Mountain News: New technology for slides and highways 

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EMPIRE, Colo. — Enough of this World War I-style shelling of snow-laden slopes to bring down avalanches. The Colorado Department of Transportation wants to test a new system of triggering avalanches above highways already used in Europe plus three U.S. states.

C-DOT proposes to test a system called Gazes, which ignites propane and oxygen at the bottom of a galvanized 12-foot steel tube. The explosion is remotely detonated, creating a shockwave and initiating an avalanche.

The test site for this technology would be the Stanley Slide, which originates on the eponymously named peak along the Continental Divide above Berthoud Pass, about 72 kilometres west of Denver. The path slides during most winters, endangering cars and trucks on Highway 40, which goes to Winter Park and other destinations.

To reduce the risk, state crews since World War II have used artillery, firing shells into the start zones of the path. This same technique is also used on Loveland, McClure and many other passes in Colorado. Shells don't always detonate, however, even if they do, debris remains.

The new technology could be set off remotely — assuming traffic had been stopped and backcountry travellers warned, notes the Sky-Hi Daily News. State highway officials say they believe the technology could result in more, smaller avalanches and fewer avalanches that reach the road, blocking traffic.

Support lacking for secessionist vote

HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS, Colo. — The secessionist movement that has some rural counties of Colorado talking about forming a 51st state seems to be lacking a groundswell of support in Grand County.

Located at the headwaters of the Colorado River, the county includes Winter Park and Grand Lake and several other ranching-dominated towns. Some residents are aggrieved that they are forced to share representation in the Colorado State Senate with Boulder County. If physically proximate, the two counties are separated by the giant wall of the Continental Divide. Further, they tend to be polar opposites in political philosophies.

However, county commissioners failed to hear a "groundswell" of discontent at a recent meeting. Failing further evidence in that regard, the commissioners will likely let the matter drop, reports the Sky-Hi Daily News.

Folk Festival diverts 94 per cent of landfill waste

CANMORE, Alberta — Since 2008, the Canmore Folk Music Festival has aimed to divert more than 80 per cent of waste from the landfill. This year's festival reached a new benchmark, hitting 94 per cent diversion.

Eliminating bottled water sales helped, organizers of the Toward Zero Waste Initiative say, as did the active efforts of the 52 volunteers. They also tell the Rocky Mountain Outlook that working with vendors was crucial to hitting the higher mark, as food vendors are eliminating throwaway packaging.

A birthday leap into thin air

WHITEFISH, Mont. — Age doesn't matter, says Giselle "Jessie" Harring, a retired microbiologist who has hardly retired from adventurous pursuits. Five years ago, she began leaping from airplanes at 6,100 metres to celebrate her birthday.

This year, she continued that tradition in the company of her two grandsons. She's 90.

Harring was in a 2,400-metre freefall for nearly a minute before the parachute was deployed. She described that first minute as a "bit hairy." After that, "It's just beautiful. It's heaven."

"I'm 90. So what?" she told the Whitefish Pilot.


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