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High Avalanche Danger Out West Affects Transportation And Ski Areas

Environment: NPR

03:49 min | 1 year ago

High Avalanche Danger Out West Affects Transportation And Ski Areas

"To another story now. It's been a chaotic couple of weeks in the rocky mountains where large avalanches have closed highways ski resorts a single storm near Salt Lake City. It triggered a record forty eight slides as NPR's Kirk siegler reports. The increased avalanche risk comes at a time when more and more people are hitting the slopes in the high country. God probably Craggy Teton Mountains of North West Wyoming steep and deep Jackson hole is as a magnet for extreme skiers right. They're buddies goading them on on Matt Beauregard. And Rick lawler drop a fifteen foot cliff in this glade. Area called the tower three shits as just a melody honestly. You were just rep around rounded bounce. Skiing inbounds inside. The patrolled boundaries of the ski resort generally thought to be safer when it comes to avalanches. That's because all season skiers. I've been packing this snow down and stabilising it. But Matt Beauregard knows that's no guarantee we've actually triggered small slides on this exact face. They may duck a rope and ski ski out of bounds into the back country. But even here at the resort. They're wearing avalanche transceivers and safety gear. Just in case education's probably the most important thing. Rick here's wearing an air bag for added protection so in the case that he is stuck inside an avalanche you'll be able to pull this cord and hopefully float to the surface inbounds or in the back country. Avalanche danger is high across the mountain west. An unusually snowy early season followed by drought than dry powder. Storms then a punch of heavy wet snow last weekend in Utah. Today's storm dumped six and a half feet in Little Cottonwood Canyon home to the snowbird and Alta resorts awards and it ended up closing little cottonwood for fifty four hours and forty eight. Avalanches were reported one of those hit. The Road Mickey Champion is a forecaster here at the Utah Avalanche Center. She recorded wind speeds up to a hundred miles an hour on Ridge tops that further destabilize the already volatile snowpack in the Wasatch satch mountains. And then you put a big wrong heavy load or a wind load on top of that it just kind of upside down. It's like a pyramid when you take out the Baser Django when you remove one of the pieces says there were no fatalities reported in Utah. But last month skiers were buried and killed in avalanches within patrolled terrain at resorts in California and Idaho. Oh all of this is putting the round. The clock work. People tasked with keeping these mountains safe under the microscope Jackson Hole. Ski Patrol Director Drew Neilan stepping into his bindings above. You can't see it in the fog now. But there's a big cirque above us here and that's Casper Bowl. All and all that terrain is avalanche terrain every morning at dawn before the tram and the Gondolas Starts Spinning Army of Nielsen's patrol or detonating explosives lives to intentionally trigger slides. Now so skiers don't later and some of these can even be detonated remotely thanks to new robot like trolleys that reach even more dangerous surest remote places. Obviously we worry about avalanches coming down into the heavily congested areas. So that's one of our biggest concerns to get that work done early. Another big concern is simply that more. People are venturing out further into areas. They normally wouldn't have thanks to improved equipment. I think people assume that we're able that. We have the ability to completely eliminate the risk of avalanches within the scary. And that's just not the case but avalanche forecasters say along with the increased risk. It comes a new cachet becoming cool to say. You've taken avalanche courses and Dir as prepared as you can be Kirk Siegler N._p._R.. News Jackson Wyoming.

Kirk siegler Rick lawler Matt Beauregard Utah Utah Avalanche Center Craggy Teton Mountains North West Wyoming Salt Lake City Little Cottonwood Canyon NPR Skiing forecaster Jackson Hole Wyoming Casper Bowl Drew Neilan Nielsen Alta Director Idaho