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High winds can create issues for ski resorts

By Jacqueline Gedeon, KTVM Butte Reporter, jgedeon@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 10 2014 05:15:09 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 10 2014 06:01:32 PM MST
BUTTE, Mont. -

High winds can knock down power lines, create whiteout conditions with blowing snow and rock lift chairs. That can create real problems for ski resorts.

The Discovery Ski Area president told us wind really isn't a problem at this resort because it's protected by mountains on both sides.

"I know there's a lot of other ski areas that are more exposed on certain ridges and they get some really high winds," said Ciche Pitcher. "We're fortunate in that respect."

But just because Pitcher hardly sees high gusts of winds, doesn't mean the resort isn't prepared for them.

"We're all ready in that situation and confident we won't have any interruptions in service," said Pitcher.

He said what they worry about most is the wind knocking out power.  That's why Discovery has a backup system.

"And we're really tuning that up today, making sure everything's ready to go," Pitcher said.

Ski patrollers are also trained to look for signs that wind might be creating dangerous conditions on the lifts.

"The first thing we would look for is chairs that are catching a lot of wind and being pulled so they would come off one of the towers," Pitcher told us.

Skier Tyler Baumberger came over from Bozeman to ski Discovery. He said the wind has never deterred him from hitting the slopes.

"I ski at Bridger Bowl quite often and the ridge-top winds can get gusty, up to 50-60 miles an hour," Baumberger said.

He told us the only thing that bothers him on a windy day is the cold.

"When its 10-15 degrees, wind chills can be in the negatives," Baumberger explained.

Pitcher told us in all his years of working at Discovery, he has never had any wind issues.

"It's something I think everyone, not just Discovery but everyone in the ski business, is really well versed to handle wind situations."