Friday, April 2, 2010

Hit Parade

Yes, the hits just keep on coming! We enjoyed another great night on the Mountain last night. The storm never made it east enough to hit us, so we were favored with some catch-up time.

I began my night by telling Jeweler that I was so sorry that he felt so stressed the other night. He's a great prospect, now in his second year...I told him it took me most of twenty years to finally make peace with the "Big Picture" vis a vis berms on powder nights. Part of the big picture is learning when to chill...I realized that I should let on when chillin' is in guys are good enough now, that I forget how much they still have to learn...I'll work on it.

We had one problem in the morning...all the free cats were already off the Mountain when the Sherpa winchcat threw it's cable off the drum and wrapped the drum motor. Jeweler and I staged at the top of the trail while the head mechanic, our Boss, and the winch pilot slowly walked the cat up the hill, looping the cable over the blade by hand, so they could take it back to the shop for repairs. Once they left, Jeweler and I made some clean-up passes so we could get the Mountain opened on time.

I crept down the first pass without drama, Jeweler's pass was more wicked...just as steep, but with twice the side-hill...he flew off the pass and tobogganed four or so passes into the un-groomed! I told him he could head for the barn, and I'd make a clean-up pass for him. I slid too, though I kept it on the pass and moved the berm a pass towards the was a good ride, and good enough to open the trail...once Patrol did a little berm stomping!

Back at the fuel dock, I took the heat off Jeweler, making another "Teachable Moment" of the morning's events. He said he couldn't keep his slide straight because he had his track speed dialed way down. "Keep that track speed all the way up", I told him, "and lose your up pressure when you start into your slide"..."that'll help cover your track marks" I told him there wasn't much you could do with all that side hill, "You steering track was very un-weighted, so the slide was a fait accompli... With all the steeps getting the Winchcat Treatment these days, sliding SnowCats is becoming a Lost Art.

Controlling slides used to be a major part of Grooming 101, but the industry's move into WinchWorld has all but eliminated the sport. I'll give a little talk about sliding tonight at Shift Change, hopefully we won't be in a position to do anymore SnowCat Sliding this season...but you just never know.

Looking at the latest AFD from the Reno NWS Office, it looks like we won't be getting pounded this week after all. The Boss was all atwitter because the Forecast Service we use was pumping up the forecast way out of proportion..."Use the Reno AFD, Boss...they're realists over there!" I told him.

Even without another big storm period, the next week will be good and cold...with just over three weeks left in the season, the outlook is great!

Come on up...the sliding is awesome!

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