Demonstration snow trip to Sheep Pass - February 23, 2005.
Our current snow-cat (Tucker "2000 lite") has revealed serious deficiencies that make winter travel difficult in the White Mountains. It is too small and light (7500 lbs), with too small an engine, without locking differentials, and cannot push snow into a level road surface for safe transportation. Instead, the 2000 lite is designed to crawl over the snow surface. This means that large drifts and sidehills must be crawled over, which causes sideslipping, backslipping and unpredictable performance in deep snow.
On February 23, 2005, John Meilicke of the Tucker Sno-Cat Corporation brought a model Tucker 2000 snow-cat to WMRS to demonstrate its capabilities. This is a heavier (12,500 lb) machine with larger engine and a 12' wide fully adjustable blade, designed for blading a level road surface through snow. Our idea was that we could use the 2000 to create a level roadbed for safe, efficient transit of snow vehicles.
We arrived at the top of Westgard Pass at about 830 am, and began a trip up the white mountain road to observe the capabilities of the heavier cat. We also brought our 2000 lite cat as well, to carry passengers. The demonstration model has only a 2-seat cab.
As we headed up the road, we encountered deep drifts just above sierra view at 9000'. The 2000 pushed through the drifts quickly, not having to stop or back up, and the 2000 lite followed easily on a flat roadbed. We made rapid progress until getting to some steep sidehills on the "low (Wyman Canyon) cutoff road". Here the 2000 had to stop and 'build road" for a few minutes, engaging the locking differentials and pushing snow into a flat mound that could then be bladed off to the side.
We then proceeded to county line hill and its long stretch of sidehill road. Some drifts at the south end of this stretch were perhaps 10' deep, with buried mounds of ice, and John, the operator, had to spend 10-20 minutes working through one difficult spot, using the blade to bread the ice and eventually push it off to the side. By 2 pm we had reached the crooked creek turnoff.
In spite of some clouds and snow we headed north to sheep pass, normally the most difficult part of the trip to Barcroft. We were hampered by the lack of landmarks. Our GPS unit kept us within about 50' of the road, but there was usually no way to tell exactly where the roadbed lay. The 2000 easily pushed a road through to the top of sheep pass, and it was clear that we could have made it up to Barcroft in another hour or two. We took a few photos and turned around at about 3 pm. We made it down to westgard pass by about 430 pm.
|It snowed a couple of inches the night before.||The blade is very effective a pushing snow off to one side, creating a level road bed.|
|The 12-way control stick has four toggle switches.||Heading toward Wyman Canyon|
|The pole lines running east-west.||Cutting road. Often the tops of bushes indicated the outer edge of the existing road bed.|
|County line hill is on the right.||This was the "worst" spot of the day - deep snow over icy drifts.|
|Mostly we "cruised" at 2-4 mph while blading road on the sidehill.||The Tucker 2000 from behind.|
|Campito Mountain from the south.||Sheep Mountain from the southeast.|
|Pariarch Grove of Bristlecone Pines||Two lone pines near Campito Meadow.|
|Snow everywhere!||Heading up the sheep pass sidehill cut. This is normally the most difficult part of trips to Barcroft.|
|The 2000 steadily plowed ahead, leaving level track behind.||Looking down the long slope to the partiarch grove.|
|We turned around near the top of sheep pass.||Looking south.|
|Back at Westgard Pass, removing the blade extensions.||Side view of the 2000. If we purchased a 2000, we would get a 5-person cab, a 100 gallon fuel tank, and a cargo rack on the back.|