This morning we woke up to some much needed snow. We decided spur of the moment to go for a walk and ended up high on Altyn. We got some great far off views of the valley, the hotel and our chalet. It was a great way to start the day.
Climbing in the fresh fallen snow was tedious, so we took our time and stopped some for breaks. The snow was blowing into small whirlwinds in the slight breeze, and I could feel the cold biting into any exposed skin. I could see a route that I want to try up the eastern cliffy side of Altyn though. I had never really looked in that area for a route. Gonna have to try that this summer, or when the rocks aren't so slippery. I'm sure its been climbed before, not much in this valley hasn't at this point.
On Saturday we went snowshoeing up Swift Current Valley with Jason the Winter Caretaker from Lake McDonald. We saw a lot of mountain lion tracks along the way and then came across this bighorn sheep skull and bones.
Then on Sunday we were joined by two more, (Hallie and Travis) and we all went up to Lake Josephine to a great view. It was fun, it's too bad they left that evening and missed this beautiful sunset.
On Monday afternoon Colin and Emma came and must have missed seeing this avalanche by a few hours or less. We were over at the hotel and just happened to step outside right when it started. The snow has been melting like crazy since the temperatures have been so warm this weekend. We hope everyone enjoyed their stay. We had a great time and we appreciate all of you.
We decided to do a post about the work aspect of this position. We have done lots of posts about the fun we have out here, but there is another side to living at Many Glacier. I put in 40 or more hours a week working over at the hotel. As you can see a lot of snow piles up on the decks, and I can't keep it off of every one of them, but I do keep it off of the ones that are over interior parts of the hotel to prevent water damage. Some days my whole work day is shoveling snow. I also have to keep up with the wind damage, it blew the door off of the bus wash station and I had to go up and repair that. I also have a growing list of screens that have been damaged, and need repair.
As I have said before I have a lot of plumbing to put back together. We drained the water from the hotel in October, and now I can go back and put it back together. There are hundreds of valves and fittings open and its a big job to put them all together. I am not as rushed as it would be in the spring so I can go back and double check my work really well. This will make my job a lot easier when I resume my summer maintenance position later.
When I was over in the annex putting the plumbing back together, it hit me that due to the remodel of that section (which starts next fall) I am the last person in a very long tradition to put this plumbing back together. This will all be replaced with a brand new system that we will learn. After I am done with the hotel I will move on to the dorms which are as big a task as the hotel and they still have all of their old plumbing too. Maybe someday they will get remodeled and their systems will also change.
I don't get to take snow days when we have winter weather. Considering that the snow starts in September and October the drifts are starting to really pile up.
At the end of a long day inside the cold hotel its nice to take a break in a snow bank.
Here is a gallery of pictures we took this afternoon. First we walked up on the ridge behind the hotel and then put our snowshoes on to go over to the boathouse. Those of you that work at Glacier Park Boat Company will be glad to know that everything looks good over there. It was nice to get out after having so many days of extreme wind. It was still windy in some areas but at least it was bearable, especially once we got down into the trees.
We took the quick route across the lake to get back home . Now its time to build a fire and cook some duck curry.
Today we went over to walk the property and check for exterior damage from the relentless wind that has been hammering the hotel. Aside from a few blown open screen doors everything was fine. Steve Lautenbach (a previous winter caretaker) once told me that in heavy winds one winter, part of the roof on the Annex started lifting up and it couldn't be fully repaired until spring. So we take walks around the entire property on a regular basis.
Today the snow was like small pebbles, and you absolutely didn't want any exposed skin. That's one lesson that doesn't take long to learn ha ha.
The temperatures haven't been all that bad but we have had plenty of wind. You can see what it will do overnight, my arms are getting a good workout from shoveling. Yes, that is snow all the way to the top of the door.
We went on a little snowshoe adventure today. The weather was nice, and the temperatures were hovering at or above zero all day. It was beautiful, so some snowshoeing had to be done. Off trail snowshoeing is great, and we were breaking trail all day in deep snow.
We were able to climb up pretty high in a fairly safe area of Altyn Peak. These little Gray jays started following us at the top of the cliffs, and hung with us until we went back down. They didn't seem angry that we were in their territory, just curious and almost playful. They would chirp and fly from branch to branch watching us. I've seen these type of birds do this before , must be a playful species.
Relaxing after a climb in deep snow.
Today we enjoyed a day of snowshoeing on the hill behind the upper dorm. We don't know what the official name is or if it has ever had one. We have always called it Mount Many. Those of you who have worked here in years past may have some other names for it. It seems like a lot of names and stories have changed or are forgotten over the years. When I first started work here the 5th floor hallway of the main building (which is actually the basement hallway) was still being called "Stagger Alley". In the 1930's the bar was located down in the area near Heidi's snack shop. The wranglers and such would get drunk and stagger back home down the hallway, earning it that name. I haven't heard anyone call it that in the last few years. I know a lot of you probably have many more interesting names and history from your times at this amazing hotel and valley, so feel free to share them with us. We would enjoy hearing from you.
We went over to Swiftcurrent Motor Inn today, and it was a beautiful walk. I can't imagine doing that little walk without snowshoes or skis. Certain areas had about four feet of snowpack, with about two feet of that being fresh soft snow. If it weren't so windy here we would probably have about six feet of snow. We also saw some small avalanches on the flanks of Altyn Peak. The largest one was in one of the avalanche chutes that cross the road which was our trail to Swiftcurrent. Fortunately we don't have to take the road now that the lake is fully traversable. Time to break out the avalanche beacons and shovels for our hikes now.
We came home to a nice evening.
Here are some shots of the hotel from the lake. The lake has over a foot of ice on it now, and this will start making travel faster.
These pictures from yesterday show how the drifts are getting taller. Needless to say I had plenty of shoveling to get this big drift out of our back door, it'll be back the next time we get a lot of wind.
We had a beautiful view from the balcony of the annex today. These two rams came running up and just stood up on the hill for a long time. It's amazing how well adapted they are to being out in the cold all the time, we on the other have to bundle up really well just to walk back to the chalet.
For Specific information on the park you can go to the link below.
To learn more about bears check out this link.