“Managed” Avalanche Takes Out Chair at Crystal Mountain, WA

By David Schissler (March 2014) The High Campbell chairlift (chair 6) at Crystal Mountain is no more. Around 4:45 on March 11th the ski patrol triggered a controlled 40-pound explosion on a slope called the Throne. The result was a very large, 30 feet deep avalanche producing “crowns” between 6-to-8 feet. Many trees were destroyed, […]

By David Schissler

(March 2014) The High Campbell chairlift (chair 6) at Crystal Mountain is no more. Around 4:45 on March 11th the ski patrol triggered a controlled 40-pound explosion on a slope called the Throne. The result was a very large, 30 feet deep avalanche producing “crowns” between 6-to-8 feet. Many trees were destroyed, towers were downed and the lift shack at the bottom was destroyed. The slides and debris has caused the closure of the Bear Pitts, Powder Bowl, High Campbell and Employee Housing terrain. Exterminator will also be closed due to unstable snowpack. Fortunately, the resort was closed at the time of the avalanche so no one was injured.

No one on the patrol will lose their jobs because of this since it was an old double chair in need of replacement, but this was not the preferred mode of deconstruction. It also helped in the sense that the patrol person responsible for setting the explosive charge happened to be the resort owner’s wife. The lift will be rebuilt this summer with an anticipated cost of between $1.5 and $1.7 million.
Since the slide, demand to purchase chairs from the decommissioned lift began pouring in. There are 86 chairs in all and the projected cost per chair is $400. Sales are limited to one chair per household. Buyers will be chosen by lottery. Proceeds will go to selected charities.

See the post event video at: http://blog.sfgate.com