Thursday, March 01, 2007

Not your typical work day

This station was clearly not designed by a woman or else there would have been plenty of storage space.

As the Polemart manager, I have a unique problem to deal with - no room in the station to store our supply of beverages sold in the store.

Cargo DNF - Nate is dwarfed by pallets of beer. Photo by Brien Barnett.

We received about 50,000 pounds of beverages, mostly alcohol, towards the end of summer and had no place to store it except for the Cargo DNF (Do Not Freeze) and old cryo buildings, both of which are small heated spaces a couple of hundred yards from the station. These are just temporary storage spaces and I had to move most of the beverages out to make room for stuff coming out of the old garage that's scheduled for demo this winter. And anyway, these buildings are nowhere near the store where we sell the stuff. Restocking would be a real chore having to haul heavy cases in on a sled in the middle of winter.

Getting the pallets to the station is the easy part as they can forklifted over. Getting them UP into the station is the tricky part. We have a hoist, which, when it's working and not frozen, can carry things up to the second level. The problem is the hoist is often not working in temps colder than -60F. And it can only go to the second level. The store is on the first level. We used to have a snow ramp that the loaders could drive up and deposit pallets into the gym on the first floor but there have been worries of the weight of the snow ramp causing uneven settling of the snow and station, so the ramp was bulldozed away over the summer.

So this is how we now get things up into the station:

The human hoist at Destination Alpha, the entrance closest to the skiway. Photo by Jack Anderson.

We got the entire crew involved in the laborious process of handing up case after case up the stairs and into the station.

Precious cargo - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that's even still in date! Photo by Jack Anderson.

And once it's in the station, we had to make storage space where there was none before. So now a coat room is being used for most of the beer and the first floor of A4, a berthing wing that is unoccupied during the winter, has all of the rooms filled with the various different types of libations.

Kiwi Paul and Aussie Derek taking a break in the coat room that works nicely for beer storage.

Passing the cases down the hall of A4 to be stored in one of the bedrooms. Photo by Jack Anderson.

It's not the best wine cellar but this bed platform and a pallet on the floor will have to do for half of our collection of reds.

In all, it took nearly 50 people about 4 hours of heavy lifting to move about 40,000 pounds of beer, wine, liquor and sodas to their resting place for the winter. Fortunately there were no human injuries but we did have some liquid casualties:

It doesn't take long for beer or soda to freeze outside when it's about negative 60F and although we were working as quickly as we could and none of it sat out for long, some Tui (Kiwi beer) unfortunately did succumb to the elements. Your first clue that the beer is in trouble is when you smell it and hear the bottles hissing.

And so all is good and we have plenty of beverages to get us through the winter. There's no way we'll drink it all in 8 months, as hard as people might try, and unfortunately, we'll have to go through the same process again before station opening and move everything back out of the berthing wing. To where, I have no idea but I'm glad that we'll have gravity helping us move it all DOWN the stairs.


At 10:38 PM, Blogger Neal said...

"There's no way we'll drink it all in 8 months"....sounds like a dare.

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Dave said...

Excellent pictures of teamwork!

Do soda cans have similar issues with the lower pressure as the bag of chips does from several entries back?

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Tara said...

Great to see a robust Aussie red represented in your extensive cellar. After all we do make the best reds in the world! Mirrool Creek is a Barossa Valley label (from South Australia) and the 2003 merlot is described thus: "This wine displays a deep crimson colour and has intense aromas of chocolate and berry fruit. The fresh fruit and spice flavours on the palate are complimented by subtle vanillin oak. Enjoy with lamb or beef dishes".


At 9:36 PM, Blogger Heidi said...

Neal - it's my subtle ploy to reduce the stock so that we'll have less to move again in October.
I think it might work.

Dave - I think the soda cans do just fine with the pressure. When they freeze, however, they bloat out like the bag of chips before they explode. And we've had problems with sodas freezing...inside the station.

Tara - Thanks for the wine tasting notes. I'll raise a glass to your health and be thinking fondly about the wonderful old pub that you took us to during our visit to Oz. Cheers!

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Heidi!!
It's Leigh, Dana gave me your blog site and I'm enjoying reading your stories.
I can't believe you are back at the end of the earth for another season, but you always have been somewhat of an adventurist.
I hope you enjoy your winter, stay warm, stay safe, and take LOTS of pictures!!

Take care,


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