This was the McCloughan family’s very first Pisten Bully. Quinn McCloughan bought it when he was about 8 at Lake Superior Trading Post with his birthday money, and we still have it. It grooms trails about as well now as it ever did. If you are a 4 inch tall skier, this machine grooms the coolest ski trail you’ll ever encounter.
This was the McCloughan’s second Pisten Bully. Dave and Barb Tuttle bought this grooming machine for Bearskin in 1987, upgrading from a smaller machine and making an immense investment in the future of skiing here. The Tuttle family actually traveled to the factory in Germany to see their Pisten Bully being manufactured.
For almost 30 years the 1987 PB chugged along the trails, creating great skiing in the midst of a deep forest environment. This was a was a well cared-for machine, but over the years there were plenty of disasters. The worst fear was what would happen if this big diesel machine ever stalled far out on the trail in subzero temps, where it likely wouldn’t start again. (Correction: second worst fear — the worst fear was having the groomer go through the ice, but Dave had already done that one.)
One of Quinn’s first groomer experiences when he was just a fresh 21-year old here was having the PB break down on the trail at -13 degrees, with nobody else around to help him solve the problem. He proved he was up to the coming challenges when he eventually got it back to the warmth of the shop. We had a few years where Bob swore that aliens (or more likely, drones) were making the Pisten Bully wacko on specific parts of the trail system; a new computer system installation made it act much less crazy, but it couldn’t be counted on to be entirely sane. Every time the trails were fully groomed and the machine was safely put away, we all breathed a sigh of relief because we’d escaped Pisten Bully Disaster one more time. It was time for a replacement.
So this is our brand new Pisten Bully, as it was delivered to Bearskin yesterday. Quinn and Bob, as well as Dave Tuttle, checked out all the new features. A fraction of the size of the 1987 machine, this is a far more powerful groomer. Our trails will be wider and smoother, plus the experience inside the groomer will be warm, comfortable and surprisingly quiet. We don’t have quite enough snow yet to truly groom, but they took it out for a bit of experimental grooming and loved the results. And, of course, driving the groomer will be an entirely different experience when the constant, over-riding fear of being stranded at -20 below isn’t a fundamental part of the grooming process.
Dave took the ceremonial first ride in the groomer. He drove it to the shop and made sure all the flashing lights and doohickey switches worked.
Then came the sad part: we packed up the old PB, with its old colorful Bearskin Ski Guy Logo on the outside and lots of good memories on the inside, and sent it on its way to its next home. Somewhere in Ohio the Bearskin Pisten Bully will live to groom another day.