What it takes to study snow in a remote area of Colorado’s mountains that’s almost completely inaccessible during winter | SummitDaily.com

What it takes to study snow in a remote area of Colorado’s mountains that’s almost completely inaccessible during winter

Once a week, a snowmobile carries food, clean laundry and scientific instruments to Rocky Mountain Biological Lab workers and their famous friend Billy Barr

Dean Krakel
The Colorado Sun
Erik Stolz, with the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, shovels a path through freshly fallen snow on Gothic Road while cross-country skiers pass on March 2. Stolz must make a snowmobile trip into Gothic without grooming equipment so the road can be made passable. At that point, he’ll be able to take supplies to the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab.
Dean Krakel/The Colorado Sun

Unless the avalanche danger is unusually high, or there’s a major snowstorm in the forecast, Christmas comes once a week to the nine residents of Gothic, most of whom are scientists spending this winter at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab.   

Today, Santa is Erik Stolz from the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association and instead of gifts, his Yamaha sled is heavy with supplies needed to fuel research important to understanding the impact of climate change on snowpack and water resources.

Researchers ski out to meet the resupply sleds carrying scientific equipment packed next to drinking water, bananas cradled in a nest of rice to keep them from bruising, crackers, boxes of oat milk and a pair of ski boots that had been sent into town for repair.

The sleds are reloaded for the trip back to town, carrying laboratory samples, garbage, dirty laundry and the occasional scientist who needs to tend to sampling equipment elsewhere in the Gunnison Valley.

Gothic “is near but far,” said Erik Hulm, director of strategic projects for the lab, known as RMBL, which rolls off locals’ tongues as “rumble.” “Crested Butte sits at the end of the road and Gothic is just a bit farther. You can see Crested Butte Mountain from Gothic but it’s not like you can just get there.”

Read the full story at ColoradoSun.com.

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