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The Utah Avalanche Center released footage this weekend of a rather large slide set off by the Alta Ski Resort patrol outside Salt Lake City. Four to five distinct charges go off in the video before the entire slope gives away. You can see the footage below. The above angle, shared by a local Salt Lake weathercaster (Chase Thomason), is a different angle, where commentators show what looks like at least one patroller being carried away by the avalanche (it almost looks like two). The patroller apparently inflated his avalanche vest. As on-the-job hazards go, that’s scary stuff.


I reached out to Alta officials who let me know all is well and the patroller was fine, and that it’s part of the job at a resort that’s dealt with controlling avalanche terrain for most of its 84 years in existence. “Everyone is good to go,” Alta’s Marketing Director, Brandon Ott, told me. “It was a little bit wild, it went big. This whole control work was intentional. It was a nine-foot crown and there was 7.6 inches of water sitting on the backside there, known as East Greeley.”

The patrol has to of course control the area to allow the terrain to be opened. The bombs were set via “bamboo,” which means they weren’t shot out of Howitzers, like other parts of Little Cottonwood Canyon, but set on the slope. According to Alta Ski Patrol officials, “The shot is secured to the top of the bamboo and then ignited by the patroller who then skis away to a safe place to observe. Using the ‘boo’ shot allows for detonation above the snow surface which increases the effectiveness of the explosive.”

Cheers for the ski patrollers were loud on social media, especially on Alta’s Instagram page:

“We just got on Sugarloaf Chair and had a spectacular view of the blast this morning,” wrote one commenter. “We also saw one of the ski patrol skiing back to the gates afterwards and his avy. bag was open. Glad all patrol made it back safe. That was quite a view from the chair.”

Ott says the avalanche was set off about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. “We get some of the highest snow totals in the country so it’s just what we have to do to reduce risk in the terrain and keep people out skiing,” he said.


Little Cottonwood Canyon and Highway 210 is one of the most avalanche prone regions of the country and Alta along with Snowbird Resort and the Utah Department of Transportation have been on the cutting edge of avalanche mitigation for decades.


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