Powder Stampede: Hide the Sheep! (& Lift Maintenance Rocks)

This morning was a scene right out of the Keystone Cops as first we lined up at Northwest, then were told Lakeview would open so we stampeded uphill and the ranks were changed pretty dramatically, then a little after nine were told that, no, NW would open first and then (and what a sight it was to behold) then it was as if floodgates had opened and humanity with skis and boards attached to their feet just poured over the barriers at both loads and amidst the equipment clatter new places were claimed out of the confusion. Equipment was stuck in the nets, people went down, over and through… Chaos with a Capital “C” reigned supreme. Those in the front were giddy with happiness at their good fortune, those that wound up in the back, not so much. I have to say though that despite some grumpiness, most folks remained with good positive attitudes and patiently waited for the chair to carry them up to April Heaven…

And make no mistake about it, it was April Heaven. Although, after 3 or 4 runs NW went back on wind hold and it was the long slow ride up Lakeview in the wind that we all love SO much. Many (including me) left at that point. I did hear that NW opened back up later. Skiing out of the wind zone was awesome. Although the top of NW was blown into wind slab, there was a lot of high quality, (if not the lightest) snow down lower on the mountain. I gotta say the four runs I took were worth every minute of waiting… small crowds, good snow and a good old fashioned stampede to mix things up a little made the morning a Winner.

The Mt. Rose Lift Maintenance and Lift Crew

As I was leaving I heard some grumbling aimed at the Maintenance and Lift Crews for putting the lift on hold. Hey, to all you entitled folks who believe the winds should not blow when you ski… REALLY? The Mt. Rose Maintenance and Lift Crews under the leadership of Jake Brown probably work harder than anyone else on the mountain to help make your experience a good one when you come up. Yesterday they kept Zephyr spinning despite the winds being on the edge of shutting down for about 4 hours, which makes a lot of extra work for them. After de-icing the lifts this morning in 60 mph winds and then keeping them running despite the rime and other issues, the last thing they need to hear is anyone bitching, probably a nice “Thank You” would go a long way. These guys climb towers in zero degrees and hammer on sheave wheels hanging it all out there in 100 mph winds so that we can get some skiing in. The ONLY reason the lifts run as much as they do at Mt. Blows is that these guys put to shame every other mountain’s maintenance and lift crews. So, next time you want to complain when a lift is shut down, I suggest you don some black Carhartt work gear and boots and climb a tower in a storm at about 6 am in 100 mph winds, then, and ONLY then do you have a right to bitch at these guys.

I know I speak for a vast majority of the Mt. Rose skiing community when I say we fully and wholeheartedly appreciate all your hard work keeping the lifts open on one of the windiest mountains in the Sierra so that we can make some turns and have some fun. To Jake, Hunter, Frank, Mike, Steveski and the other Jake, thank you guys for kicking ass this winter! Almost all of us really appreciate it!

Sven

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