13 New Dragons

Category: Operations Blog
What is a Dragon?

Called "Dragons" because of their fiery blast, these remotely controlled avalanche mitigation systems use propane gas and oxygen to create a concussive blast to remotely trigger avalanches when our team and guests are not in the area. The technology provides an additional level of safety to ski patrol teams and greater efficiency as they work to open up the mountains. In 2015, we were the first and only California ski resort to install this technology and every season we have been expanding our "Dragon" fleet.

Fast Facts
  • 13 new Dragons for the 2017-18 season, including 8 for the ridge above Alpine Meadows Road and five within the boundaries of the resort
    • 8 on Alpine Meadows Road
    • 3 at Squaw Valley: (2) Located at Red Dog Ridge and (1) on The Roof, on Emigrant Peak between the Attic and the Funnel
    • 2 at Alpine Meadows: Located at High Yellow Gully and Pete’s Peril
  • We have the largest Dragon system in use at any ski resort in North and South America
  • 5 existing Dragons:
    • 3 at Squaw Valley: Located at Headwall Face, Gold Coast Ridge and Mainline Pocket
    • 2 at Alpine Meadows: Located at South Peril and High Yellow

What's great about the Dragons is we can set them off at any time. So we don't have to wait for light, we can do it in the middle of the night so groomers can keep working safely and help keep work roads open so the rest of the team can access the mountain. This is a big advantage on Alpine Meadows Road, too. We can set them off routinely as the snow piles up, during times when our guys and gals couldn’t access those areas safely. We’ll be able to maintain access on Alpine Meadows Road more safely and efficiently: it’s exciting for our guests and staff, and our neighbors.”

-  Ken Bokelund, Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol Director

Gazex Use Cases

Alpine Meadows

Locations: We'll have one on South Peril, which is operationally great because there's an access road that goes right underneath it. We cannot open Summit Express if we can't get to the top. So the top of Summit is accessed by this road, and if our patrol team is not there to do avalanche control, or spending the night on Summit, then our groomers or lift mechanics or operators can not access our main lift: Summit Express. 

We have these things called restrictions for our teams safety. When it snows 6" you can't go into a particular zone. Now, with this new technology, we can remotely mitigate the hazard, which then allows our staff to access this terrain and improves the efficiency of opening the mountain"

- Ken Bokelund

Squaw Valley

Locations: We'll have one Dragon up on the roof, which is just above Shirley Lake, and we added two under the Red Dog Ridge, specifically, for those who know, two on Tom's Tumble.

They have different functions. Generally speaking, we try to place them where they're good spots for worker safety, but also operational efficiency. Meaning that we want to protect our patrollers that are going into those slopes on skis, but we also want to be able to keep the travel routes open for our groomers, lift ops, etc. The one on the roof has a multi-purpose function. It's for worker safety, but it's also to keep the terrain open so the groomers can work through the night, and also we'll be able to shoot it in the middle of the day during big storms, so Shirley Lake can continue to run.

We installed two dragons that over on Red Dog Ridge becuase it's a very challenging route to do snow safety on. I think the one on Red Dog Ridge is really gonna help us speed the opening of KT."

- Will Paden, Squaw Valley Ski Patrol Director 

2017-18 Dragon Map