Friday, December 26, 2014

Winching Follow Up

There was a really good winching question a couple of posts ago. Why is the winch at the top? Heads up - this is definitely Snow Nerd stuff. Most of the winching we do involves using a fixed anchor. The winch cat attaches to the anchor then lowers itself down and up below the anchor. We have dozens of fixed anchors scattered about the mountain. Sometime we do this with a mobile anchor which is another snow cat. 

What we do establishing Montezuma Bowl is different. Again, a major worry is the snowcat getting stuck down in the soft, loose snow in the Bowl with no way out. Once the snow is packed and firm, the cats can climb out with relative ease. As the cats move downhill, they go down steeper pitches and flatter pitches. So to prevent a cat getting stuck, the winch cat parks at the top of a steeper pitch and lowers a regular cat down that steeper pitch. The regular cat makes several passes on the steeper pitch. Once that is done, at the bottom of the steeper pitch the regular cat disconnects from the winch cat and makes several "FREE" passes on the flatter terrain, usually down to the top of the next steeper pitch. Once that is done the regular cat heads uphill to the end of the winch cable and reconnects. The winch then pulls the regular cat up to the top of the steep pitch. We let that snow firm up for 1/2 a day to a day before returning. Upon return the packed snow is firm and both cats can get down and climb back up the steeper pitch. The cats then move further downhill to the next steep pitch and start the process all over again and again and again.

This is a multi-day process and is why it takes us several days to get the groomed routes in Montezuma Bowl established.