Update: Mar. 10, 5:15 p.m.
Val Visotzky is the Revelstoke-based Senior Avalanche Technician for the B.C. Ministry of Transportation’s Columbia Avalanche Program. He said they’re categorizing the size of the slide as a 4.5, which is just short of the maximum 5 on a scale based on order of magnitude.
He said the slide started as a dry-slab slide near the ridgeline at the top of Mt. Cartier, running the whole way and eventually turning into a wet avalanche by the time it hit Airport Way.
Witnesses told Ministry of Transportation crews that the wet slide wasn’t moving very quickly by the time it hit the roadway, and they saw no vehicles in the area at the time. Since nobody has been reported missing, transportation ministry officials have made the determination that nobody was caught inside.
It’s covering about 100 metres of roadway, and stopped short of the Columbia River.
Visotzky said that according local accounts, it’s the biggest avalanche on the Greenslide path since 1977, when a larger slide made it all the way to the Columbia River.
Currently, three pieces of heavy equipment are chipping away at the slide. Visotzky estimates the roadway will be open to let traffic through by sometime tomorrow, but a full opening will take longer. Other than logging trucks and scattered industrial and recreational traffic, few used the roadway past that avalanche path in the winter.
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PHOTO: This Ministry of Transportation photo provides an aerial perspective of the Mar. 9 Greenslide avalanche, and judging by the area of dead trees at the toe of the avalanche, the slide path has gone much bigger in the past. That’s the Columbia River at the top of the image. Ministry of Transportation image
ORIGINAL STORY, Mar. 9 at 7 p.m.
A massive avalanche tore down Mt. Cartier’s Greenslide avalanche path early in the afternoon on Sunday, Mar 9, blocking Airport Way just south of Greenslide Road.
The slide crossed the road just about 200 metres south of residences in the area.
At the roadway, the slide was roughly eight metres high, although it was difficult to gain perspective past the wall of muddy, clumped snow.
It stopped several metres away from a yellow road sign warning motorists not to stop due to avalanche risk.
Mt. Cartier is located just south of Revelstoke, and its long, smooth southern slope is famous for producing massive slides every few decades.
Witnesses said the slide ran several hundred metres past the roadway, stopping near the Columbia River. It is difficult to confirm the girth of the slide.
A worker on scene said there was no information anyone had been caught in the slide.
There are only a few homes, farms and other structures south of location where the slide cut off the road.
Transport officials had moved heavy equipment to the scene, but work hadn’t started by Sunday at about 4 p.m. due to avalanche hazard assessment.
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PHOTO: For perspective, compare the yellow sign near the edge of the slide to the photo above. Here, a gathering of onlookers who came to see the huge slide on Sunday afternoon. Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Times Review
PHOTO: The Greenslide avalanche debris field is visible in the background beyond houses in the Greenslide area. Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Times Review
UPDATE: As of noon on Monday, Mar. 10, Ministry of Transportation officials have not yet returned phone calls about the slide, so no new official information is available on the size of the slide, or clean-up plans. Judging from the size of the slide, it’s going to take quite some time.
PHOTO: A souvenir seeker walks back from the edge of the huge Greenslide avalanche that came down in the early afternoon of March 9. This picture was taken about half a kilometre south of Greenslide Road on Airport way, just beyond the end of the asphalt. Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Times Review