CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, Wash. – An avalanche that was intentionally triggered by the Ski Patrol brought down more snow than expected and wiped out a chairlift at the Crystal Mountain resort at Mount Rainier.
No one was injured. The area had been closed, and the explosion was set off at 4:45 p.m. Monday after the resort had closed, marketing director Tiana Enger said.
Members of the Ski Patrol threw a 40-pound explosive on unstable snow as a safety precaution on a slope known as the Throne in the High Campbell basin.
“That got a bigger result than any of us anticipated,” Enger said Tuesday.
An avalanche 30 feet deep hit the High Campbell chairlift, the highest of 10 chairlifts at the resort on the northeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park.
The slide knocked the lower terminal off its foundation and toppled one of about 10 towers, Enger said.
Slopes have been left unstable by recent rain that fell on top of a thick layer of snow that fell at the end of February, Enger said. The Ski Patrol has been reducing the danger to skiers and snowboarders by intentionally bringing down controlled avalanches.