Monday 20 December 2010

Beauty and the 30 ton beast

When it comes it’s fresh and exciting. On the hour, as it falls, a ruler is plunged in to measure its depth. Online forecasts are compared and the most severe hoped for. There is envy at news reports that across the mountains has double the dollop.

Prickly bushes of gorse now smooth white glistening domes. Icicles hanging from gutters and rising up reeds. Silence from the valley below, the only vehicle a tractor serving turnips to hungry sheep. Beauty all around and time to play. Snowballs, sledges, snowdecks and puppy diving into drifts. You can almost hear the tune of Ski Sunday.

But what about the drive? Normally I’m laid back about it, a car at the bottom for emergency provisions and a roomy rucksack. But this is a lot of snow, oil supplies are low and Sue’s Dad will eventually want to get home.

If only I could shift the snow before it gets trampled by sheep, goats and walkers. I started from the top using a farmyard broom, which soon clogged up with compacted snow, and a garden spade. This was going to take forever.

Into the shed, I cut out a broad rectangle of plywood, attached it to a T shaped pole, et voila! Hand held snow plough. Charging into the foot deep snow with the weight of it pressing down on the ply. Whoosh! Whoooosh!

Soon have this cleared, or so I thought. I started clearing the whole track and then realised it would be quicker to create just a pair of wheel size tracks. Even so, it was taking a long time.

Now it’s done, and ready for the test pilot to attempt a downhill run, I thought I’d work out why it took so long. Blank Excel sheet, drive 3,168 feet long, 2 tracks, each 2 feet wide and the snow a foot deep = 12,672 cubic feet. Each cubic foot, assuming it’s light and fluffy and taking the most conservative online estimate, 5.2 lbs.

Not a lot per whoosh! But that’s 30 tonnes. What a beast and blisters to show. Here's the beauty:

And here's the beast:


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