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Mountain News: Glacier's collapse probed in Jasper



JASPER, Alberta — Last August, 70 per cent of a glacier that had clung to a mountainside in Jasper National Park collapsed. The ice from the Ghost Glacier thundered into the glacial pool at the base of Mount Edith Cavell, creating an air blast and a wave that destroyed the parking lot, picnic area and a hiking path.

Martin Sharp, a glaciologist at the University of Alberta, told the Jasper Fitzhugh that ice avalanches such as occurred last year are neither common nor rare. In the Alps, such collapses happen enough that glaciers are monitored, in an effort to predict dangers to nearby populated areas.

"The speed of a glacier will often accelerate over a period of several weeks before a collapse takes place," he said. "So if you're monitoring the speed on an ongoing basis, you can build that into public safety planning, and that certainly does happen in places in the Alps where they know there is a real damage potential for property."

Apparently, nobody was hurt when the glacier in Jasper fell from the mountainside.

Zip line at Breck to be 274 metres up

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — The operator of the Breckenridge ski area expects the new on-mountain summer amusements, including a zip line that will take customers 274 metres above ground, to significantly spike business.

The Summit Daily News reports that Vail Resorts, the owner of the ski area, expects the new summer program could draw 150,000 new visitors, almost double the current number of visitors.

"This program is designed to be more than you can do in a day," said Blaise Carrig, president of Vail Resorts' Mountain Division.

He told the Summit Daily News that the activities collectively constitute a program, and the program will be of such broad scope that people can spend several days engaged.

According to the proposal submitted to the U.S. Forest Service, administered on the land on which the ski area has operations, the Epic Discovery program will include:

• an additional 22.5km of mountain biking trails;

• a lookout tower platform;

• a challenge course for all abilities, including rope courses, bridges and zip lines. One of the zip lines is expected to have a high point of 274 metres above the ground. The zippers can attain speeds of 72kph;

• a climbing wall, modelled on an iconic rock face elsewhere in Colorado;

• Canopy tours for those who want to glimpse the forest from above.

Storylines will weave through the new on-mountain attractions, telling the story of Breckenridge, the town at the base, as well as presenting environmental information.

"We have a unique opportunity in Breckenridge to not only tell the environmental story, but integrate that with the cultural history and heritage of the town," said Pat Campbell, chief operating officer at Breckenridge Ski Resort.