Avalanche center: Ski patroller spurred slide

Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2008

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center says a ski patroller triggered an avalanche that damaged a restaurant at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Officials with the resort at Teton Village initially said Monday's avalanche came rumbling down the mountainside without any sort of human cause.

The avalanche piled up around a building with three restaurants at the top of a gondola lift. The snow broke through doors and plowed through tables and chairs inside the building. Outside, the avalanche trapped five members of the resort's ski patrol, all of whom were dug out quickly and without injury.

The avalanche happened two days after an avalanche killed Wilson skier David Nodine, 31, at the resort.

Bob Comey, director of the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center, said Tuesday that a ski patroller went up the mountain and deliberately dropped a small explosive to release Monday's avalanche. Such measures are a routine way of reducing the avalanche hazard at ski resorts.

"They were in the process of doing snow control at the resort and they had many avalanches out there that morning explosively triggered," Comey said.

He said the possibility that the avalanche could hit the restaurant was considered beforehand.

"This is something that was discussed and was anticipated. It was not unexpected at all," Comey said.

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