Tending the St Moritz slopes with Aebi’s VT450 Vario
At the start of every December, the world-famous winter sports paradise of St Moritz rings in its winter season. It goes without saying that all the slopes are perfectly prepared by the time they open to the public. Each year, ski and snowboard enthusiasts flock to the vast Alpine resort in their thousands to enjoy kilometres of slopes, spectacular mountain scenery, state-of-the-art lifts and excellent snow.
Head of slope services Reto Bieri and his team work all year round to ensure perfect conditions for winter and summer sports. Their responsibilities range from setting up the snow cannons to clearing the approach roads of snow and carrying out demanding transport tasks.
For their daily work on the steep mountainsides of Switzerland, Reto Bieri’s team has been relying on Aebi transporters for 20 years. The drivers are especially taken by the Aebi VT450 Vario, which has been in use in St Moritz since July 2017: its stepless, power-split drive allows this sturdy transporter to move loads of up to 5 tonnes, making it a perfect fit for the crew in St Moritz.
The Aebi VT450 Vario is a reliable workhorse in the St Moritz ski resort and on Muottas Muragl – in winter as well as in summer. The transporter places around 30 out of 180 snow cannons on the mountainsides; the remaining units are carried by helicopters. Its tasks also include snow removal, difficult crane work and, in the summer, transporting gravel, pipes, wood and other materials. It carries supplies to local restaurants and transports snow to the depot.
The Aebi VT450 Vario is a device of many talents: it transforms from a manure spreader to a mobile snow cannon to give the toboggan run a pristine white cover.
Easy driving on difficult terrain
Reto Bieri is especially excited about the off-road capabilities of the Aebi VT450 Vario. ‘We rarely if ever drive on paved roads. The Aebi VT450 Vario is an off-road expert and a perfect addition to our team. Its powerful 109 HP engine and huge torque of 420 Nm are invaluable to us.
It never tires, not even while carrying a full load on rough terrain.’ Bieri further praised the compact design and soil-friendly driving properties of the machine. Farmers, land owners, visitors and hikers all agree: the transporter is less intrusive than a regular lorry – a win-win situation for everyone.
The Aebi VT450 Vario in St Moritz clocks in between 600 and 800 hours of heavy labour every year. Its drivers work just as hard and they are especially pleased with the comfort and convenience offered by the transporter. Flavio Thöny, machine operator and driver of the Aebi VT450, praised the self-levelling suspension system that is considerably more comfortable and leaves him less tired at the end of the day.
On the slopes, the infinitely variable gearbox truly comes into its own. ‘Essentially, we no longer need brakes. The transporter is always friction-locked, so it does not need to brake on steep mountainsides. This allows the driver to focus on steering rather than braking and accelerating.’ Combined with the simple, user-friendly joystick controller, the machine is extremely convenient.
The Aebi VT450 Vario also scores high on safety. A torsional damper between the front and rear sections can handle even the most challenging transportation tasks in steep terrains. An anti-sway bar on the rear axle works with the torsional damper to prevent the machine from overturning while fully loaded.
Despite its enormous workload, the Aebi VT450 Vario has only seen the inside of a garage for routine maintenance. In the unlikely case of an emergency, Reto Bieri can easily access an Aebi service point in the nearby village of Zernez.
The high-performance Aebi VT450 Vario is ready for many more missions on the mountains of St Moritz.