Maintenance Welding for Ski Area Operators Summer Class

Welding at CMC Leadville for the Community Open House event
Maddie Pierce, Ski Area Operations student at Colorado Mountain College Leadville, welding on the Pisten Bully Snowcat.
Maddie Pierce, Ski Area Operations student at Colorado Mountain College Leadville, practicing a weld repair on a PistenBully Snowcat.

Colorado Mountain College Leadville to offer Summer Maintenance Welding for Ski Area Operators Class

When commercial snowmaking equipment springs a leak, and there’s 30 feet of water shooting across the ski slope, you’ll want a welder on your team. Installing chair lifts, repairing ropeways, and patching sections of snowmaking pipe are ski area operations responsibilities that require welding knowledge and practice.

This summer, Colorado Mountain College Leadville will offer two welding workshops designed for ski area operators working in the industry. The one-week Maintenance Welding for Ski Area Operators class will run for two sessions, May 20 – 24 and June 3 – 7, giving students ample time to hone their skills behind the torch.

This is the second year that CMC Leadville will offer Maintenance Welding for Ski Area Operators. The course fills at 10 students, and typically the class is made up employees from local ski resorts like Copper Mountain, Beaver Creek and Keystone. Students come from all abilities levels. Most have some welding experience and want to work on a specific skill or type of weld. Others have never held a torch and are looking to increase their marketable skills and gain staying power in the ski industry.

“We’ll have all processes of manual welding,” says instructor Geoff Lautzenhiser, Colorado Mountain College Leadville full-time welding faculty, “Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW/MIG), Gas Tungsten Arc Gas Welding (GTAW/TIG), Oxy-Acetylene Welding, and Plasma Cutting (PAC).”

Welding at CMC Leadville for the Community Open House event

Come for the Winters and Stay for the Summers

With seventeen years of experience as a snowmaking maintenance technician and pipe welder at Copper Mountain, Geoff Lautzenhiser knows what it takes to make a career in the ski industry.

“I welded almost everyday on the job,” says Geoff, who began working at Colorado Mountain College in 2016, “especially in the Summer with chairlift installations and repairs. I’ve patched plenty of snowmaking pipe leaks in winter too.”

The seasonal nature of the ski industry poses a challenge to ski area operators looking to make a full-time, year-round career on the hill. Building up your technical skill-set with continuing education courses and certifications give seasonal employees staying power when the snow melts and the maintenance work really begins.

Employer Investment

“These courses really benefit ski resort employers as well,” says Geoff, “You don’t need to hire a contract welder for $100 – $125 an hour when you have a welder on staff. Investing in your employees with training and certifications helps with retention. It’s not easy to replace a strong welder.”

Colorado Mountain College Leadville works closely with the American Welding Society to certify some students for employer liability insurance. The AWS inspector comes to campus for scheduled visits and some students go to the office in Grand Junction to receive their certification.

Welding class on campus at Colorado Mountain College leadville Maintenance Welding for Ski Area OperatorsPractice makes Proper Technique

When it comes to welding, there’s no such thing as too much experience and practice. The curriculum is highly customizable based on student needs and interests. Last summer, there were several students who took both sessions. Students who enrolled in the Maintenance for Ski Area Operators course last summer are encouraged to return this summer for more continued education.

“We don’t follow a particular curriculum, rather there is lots of one-on-one time to customize your program based on what you want to learn and practice,” says Geoff, “If you came last year, we can pick up where we left off. It’s another 45 hours to learn that much more.”

Affordable, Hand-on, & Universally Applicable

In addition to low-cost tuition rates, Colorado Mountain College Leadville offers affordable housing options on-campus as well. The tuition cost for the class is $160 for in-district students, or $360 for in-state students. There is also a materials fee of $100 per student for the class, and on-campus housing is optionally available at the weekly rate of $118.30 (double occupancy).

“Learning to weld with proper technique gives you an advantage in the ski industry,” says Geoff, “This week-long course is affordable, hands-on, and is universally applicable.”

If it’s anything like last summer, this course will fill-up fast. Employers and ski area staff are encouraged to contact Colorado Mountain College Leadville for more information and details. Students can register online at or call 719.486.2015 for more information.