Natural Resources

Avalanches

Date: January 12, 1985

Location: Smokey Mountain, Labrador

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Fatalities: 0

Injuries: 0

Source: The Evening Telegram, January 15, 1985

Smokey Mountain, a downhill ski area near Labrador City has a vertical drop of around 300 metres. Many of the ski runs are in cut paths through wooded areas on the lower slopes, but the upper part of the mountain is open and exposed. In January 1985 a group of young ski racers were training on the mountain, and were traveling across the upper part of the hill in an area known as Òthe FaceÓ. High winds had caused snow to build up on the slopes, and around 11:30 am it let go, trapping five skiers aged 12 to 17 in an avalanche. All five were buried- two girls aged 14 and 16 for up to five minutes Ð but all were dug out unharmed by their team-mates. The two girls were taken to hospital overnight for observation.

The Evening Telegram reported the comments of the ski-club manager, Kevin Gorgon.

"None of the skiers received any injuries, Gorgan said. The skiers were rescued by ski patrol and lift operations at the club and Gorgan said were 'very quick to react'. He said the youths involved all acted maturely during the incident, particularly the two boys, aged 15 and 16, who were dispatched to alert the ski patrol members of what was happening. In fact, Gorgan said, ski patrol and lift operators knew very soon something was amiss and were up the mountain before the boys reached the bottom. Smokey Mountain is 1,000 feet high, but the skiers ran into trouble at about 200 feet down, on an exposed area known as the 'Face'. Avalanches have occurred in this area before, but not to the same severity."

Most commercial ski areas have a programme of avalanche control, where based on snow conditions areas can be closed, or avalanches triggered by explosives or other methods when noone is on the hill.

 
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