2006-03-30 08:15:55.000 – Jim Salge,  Observer

The snowcat at halfway…

Shift changes in spring are always interesting, as this is the time of year can lead to not only extreme temperature gradients from the bottom to the top of the mountain, but also incredibly variable road conditions. And while the weather was certainly most cooperative yesterday, the road conditions warranted a shift change in stages, while shuttling between a few vehicles.

The day started off a bit frosty at the base, while the summit was reporting a similar temperature of 27 degrees. The sun was shinning bright as we piled into two pickup trucks which brought us to the snowcat, parked 2 miles up the road. At two miles though, we found road conditions passable, with a only thin coating of snow, and continued on with the trucks and chains while a light and nearly empty snowcat made it’s way all the way up to halfway!

Conditions while waiting for the cat to catch up were nothing short of spectacular. Not a breath of wind under bright sunny skies, and temperatures rose to 40 degrees. In fact, Tuckerman Ravine recorded a high of 43 yesterday! After planning for the worst weather as always, everyone lost numerous layers in attempt to gain a level of comfort in these exceptional and rare late March weather.

After the snowcat picked us up, conditions on the road quickly returned to a winter-like state as we ascended the final four miles. Upon descent, the snowcat remains at the four mile post, where it will remain for the rest of spring, barring another heavy snowstorm in the lower elevations. And considering that North Conway only recorded an inch and a half of snow in March…well honestly…who knows!!


Jim Salge,  Observer

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