Snow, Snow, Snow!

2009-12-03 20:03:44.000 – Will Tourtellot,  Summit Intern

Summit Buildings At Dusk

Yesterday was shift change and with my time here on the summit drawing to an end I couldn’t have been more excited about getting back on the mountain. My excitement was due to several different things, but chief among them was the possibility of a snow tractor ride! As we were loading the van and chaining tires there was a bit of chatter about the snow tractor. So, as any snow-tractor-ride-desiring person, I thought that we would SURELY pile into the snow tractor at the half-way point where it was parked. We began our ascent with Wayne Pederson, our snow tractor driver, using the truck to plow the drifts of snow. As we started to near tree-line, I was overwhelmed with joy, for the snow tractor was only minutes away! Finally we reached half-way, the snow tractor came into view and then quickly fell out of view as we barreled along. For a second, I thought that everyone else was crazy. There was NO WAY we were going to make it to the summit with chains and a snow plow. After a few minutes of stewing and feeling violated, I came to my senses. Everyone else clearly knew better, after all, I’m the intern AND I’m from the South! I am clueless in comparison. I wish I could tell you that we got a little further up the road and had to turn around and get in the snow tractor but unfortunately I can’t. We made it to the summit without incident thanks to Wayne’s plowing skills and Ken Rancourt’s big-chained-van driving prowess.

As you may know, the end of last week provided some very exciting weather for Steve, Stacey, Mike C. and Mary Ellen. After seeing only a few inches of snow in November, approximately 24 inches fell in 48 hours, 18.5 in. on Friday and 5.9 in. on Saturday. This one event brought our remarkably low November snow-fall total to 32 inches, which is just a bit shy of the November average of 40.4 in.

A low pressure system from the southwest has been making its way through the region over the last 24 hours and we have received a small amount of rain, but temperatures have risen above the freezing point, causing some of the snow to melt. This morning, as is the custom, I went out to the front entrance of the Sherman Adams building to clear the snow out of the enclosed area where we load and unload on our shift change. (Note: It’s crucial that the snow is removed every 24 hours (sometimes more frequently) so that it doesn’t become compacted and impossible to shovel.) After only shoveling for 15 or 20 minutes I could feel my back becoming sore from the heavy loads of snow/slush/water I was picking up. After about 30 minutes, having made little progress, I returned to the warmth of the weather room feeling defeated. While I was shoveling I remember wishing I had a wheel-barrow to move the snow instead of shoveling the same snow two or three times as I moved it outside. Sensing my frustration, Mike told me about a nifty little thing that’s found in many homes and businesses in regions where snow actually accumulates, unlike my home! Anyway, this “nifty little thing” is made of plastic with a steel blade and a steel handle which allows you to scoop snow, or in this case slush and lots of water, and push it wherever it needs to go! Of course, I was excited because I like discovering new tools and learning how to use them and because this particular tool would make my task MUCH easier. So, I decided that this “snow/slush/water-barrow” needed a name and I decided to call “Abel” after Abel Crawford who in 1891 began blazing a trail (actually a bridle path) to the summit of Mt. Washington. In 1791 Abel and his wife, Hannah became the first settlers of the majestic mountain pass north of Hart’s Location, which was named Crawford Notch in honor of the Crawfords. As a pioneer, I think Abel might have had a bit of experience in snow removal.

Note: The photo in the comment with the caption “Summit Buildings At Dusk” was produced using a post-processing technique called HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range. This processing method allows you to combine many different shots, each with different exposure times, to produce one image that more accurately recreates what the human eye sees. For more of my HDR images, check out my Flickr Photostream.


Will Tourtellot,  Summit Intern

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