Patrice Jacquemoud, age 60 – Retired slope groomer
For forty-three years, Patrice worked on the slopes of Les Contamines. Snow groomer for the SECMH ski lift company, he recently retired. Today his head is full of memories and his love for the mountains intact. Son of a local , he grew up in the village. Here he learned to tame the elements, to live with this wild nature. At the age of seventeen, Patrice signed his first contract with the local ski lift company.
It was 20th December 1970, forty-three years ago. “At the time, everything was very simple,” recalls the young pensioner, “I popped my head around the Director’s door and said I was looking for work. Within 10 seconds he’d found me a job!”. At first Patrice dealt worked on the chairlifts and drag lifts. A year later he drove his first snow grooming machine. “We only had three machines back then,” says Patrice “today, the SECMH has 11 of them!” Over the years he became a professional snow-groomer.
In summer, he worked as a lorry driver for a builder’s merchant and in the latter years of his career he worked for a company that installed ski lifts. This seasonal rhythm suited him, there was no room for boredom! During his forty-three year career, Patrice saw his winter work evolve. “There will never be as many technical changes as those that took place over the past thirty years” analyses the mechanic. “The arrival of machines equipped with snow-blowers, heated cabins, winches to enable work on the steeper slopes and the development of artificial snow” recalls Patrice with great passion.
“However, one thing that has remained present throughout the years, the desire to offer tourists an excellent service and good skiing conditions” explains Patrice. ” Of course, the demands of the general public have evolved and we have been able to evolve with them.”
To continue the work begun forty-three years ago, Patrice can count on a trustworthy ally, his son Clement. A mountain guide in the summer months, this young man has now taken over from his father in the winter as a snow-groomer.
Photos : © Zir