Mormon Mountain 1-2008

A radio broadcasting company called us about doing a job at Mormon Mountain, South-East of Flagstaff, Az. Seems that they needed to construct an FM radio station within a certain time period or lose the FCC radio license. We would need to haul in a 5000 lb "winch" for the tower crew to use to change the current unused TV antenna on the tower and replace it with an FM broadcast antenna. We have the ONLY privately owned snowcat that can pull such a heavy load.

We approached a company located within our business complex, Beau's crates, to build us a "sled" for the winch to sit in so we could pull it in the snow. The sled was 800 lbs by itself, and about 6 feet long by 3 feet wide. We had to load it in our pickup and deliver it to the bottom of the hill the day before we needed to be there with the snowcat.

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We were the snowcat that would haul the winch up to the radio site, and a smaller snowcat would tag along with us to haul up the tower crew. There was a long line of support vehicles at the turnoff to the Mormon Mountain road.

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We hooked up the sled to the snowcat, and then off loaded the winch from the tower crews trailer. Then we headed up the snow covered road to the top of the mountain.

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Snow was really deep with lots of drifts, which made for fun trying to negotiate pulling the heavy sled, keeping it in the middle of the road and not sliding around.

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As we approached the top of the hilltop, into the meadow that the towers are located in, the snowcat fell into a "Snow hole". A "snow hole" is a large area that does not have any snow in it, but is covered over the top, so you can't see it. It looks just like the rest of the meadow. This made the snowcat slide sideways, with the rear end stuck in the hole. We were able to un-hook the sled, and then tried to drive the snowcat out of the hole. One direction almost fliped us over, so the opposite direction was tried. As we started to pull out of the hole the back end of the snowcat torqued the rear carrage, and broke the steering assembly and pushed the carrage up into the back of the engine oil pan.

This was a major disaster !!!!! The rear driveshaft brakets were bent, and the rear carrage would not steer correctly. Luckily, we were just a 1/4 mile from the tower drop point, and we were able to slowly pull the sled up to where it was needed.

We were able to get the snow cat back down the hill and up on the trailer. Parts were ordered overnight to fix the snowcat, and I replaced them and was back up in three days to pull the winch and sled back out of the mountain. In all, it cost about $ 2000. in parts to replace the broken items.

People wonder why we charge so much to use the snowcat, this is why, there is a lot of maintenance and breakage that goes with using a snowcat. You don't always know what is under the snow, and it can be hazardous !!!

All in all, we do a good job and try to be as safe as possible !!! This was another job that was completed for the customer and on time !!

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