High on top of Copper Mountain at 12,300 feet, Max Tyler with Copper Ski Patrol is leading a march across the steep, windy slopes of Spaulding Bowl.
The goal is to get more terrain open, “break up some wind slab that’s developed,” Tyler said.
He’s in an avalanche area that Stephanie Sweeny with Copper Mountain says has been smacked with snow this past month.
“Seventy-three inches in December! It’s the seventh snowiest December for the resort on record,” Sweeny said.
Tyler is using a new piece of equipment called an avalanche roller, which packs the snow down and breaks it apart before an avalanche does it unexpectedly.
It’s the kind of work normally done in ski boots with a group of people packing down the slopes. Now the roller is let down steep slopes from a snowcat.
The snowcat operator slowly winches the roller back up while Tyler controls the roller using a remote control, “right, left two buttons to go forward,” Tyler said.
This keeps his team rolling on allowing them to open more terrain a lot faster.
“It’s a great tool to have in our wheel house to work our avalanche terrain,”’ Tyler said.