Wednesday, December 21, 2011

1000 Words

I earned it this's the nature of the beast known as snowmaking.

My Mountain is open in Limited Operation due to Mother Nature's intransigence. We're running half our chairs, and two dozen trails...all on manmade snow. This is no small miracle as the weather keeping our winter storm systems at bay has also brought a pattern of temperature inversions that have made snowmaking impossible many nights...hence our limited acreage.

It's Christmas Week, so 1000 skiers and snowboarders were on My Mountain Monday...when I was logging the Grooming Updates this morning, ticket sales were 20% ahead of Monday's numbers at the same time...word is getting out, we've got good conditions...all things considered.

All those sliders confined to such limited acreage, do take a toll on our snowpack...throw in some East Winds, and a little of that snowpack escapes into the sky or into the trees where my fleet of BR350s and Bisons, and BisonXs can't retrieve it...enter Snowmaking!

Of all two dozen of our currently open trails, only two are soldiering on without nightly snowmaking. Thanks to aggressive "Summer Grooming", these trails are golf course smooth, so a good 6-8 inches of snowmaking get them in opening shape, and they stay decent as the skier traffic doesn't find any obstacles as it scrapes away our pricy piste. One groomer can groom all of these acres, plus ancillary projects in under three hours.

Over the rest of the trails, snowmaking holds sway. Weather permitting, tons of water is turned to snow, that when the planets align, falls right onto the myriad obstacles...this is a good thing!

Most of the time however, Mother Nature isn't exactly a team player, so that snow must be moved from where it falls to where it's most needed. All these machinations take time...we pray for 24/7 snowmaking conditions, but of late...were lucky to get 12 hours in. This sets up a game of Groomer's Chicken...for lack of a more refined term.

Having the mountain meticulously groomed when the lifts open at 9AM sharp, always means a little juggling to get it right. When we're making snow to cover bare ground and rocks on open trails, you want to keep the guns and fans running until the last possible second.We routinely run late enough that we sacrifice any "margin of error"...if we a machine breaks down, we're screwed.

Last night I pushed it to the limit...two minutes over the limit it turns out...when I run the crew this close to the deadline, especially during a Holiday Week, the 2-way radio comes alive with my call number...or worse, my name, as Operations starts quizzing me and reminding me of the impending deadline. This always begins 10 minutes before opening. As the deadline gets nearer, I become sort of a Morning Zoo-style DJ who can't shut up over the precious airwaves as I almost end up narrating our egress from the piste...As my crew moves down the mountain, I'm telling Operations our position, which lifts they can open safely, and out ETA to safe cover...whew!

Do 1000 words fly back and forth during our rumble to safe cover? Some mornings...Easy!

Take a look at this, it's easily worth 1000 words:

Tale Of The Tape, from Reno's NWS Office
I'm guessing I've written ten thousand words about it this fall. The forecast says this will be "The Same Old Story" until the New Year

1 comment:

  1. So does that make you all "piste" off. Intrasigence? I'll have to look that one up in the dictionary. Where is my confounded dictionary anyway?