Avalanches

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Ensuring safety on the ski slopes means eliminating all risk of avalanche.

The Patrolmen, Safety Officers and Avalanche Controllers use explosives to provoke controlled avalanches after each snowfall.
They have several ways of starting controlled avalanches:


Bundles of explosive delivered by hand


The principle is to throw a carefully calculated explosive charge onto the snow cover concerned.
The shock wave removes the layer of snow causing a controlled snow slide or avalanche that varies in size as the amount of snow removed.

Gazex

This mechanisms are set up at specific firing points and enable the patrolmen-blasters to provoke avalanches by remote control using computers and radiocommunications for setting off the explosion.
The principle: a mixture of oxygen and propane is injected into a metal tube placed in a particular direction on the snow. It is ignited at will by a spark. The equipment enables patrolmen-blasters to set off controlled avalanches whatever the weather while making sure that no-one is at risk.


What is a CATEX?

A CATEX works in much the same way as a ski lift.
Set up beforehand on the ski slopes, the cable explosives transporter takes explosive charges to chosen target points suspended at the end of a pole. Covering inaccessible and/or dangerous areas, controlled avalanches can be provoked without risk for the patrolmen, and are more effective in that the explosion takes place above the layer of snow, optimising its effect on the snow.
Cost of installation as a whole: one million French Francs for a six kilometre (3 1/2 mile) cableway.

Using helicopter


Used to deal with inaccessible and/or dangerous areas, helicopters can be used to place explosive charges quickly and precisely where needed. The only problem is the weather which on occasion blocks flying in the area.
The cost of the flights and the skills required for manoeuvring in the mountains has led to ground based equipment such as CATEX and GAZEX being installed where possible.
Weather, Webcams, Open slopes
Photos and videos of Châtel resort
The Châtel's TV Channel, available on Youtube and on french DTT
Châtel's mountain bikepark