December 23, 10 pm Update:
All trails were groomed on the night of the 22nd after an afternoon of snowmobile track-packing, but our volunteers were too tired to spend another few hours track setting. Unfortunately, our window to groom and track set is now temporarily closed due to the warm temperatures.
The temperature is now +5 at 10pm at the airport, and we just had a great learning experience when we tried to groom and track set after a busy day of skiers at Shaganappi today. When the temperatures are above zero, the snowpack softens, sometimes to the point of becoming isothermic, in other words, soft to the ground! The Skidoos and drag-grooming equipment sunk down to the ground this evening, damaging the ski trails. We actually had to leave two pieces of drag-grooming equipment out on the driving range to avoid doing more damage to the trails!!!
We won't be able to groom again until the overnight temperatures go down to 2 or 3 degrees below zero....fingers crossed for colder temperatures to help preserve this snow!!!
To add to our adventure tonight, we had to abandon one 1995-era snowmobile out on the driving range due to breakdown. Towing the snowmobile in these snow conditions would have made a messy and potentially dangerous 3' wide trough in the snow for skiers to then try to navigate. The alternative is to fill the hole with the snow contaminated with grass which increases solar-induced melting and makes a mess....also, our volunteers are physically taxed/maxed out after 3 days of full-on work. We'll wait for freezing temperatures to move the snowmobile out of the way...managing winter operations can definitely be an adventure!!!