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Two types of Powder @ Solitude

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Just spent 3 days at Solitude last week … 42 inches over 4 days. With all of that great snow came a lot of avalanches. Unfortunately, so many that 4 people were killed over the weekend.

They blasted so much over the weekend that it felt like I was in Faluhja – 2 to 3 blasts every minute. When the patrol came down around noon we thought they were done, but it was apparently because they ran out of ammo!

What a terrific start to the year. However, all of that great snow got me into trouble – twice. My first problem came after I skied down a favorite chute only to find I was cliffed out. Apparently it hadn’t snowed as much as I thought. I found myself standing above a good 30 footer that in my youth I wouldn’t have hesitated jumping off. But, with age comes wisdom and fear … not to mention that I was with a buddy who would have had to climb out solo.

It took us about an hour to climb 200 feet up the hill in chest deep snow so that we could skirt the cliff. At one point I was practically rock climbing it was so steep. A serious sphincter puckering exercise – I’d do it again in a second.

My second problem was at the airport. Apparently those spectrum analyzers where they swab your luggage really work as it picked up the powder residue from the places where I skied through the blast holes. I expected the full body cavity search after that …

It’s amazing that after all of these years I still marvel at what an awesome sport this is.
post #2 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodee
My second problem was at the airport. Apparently those spectrum analyzers where they swab your luggage really work as it picked up the powder residue from the places where I skied through the blast holes. I expected the full body cavity search after that …
Wow! How did you convince them?! Did the lights go off?!
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
The fine folks at SLC are used to this sort of thing. It wasn’t much of an issue as long as you have lots of time before your flight to watch all of your belongings be taken apart.
post #4 of 19
Nice post Woodee. I've learned two things in the past, #1 you're usually safer just hucking the cliff then taking a chance falling backwards over it without your skis (tough decision, I know). #2 don't ever fly with the pack that you do control work with.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have a story to tell if I was solo or with a different skier. The buddy I was with is a strong skier but doesn’t have any “extreme” type of experience. This was the most exposure he’s ever seen – if I would have hucked first I would have had to hike up 400 feet instead of the 200 to retrieve him.

Let me ask – what do you guys use to blast with? Is it as simple as lighting sticks of dynamite, or do you have something more high tech? (talking about hand set charges, not avalaunchers or howitzers).
post #6 of 19
Penolite (sp?), you don't have to light it, its got a friction cap that you pull off to start the fuse.
post #7 of 19
Man, I have trouble believing this one.

I travel with guns 1 or 2 times a year. At least once a year it's to do a 2-4 day firearms training course where I shoot 250-1000 rounds of ammo. This residue gets all over my clothes and body. Often, I have the spent cases (which I reload) in my luggage.

Never set the machine off. Not once.

Am I to believe the sensors are superior in SLC?
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hey, believe what you want to believe. Apparently this happens frequently enough that it’s not a big surprise to them. I’m going to guess the guy didn’t necessarily want to go through all of my dirty skivvies for the fun of it. Quite frankly – I’m GLAD those spectrum analyzers are sensitive enough to pick it up.
post #9 of 19
Xdog,

Believe it, it's true.

L
post #10 of 19
Gunpowder and high tech explosives are not the same animal.

Although you might think gunpowder would be an item of interest, it likely doesn't get the kind of interest you might think; because it would include too broad a 'trigger group', ranging from munitions, to fireworks and caps in childrens toys.

I'm sure the scanning equipment is complex enough at the programming level that only the experts setting the equipment up fully understand the levels and componentry targeted.
post #11 of 19
Woodee,

Where were you when you got cliffed out? I've certainly had similar experiences at Solitude although only about half the drop you describe at most. While I can't say I ever want to be put in those situations, surviving them, however you do it, is an adventure remembered.

We skied ove Thanksgiving at Solitude and already had tremendous coverage and great skiing with a dumpt of about 20" and then smaller loads of 6-10".
post #12 of 19
As Feallen said gunpowder won't set off the spectrometers, gunpowder doesn't explode it burns very fast, and when compressed it can resemble an explosion, the secondary charges in the shells, probably nitroglycerin residue, will set off a spectrometer.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si
Woodee,

Where were you when you got cliffed out? I've certainly had similar experiences at Solitude although only about half the drop you describe at most. While I can't say I ever want to be put in those situations, surviving them, however you do it, is an adventure remembered.
We were over on the "permanently closed” area off of Summit chair. I’ve skied these chutes in the past and they are just that – chutes. The further skier left you are the more open the chutes. As you go right they downright treacherous – I’m sure you’re familiar with the 100+ foot cliffs you see from the lift.

However, lots of early snow wasn’t enough to mask the fact that there are indeed cliffs under there, and we were too far right. I tried to traverse over to the left where the drop was significantly less, but again my buddy wasn’t up to it (it would have also meant trashing our skis). We were forced to climb out to get to a point where we could skirt over to the left where it was wide open. Like I said … I’d do it again in a second!
post #14 of 19
I just got back from Soli, last week was weird. Nice pow, tues and Wednesday and then that heavy crap beat the hell out of me on Thursday. I know the area you are talking about, serious stuff, well beyond my comfort zone. Actually I was surprised to see alot of stuff was beyong my comfort zone. The Cirque area was pushing my limits so I never ventured past Milk Run. I found it real difficult to ski after that heavy snow and high winds. I would like to get back when the snow is more forgiving

One question. Does the patrol drop charges from the lift? There was a bomb hole on the rige right below the summit lift.
post #15 of 19
Hm, guess that makes sense. Crazy times, eh?
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by xdog1
Man, I have trouble believing this one.

I travel with guns 1 or 2 times a year. At least once a year it's to do a 2-4 day firearms training course where I shoot 250-1000 rounds of ammo. This residue gets all over my clothes and body. Often, I have the spent cases (which I reload) in my luggage.

Never set the machine off. Not once.

Am I to believe the sensors are superior in SLC?
The facts re: gunpowder not setting the analyzer off are sketchy. The big question is whether or not your contaminated stuff has been swabbed or not. If they aren't swabbing you, you won't set the xray or metal detector off with explosive residue.
-Garrett
post #17 of 19
I have only jumped off one cliff before and it was under 20 feet high but it was at Solitude. It seems like everyone talks about cliff jumping over at Solitude; it's definitely a great resort!
post #18 of 19
The newest detection equipment uses nano technology that gets very close to detecting a single molecule of specific origin. All of the high explosives are being, or have been 'fingerprinted' for tell tale molecules used in detection of pre and post detonation. ....This is way beyond the old explanation of chemical anaylysis and does set up a screening device who's only weakness is the personel operating the inspection. If they wanted to 'tune' them for gunpowder and similar percussion explosion residues, it would be quite easy, but as stated before they would be inspecting a significant portion of the population that are not really suspects. -- The real question is which inspection points are using the latest detection equipment, and which are just making a show for the sake of a feel good experience.
post #19 of 19
Solitude is the world's best-kept secret. We had passes there and lived in SLC two years ago. What a hoot! Once you know where to go (as a local), it's all-you-can-eat powder days.

Solitude gets the same snow as Alta and Snowbird, it's just untrameled. Now that Honeycomb Canyon is serviced, there's no limit to the surfing you can do.

Let Alta and Snowbird have the hype. Solitude should remain the quiet jewel.

But, to hear that 4 people were killed over the weekend are somber tidings. Such news is tough to reconcile with one of life's best experiences - floating in bottomless fluff. RIP.

One word of advice, unless you're a Mormon, or an iguana, don't even think about living in SLC during the summer. We had 3 months of 100 degree plus days, no rain and burning sun. Brutal misery.
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