Were These Enormous Class 4 Avalanches Set off by CMH Necessary?

Miles Clark | | AvalancheAvalancheFeatured ArticleFeatured Article

Skip to 1:48 for the avalanches.  At 6:20, there is a class 4 avalanche that runs 3,300 vertical feet and 2.2 miles.

It’s one thing to control avalanches and make sure terrain is safe for skiers and riders.  It’s another thing to set of class 4 avalanches with enormous destructive potential hurdling down and destroying 300-year-old forests.  If the avalanches are justified, then no problem.  If they aren’t justified, then it seems a waste.

“ Be patient, the highlight comes at the end with a class 4 avalanche running down over a 1000m vertical and covering a 3.5 km distance, logging a few hundred year old mature timber.”- Gery Unterasinger (former CMH guide) [see Gery’s blog about this video here:  Gery U. blog]

These avalanches were set of by CMH Heli Skiing in British Columbia during January 2010.

Big avalanche shown in video
Big avalanche shown in video

Some important questions have been raised about this video:
1.  Was this avalanche control done to keep people safe?

2.  Was this avalanche control work done just for fun?  

3.  Did people ski those avalanche paths after the control work or anywhere near them?

4.  Was this avalanche control work necessary?

5.  What was the cost to the forests, animals, and eco systems that were impacted by these avalanches?

Another big avalanche from the video
Another big avalanche from the video

This video displays some questionable behavior that very well may have been justified.  Many people who have viewed this video feel that the people involved were creating these enormous avalanches simply for the joy of watching them go.  If that’s true, then the real questions is:  “Is it okay to set off huge destructive avalanches just for the heck of it?”

What do you think?  Ok or not?

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4 thoughts on “Were These Enormous Class 4 Avalanches Set off by CMH Necessary?

  1. Well…. they are obviously major natural avalanche paths. It isn’t clear at all from the video that the ones that they triggered were unusually big. Impressive, yes. But, the powder cloud going into the forest on the other side of the valley doesn’t mean that older trees that survive the normal avalanches were knocked down…

    I don’t have a problem with them shooting slopes that they ski.
    I do have a problem with heliskiing in general though. Fine in some places, but it is becoming a bit too widespread in western Canada. Between helis and sleds, it’s difficult to get away from engines without doing a week+ ski traverse!

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