Gear, Weather

Explosives mitigate avalanche hazards

IMG_1638_1024Heli Skiing Safety is our top priority at Northern Escape. Our guides are focused on creating the ultimate heli skiing experience for our guests while keeping everyone as safe as possible. For this reason, when avalanche risks reach a hazardous level our guiding team use explosives to mitigate these threats.

It starts with a well developed plan. At the am guides meeting a discussion takes place about where to place the explosives to make the most impact. They focus on existing avalanche paths and reducing overhead hazards of established heli ski runs. Rather than bomb the runs and ruin the skiing the explosives are planned to simply remove the adjacent hazards so that the runs become safer to ski.

explosives mitigate avalanche hazardsThe next step is arranging the logistics. While the ski program continues as normal an additional team of three guides and a pilot get geared up for the blasting mission. The lead guide with a blasting ticket arranges the transfer of the explosives from a secure location to the lodge. This guide is now in charge of the bombing supplies and does not let them out of his sight. The components are assembled except for the ignitors which are stored separately until placed on the fuse prior to deployment.

The most recent bombing mission at Northern Escape took place over two days during which a total of 120 12.5kg shots were deployed during 4 separate helicopter trips. In total 1.5 metric tonnes of explosives were detonated resulting in a 90% success rate.  All results are documented and shared during the pm guides meeting. Once the hazard for a run has been deemed no longer a threat the run is placed back on the green list for the regular skiing program.