Taming the White Dragon

Called a “white dragon,” an avalanche is unexpected, unstoppable, and lethal. A single skier can trigger one, killing hundreds. By unexpected, I mean, utterly. They are impossible to predict.

Until now. This story comes from ABC television. They did a special on two Australians who have developed a sort of avalanche-predicting technology.

After his friend Chris was buried and killed by an avalanche, Roddy MacKenzie made a vow to prevent that from ever happening on his watch again.

Normal resorts dig one avalanche pit (a hole where they can see each of the layers of snow) on a slope to check if it’s stable, but that’s not enough. MacKenzie wondered if there was a way to check the entire slope with digital imaging.

He helped to create a probe that is easy to carry and, once pushed into the snow, can read the layers in seconds. After scanning the entire slope, they can blast away any unsafe portions.

They are sure that this will save lives. I don’t ski or snowboard, but I do hope that it will.

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