As some guessed, a snowblower.

More specifically, an Ariens 824E snowblower, from SnowblowersDirect.com.

Some of you know that I ski in the winter, and keep a ski cabin to make ski mornings much nicer. The ski cabin is at about 1000', and traditionally, there really isn't that much snow at that elevation around here - it tends to snow a bit, and then warm up.

But - as we've found over the last few years - if you have a house that sits on the north side of a hill, you don't get any solar radiation at all, and any snow that you do get is amazingly resilient - it will stick around for months. Though I can usually push the outback into our driveway with the new snow, it doesn't really work on deep slop, unless you're fond of severe drivetrain abuse and the smell of burning clutch(es).

So, we park at a small spot on the road to our lot. If it's snowed, I have to either move the plowed snow to the side before we park, or just muscle over it. And I need to cut a path through the snow to the cabin so we don't slip and fall over.

We've had this tentative plan to get an ATV and put a small plow on it, but I pretty much just lazed on that one. And then it started snowing, and snowing, and snowing around here, and I started thinking in terms of snowpack. We've probably had a good 4-5 feet of snow fall, and the snowpack is around 24-30" right now (it was a bit higher a week or so ago). I'm tired of digging.

Hence the snowblower. I couldn't find any stock here or close on the east side of cascades, so I ended up buying online, which was surprisingly easy. The blower showed up on Friday, we took it up Saturday, and found that it's a nice machine. And, amazingly, it started on the first pull in 20 degree weather, which shows that small engines have improved a bit since the lawn-mowing days of my youth.

It made quick work of the top 8" of snow, which was still sort of powderly. I had little luck at all with what was underneath, but given the fact that the blower doesn't sink into the snowpack, I'm not surprised. It would have been fine if I could have attacked it incrementally, and I'm hopeful that when it warms up a bit, the pack will soften and I'll be able to get back into the driveway.

Or, I could try to borrow one of these...