Avalanche danger keeps Alyeska resort closed

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2007

GIRDWOOD - Alaska's premier ski resort remained closed Wednesday because poor snow conditions and windy, wet weather have combined to create too much avalanche danger.

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The resort's problems mounted this week when snow pressing down on Chair 6 pushed one of the chairlift towers out of alignment.

Alyeska spokesman Jason Lott said the tower's foundation tilted, along with the tower. Engineers have been brought in to realign the tower, which could take a couple of days.

That means the resort could be closed until at least Friday.

Tower 12 on the mountain's highest lift was discovered a few degrees out of alignment Monday after it apparently had been forced out of position by the pressure exerted when a crack opened up in the area known as Kitchen Wall, Lott said.

The tower's foundation tilted along with the tower itself, Lott said.

Rumors quickly began circulating throughout Girdwood that Chair 6 had been demolished by an avalanche, Lott said.

"All operations are still in order; nothing's been demolished," he said.

This is the first time a tower has been forced out of line at Alyeska, he said.

Avalanche danger has been rife in the area so far this season because of higher-than-normal temperatures and wet, heavy snow falling on the upper mountain, while the base has seen mostly rain.

"All our base has been pretty much wiped out," Lott said. "Avalanche danger is still the main reason we've been closed."

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