“What you can do is, you can get surgical with the helicopter; you can get that shot exactly where you want it.” – Doug MacFarlane
In depth look at the coordination behind North America’s largest ski resort’s avalanche mitigation program. With over 200 slide paths on Whistler Mountain alone, it’s a huge job that requires a variety of tools and highly skilled professionals but Whistler’s 60 member ski patrol is up to the task.
It all starts with avalanche forecaster Anton Horvath and his dog, Zeus, and their scientific study of gravity and snow in a roped off area designated “Snow Study Terrain”. Deductions and conclusions are made and then directives are given to use a number of methods including helicopters and explosives (PETN, or penthrite, each with the explosive force of a stick of dynamite) to trigger slides before the skiing public is exposed to the terrain.
Sixteen people have died in avalanches across the Western U.S. so far this year so it is easy to understand how deadly critical avalanche mitigation is for resorts to remain safe.
“They can be a serious threat but that’s part of our main job, is being able to mitigate any kind of serious avalanche hazard.”