Dennis’s Comment

2009-12-30 10:54:06.000 – Dennis Vienneau,  Summit Volunteer

Christmas Morning Sunrise

This has been a week of extremes. We came up with the usual shift change last Wednesday with a very smooth uneventful Cat ride up the mountain with both the wind speed and temperature in the single digits. In addition to bringing our personal gear, we brought a lot of food supplies up to restock the freezers and the pantry. With the low wind speeds it almost felt balmy as we unloaded our gear and supplies and reloaded the Cat with the down-going shift’s gear.

Thursday, Christmas Eve day, wind speeds were back to where you would expect them to be (in the 60’s). And oh yes, my first winter volunteer night was interrupted by the periodic clanging of the crowbar on the parapet as Mike removed the constant buildup of rime ice. Friday, Christmas morning, revealed a great sunrise over an under-cast in the valleys. Sunday’s glaze ice event gave me an opportunity to experience, first-hand, ice removal on the parapet while trying to remain upright in winds gusting to the high 60’s. While exhilarating, I glad that I don’t have do that on an hourly or even daily basis. Anything and anybody outside quickly became covered with a thick coat of ice. Be sure to check out this week’s Obscast video for more on that subject.

I had wanted to test my ability to walk around the observation deck with high winds and today (Tuesday) was just the day that I had been waiting for. Wind speeds for awhile were in the high 80’s and 90’s with some gusting over 100 mph to go along with frigid temperatures, 25 below and a wind chill around 70 below as I type. There have already been a couple of wind-aided tumbles by others more nimble than I on an ice coated deck thanks to Sunday’s icing. At twice the age of the oldest observer or intern on duty this week, I’ve given in to the wisdom of age and have chosen to wait for another day with better conditions. Maybe less icy and a few degrees warmer.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the new range while on the summit this week. In one sense it works a lot better than the old range. I like the self-igniting range burners and an oven with a temperature that is pretty much where you set it. But … there is one problem that is scheduled to be fixed on Wednesday. Occasionally the oven cuts out in the middle of baking. Apparently the thermostat control is affected by altitude and needs ‘an altitude kit.’

I consider myself fortunate to be a member of the MWO and to be able to volunteer, to learn, and share in the experiences of the summit staff as they go about their daily duties. Any day being on the summit experiencing the extreme weather that nature has to offer is priceless. Thank-you Stacey, Mike and Scott for letting me being a part of your shift.


Dennis Vienneau,  Summit Volunteer

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