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Avalanche Control

Dolomite Mountains, Italy - Jan. 19-22, 2008

The Dolomite Mountains of the Italian Alps is a region that is very prone to avalanches and has a history of numerous avalanche deaths every year. The steep slopes and large snowfalls make the terrain here very treacherous to anyone on the mountains. I visited the area to see what techniques they use to create small avalanches before they become large, deadly avalanches.

The Dolomites - Italian Alps

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The Dolomites in northern Italy, near the Austrian border.

Steep sided mountains and lots of skiers makes for a dangerous combination.

 

Avalanche Blast
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The "Avalanche Blast" is a custom built device that is suspended below a helicopter and is used to trigger avalanches by creating small explosions.

The canister contains 11 special balloons which are inflated with a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. Once the helicopter is in position along the slope, an electric igniter is used to trigger the gas explosion.

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The operator is inside the helicopter and operates the device by remote control. The device remains suspended underneath the helicopter during the blasts.

The rescue helicopter that is used to help pluck injured climbers & skiers off the mountains.

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My ride arriving.

The Dolomites as seen from the helicopter.

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Incredible mountain landscapes that go on for miles.

Looking down onto one of the small alpine villages.