CDOT preps Gazex avalanche exploders for coming winter months (video)
Avalanche mitigation workers with the Colorado Department of Transportation are gearing up for the coming winter onslaught.
Workers from CDOT and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) over the last few weeks have been working to prepare avalanche control equipment located on Berthoud Pass and Loveland Pass for the coming winter.
The state has several different options for mitigating — basically intentionally setting off — avalanches in the Rockies, including artillery pieces and pneumatic cannons called avalaunchers. But at two locations in Colorado, Berthoud Pass and Loveland Pass, the state also utilizes a system called Gazex.
Made by the French corporation, TAS, Gazex is an avalanche control system that uses specially constructed “exploder” sites and tubes built at key locations in avalanche territory to set off avalanches at controlled times. The exploders literally detonate a mixture of oxygen and propane from the tube structures. The explosive force expelled from the tubes triggers avalanches. The explosive bursts are fueled by gas canisters stored in tanks beneath the exploders on the mountain.
Three weeks ago, CDOT crews began working to remove old tanks left from last year’s avalanche control work. To accomplish their goal, a helicopter was used for most of the heavy lifting, ferrying the empty industrial gas canisters down to the Clear Creek Valley, far below the Gazex sites high on the Stanley Slide on Stanley Mountain.
CDOT was back at it last Friday, hauling helicopter loads of gas canisters back up the mountain, before they were loaded into the Gazex stations for mitigation work in coming months.
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