Friday, April 30, 2010

All Systems Go!

Great day on the mountain, and the Mt. Washington Auto Road will indeed open tomorrow. A combination of good weather and hard work, and we're ready to go. Thank a member of the Road Crew when you see them! Curtain goes up at 9:00am. See you then.

And, by way of a preview:

That's the view from the turnaround point at Winter Cutoff. Need I say more?

- Ryan

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday was a Challenge

Today was a tough day on the mountain. As a consequence, we're feeling less certain about getting open on Saturday morning. We're still trying for it, but it's going to be tough. Here's the story.

Tuesday brought the snow, and by Wednesday morning we had at least 15" of new snow on the ground at the base. More at higher elevations. We had success clearing a lane to Winter Cutoff by early Wednesday afternoon. Now, a clear lane doesn't mean it's down to bare, dry pavement. It simply means that the bulk of the snow is gone, but in most cases it's still a chains needed or, at least, four-wheel drive scenario. We need this lane open so the Road Crew can get back up high to ensure that the work already completed—open culverts, clear water bars—is still intact. Essentially, we need to be in two places at once. It's a bit tricky, but things were moving along. Then, Thursday happened.

We had hoped for a clear, calm day. Sun on the Road would not only shrink the snowbanks, making clearing easier, but it would also continue to dry out the road surface. But, no such luck. On Thursday, the mountain was primarily in the clouds and flurries fell throughout the day. Worst of all, it was windy. Windy enough to cover the Road with three foot drifts in places. The lane we had cleared had to be recleared. It was almost like starting over.

Here's the good news: the forecast for Friday looks good. And, we're not giving up. The Road Crew is going to head back up the Road tomorrow and keep clearing, and clearing, and clearing. Hope for sunny and calm skies. I'll have an update late on Friday with our plans for the weekend.

- Ryan

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mt. Washington Auto Road Set to Open

The Mt. Washington Auto Road will open for its 149th season on Saturday, May 1 at 9:00am for guests to drive their own vehicles. The Mt. Washington Auto Road will be open to 4.5 miles to a turnaround point above treeline, which affords stunning vistas of the surrounding peaks and offers a true taste of the Mt. Washington experience.

The Road Crew has worked diligently this spring to clear the ice and snow from the lower sections of the Mt. Washington Auto Road allowing this early opening to above treeline. In most seasons, the Mt. Washington Auto Road does not open to this point until mid-May. The Road Crew is still hard at work on the upper sections of the Auto Road with a goal to open to the summit by the end of May.

At this time, the Mt. Washington Auto Road will be open weekends only through May 9. Guided Tours are not yet available. Early season pricing is in effect: $23 per safe carload.

Be sure to stay tuned to the blog for updates on continued progress up the Auto Road and details on our plans for opening to the summit.

- Ryan

Monday, April 26, 2010

Beginning Work on the 5 Mile

Here's a look at the Road Crew starting work on the 5 Mile.

Plenty of snow to go around! Work will continue all week as conditions permit.

Look for another video update soon.

- Ryan

Friday, April 23, 2010

First Video of the Season!

Here's a look at the trip up the Road on Thursday, 4/22.

Beautiful day on the mountain, and the lower half of the Road is in very good shape.

Up next is a look at the Road Crew beginning work on the 5 Mile.

- Ryan

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Starting work on the 5 Mile

After the snow of late last week, it seemed like we might never see the end of winter. But, thankfully, the snow at the base melted quickly, and the story was much the same on the portions of the Road already cleared. The even better news was the state of the culverts: clear. With that bit of luck, the Road Crew has made steady progress this week. Today, I headed up to see just what things looked like.

Starting up from the base, you would never have any idea that there could be any snow left on the Road at all. You don't see anything white until the shaded snowbanks at Mile and a Quarter Park. But, as you travel upward, you're reminded you're on Mt. Washington. By 3 Mile, the snowbanks on either side are fairly significant, and the snow is encroaching on both sides. In fact, in many places, the Road is still only one lane wide. However, we were able to travel to Winter Cut Off, about 4.25 miles, without chains or 4WD. And, the snow is melting quickly. Above that: it's a whole different story.

As soon as you make you way through the S Turns to the base of the 5 Mile, you encounter snow, slush, ice and winter. It's a totally different world. Today, the bulldozer was working near the top of the 5 Mile taking care of the top layer. The grader is also up there smoothing the way for the backhoe and steam drill. The backhoe was searching for culverts and making good progress. The crew working steam drill wasn't working too hard today as they needed only a bit of shoveling to open up the ends of already flowing culverts. That's great news because that means less ice in the culverts, so we can move more quickly up the mountain. Well, once we get all the snow out of the way. The snowbanks are still quite substantial: at least 15 feet in many spots along the 5 Mile.

Good progress to this point, and the Road Crew is feeling very good about their work so far. This week's weather has certainly helped, and more sunny, warm weather will help the melting below Halfway.

Now, I know what you're thinking, and we're starting to think about an opening date, but, right now, it's too early to make any definitive plans. We need to watch the weather, monitor the road conditions and hope. As soon as I know, you'll know. I'm planning to make another trip up the Road next week to get a look at the Crew working on some culverts.

Be sure to check out the full photo gallery on our Facebook page. Video coming soon, too!

- Ryan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Halfway...Sort of...

It's a classic good news, bad news scenario here at Mt. Washington right now.

First the good news: the Road is cleared to halfway, and all the culverts below that point are flowing. Aided by warm, dry weather, the Road Crew has done a great job on the first 3.8 miles of road. We can even get vehicles without chains to that point. All good news.

Here's the bad news: it's snowing. As I type this, it's currently 17° at the summit. It's only 34° at the base. Winter is back, and that's not exactly conducive to getting the Road open.

What does it all mean? Well, we won't really know until the weather clears. We could get 6 inches of new snow or more above 4000 feet. We could have a number of culverts refreeze. We could have to clear large sections of the Road again. We could have a lot of icing. It's all a guessing game right now. Fingers crossed that it doesn't get too nasty.

All that being said, we are right about where we hope to be at this point in the Spring. It's rare that we aren't forced to take a couple steps back due to mountain weather, but it wouldn't be Mt. Washington if it was smooth sailing the whole way. Depending on how much snow we do get, the bulldozer will be moving up to Winter Cut Off and onto the 5 Mile on Monday. If the Crew doesn't need to tackle too many refrozen culverts, look for them to be right behind.

My plan is to head up the mountain late next week and get some pics and video of the Crew working on the 5 Mile. I could have gotten some shots of them working this week, but the Road would basically look just like it did last week...just a different section. And, those guys don't want me in the way! So, look for more pics late next week, but I'll have a culvert update on Monday or Tuesday.

- Ryan

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A First Look at the Auto Road This Spring

Work has begun in earnest on the snow and ice that buries the Auto Road each winter. Spring is a busy time for the Road Crew as they clear not only the Road itself, but they also clear the 114 culverts of ice.

On April 8, I took a trip up the Road to check on their progress. And, so far, it's all good news. We're able to drive to 2 Mile Park without chains, which is nice because I took our Smart Car! Above that point, chains are a necessity. The bulldozer has moved up above 3 Mile Post and is making good progress. The best news is that there are only 2 frozen culverts below the 3 Mile Post. Chris should be able to clear those out this afternoon.

I've posted a couple photos below, but there's a full gallery on our Facebook page. Be sure to become a fan!

My next trip up the Road will be mid next week. I'll have a 4WD vehicle with chains, so I'll be able to get some video of the bulldozer in action and the crew working the steam drill. Reports are that Signal Corps (4.25 miles) is buried in a huge drift, so not sure how long it will take them to get through that point. Then it's onto the marquee locations of 5 Mile and Cragway. Hope for continued warm weather, so those culverts keep flowing!

- Ryan