull-timing from 2 pullers. (I notice when pulling heavy pulks that including a portion of bungie is key for smooth progress otherwise you get start/stop jerkiness.) Wouldn't it be something if we could have TWO SKIERS pulling a groomer rather than one trudger? I guess you'd need the pull-line to be an in-line setup -- leader's harness connected to the 2nd harness connected to groomer. Could that work? Or would you want 2 lines with one going alongside the other. I suppose pullers would want to be offset to avoid line interference. ?

The skier-mode would only be of interest where it's already skiable to an extent -- like for trail repair. Mostly relevant for just handling a heavier HPG -- probably often by snowshoeing.