8 months ago

MOTOREX Magazine 2016 107 EN

  • Text
  • Motorex
  • Motor
  • Tungsten
  • Maintenance
  • Intervals
  • Alpine
  • April
  • Conform
  • Lubrication


REPORT CONTINUED Sudden snowfall is no exception on the Grossglockner. Vehicles and machines must always be ready for a short-notice callout. When needed, a helicopter gives the clearance crew wings in the truest sense of the word during certain highly exposed work operations. SKILL AND MECHANICAL POWER APLENTY The Grossglockner road is testimony to the human capacity to come up with big ideas and make them reality with the help of machinery. While the equipment available during construction was still quite simple, it has steadily evolved since then for both construction and maintenance. Today an extensive vehicle and equipment pool is used for maintenance and especially for opening the pass in the spring. Five large snowplows are in service. Of these, the four 50-year-old Wallack rotary drum snowplows are practically antiques. Franz Wallack was not just the builder of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, but also the inventor of the Wallack rotary drum snowplow. The tracked vehicle combines a snowblower and plow and was first used in 1953. Perfect weight distribution gives it the ability to scrape away ice and snow layer-by-layer. Over the winter the machines are overhauled and expertly maintained in an in-house workshop. According to a recent analysis, their design advantages make them nearly as efficient at clearing snow and ice as more modern machines. In the mountains, every machine and vehicle’s reliability is an important success factor. The entire fleet, from electric power generators to snowplows to the Euro 5 truck, uses MOTOREX lubricants specially designed for extreme loads. Before the Wallack snowplow came along, it took 350 men 70 days of shoveling to clear the road. Today it takes an average of 14 days. OPENING THE PASS: NO MEAN FEAT For its first spring opening in 1936, the pass was cleared manually by hundreds of workers. Today seasoned teams do most of the job with machines. Depending on the duration and severity of the winter, the clearance work begins in early April. Teams start at the north (Fusch) and south (Heiligenblut) ends and work toward the middle. Helicopter inspection flights provide an aerial assessment of the overall situation and pay special attention to the snow masses that create a serious and ever-present risk of avalanches. Controlled avalanches are triggered to protect the clearance crews 12

Meeting of the clearance vehicles from Carinthia and Salzburg: the “breakthrough” is the high point of each year’s snow clearance. and shift snow masses downslope. A mountain guide is stationed on either end of the operation. Snow depths vary widely, depending on the winter, weather conditions and wind. In Ferleiten (1151 m), for example, the snow may be “only” 2.5 meters deep, while along the 10-kilometer ridge between Fuscher Törl and Hochtor (2505 m) it may be over ten meters deep. Six-meter snow poles are set up in the fall to mark the roadway for the spring clearance crews. Often the poles are complete buried and the road can only be found by rodding. A video of the opening of the Grossglockner pass can be viewed here (German/English): THE GOAL: THE BREAKTHROUGH The “breakthrough” is a big moment every year and calls for proper celebration. When the snow clearance crews from Carinthia and Salzburg are able to face each other near the Hochtor, everyone involved knows that the new season is at hand. Unless, that is, something goes wrong – bad weather and sudden low temperatures can set the whole team’s work back in the space of a few hours. Then the team gets back to work twice as hard, and if the radio in the transport bus plays Vivaldi’s “Spring” – or better yet, energetic folk music – the crews up on Grossglockner feel sure that all is right with the world once more. • Ready for the new season. An unforgettably scenic and perfectly cleared journey awaits beyond the toll booths. Civil engineer Franz Wallack (right) and Salzburg state governor Franz Werl on the epic first drive over the High Alpine Road in 1935, along with other photos from the road’s early years more than 80 years ago. MOTOREX MAGAZINE 107 I APRIL 2016 13


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