Friday, November 25, 2011

Avalanche hits grooming cat at Castle Mountain

Chris Davis, Pincher Creek Voice
(corrected  for accuracy)

Sparking the warning issued by Castle Mountain Ski Resort yesterday ("Castle Mountain not ready for people yet"), one of their own grooming caterpillars was involved in an avalanche.

Recent weather and snowfall has made the snow pack on Castle Mountain unstable. Snow work included the grooming cats and Patrol bombing in an attempt to stabilise the conditions.

According to a press release issued today, the incident occurred at approximately 5:30 pm , Wednesday, November 23. The grooming cat was swept approximately 500 metres down the mountain. The cat operator was able to extricate himself despite sustaining injuries, and hiked up to the other grooming cat operating in the area. He was the only person involved in the situation.

According to Castle Mountain Ski Resort, heavy snowfall, wind-loading and temperature changes contributed to the incident. The grooming cats were cutting snow-roads on the upper mountain when the incident occurred. The cat was swept from the area by the entrance gate to the South Chutes down into Huckleberry Bowl.

A full investigation of the incident commenced on Thursday when conditions were safe to access the grooming cat. The size of the slide and damages to the Grooming Cat are undetermined at this point.

Castle Mountain Resort General Manager Brian Rhodes said "We are monitoring the the site to secure the cat, and bring it down safely."

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