Lift too close to explosives cache
The High Lift at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) will be off limits a little more often following a safety inspection by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) this week.
On Monday, January 28 the resort was visited by an ATF officer who ordered that the High Lift be shut down under certain circumstances due to its close proximity to an explosives cache used for storing avalanche bombs. According to CBMR general manager Randy Barrett, the officer mandated that any time a certain amount of explosives are present at the cache, which is located on the upper mountain, the lift would have to be shut down. “They regulate explosives permits and licenses, and part of that is storage,” Barrett says. “The determination is that we can only keep X amount of explosives at the cache at any given time.”
Barrett says this isn’t the resort’s first inspection by the ATF – the agency regularly inspects explosives handling at all ski areas once a year.
He says the issue came down to the ATF officer’s interpretation of explosives inhabited space, and in this case a segment of the High Lift’s tower line was interpreted as passing through inhabited space Barrett says. “Really it is an interpretation of how much ammo we can hold on the upper mountain. Now, because of issues with always having to transport things, it limits our ability to get terrain open in a timely manner,” he says.
Barrett says the result is the High Lift will be a little slower to open than usual. “We’re not talking a lot of time, maybe half an hour,” he says of the delay in getting the High Lift open on days where the ski patrol performs routine avalanche work. “We’ll do whatever we can to get the terrain open in a safe manner quickly,” Barrett says.
One side effect, Barrett says, is typically the Ski Patrol has focused on getting the High Lift terrain open before the North Face lift. That may not be the case any more he says, and Ski Patrol may now focus their efforts on getting the North Face open before the High Lift.
Plans are in the works to have the explosives cache moved so the mountain can operate once again as usual. Barrett says the resort met with the Forest Service on Tuesday, January 29. “We identified a new location. The Forest Service is working with us to expedite the proper paperwork and the installation of a new cache,” Barrett says.