Saturday, April 23, 2011

That's What I'm Talking About!

Call it Groomer's Intuition, I'm glad I waited 'till morning! Last night was awesome!

The remote sensors and webcams mislead me, so I was expecting the worst. When I parked the parts runner, BahiaBoy was practically skipping down the shop road yelling "SuperHero Snow!" "Two inches of premium Tiller Food on top!"

Everything was running, the grooming was fast, and the seeing was good. A half an hour in, I was streaking uphill, full stick, keying the mic saying: "This is fun!" It went that way all night. We all doubled our output compared to Thursday night.

We totally kicked it and had everything wrapped up a little after 0800. Everyone was elated...old hands just expect the worst at the bitter end of the season. It was Jeweler and ParkGuy's last shift this week, I've got one more this week and the final three starting Thursday.

The weatherman says (and I'm paraphrasing now) a 50%  chance of SuperHero Snow tonight too.

Hot Damn!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rain Out!

I got my sleep today...I even slept through the Giants' game.

It's raining all the way up Friday night at 11PM.

Hopefully I'll have some positive news come Saturday!

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Bait and Switch

Another night that looked bad on paper (read online) turned out better than OK by the time all was said and done.

It's starting to remind me of an LP record skipping...yet another night wherein I go to work already hunkered down as if the Sword of Damocles is freshly honed and zeroing in on my fat, juicy neck!

I woke up to my 10PM alarm and was alarmed to hear the rain blasting my front door like the Big Bad Monsoon was trying to go all Three Little Pigs on my ass. None the less, I got ready for work and headed up the hill at my usual appointed hour.

Sheets of rain and too warm temps greeted me as I dashed up to the driveway. It was warm and wet...big time...I started the Parts Runner, and thought I should run back downstairs and grab my book...I'd probably have time to read it while we wait for the snow level to drop!

Out on the roads, I thought: Not a night fit for man nor beast. Roads were running like rivers and it was way dark. I didn't lock the hubs on the parts runner...after all, the webcams and remote sensors confirmed the high freezing levels.

Well, the webcams and remote sensors weren't 100% correct...I ran into snow on the highway about a half mile from the summit. Pellet-style snow was beating on the windows and sticking to the pavement like so much mini hail. It was slick as can be. I made the last half mile drift-style...very little traction...lots of steering input...a smug smile came upon my face as I crested the summit.

The Groomer's Ready Room was a grim place save for All Star Winch Pilot who was punching out for the last time this season...Vacation Time Baby! It turns out the piste was even worse...somewhere between mashed potatoes and potato soup. Jeweler and I began the slow slog...

Jeweler went high looking for relief, the theory being up top the snow should be colder and drier...not so much it turned out. I went to the bottom of the mountain opting to pound the flats until the snow level fell to the forecast Lake Level. I took a look at the mid-mountain snow stake...less than two inches at 12:45AM, I had to call the Ski Patrol leader at 0400 with the snow total so he could make the Go/No Go Avalanche Control call.

I hunted far and wide for things to do that didn't involve any steeps, so I groomed all our pedestrian paths that were really a mess...all torn up by naked snowcats...I wouldn't want to walk on them. Naked in this context means without tillers...If the forecast delivered, they'd be sweet by morning. Even though the graupel continued to fall, the mercury was taking it's own sweet time to follow suit. Jeweler's CenterX Bison is equipped with an external thermometer which clung maddeningly to 39°F. "C'mon forecast" I rooted!

Around 0300 I drove into our WiFi Cloud and checked my Twitter feed...chain controls were finally up....seems the temps were beginning to go our 0350 my BR350 made a loud BANG! and lost some RPMs and power. The engine temp shot up. I stopped and shut down the tiller...the temp dropped like a stone. I limped the 200 yards to the mid-mountain stake. As I reached for my phone it started ringing. I discussed the night's totals with the Patrol Leader...the stake still showed the same under two inches it had three and a half hours earlier. Even with the robust winds, the call was No Go. I hung up and keyed the mic: "Jeweler, can you come pick me up? I've got a downed cat over here" "On my way" Jeweler came back.

Conditions continued to improve, though the Bison I climbed into had stereo issues that even my iPod and FM transmitter couldn't overcome. My cat's trouble turned out to be a Turbo Boost Hose that came adrift. My cat was back at the shop before we finished the morning re-rolls.

Back at the fuel dock there was a good 4-5 inches on the ground. The final hour or so was weirdly satisfying. Usually re-rolls are just a grind, but this morning, in light of the awful conditions overnight, the last hour was at least a little uplifting. We were all quite chipper once we were out of our cats for the day.

All's well that ends well...there's always tonight...on paper it's looking good!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday's Parade

Lucky me! Last night turned out fine after looking so bad by the numbers. Yes, it was a grind...pun intended...We finished the truncated list and were done at 8:45 It finally set up hard around 0400 so things turned out fine. When I finally punched out it was starting to snow, which pumped my mood to stratospheric heights given the doom and gloom forecasts of the past few days!

I talked to BajaBabe on my way home. BajaBabe is in California traveling before her season and we're going to have a few days together in early May, and again to watch the AMGEN Tour of California race through Truckee on the 16th.

I didn't even look at the weather before bed and slept like a Saint. Now I wake up and it's raining...raining, raining! This time I did look at the weather. The webcams showed the snowlevels to be way up there as forecast. The AFD and forecasts say the snowlevels will fall to Lake Level by morning.

I'm hanging my hat on that Lake Level meme...back to bed!

Uh oh...I woke to my 10PM alarm and it sounds like the Monsoon's knockin' on my front door. No joy on the webcams or remote sensors either...c'mon snowlevel start dropping already!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oh Crap

Like I don't have enough to do already, now my email account has been hacked. The slime sent boner pill and real estate spam to everyone in my address book. Nine characters isn't enough for a password anymore.

On the bright side, the Giants were winning when I fell asleep, and won it when I woke up again. I'm more than a little troubled by all the injuries I'm seeing so far this season...tonight it was Aaron Rowand who left the game after being hit by a pitch. Man it's a long 162 game season, and when the games really start to count down the stretch, everyone's hurt to one degree or another.

It looks like little solace will be found on my mountain tonight, afternoon highs were nearly 50°F, and at 9:15PM it's still 36°F. The forecast says precip Wednesday, Lake Wind Advisories, and a high 7500ft snow level before falling to Lake Level Thursday. There could be some good ol' Hero Snow this week after all!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Did I write "Catchin' My Breath For The Grind Ahead" only yesterday?

Looking at today's weather makes me think smear...not grind. The remote sensors have the afternoon temps in the low 50's, and the mercury hasn't fallen out of the 40's as of 8PM. It's gonna be gooey tonight.

Last night turned out OK after looking awful on paper. Swing shift were high as kites because they'd dodged the bullet...the soft wet snow had not begun to set up, so they knocked out a bunch of acres and were making their escape before things turned gnarly.

When graveyard hit the slopes, the pack was setting up. The first hour or so was awful...go so slow that it looks hopeless...and the surface is just passable...not exactly inspiring...

The forecasters have been touting high snow levels and rain Saturday for a few days now...yet more inspiration antidote...

So, I got home this morning after a night that turned out much better than we'd expected it would at shift change, and dove feet first into another buzzkill,

Well not straight away actually, before filling out tax documents for my Sainted Mother, I enjoyed lunch and Formula One Qualifying.

I don't remember falling asleep, but when I woke up the SF Giants were leading the Arizona Diamondbacks, and went on to win. Between innings, I scanned the web for intel.

Temps were still up, but the Reno AFD had good news...the moisture was going to pass by to the north. I'll take it!

Doing the math...tonight I'll have to earn it. Grooming is gonna be like puttin' a schmear on a bagel. (There's something to the fact that I didn't say 'like putting icing on a cake')

But hey, it's my Friday, and when I get home Sunday morning, there'll be the Chinese Grand Prix waiting on my DVR, IndyCars at Long Beach, and the Giants game to fall asleep to. There's gonna be cake in there somewhere...