Alta Phasing Out Military Howitzer Avalanche Mitigation

Alta Phasing Out Military Howitzer Avalanche Mitigation

Alta

Alta Phasing Out Military Howitzer Avalanche Mitigation

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Alta Ski Area is phasing out their old military artillery in favor of new Wyssen avalanche towers for mitigation operations. KSL reports the Utah resort is installing five Wyssen avalanche towers around Mt. Baldy over the summer to add to the three installed last summer in Supreme area of the mountain. Several more will go in next year.

Several long-range howitzers are still in use in Little Cottonwood Canyon to trigger controlled avalanches.

“Moving away from anything that’s shooting a projectile in the air is a safer, better way to do avalanche mitigation work.” -Alta GM Mike Maughan

This will be the last winter that Alta will utilize their howitzer. The U.S. Army has given a 2026 deadline to phase out civilian and business use of the military equipment. The Utah Department of Transportation and other ski resorts, like Snowbird, have also installed Wyssen avalanche towers.

“Snowbird will be installing some on their portion of Mt. Baldy next summer also, so it’s kind of a joint project.” -Alta GM Mike Maughan

The new towers allow avalanches to be triggered remotely.

“It’s loaded with 12 charges, and then remotely, an avalanche professional can send a signal to open one of the shoots and let the charge fall out of the cylinder.” -Alta GM Mike Maughan

The explosives drop to the ground, connected to a string, and detonates above the snow. The cartridges are reloaded by helicopter.

A summer update from Alta’s Avalanche Office:

“Alta’s Avalanche Office is working to move Alta’s avalanche mitigation program into the future. We are moving toward Remote Avalanche Control Systems (RACS) and away from the use of military artillery.
These RACS will increase the level of safety for our skiers and our employees and improve the efficiency of our avalanche mitigation. These RACS are currently in use on East Baldy and East Castle—as well as above Highway 210 and the Town of Alta. These have all proven to be very effective.
You may have noticed an increase in the use of helicopters around Alta as we install RACS on Mount Baldy. We are working with the Town of Alta and the US Forest Service on this project.”

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