31 Oct 2013

Above:  The grizzly scene discovered by Troy Leahey after Gnorm was gnome-napped, his little boots left after the culprit tore him from his powder post, red smear from his little hat left on the platform

Article: Tennille Barber

Photos: assorted from RMR Facebook, Troy and Jess Leahey, and Jesse Cole

27cm tall.  Red hat.  Checkered shirt.  Usually covered in snow.  Gnorm the Powder Gnome has become a figurehead for Revelstoke Mountain Resort, there’s no question about that.  Every morning in the winter he’s the first thing shredders see, however if you look at the webcam page now, he is missing and it’s snowing!  Sometimes he has a snorkel on (one can only hope).  On Valentine’s Day one year he was even accompanied by an attractive counterpart.  However, on April 7th, 2013 at 3:01pm, during the weekend of the Junior Big Mountain Freeskiing and Snowboarding competition, the mayor of RMR was kidnapped.

The Wanted poster put up on Facebook after he disappeared!

The resort put out an announcement on Facebook, offering a $250 reward for his return.  They put people at the bottom of the gondola looking for what the webcam caught, a glimpse of a green or possibly green and black clad arm reaching in to remove him from his powder post.  Troy Leahey, forecaster at RMR, described the situation as violent.  Gnorm was secured to the platform via a screw in his tiny feet, and the culprit had ripped him off the platform, leaving his feet in place and a red smear where his poor red painted toque clad head slid across the wood.  A gory scene for the originator and summer caretaker of Gnorm to discover.

Troy’s suspicions lay in the participants of the competition, speculating that the popular game of Gnar that originated in Squaw Valley, California prompted the theft. Finding the gnome hidden in the forest then doing unspeakable, shameful things to it on camera is highly regarded.  “The thing is, you’re supposed to leave the gnome there,” Troy rolls his eyes.  God knows what other horrible torturous things Gnorm has endured.  -1,000,000 points IMHO.  Loser.

The stoke is high when he’s covered like this!

Gnorm’s winter position on the RMR pro team developed when Troy was brainstorming the solution to a couple different problems.  How do you measure snow, then actually show the powder people how much of the fluffy stuff is actually up there?  “There are about a bajillion different opinions on it,” he elaborates with further detail.  Following the guidance rules of the Canadian Avalanche Association, there are the following ways to keep tabs on snow in the winter:

-a board 35cm x 35cm with a ruler in the middle, checked every 24 hours for the day’s measurement

-one next to it cleared in the morning and in the afternoon called an interval board

-a storm board to be left alone from the beginning to the end of a storm to measure layers of storm snow

The challenges are still many because snow settles.  If it gets warm, it settles faster, and even if it’s cold it still settles just at a slower rate.  Revelstoke gets about 11m of snow every year but it settles out to a 3m snowpack.  The boards mentioned above were the way RMR was doing it for about the first 3 years.  Every morning for the first 3 seasons the weather tech rode a snowmobile to the weather plot at the bottom of Separate Reality, 10.5km up the mountain, at 6:20am to put the ruler in the snow.  A southwest exposure on the mountain, mostly this was found to be a modest reading when North Bowl was host to around 20% more snow on a regular basis.  Wanting to solve the problem of under reporting the snow, the plot was moved to the top of the Ripper and was still measured manually, but the snowmobile ride was then 14km.  However, the reading was more accurate.  In the next couple years they graduated to an automated plot, using sonar waves to measure the snow.  The sonar sits on top of a stick 4m off the ground, and bounces waves off the top of the snow sitting on a white piece of plywood at the bottom.  It then measures the amount of time it takes to bounce back and determines the snow fallen by subtracting the time it got from the total time it takes to bounce 4m.  Although, the fact still remains at this point, the snow settles as the reading is taken.

When he was just introduced to everyone, and they were trying to find him a name. He was still standing beside the ruler at this point.

The idea became feasible because the Ripper had services. At first he just wanted to put up the ruler on a platform with a webcam to allow the public to follow the snow as it falls throughout the day, night and into the next morning.  It developed further when he was told it needed to be something cooler by his friend Tom.  Lindsay Craig, Jess’s sister, had found a gnome in her travels and gave it to the couple for their garden.  The choice was obvious, there was no garden to guard in the winter so Jess gave him a killer paint job to jazz up his duds and Troy put him in place.  Since then, Sunshine and Kicking Horse have followed suit with their own interpretations, but none as epic as Gnorm.






Left to Right: Gnorm and his avy dog buddy, Penny   |   Gnorm having wings at BEP   |   Where Gnorm usually stands on his platform 🙁

Like everyone else who lives and works in Revelstoke, the summer for Gnorm is one of a relaxing nature.  Winter comes and it’s down to the business of slashin pow and workin.  Gnomes typically protect treasure hordes.  Gnorm the powder gnome, mayor of RMR, 27cm tall, and lord of the pow platform needs to go back to work.  Don’t make RMR call in a Gnorm 2.0!  For the love of all things good and snowy, please return him to his rightful place… buried in pow at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Left: Jess and Troy Leahey, Right: Gnorm in his summer home in their garden