The avalance happened a little less than an hour after the gondola opened. The only way to know it was going to happend would have been a 7+ foot pit dug on the slope, which is unreasonable. The latest storm only dropped about a foot.
The crown, as you can see in the pics, is 6 feet tall. A very large avalanche can occur with only a 1-2 foot crown. (the crown is the depth that the snow started sliding at.)
Look at the people in the pics and how tall they are compared to the crown.
Last I heard, there were 3 people injured, none of which went to the hospital. No bodies were found when the avi was probed, and noone was reported missing.
THis is the official press release:
April 17, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
POST-CONTROL SLIDE ON MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CA - At approximately 2pm on Monday, April 17, 2006, a post-control slide occurred at the top of Mammoth Mountain in the area of the expert run named Climax. As of 9pm, there have been no injuries or doctor visits related to this incident and there are currently no missing persons reported. Mammoth Mountain is cautiously optimistic that no one was caught in the slide and the search has been suspended for the night.
A storm dropped 11-12 inches of new snow on Mammoth Mountain overnight. Ski Patrol performed avalanche control in the area Monday morning as the storm cleared. They used explosives, including dynamite hand-charges, followed by a manual technique called ski cutting. The area was open for approximately 1 hour before the incident occurred.
Mammoth Mountain shut down the entire mountain so that all trained Ski Area personnel could respond. Nearly 300 volunteers, rescue personnel, and Mammoth Mountain staff were mobilized to perform a precautionary probe of the area. Mono County Sheriff’s Department, Mono County Search and Rescue, Mono County Paramedics, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, and Mammoth Lakes Fire Department also assisted on the scene. Witness reports vary, but three individuals were partially buried and quickly rescued with no injuries or doctor visits related to the incident reported.
The slide is described as a “soft slab slide” that extended 400-ft across and 650-ft long. Initial reports indicate the crown averaged 3 feet in height.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area will resume operations Tuesday.
and the pics: