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Original Issue

AVALANCHE!

Author:

Alta, Utah is famous for its powder snow, but steep powder slopes are also famous for avalanches. After a fresh snowfall it's the snow rangers' job to create avalanches before the public does, either by cannonading or tricky maneuvers called "protective skiing." Tracks on the outer edges of the photograph at right show paths of skiers who had first explored the area. This done, Chief Snow Ranger Ed LaChapelle (tiny figure circled in the picture above) pushed off, hoping to start an avalanche safely ahead of him. Instead, it caught him. The snow broke, hissing around him at 25 mph in billows reaching 12 feet, sounding like a vast sigh. LaChapelle was overwhelmed at first (circle, right) but he recovered farther down slope (circle, below). Unhappily, he sprained his ankle when he slipped after getting clear.

TWO PHOTOS

FRED LINDHOLM

RANGER (CIRCLE) STARTS MISSION DOWN SLOPE

PHOTO

FRED LINDHOLM

SURVIVING AVALANCHE, HE RESUMES DESCENT