Communications Uh-Oh!

2008-02-07 11:02:44.000 – Kyle Paddleford,  Observer

Keep Sawing!

Well it has been one of those rare storms on the summit where winds are light and the snow falls straight down instead of flying right on by. There is even a substantial layer of snow out on the observation deck. Places that usually get scoured clean, have been receiving accumulating snow. It is nice while it lasts, but the wind will always return after taking some time off. It always does!

After a smooth shift change yesterday with relatively little blade work to be done by our tractor operator Wayne Peterson, we had quite the task on our hands. Our radio link to North Conway that supports our communications had been flaky when we arrived. Then we lost it completely. There was quite a bit of glaze ice on the dish itself that would not come off with any method we were trying.

We first tried gently knocking it off with a longer 2×2 piece of wood to no avail. Each person took their turn thinking that they would have better luck then whoever went before them. This didn’t work. Keep in mind that we have to be really careful not to damage the radio equipment during this process. It’s not like we can just use a crowbar. Next we tried patiently scraping off the ice with a specially constructed tool. It is basically a PVC elbow attached to the aforementioned 2×2. This didn’t work either. We used our staring power with all our might and this did nothing as you may have guessed. Very hot water was applied as well to see if it would trickle behind the glaze and melt some of the bonds between the glaze and the dish itself. You can see where this is going.

When I lived in Utah and did a lot of backcountry skiing I would carry a very thin rope that had knots tied into it every foot or less. You can test the slope stability from above by having two people holding the ends of the rope and tossing the rest over a cornice. You then execute a sawing motion and the knots cut upwards and back through the snow. You can essentially saw off massive car sized blocks of snow that will drop on the slope below to simulate what effect the extra weight on the slope will have. So anyways, we did this thinking that we could possibly saw some of the ice off. Nope!

We gave up on this idea and went back to the 2×2 and hot water. Finally, no more ice and communications were restored. It was a glorious moment having succeeded after battling with it for a few hours.


Kyle Paddleford,  Observer

Find Older Posts