Meadows Blog

Large Natural Avalanche on Wednesday March 30th

Wednesday morning was windy enough to effect lift operations with only the Ballroom Carpet and Buttercup able to run due to high winds .  Winds backed off enough to allow for Mt. Hood Express to open at 12:16 p.m., all other lifts remained on wind standby for the day.  Cascade weather station registered sustained 70mph winds with guests to 120mph.  That morning, like every morning, Heather Canyon was evaluated and no debris was found. At 3:30 the Canyon was checked again by patrol staff who noted that a large event had occurred.  An observation team went through the lower canyon to assess the extent and damage of the slide by skirting around the toe of the debris.  No damage to the lift had occurred, but a pair of cross country skis was visible near the debris on the surface of the snow.  A short time later the lone skier came walking out of the debris, but reported no one missing.  The skier acknowledged traveling uphill past two closed signs, during high avalanche danger, in the rain and high winds.  Please observe all posted signs and closures.  Consider not only your safety but the safety of the rescue personal conducting a search.  No other tracks where visible leading uphill to the debris and no one was reported missing, no search was initiated.   It was undetermined at that time exactly where the avalanche had initiated, although it was obvious it traveled down the Clark drainage, not Heather.

 

This first picture is looking down at the Heather Chairlift from the breakover. Avalanche debris was deposited near the bottom of the Heather Chairlift, several feet high. The debris buried the trail from The Canyon to the bottom of the Heather Lift.

 Even more impressive is the height of the avalanche opposite the lift.
Avalanche debris at the bottom of Heather Chairlift

Thursday started out similar with the weather effecting lifts and the possibility of safely getting more information higher in Clark.  High winds affected lift operations through out the day.  Patrollers leaving the locker room after the Resort had closed observed a fortunate clearing and were able to snap a few pictures.  Pictures show a number of different fracture lines ranging from small to quite large.  Rain to mid slope Super Bowl, with rapid snow loading above, combined with strong winds were all likely triggers for this event.

Friday weather and avalanche conditions had improved enough to get more information higher in the Clark drainage.  These photos illustrate the magnitude of this event, removing trees and scouring the snow down to dirt and rock.  The debris came within 70 feet of the Heather Canyon Chairlift and left a couple of unique debris formations. 

We will continue to evaluate this terrain and work towards an opening when conditions allow. 

6 Comments

  1. Adam

    April 1, 2011

    nwac said a 20' crown depth up at 10k elevation with deposits in heather, Clark, newton & white river canyons?!?! And deposits up to 70' deep in spots? [presumably from meadows patrol reports]

    Looking forward to the photos!

    Good thing the weather sucked the past few days and no one was out there!

  2. Brian

    April 2, 2011

    Where did the slide originate from?

    Meadows: The photos in the second slide show reveals fracture lines from above Superbowl.

  3. shaun

    April 2, 2011

    where do you guys think this slide came from, was it the wy'east face

    Meadows: The slide show tells the story.

  4. Dan

    April 2, 2011

    Does this spell the end of the season for heather???

    Meadows: Not at all. We anticipate that Heather will reopen once the avalanche danger moderates. We appreciate all of our guests obeying the rope closures.

  5. Vlad

    April 4, 2011

    Someone got very lucky that day. I can only imagine what you guys were thinking when you saw them skis sticking out of the snow... Appreciate the patrol very much

    Meadows: Patrol appreciates all of our other guests who exercise common sense and do not go into the canyon when it is closed.

  6. Nof

    April 8, 2011

    AMAZING! Good thing you put the base of the lift where you did. Hopefully there are no more large slides this year....with the slide debris as high as it is now. Another large slide may hit the lift. That fracture line off the Wy'East rocks is MASSIVE! Happy grooming!

    Meadows: Thanks!

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