Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Post-Mortem Recap of Winter 2017-18

Just for "keeping up the records," I'm posting a very brief description of the Winter of Discontent 2017-18.  In short, it sucked.  It was a record that was so far away from anything ever observed in over 125 years of weather data collection.  It didn't even amount to 10% of normal snowfall, and was incredibly warm.

We did manage to eek out about 2 weeks of skiing, with about one week of grooming...all in the last part of February.  I skied on the trails a total of 4 times, myself, and I would say that last time was pushing it and resulted in making my pair of rock skis even rockier.

It was too bad, as we had gotten the trails in pretty good shape and would have had a good season.

As I write this in November 2018, it looks like the winter of 2018-19 will be better...we'll keep our fingers crossed.  We have a new (to us) Polaris UTV that we're putting "snow tracks" on so that we don't have to suffer trying to drive Kermit, and will hopefully not have so many problems getting stuck while using the snowmobile (the Viking) out in the meadows after a windy storm. 

Thanks to all of the club volunteers!  Keep up with things via the Facebook site, but we will post more text here.  Think SNOW!!!

Monday, March 13, 2017

That's a Wrap (for winter 2016-17)

Well, the fat lady has finished her warm-up and is in a crescendo for the final aria of the season.

Despite (fairly accurate) predictions for a warmer and drier winter, we ended up having a halfway decent season.  It was very warm, but we got lucky with some of those storms that bulged far enough south and circled around enough to give us some very-much-needed snow.

Unfortunately, it was also warm pretty much all winter...and FAR TOO WINDY!  As such, it was always a challenge to stay on top of the grooming and tree clearing, then it would get too sunny and warm...and repeat.  What a challenge.

All in all, we did manage to get some good days of skiing, and as we speak, the upper meadow and portions of the upper tree trails are still quite skiable with some nice stretches.  But, there are now some open, bare patches that are growing by the day.  So, we're pulling the plug on any more grooming.  Also, lots of trees came down last week, so that is a mess still.  The lower road is still blocked by some of the carnage:

Some big trees came down across the front hill on March 6 

This one, just above Pt-J made a huge mess

So much carnage, that there became hardly anywhere to put the messes

Lots of work had to be done after work hours.  In March, that means that there is still some evening light...not the case in November, December, and January...
Thanks to all of you who helped in some way this year.  It's a huge effort, but we have great members and now, a lot of kids who are progressing and learning to be lifetime skiers and good citizens.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

City of Lakes Loppet Race Report

From our club  member Paul Gooris:

Just finished the Puoli Classic ("half marathon") at the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis.  This year, City of Lakes hosted the AXCS Masters National Championships; next year they host the World Master Championships.  Being a dedicated mid-packer, the podium, let alone age group accolades are not on my ticket.  But it was fun to ski in such a large event (152 skiers in the Puoli), and meet skiers from across the country of all ages and abilities.  

In addition to the marathon and half marathon, there was a ski tour, skijoring events, crew ski (awarded to the leading fund raisers for the CoL Foundation, this a 50 meter dash with teams of 6 skiing together on 20 foot long skis), and youth age group races (see photos).  

And those are just the events I saw on Saturday; other events were held on Friday and Sunday.  Think of the crowds that attend local road marathons or the NM State Cross Country meet, and you'll have an idea of Nordic's following in the upper Midwest.

Matt Liebch (?sp), former Birkie winner, won the marathon race in roughly 1 hour, 15 minutes. That may seem like an extraordinarily fast time...but this brings me to the more serious and concerning part of my report.  The City of Lakes marathon and half marathon are traditionally point-to-point races that start in Theodore Wirth Park and end in downtown Minneapolis, being 42K and 21K respectively. This year, however, there has been very little snow in the Minneapolis area.  The courses had to be changed and confined to loops of mostly man-made snow within the Theo Wirth Park itself.   The marathon was 30-32K (so Matt's time is still screaming), and the half was 14-15K. 

Lack of snow has been a problem for several years, to the point where the City of Lakes Loppet Foundation has invested heavily in snowmaking.  Across the board, skiers were commenting on the shortage, and those from out-of-area, like myself, found it weird to think that there was more snow at home than in Minnesota.

While perusing the vendors and exhibits in the "big tent", I met a group that is trying to draw attention to our changing winters. Regardless of the cause, climate change is happening, and it is having an adverse impact on our sport as well as the rest of our lives.  If you are interested, check out Cool Planet Skiers at Their motto: Saving Winter for Future Generations.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Trail Conditions Report 1/23/2017

Finally!  The trails are completely groomed, with track set and the meadow all cleaned up.  It was a LOT of work, but a big thanks to everyone who went out to pack the edges and hills, etc.  That REALLY helped.

We were even able to add the additional 1km extension to the end of the meadow at the Caldera rim.  It's really nice.

Looks like more snow on the way.

Displaying KIMG1043.jpg
Setting track in the meadow

Friday, January 20, 2017

SWNSC Trails Update 1/19/2017

I haven't had a lot of time to keep the blog up to date with conditions, but I'll try to add some quick info more often.

As of today, we have a great base of snow, but with a lack of consistent grooming volunteers, it is not being groomed regularly.  That being said, we did get it bladed with a very soft track set on Tuesday night, then Dave Wykoff ran a pass with the roller yesterday morning, and today, Chuck Calef will be making some more passes with the "blade" groomer to go cut down the top crust and smooth things out after the 21" storm last weekend.  

It's supposed to snow overnight, so I will try to get up there in the morning to run the roller and see what things look like.  No guarantees that it'll be firm, so be ready for some good classical touring if it's still very soft.

We're still experiencing an inordinate amount of tree-fall.  It's taking away from our ability to dedicate time to the grooming.  Apologies for that.  Hopefully it subsides and we can get back to keeping the skiing in good shape!

Here's a picture of our new roller/compactor from YTS:

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sndia Peak trails groomed today

Chris Norton set classic tracks on the service rd and access rd below and re-groomed entire system for skating,  Great tracks as I did classic.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Grooming Report 2/24/2016 (Los Alamos)

Got up there in the evening and got things groomed, albeit without a classic track.  I had some issues with things, especially the unfortunate finding of more trees down.  Dang...I'm getting sick of that!

Things were superb this morning, with freshly groomed trails, 10 degrees F, and a beautiful sunrise over a fog-shrouded valley.  Conditions should hold OK until it gets warm over the weekend.

Forecasts look interesting after the middle of next week...we'll see...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Trails "Pre" Grooming Report... 2/23/2016

I think we have received a short "stay" of execution on our ski season.  That was a better storm than was predicted for us, so I'll go up and see what can be done with the grooming.  I'll report back tomorrow.

In the meantime, skiing was still possible, albeit sloppy and slow, over the weekend.  It was crusty and bumpy before the thaw, then slow and slushy afterward.  There were actually some truly "bad" spots, although they were very short and could be "tip-toed" through.  One more week of that kind of tropical weather, and it would have been over.

We'll see now how things look.  It's supposed to warm up again over the weekend, then sort of flip flop.  I think the season is going to be week to week, day to day from here on out.  We just lost too much of the base to really rely on anything.  We'll keep it going as long as it's viable.

Lots of trees came down too, unfortunately.  I was going to groom, but ended up cutting out trees instead.

High winds last week brought down a number of trees.  Getting those removed was a chore and kept me from doing any grooming.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Facebook page

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Los Alamos Trails Grooming Report 2/16/2016

Everything was groomed last evening (Monday evening).  It was just freezing up when I got started, so there are a few minor inconsistencies here and there, but overall the G2 groomer did an amazing job of erasing the substantial foot-traffic damage and smoothing things out.

I set a new classic track as well.

Beware of the sun-exposed front's starting to go in that really exposed section. We'll have to figure something out for that spot next year, as the shade fencing doesn't protect it as well as the other areas, although it does protect it some as evidenced by the fact that it is still there after these warm temps!  Anyway, it will likely make it a few more days, then be down to bare ground by the weekend =(  If only we could have had another stretch of storms...

Otherwise, the skiing is still fantastic on the rest of the system.  There are two or three odd spots in there, but they're very short.  Some of the system hasn't even transformed yet, so we're OK for a while yet.

Enjoy while you can.  Hopefully, we can weather this drought...

Beginning the grooming just below Point A (looking south toward Pajarito Mtn).  Note the nice track being set by the G2, and the heavy foot traffic damage that is VERY hard to get rid of once it's set during warm temperature =P

After the first round of track-setting, that sun-exposed area at Point A is still nice

Up at the top of the meadow, working on cooling the machine down.  It's a liquid-cooled machine that relies on snow "splashing" a cooling system in the drive-train, but with hard-pack, this doesn't occur.  So, the engine overheats frequently, especially while using the G2 groomer's renovator teeth down deep.  It pulls heavy and slow to clean up those post-holes and ruts.  In short, it is the hardest thing to do on the equipment.

Still some very nice sections in the system.  We'll keep grooming as long as there's decent coverage.   We have to resort to shoveling here and there, but it's supposed to turn back to winter by the end of the month.  Hopefully, with our grooming efforts, we'll still have that beautifully glorious skiing in March!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

New grooming report for Feb 14

From Chris:  " I caught the tram and started grooming around 4pm.    classic track that I set was best on access road and sections of lower trails.  service road had already hardened so there the track wasn't idea, a little shallow.  
I screened in the dark and had to keep on throwing snow on it to keep it heavy so it would dig in.   again, service road was pretty hard to scrape up anything ( but I did see the downhill groomers out with their lights as I was leaving at 7 so they might do the service road ).   most of the lower trails screened out pretty good, probably the only really hard spot was the upper meadow above the aspen grove and also the downhill along the woods at the very bottom of the lower meadow.
my guess is skating would be good 10 or 11 to 1pm.  but if they groomed the service road it would be rocking 9am.   I was up there last Saturday morning after the groomed it and it was like Lake Placid Olympic trails.   
classic skiing  I hate to say is not a continuous track but best would be lower trails, especially the access road and lower meadow trails all the way into the northern woods above the 10k parking lot.  
if we had that second piece of grooming equipment I could of done an amazing job tonight since it would of chewed up the snow and then smoothed it out.  the stuff we have is just using heavy weight to press done where as the new one would of broke it up and then smoothed it out.     anyways,  let get the donations going on that second piece so next year we wont have to give grooming reports since it will always be great.
I think I am going up tomorrow at 11.  if downhill groomed service road I will get it to the posts.   pray for snow to your god."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Classic tracks

Tomorrow afternoon (late), Chris will try to set classic tracks on the entire trail system (including the service rd)

Grooming problems

From Chris:  "we have plenty of snow but unless we groom at 6 am or 7pm its just too much stress on the sled with these soft conditions and FRED FLINTSTONE grooming equipment we have for old snow.  ( one reason we need the second piece of grooming equipment besides the one we just got that is for new fallen snow. )   will groom when we can and post but until it cools down not the regular grooming we had earlier in the season.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Los Alamos Trails Groomed 2/12/2016

El Nino is turning into El Nada.  We're in the dreaded 4-Corners "Omega" blocking high pressure pattern...again.  So, that's why we're experiencing spring in February.  I just hope it doesn't confuse the apricot trees too much.  It's too late for the juniper trees.

Anyway, the good news is that the snow base is still very good, and that last storm was a real season-saver.  It was good, heavy snow, so it's holding up to this warm, dry stretch, at least so far.  Skiing was still good before regrooming, so it should be pretty good this weekend too.  The whole trail system received some love, with a new classic track set all the way around.  Get it while it's still good!

The foot traffic, unfortunately, really does a number when it's warm.  So, we'll try to keep things groomed out.  It's costly in terms of time and resources to keep that situation cleaned up.  There have been a number of folks who are ignoring the "ski only" designation on the upper trails too, which is a bummer.  Dog poop (a.k.a. "Brown Klister") is a killer too...

We'll keep trying to keep the trails maintained to bridge the gap to the next round of winter.  Hopefully, El Nino will come back and give us some nice late-season conditions.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sandia Peak Latest grooming Feb 10

Set track on service road, upper loop, and down to 10k and around that loop.  Shallow tracks on the service road but skiable.

Master's World Cup 2016 in Vuokatti, Finland: 30k Classic race

Hi All,

Today was the long distance classic race (30km for me) and it might be best to take it a bit philosophically:

I thought that there was slush, but actually there was white slush, grey slush, transparent slush, yellow slush, brown slush and greenish slush. Then there was water and mud and a big rock. My kick wax worked on the white and transparent slush. First it was raining, then snowing, then raining again, and snowing again. The flakes were getting bigger and denser but luckily we managed to finish just before it got really bad. My glide wax worked on any slush except for the grey or brown one and the yellow if covered with water, but the new snow was like glue and outside the track nothing glided. Some of the big downhills did not have track, and the glide was super uneven. Luckily, we had practiced that at Low O2 challenge a week or so ago. The boots were soaked before the start, but the visor was the best. Looking through it all looked a bit more rosy and the green slush looked almost yellow, and I wasn’t cold except at the toes, but one can wiggle them in the boots in downhills.

At the start I had good glide and no-one was disappearing to the horizon too fast, but the first hill was grey slush and my kick was did not work on that, and I dropped quite far seeing just three skiers ahead of me. My glide was also a bit poor on the first 15km loop and I struggled on the hills before the lake. Knowing that I just decided to take the first lap easy and see how things go. I also felt less energetic than for the other races to start with. So, the racing mood was not quite there. The lake was almost holding, but so soft that the poles were sinking at every push even if I tried all my tricks. This made the double-poling feel slow and strenuous. After passing all the yellow and brown slush on the way up the biggest hill, there was a section where I actually had kick and could ski nicely until the snow started falling so heavily that my wax started freezing. Going down required a lot of ferocious kicking of the skis on the track to get rid of the ice before shooting down. That worked, and I noticed that I actually had a fairly good glide on the track. Staring the second lap I suddenly noticed that I had almost caught up one skier in my own age group. It looked like she had a better kick than I did as she was striding on the flat where I was double-poling. In the first up hill where I still had no kick she pulled a bit away but I caught her again in the next downhill, and could stay tugged in a lot longer than her. So, I skied that way with her for a while and started to feel like in a race. Then on a longer downhill I really pushed hard and passed her. (Notice that passing was a huge effort in these conditions as outside the tracks the snow was like glue and just changing tracks slowed one down a lot). I managed to stay ahead of her in the uphills leading to the downhill to the lake, and then I knew that she won’t pass me again. Skiing started to feel a little better and even if the speed on the lake was pretty pathetic compared to the effort put in to produce that, I felt like I was gliding better. The uphill out of the lake went really well. There was white slush there and I could actually ski. Starting to climb the long final hill I suddenly felt really tired, but decided to go for it as best I could. With the variable conditions faster people from other age groups were constantly passing me and I was passing slower ones. So, it was not lonely there, and having someone to catch in the front all the time definitely helped. The slow pace did not feel quite as slow if you can pass someone, even if they are 30 years older than you. On the top of the hill the wax was icing up again and the same procedure of kicking was manifested. But the downhill glided alright as long as one chose the track that everyone else had been on. At one point I had to take the other track to pass someone, and had to really hammer the next little knoll to get past before the next drop. In one of the corners of the downhill a big rock had become visible, but despite three fast men passing me at that point, I managed not to hit it. In the last part of the downhill fast men were passing me from both sides, but I managed to double-pole the flat well enough that I was not many meters behind on the final climb. The final drop to the stadium glided well, but the stretch to the finish did not as it had been a while since someone had skied on the track I happened to choose. But I had no sprint finish with anyone.

It was hard work. I finished probably 7th or 8th, but not awfully far behind the others except the first lady. And I did beat 2h with both laps taking pretty closely the same time. So, my pacing worked pretty well. The good glide was probably due to that two Finnish men I met in the waxing room helped me with some structure to the glide surface. That’s what I think the Italians had in the relay. My wax was not dragging (except when freezing), and it could have been a lot worse. After some eating and sauna, I think it was actually good fun. It was so extreme, that one can only laugh. Taking it too seriously would just be miserable. And I definitely have never raced on so may different kind of slush.

Check our club's facebook page for videos of before, during and after the race (you dont have to have access to facebook to view our contents). The lake section is pretty telling. I’m poling there as fast as I can with the poles sinking with each push.

Thank you everyone for cheering. It was much needed and appreciated. It makes a huge difference.

Now it’s a few days of asking for us here. Tomorrow is the free-style long distance races and I might take a rest day. Then next week I’ll visit family before heading home. Even if the races could have gone better placing-wise, I have had a blast and great races for myself. There are things I now know I need to practice more and that’s always so much fun. So looking forward to some good snow and skiing company also at home.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Master's World Cup 2016 in Vuokatti, Finland: Relays Day

Hi All,

the dicey lake passage
Today we had the relays. The morning started in slight drizzle at temperatures hanging around +2C as on so many days already. The constant drizzle (and occasional pizza-size snow that acts like glue on the track) had made the snow completely soaked and with no day-night difference in temperature it just stayed that way. The water puddle next to our cabin door was the biggest it has been. It’s actually hard to get out of the house without getting wet feet (where are my rubber boots!), and under the water there is solid bumpy ice. So, walking is a very dangerous activity at the moment.

This all has given the race organizers some headaches. The man-made snow on the course is now man-made slush. In the woods that still works, and actually glides surprisingly well, but all the courses rely on crossing the lake before coming to the stadium. There is no other way of going, but the lake ice, even if 1.5ft thick, is getting a bit sketchy. It holds skiers fine, but there is some cracking and seepage so that the surface is just a puddle of water and slush. The slush glides surprisingly well, but that grossing just kills any wax. Yesterday, for the relays and to keep the lake passable for the last races the organizers changed the lake crossing and made a new passage piling up some 2ft of snow in the hope that it the layer would be thick enough to keep the water surface below the trail surface. They worked really hard on it until the ice started cracking under the heavy gorging machines and they had to stop. So, for that section we had a snow passage (that held it over night) in the middle of water pools on lake ice. The passage was not groomed. It was pretty bumpy and class track pretty much non-existent. But we were just above the slush layer as of the end of the race. The last leg skiers said that when they passed, the white snow was only 2 in thick above the such, so we’ll see how it’s going to be tomorrow for the long distance classic. But for the relay it worked.

All the women teams started at the same time at 11:30am. There were a total of 24 teams with 5 of them in my age group. In our team I was on the first leg (classic), Inge on the second (classic), and Cyndy and Sara did the skate legs. I pretty much spent the morning testing glisters as the relay classic course was a bit different from what we have skied so far with a couple of really nice skiable climbs in the beginning, and I really wanted to have some kick too finally. But the snow was so soaked that anything I had tested the day before that had worked, was not kicking today, and I had to go a whole set softer with the glisters. But finally I got kick. It was maybe a bit too thick a layer and maybe could have been spread out for a slightly shorter wax pocket. But I could ski some hills.

team at the finish, happy with 4th place against some tough competition!
At the start, I managed to go pretty well, but soon realized that my skis could have glided a bit better. I ended up asking with one Finnish team from an older age group, a german team from a younger age group and the italian team from my age group. The russian and Finnish teams of my age group had just disappeared to the distance pretty much from the start. I was stronger than any of them in the uphills, but especially the italian always passed everyone in the downhills. So, I decided to stay behind her so that I could use the draft in the downhills without too much effort, and hopefully pass the finn and german. That way we went until the last uphill before a long downhill to the lake at ~3km (the whole leg was 5km).  In that uphill I managed to get ahead of the finn and the german but the italian passed me again in the downhill. The lake was alright. I did not notice any huge cracks, even if others said they were there. The italian was double-poling in the front, but despite her better glide I was catching her and easily staying with her because the surface was bumpy, the poles were sinking through the snow to the slush, and I had a much better technique to deal with all this than she did. Thanks to my background in ski-orienteering, I know how to pole low and under my own skis to avoid sinking poles. So, that was where the tactics were finalized. There was a short but steep climb to the bridge after a drop to the stadium. My only way of trying to be ahead of the italian and give any seconds good for Inge to fight for a 3rd place was to attack the hill like and use all the hill bounding we have done with Dina and Clay to get as far ahead as I could and hope that she won’t catch me in the downhill. So, in the beginning of the hill I pushed past her, tried to ski nicely in the track but it was too mushy, moved to the middle and ran up as fast as I could. Then full on double-poling the whole down hill and flat, and right at the last corner the italian flew by… Anyway, I was right behind her when tagging Inge, and panting really hard. 

Inge did a good ski, but the Italian ladies had phenomenal skis and we were some 10s behind after the second leg. Cyndy skied the best she has ever skied (according to her own words), and pretty nice it looked too especially on the last hill, but the italians were clearly ahead. Sara skied really well too, but we had no chance catching them. So, we ended up 4th. 

Check our facebook page for the two videos from the start, one from the start and one from the exchange between me and Inge (you see the big strong Italian lady in pink/blue suit) - will find a way to add/post those shortly. I’m now off to celebrate with the team-mates, and then to clean and rewax the skis for tomorrow. 30km classic in slush will be interesting. The weather is supposed to get a bit colder, but only on Friday with some new snow also forecast. So the classic long race will be what it has been the last few days.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Boulder Mountain Tour 2016 race report from Steve

The Boulder Mountain Tour or "BMT" was held last weekend near Sun Valley/ Ketcham Idaho. Ketcham is referred to by locals as "Nordic Town USA"for good reason. The area has miles of groomed trails along with a world class downhill area. The weather and snow conditions were ideal for this years race.

  The racecourse is 34K and is point to point from Galena Lodge at around 7200 feet to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area at around 6100. The net downhill made for fast times and it's a super fun race.

  The University of Utah ski team pretty much dominated the men's and women's races. The two guys in the second photo went 1and 3 and the women had several in the top 5. Caitlin Gregg edged out one of the Ute women for first overall. Results are posted on the BMT website.

   The photo of the female moose was taken just off of one of the local ski trails . The deep snow this year has forced the local elk population down into neighborhoods and they were everywhere!
   I enjoyed a beautiful day of Alpine skiing on Sunday. The views from the top are spectacular.
    The BMT weekend conflicts with the Alley Loop races and Sun Valley is a bit off of the beaten path, but it is well worth the effort! If you love Nordic, you've got to go! 


Canada Bonita Trails Regroomed 2/8/2016

Still great snow holding up on the Canada Bonita trails here in Los Alamos!  It's warmer this week, but there is a very good base that will weather the more springlike temps.

John Davey got up there last evening (2/8/2016) and refreshed everything, but left the classic track as-is.  It's a bit of a freeze-thaw cycle, so a good klister in the morning will work very well for classic, but I'd go with a waxless setup if you go after the sun starts to soften things up.

Skating will be firm in the morning, and softening in the afternoon as well.

Please don't walk or snowshoe when it's warm!!!

Next storm is supposed to be on the horizon for next week...keep you fingers crossed.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sandia Peak: New grooming equipmment

Chris Norton, our groomer, bought and donated to the UNM's Ski Team this roller groomer:…/rollercompactor.html
It will be delivered this week and Fredrik, the UNM Ski Team Head Coach, is transporting it up to the trails so that we can start grooming with it. The roller was a $2100 and will improve the grooming of the trails dramatically. A track setter will be attached to it so that classic tracks can be set at the same time. This groomer will compact new snow, and poles don't sink through on the edges.
Next fall: We will be looking for donations to purchase this…/84ytsginzugroomer.html along with an adjustable track setter.
This will set a perfect skate lane, classic track, and also break up and then smooth out icy trails. It will run about $5k to $6k. Chris is already putting $1000 towards it.
If you are interested in donating, please contact us. Any donation, modest or large, would be greatly appreciated and will greatly increase the quality of the Sandia Nordic trails.
Let us know of your interest and we will put you on the list for next fall. Thank you