Mountain News 

Three Mammoth patrollers die in volcanic vent

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. — Three Mammoth ski patrollers were likely asphyxiated by gas spewing from the volcanic vent around which they were erecting a fence.

The Associated Press explains that the patrollers were high on 11,053-foot Mammoth Mountain, at a vent called a "stink hole," because of its rotten-egg smell. The vent was surrounded by a plastic net fence to keep skiers away, but the latest of storms that have dropped a record 52 feet of snow on Mammoth this winter had all but buried the fence.

The ski patrollers had gone there to reposition the fence 50 feet upslope of the vent. The snow collapsed, two patrollers dropped into the vent and, although conversant upon landing, fell silent within a minute or two. The third patroller, carrying oxygen that had been brought to the scene, then attempted to rescue them, but was similarly overcome.

Yet a fourth ski patroller, who was wearing an oxygen mask, then went into the vent, but also fell unconscious. A fifth patroller then held his breath, jumped into the vent, and hooked a rope to the fourth patroller, and they were both pulled out.

The dead were identified as John "Scott" McAndrews, 37, a one-year veteran; James Juarez, 35, a five-year veteran; and Charles Walter Rosenthal, 58, a university researcher and snow expert who had been with the patrol 34 years.

Rosenthal went in first to try to get the others "without regard for his life, probably knowing more than the others about the dangers," said Rusty Gregory, chief executive officer of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.

Banff ups hotel tax

BANFF, Alberta — Banff hoteliers have approved an increased bed tax of 2 per cent, and provincial officials in Alberta are also chipping in money for an expanded marketing campaign. Marketing will be devoted to the rapidly growing population in Calgary, but also in the bordering provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Also to be targeted are New Yorkers, as there are now direct flights to Calgary, notes the Banff Crag & Canyon. Following the United States, the United Kingdom is the biggest foreign market, followed by Japan, Australia and – soon – Mexico.

Jackson Hole tram makes last trip

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — With AC/DC’s song "It’s a Long Way to the Top" blaring on the loudspeaker, the tart smell of marijuana in the air, and beers and a bottle of whisky passing around, the last tram car open to the general public went up Jackson Hole’s major ski mountain on the final Sunday in March.

Aboard the car were former Olympian and Jackson Hole ski school founder Pepi Steigler, who had been on hand when the tram debuted in 1966, as well as various other long-timers.

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