GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. Debris as hard as concrete tumbled down the Wy east face of Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort during an avalanche Sunday night, but no one was injured and the area was closed off at the time.
Brian Barker saw the aftermath the next morning and snapped photos. He told KGW it looked like the avalanche ran about a mile on mellow terrain and came to rest near the Heather Canyon lift shack.
Slideshow: Photos of avalanche scene
The massive slab broke free around 7 p.m.; a time of the evening when skiers and snowboarders were only allowed on certain runs lit up for night-skiing. Dave Tragethon, marketing director for Mt. Hood Meadows, said the avalanche actually originated outside of the resort boundaries and then tumbled into an area that was closed for the night.
The debris field went down Clark Canyon, he explained. It was discovered during avalanche control work at daybreak.
The ski patrol routinely searches for avalanches and potential avalanche conditions every morning, as a safety precaution. We always have avalanche concerns in a mountain environment. That's why the ski patrol routinely checks the snow, Tragethon said. This just shows what potential is out there.
Barker, who was among those who saw the avalanche zone up close the next morning, said from his vantage point, the debris was as much as 10 to 15-feet deep at the toe.
The ski patrol quickly roped off the high risk area before the lifts opened Monday morning. The debris field is one big 'ole, icy mixture, Tragethon told KGW. It's kind of like iced-over concrete. Not a good skiing surface.
Officials at the Northwest Avalanche Center were reporting Tuesday that avalanche danger on Mt. Hood was still considerable, or at level 3 with 5 being the highest level or extreme danger. Experts at the avalanche center warned that there were some sensitive cornices near higher ridges which could produce a considerable danger on lee slopes above about 5000 to 6000 feet.
The NAC also warned back country travelers to exercise conservative decision-making with increasing elevation and perform stability evaluation before venturing onto steep open slopes near higher ridges that have received recent wind deposited snow.