Meadows Blog

March 10 Avalanche

Sometime in the morning of March 10, 2011 prior to 0815 a large avalanche ran through the Clark side of Heather Canyon.
The slide scoured the sides of the drainage, deposited a significant amount of debris in the gut which extended well past the confluence of the Clark/Heather drainages and the bottom terminal of the Heather Chair.
Avalanche deposit ran beyond the bottom of the Heather chair
The bottom of the Heather Chair can be seen in the distance


Avalanche to bottom of Jacks Woods
Deposit at the bottom of Jack's Woods


The track and debris extend to historical trim lines. Further investigation is underway. The origin of the slide is unknown at this time. There are no known casualties or structural damages at this time.
The Canyon will remain closed until further notice. We ask that only authorized personnel access the Canyon – please respect all closures.

For reference, check out our blog from January 2010, "The Anatomy of an Avalanche" when a similar event occurred.


  1. its all connected

    March 11, 2011

    OK, now look at the evidence around you. Last year when there was an avy in Heather's, there were multiple earthquakes around the world at that time. Haiti, Turkey...

    What happened this morning? A huge 8.6 magnitude quake in Japan! It is hard to pass up these kind of coincidences and I feel like there is something going on that we don't have control over. Plates are moving, we are in for a show here in the northwest, be ready!

  2. urp

    March 11, 2011

    wow, another big one. scary stuff!

    Any further news on this? Thanks.

    Meadows: Nothing more at this time. If we get more details we'll add here or perhaps create another blog.

  3. John Speth

    March 11, 2011

    Had the Howitzer been used the night before?

    Meadows: The Howitzer is generally used in the morning for avalanche hazard reduction operations prior to opening terrain. It isn't fired at night.

  4. Michael B

    March 11, 2011

    Will Ski Patrol be doing a detailed analysis of this slide and the conditions that led to it and posting it somewhere? As a budding backcountry student every avy analysis is helpful, but ones that happen this close to home are doubly so. Thank you ski patrol for doing such an outstanding job. Keep it up :-)

    Meadows: Thank you for the praise. The slide and conditions of the canyon continue to be evaluated. The information is helpful but we haven't determined whether any more will be posted regarding this incident, pending investigation.

  5. Jeff

    March 11, 2011

    Any talks with the forest service about shooting the howitzer more in the direction where these slides start?

    Meadows: This slide is still under investigation and it is not yet known where it started. We work very closely with the Forest Service regarding our avalanche reduction operations, which at this point is contained within our permit area.

  6. dan

    March 11, 2011

    Thanks for posting this -- very illustrative photos and always interesting to know when there's a major slide like this.

  7. buster

    March 12, 2011

    What is the plan now for re-opening the canyon? 2 big thumbs up to the patrol this year for getting stuff open right away when they can.

    Meadows: We're still evaluating and there is a lot of cat work that is required to track pack the rubble. We don't have an estimate on when it will be reopened at this time, and we appreciate everyone respecting the boundary. Thank you for your kind words, we will proceed proficiently - we know our guests love the canyon but we want proceed diligently and prudently.

  8. Adam

    March 12, 2011

    We all want to see the stats and PHOTOS for this slide. Please hook us up when you are able. Also, a blog entry for how you rectify what's you winch cat the scoured sides back to "normal"? Do you just leave it? How long til that terrain is open for use again? Or will it?
    So many questions...
    Thanks for the great job making this terrain available this year!
    [/end blog] :)

    Meadows: We'll get together with our patrollers. This is definitely a fascinating topic and event, from which we can all learn.

  9. Marc T

    March 12, 2011

    Wow it ran past Heather... I guess this one did have 2 more months of snow loading. Mel keep up the good work, and stay safe out there.

    Meadows: Thanks Marc. We're proud of our patrol staff and appreciate your message for them to stay safe, while they're looking out for all of us!

  10. robert

    March 12, 2011

    So the slide was on the Clark side of the runout down to the parking lot, on the hike to, (not lift served), zone..... Right accross from the bottom of the Heather chair..... Right? Do u guys shoot the howlitzer at the area that slid?

    Well, we love the heather/clark canyon area because that is some of the more challanging skiing/riding at Meadows, that is big enough to spread all the advanced/expert skiers/boarders out, and there is a chairlift right there to take us back up right away.... If it is not open, it makes it extremely difficult to get much serious uncut...., in my opinion. Can u please give us an estimate of when Heather will be open? Sun? Mon.? Tues.? Wed? Looks like we are about to get way more dumpage, but I doubt I will come up until Heather is open. I was going to come up Sunday, but.... I need to plan ahead. Thanks.

    Meadows: The avalanche followed the Clark Canyon side and deposited past the bottom of Heather. We're still investigating but preliminarily it looks like it started within our permit area, in Super Bowl, most likely as the result of our avalanche reduction operation efforts. We opened Absolute Magnitude on a very limited basis today for a few hours to allow guests a chance to see the deposition zone. We're moving ahead deliberately with investigation and evaluation. Again, thanks for respecting the boundaries.

  11. GreenT

    March 12, 2011

    Thanks for the information and photos. Absolutely fascinating to see the after-effects (and would love to see more as they become available). There really is no vantage point in the resort that provides perspective on how big this was. Like everyone else, I would appreciate updates on what's going on and the likelihood/timeline for getting the canyon opened again; continued communication will help manage expectations for those of us who live for skiing this incredible terrain.

    Additionally, thanks to the ski patrol folks I talked with yesterday. They were extemely courtious and informative (as best they could be) about this event.

  12. Leslie M

    March 13, 2011

    Lat Sunday it seems to me that I saw a switchback cut into the hillside below Accordian bowl where I presume the Bombadier snow cats plowed to have access to shooting that side of Clark canyon. Am I wrong? Was a Howitzer used to shoot Accordian which made the blast hole where some debris originated ? It sure was nice of Grant Myrdal to take those lovely pix of my son and me that bluebird day...

    Meadows: Thanks L. We don't use the Howitzer for avalanche hazard reduction operations in Accordian Bowl, nor would the snow cats be used to plow access. We do use an avalauncher. Grant Myrdal is fantastic and has taken some awesome shots this season!

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