Lingo On The Mountain — Where 'Kitties' Don't Pur

In a new installment of an All Things Considered series on "trade lingo," Eric Teixman, a ski mountain operations manager, explains that 'kitties' aren't cats; they're massive snow-grooming machines.

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As summer winds down and we dream about our next getaway, some may think snow and mountains and that's the perfect setting for our latest bit of trade lingo. We've asked you to send us terms of the trade from your line of work. And Eric Teixmen got in touch from Girdwood, Alaska where he's Mountain Operations Manager for the Alyeska Ski Area.

The inside name for those big snow-grooming machines we might know as snow cats?

ERIC TEIXMEN: We just call them kitties. You know, the guys will call in on the radio and say, all the kitties are back in the barn - the barn is what we call the vehicle maintenance shop where all the snow cats get parked for the night.

BLOCK: (Laughter) All the kitties are back in the barn.

TEIXMEN: Yeah. Yeah. So they'll put that call out on the radio and let Ski Patrol know that the mountain's clear of all the heavy machinery and so then they can start going around and doing their routes and opening the mountain up for the day.

BLOCK: How else would kitties come up in a phrase or a sentence?

TEIXMEN: Well, occasionally the kitties get a hydraulic leak and so (laughter) it's pretty common to say that they're bleeding. So someone will be like, oh, we've got a mess on the hill. We have a cat that's bleeding.


BLOCK: Oh no. Somebody could hear that and really get the wrong idea.

TEIXMEN: Yeah, yeah, for sure. And there are people in town that like, listen to our radio traffic sometimes so we have to occasionally remind the guys to tone it down a little bit, yeah.

BLOCK: There was one term that you did send in, Eric, that really caught my eye and it has to do - not with machines - but with people, in particular, with Ski Patrol.

TEIXMEN: When there's a group of Ski Patrollers?

BLOCK: Yeah.

TEIXMEN: We call that a blood clot.

BLOCK: A blood clot?

TEIXMEN: Yeah. If there's a group of Ski Patrollers standing around - they're all wearing red jackets. It's kind of like, you know, all Ski Patrollers wear red jackets with the cross on the back - so when they're all standing around and they're on the white snow and they're not moving, it looks like a blood clot. So (laughter) we call them blood clots.

BLOCK: Does Ski Patrol call themselves a blood clot?

TEIXMEN: Oh, no.


TEIXMEN: (Laughter) No. That's probably a whole other phone conversation there. You could call the Ski Patrollers and I'm sure they've got all kinds of slang for us in their Mountain Operations book so...

BLOCK: You think?

TEIXMEN: I would imagine so, yeah. It's interesting how the different departments have different slang terms for the other departments.

BLOCK: Yeah. Yeah.

TEIXMEN: It comes out after some beers have been had, every now and then, but - yeah.

BLOCK: Well, Eric, thanks so much for talking to us.

TEIXMEN: All right. Thanks, Melissa, it was good talking to you.

BLOCK: Trade lingo from Eric Teixmen, Mountain Operations Manager at Alyeska in Girdwood, Alaska.

We're still collecting trade lingo so please send us yours. We're on Facebook and Twitter @npratc.

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