Artillery sighting with the Rogers Pass Snow Punchers

It takes soldiers and their Howitzers to keep the rail and highway lines through Rogers Pass open in winter. We caught up with them.

The process is high-speed and efficient. The gunners unhook the Howitzer and set it up on a mount

The process is high-speed and efficient. The gunners unhook the Howitzer and set it up on a mount

PHOTOS FROM SPREAD BELOW: Spend a day watching Parks Canada and the Royal Canadian Artillery perform avalanche control using a C3 105-mm Howitzer at Rogers Pass Historical Site? Yes please. I got the opportunity on Jan. 28, when a Canadian Army rotation from CFB Valcartier, Quebec would be testing a recently refurbished artillery piece. It was the crisp, clear day needed so the gunners could visually check where the shells landed – which was right on target about 2.5 kilometres up the slope. Operation Palaci started in 1961 and is the world’s largest mobile artillery avalanche control program, launching an average of 700 rounds each season at 270 target in 134 avalanche paths, all to keep the Trans-Canada Highway and the CP Rail line operational and safe. 1. Parks Canada’s Jeff Goodrich is the Senior Avalanche Control Officer at Rogers Pass, and works very closely with the Canadian Army on the program. 2. Lieutenant Brendan Alexander loves his job, joining in with the gunners as they hooted approval when thunderous explosions echoed across the valley. He’s pictured here in the Snow Punchers lounge at Rogers Pass. 3. Warrant Officer Jaime Diaz explains the operation of the artillery rounds. The fuse opens up during flight, exploding right on impact for maximum avalanche-starting force. 4. Engraved casings in the Snow Punchers barracks lounge celebrate past tours and athletic events. 5. The process is high-speed and efficient. The gunners unhook the Howitzer and set it up on a mount, then select the coordinates from a precise list. A nearby aiming guide allows for precise targeting in the thickest weather.