What a week!
2010-03-02 23:08:57.000 – Brian Clark, Observer and Meteorologist
Generally speaking, the summit crew is always pretty anxious to get down the mountain on the Wednesday after spending a week on top. Don’t get me wrong, all of us love the mountain and feel very lucky to be here for a week at a time, but we also work very hard while we are here. In a typical 8 day shift we put in at least 80 hours of work but often more towards 90 or even 100 hours on very busy weeks. This alone makes the prospect of 6 full days off very exciting.
The work we do can be difficult in different ways. Some weeks, the workload can be mentally taxing. For example, in the summer time there can be an incredible amount of tours given during one shift. Some weeks the work is physically taxing. This past shift was definitely one of those weeks.
First of all, working an unusual midnight to noon shift as I have this week is always a little difficult to deal with. I enjoy the change of pace, but this is definitely not a shift that I could do every week. Going back and forth between a ‘normal’ sleep pattern while in the valley and the sleep pattern I have been on all week here would just be too much.
Then there has been the weather. All of us on the summit live for the extreme weather; that’s what why we’re here. Typically, a severe storm lasts for a day, maybe stretching into two. This shift saw continuous snow and moderate to high winds from when we arrived on Wednesday until early Sunday morning, 5 days. This meant an inordinate amount of shoveling snow from in front of emergency exits, battling the weather just to get the data necessary for our observations, and of course deicing. Ahhh, the deicing. I’m sure you can imagine that getting into the tower with 100+ mph winds is not easy, but even after several years I am still surprised at how much of a toll just a few minutes in the tower with winds sustained over 100 mph takes on one’s body. For about 3 or 4 hours straight Thursday night into Friday morning, I was heading into the tower once an hour. Each time it would take me about 5 minutes to complete the task of climbing up, removing ice, and climbing back down. When I would then head back inside to record the data from the observation and send it to the NWS, my hands would be shaking, making it difficult to actually write down the data I just collected. By 3 a.m. on Friday, I felt like I had been beat up by the school yard bully.
The rewards for all this work have been great this week as well. Yesterday I described and showed the incredible day we had on Sunday. That few hours out on the mountain in and of itself was worth all the work we did this week. Today was also a very nice days, with decreasing winds through the day and quite a bit of sunshine as well.
In the end, it has just been another eventful week on the mountain. I’m very happy to say that even with several winters on the summit under my belt, that there is always something new and exciting to experience. Who knows what next shift will bring!
Brian Clark, Observer and Meteorologist