Saturday, February 4, 2012

Called On Account Of Snow!

Europe is getting slammed with a ferocious winter chill and heavy snow.

Ferrari cancelled the debut of their 2012 Formula One race cars Friday due to heavy snowfall at its Maranello HQ. Ferrari released photos instead.

Ferrari F2012
On My Mountain, we worked overtime to open our final peak. Two hours of overtime...there goes the New Austerity Regime...

We did it with snowmaking and winch cats. Reno NWS released a photo.

Before the late finish, we did two quality rebuilds. Three hours of burying rocks, while putting off the exposed peak where the northeast wind was scouring anything loose...

Yeah, Conservation Mode...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sleep Tight

I gave a lot of thought to my Reno provisioning trip before I postponed it 'till Monday. COSTCO and WINCO will be downright sedate after the pre-Super Bowl shopping frenzy...I was curious to see how many new big screen TVs were going through check out. The new labor regime at My Mountain gives me a four day weekend, so I can spend one doing all my errands.

I don't remember seeing the Noon News today, I tuned in the TV a minute before noon...and I woke up at 9:30PM. I feel well rested...I guess I needed the winks more than I needed the aggravation of midweek errands.

Last night's shift was a good one...darn near Hero Snow...the remote sensors say more of the same hasn't been over 32°F in 48 hours.

I'm off to enjoy it in thirty minutes!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Like Hero Snow, Only Different

Well, I wasn't convinced that Wednesday morning's snow showers would make it to my neck of the woods, so I was pleased as punch when the flakes started falling about midnight! The scant two inches of accumulation was welcomed by all concerned...especially after the shift we endured!

At the end, the three of us had every working machine on the mountain! Next downed cat, and somebody goes home. Tuesday night is the Graveyard Mechanic's night off, so we were on our own.

It was weird...the tractors all ran...but their tillers refused to work right, or refused to work at all... no joy...All in all, we lost an hour or so of productive time, so the new snow saved our butts...

The storm postponed my Reno shopping trip, it'll be much more civilized Thursday!

When I woke up tonight, I checked all my weather stuff: Remote Sensors, Webcams, forecasts, blogs and AFDs. This dearth of winter weather has sharpened my weathermania to near-OCD levels...

This week will be another dry one...February 1st is the day the Water People measure the snowpack. Much better results than January's survey, the Tahoe Basin's snowpack is up to 37% of normal.

As you can imagine, business levels are off as well. Word came down this week that our hours are getting cut back to 36 hours a week....not good, my summer travel budget is shrinking!

We'll go back to full strength once we get another blast of winter...after another week or two of Conservation Mode.

These Low Snow Conditions are tough sledding. With reduced groomable acreage, the tendency is to groom everything you've got...the better to attract customers. This desire must be balanced against conserving the piste so we can stay open until the next storm finds it's way to My Mountain.

Skiing, snowboarding and grooming all use up a little bit of piste...nothing you'd notice in a day or two. However, when it's  weeks between storms, you can't miss the signs of shrinkage.

It's Groundhog Day! Let's hope Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, we need six more weeks of Winter, just to catch up!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Oh Well

I should be sleeping...I'm not... call it a long nap this afternoon...

Hey, this is interesting: The Reno AFD says it could snow a little by Wednesday morning!

Now this is chilling: "Forget Global Warming-it's Cycle 25 we need to worry about"

Off I go!

Hey! It did snow. Started about 0300...Almost two whole inches by morning!

The Sun is shining in Truckee, chain controls are up on all mountain highways in the Basin.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Phobos/Grunt Watch...Post-Mortem Mea Culpa?

OK, here's what Roscosmos blames for Phobos/Grunt's failure...

Cosmic Rays
Software Glitches
Sub-Par Chips (not MilSpec)
Inadequate Testing
Personnel Changes

Anatoly Zak has an in depth encyclopedia of Phobos/Grunt at

In the face of all these snafus, Roscosmos is actually thinking of trying Phobos/Grunt 2.0!

Pity I have to work tonight...the Late Night Comics will have a field day with today's Phobos/Grunt News!

I guess we better Stay Tuned!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Phobos/Grunt Watch...Still Wanted: Wrap-Up

Well, Roscosmos was going to release their Phobos/Grunt Wrap-Up Report yesterday January 29th...still MIA...

That's not to say there isn't news of the failed Russian Mars Moon Probe:

The latest from

Did some of Phobos/Grunt's reentry debris land on dry ground? This op-ed posits that The Planetary Society's LIFE Module may have landed in Chile or Argentina.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Better Now

As it turned out, last night's shift was better than "glass half full".

24 hours of sub-freezing temps did wonders for the piste. I actually ran with a roll of snow in my blade most of the night, in fact I did a push project for a good hour, vastly improving two adjoining trails that we opened earlier in the week. Boy howdy, that felt good!

A look at the remote sensors says "Springtime Conditions" Saturday night due to the afternoon high of 45°F. The mercury is falling fast, and should fall past freezing by 7PM-8PM.

I expect tonight's shift to be mostly making corduroy, with some light pushing and short, another satisfying shift.

On the mechanical front, my old favorite BR350 ran like a Ferrari last night. My oil pressure was back where it should be after an oil change. The wrenches said I had fuel in the oil.

This was a little less than a surprise. Over the last three weeks, the engine oil levels have been all wacky, the injector pump failed, and the working tractor has a new a "solvent" smell, once I have it up to temperature, and it's nose to the grindstone.

That's a lot of fuel and engine oil connections...oil analysis will tell the tale. Industry sourses say the Caterpillar six cylinder engines in the BR350's need rebuilding after 10K hours. Mine is clocking in at 11K, plus another 100 hours a week, or so...

Even with the mystery lubrication issues, the ol' fave is running strong, and no engine temperature changes are evident. Hydrostatic fluid temps haven't changed either...Triage continues...