An avalanche triggered intentionally by a 40-pound explosive Monday evening at Washington's Crystal Mountain ski resort had an unintended result: It wiped out almost an entire chairlift.
Thankfully, the resort had closed for the day when the avalanche control team decided to trigger the slide to reduce potential avalanche danger for future visitors (a regular occurrence at ski resorts).
The accompanying photos reveal the extent of damage to the High Campbell lift and its bottom terminal, which was knocked off its foundation. Some equipment was buried by as much as six feet of snow. Two lift towers were destroyed. The video shows the massive slide knocking down trees, but does not show the avalanche striking lift towers or the bottom terminal.
The avalanche was triggered in a high-altitude area known as the “throne.” After wiping out much of the High Campbell lift and bottom tower, it continued down Queen's Run, a beginner hill.
Crystal Mountain shared the avalanche news Monday night with this statement posted on its Facebook page:
"Breaking news! Huge avalanche takes out bottom of High Campbell chairlift. It was triggered by an explosive on the throne around 4:45 p.m. The area was closed and nobody was hurt. We are taking the instability in the snowpack very seriously and will continue to mitigate risk and close terrain as necessary."
Fans of the resort began inquiring as to what would be done with the damaged chairs, as the resort announced plans to build a new lift.
On Tuesday, Crystal Mountain answered with this statement: "As you may know by now, an avalanche destroyed the bottom terminal and towers of the High Campbell lift today. A lot of you are asking about getting on the list to buy one of these chairs; we will announce a plan for this soon so please stay tuned. In the meantime, just be thankful no one was hurt and that our ski patrol is looking after our safety. We plan to build a new lift this summer similar to the Northway chair."
High Campbell serviced single- and double-black-diamond runs, for expert skiers and snowboarders. A resort spokeswoman told the News Tribune that High Campbell will be closed for the season and that Queen's Run will be closed for perhaps a week, until staff can remove debris.
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