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Dynamite winter Record number of avalanche blasts in Switzerland

helicopter setting off avalanche

Slope patrol for ski resort Belalp throwing explosives from an Air Zermatt helicopter

(KEYSTONE/Dominic Steinmann)

This winter has already seen a record number of dynamite-triggered avalanches in the Swiss Alps. The reason is the huge amount of snowfall. 

For safety’s sake, Swiss ski resort and security authorities have set off thousands of avalanches this winter – blowing up 120 metric tonnes of explosives so far, reports Sunday newspaper NZZ am Sonntag. In a normal winter, 80-120 tonnes would be sufficient for the whole season. 

Since last weekend’s intense snowfall – which caused chaos in many Swiss resorts – there have been about 5,000 explosions around the nation to help clear the surplus of the white stuff. 

+ Last week, Zermatt, Andermatt and Davos were snowed in 

As Switzerland’s only dynamite dealer told the newspaper, there have been numerous orders for additional dynamite. 

Typically, helicopters drop the dynamite onto the areas where snow levels are precarious – resulting in morning quiet pierced by occasional booms, as you can hear in this video clip: 

The result looks something like this:

Snow release An avalanche made on purpose

Authorities on the Belalp in canton Valais carried out a controlled explosion to reduce avalanche danger.

NZZ am Sonntag/sm

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