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Jackson Hole, WY News

THIRD IN A SERIES

Snowsheds are just one part of Rogers Pass' extensive avalanche program

With 134 slide paths to manage, Canadian avalanche forecasters use any tool they can to shorten road closures.

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Rogers Pass snow sheds

ROGERS PASS, BRITISH COLUMBIA — The afternoon of March 4, 1910, was warm, by winter-in-Canada standards.

Following a nine-day storm cycle, more than six feet of snow had fallen in the Selkirk Mountains, through which the Canadian Pacific Railway had recently been completed. As the route summited Rogers Pass, crude snowsheds protected the most exposed areas.

What Works: Exploring Solutions
Rogers Pass snow sheds

One of five snow sheds near Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park, Canada is shown. The snow sheds, installed between the early 1960s and mid-1970s, help usher about 3,000 vehicles through the pass every day on the Trans Canada Highway, the primary corridor of commerce between Alberta and British Columbia.

Rogers Pass snow nets

A complex array of snow nets on the south face of Cougar Mountain, just west of Rogers Pass on the Trans Canada Highway. The system holds snow loads in place, keeping it from sliding and thus virtually eliminating the need for routine avalanche mitigation with explosives.

Snow fences

Wyoming Department of Transportation avalanche technician John Fitzgerald evaluates metal snow fences in late June high on the hillside above Highway 89 at mile marker 151 just south of Jackson. Fitzgerald said the array of about 50 fences, installed nine years ago and designed to hold snow in place, have virtually eliminated avalanche problems on the slope and the need for mitigation work.

Operation PALACI

Master Bombardier Ryan Houston from the First Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery gives the firing order to Gunner Joshua Caines during avalanche mitigation operations at Rogers Pass, British Columbia in November 2019.

Rogers Pass avalanche program

Parks Canada avalanche coordinator Jeff Goodrich describes the scope of Parks Canada’s avalanche mitigation program on Rogers Pass, British Columbia, in early March. “You’ve got 134 avalanche paths that could affect the highway here,” he said.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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