4 New Avalaunchers

Category: Operations Blog
  • Snow Safety Expansion for 2017-18 Winter Season
What is an Avalauncher?

Avalaunchers are compressed-nitrogen cannons that fire an explosive projectile, similar in concept to a potato gun. We're installing 4 new avalaunchers, 2 each at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, that will enable our patrol teams to trigger avalanches from a distance and control the snow pack prior to opening terrain to the public. Alpine Meadows has traditionally used avalaunchers for snow safety, while Squaw Valley will be reintroducing them as the mountain has not used avalaunchers for many years.

Fast Facts
  • 4 new avalaunchers at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows
    • 2 at Alpine Meadows:
      • Mobile mount on a truck that will be mainly used to help with Alpine Meadows Road, parking lot and the Buttress
      • Mobile mount on a snowcat that will be mobile and can be used all around the resort
    • 2 at Squaw Valley:
      • Fixed mount located at the bottom of Cornice II that can control Cornice II, the Slot, Saddle Road and the Rock Garden, and potentially Tower 16
      • Mobile mount that can control Funnel, North Bowl, the Oregon Trail, and some spots on KT when the storm's going
  • Avalaunchers are extremely effective at long ranges 
  • A defensive tool used to mitigate hazards for the safety of our team members

We've seen how they've worked at Alpine, and we're sold on it. The technology has really come a long way. At Squaw, it's mainly going to be used as a standoff weapon, meaning that we'll be able to control slopes remotely, from a distance, and not put patrollers in harm's way.

- Will Paden, Squaw Valley Ski Patrol Director 

Use Cases

Squaw Valley 

Locations: So we've got one avalauncher that's gonna be on a fixed-mount platform in the Lost Lake area, which is the bottom of the Cornice II area. We'll be able to shoot Cornice II, the Slot, Saddle Road and the Rock Garden, and potentially Tower 16 with that fixed-mount. But we also have a mobile unit we're gonna be able to move around with a snowcat, and be able to drive that into position, and shoot that on places like the Funnel, North Bowl, the Oregon Trail, and some spots on KT when the storm's really going. I think for us it's gonna be a very defensive tool, meaning that during big storms well be able to shoot it late in the day to mitigate the safety for our patrollers so the next day when they go in, we've already done control work on there with this "standoff weapon"