Friday, January 6, 2012

Pleasantly Surprised

I was dreading what I'd find on My Mountain after my all too balmy three day weekend. Temperatures never reached the freezing level up there as high temperature records fell across the Tahoe Basin.

Local media is having a field day with the story, it's almost impossible to escape the din of this's consuming everyone in the local sliding world.

It seems that I've developed a bunker mentality over December's dry days, and along with it a sort of hyper-vigilance concerning all things wet and weather.

When I got out of the car at work last night, I noticed a couple of things. It was warm, probably 40F. I carried my slicker instead of putting it on.

The second thing was weird...though it was warm, I didn't hear the sound of running water.

Afternoon temps were in the high 40's, if it had been springtime, meltwater would be running everywhere under the snowpack, and would be making a bunch of noise as it found it's way into the drainage system around the access roads and parking lots. Again last night it was quiet...too quiet.

My guess is the meltwater is going straight into the's been so dry that the ground never became saturated, hence zero runoff to hear.

Fortunately, the swing shift guys were upbeat, but realistic...bunker mentality on display...

I slowly ground my way up the shop road, now a dark brown colored melange of snow and dirt with gravel and stone "sprinkles". Once on the mountain proper, coverage was about like last week...good, not great.

For the most part, we've lost nothing since last week when we lost the top of the mountain. From about Mid-Mountain down we're holding steadfast, slowly improving what we have open. Post-Holiday crowds are one third of the Holiday Crush, so the piste isn't taking the total pounding it did over the Christmas Holidays.

Slowly I made my way around the mountain. The snow is what we call sugar acts just like dry sand. Given a few hours, it will freeze to itself, but structurally, it's a far cry from fresh snow.

I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the worst spots...those high-traffic/hardly any snowmaking yet spots, where we're fighting a losing battle. I pushed bladefull after bladefull several hundred yards and spread it over the frozen meltwater "ponds" in the middle of the trail.

In the end, I made things better...we all did. The Reno AFD says snowmaking temps will return for the weekend...not a minute too soon! Real snow looks to be a couple more weeks away. We'll be doin' what we do in the meantime...

Those of you so inclined, feel free to do a Snow Dance!

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