White Pass Rotary #1: Up close and personal. White Pass Superintendent E. C. (Ed) Hanousek signals for his pusher locomotives to pick up the pace, as Rotary #1 climbs out of a deep, snow-filled cut and onto a flatter area with much shallower snow. The rotary will make much faster progress now, but that means those of us chasing it on snowshoes will also have to pick up the pace if we don't want to be left behind. With the snow depth just a couple of feet, it is a little safer to get close to the rotary now, as long as we stay on the non-discharge side.
As you can see in this relative close-up, the situation just in front of the impeller is a lot like a controlled explosion. On the other side....well, it's mayhem. During our safety briefing, we were warned to stay at least 100 feet back on the discharge side, as the rotary is quite capable of throwing a plume that far, and because the consistency of that plume was more like concrete than snow. During the course of the event, a couple of photographers did inadvertently get caught in the danger zone and they got pummeled. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it was mildly amusing to watch them shake the snow and ice out of their coats, their pants, their hats, gloves.....and camera bags, etc.