Wyssen Avalanche Towers Protect Alta Ski Area

First Ski Areas in North America


Project: Wyssen Avalanche Towers Protect Alta Ski Area
Place: Alta Ski Area, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Country: USA
Year: 2021/22
Customer: Alta Ski Area
Protected Objects: Ski slopes
Installed systems: - 9x Wyssen Avalanche Towers LS12-5

Initial Situation

Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) and Alta Ski Area have a long history of avalanche mitigation. Utah State Route 210 is threatened by numerous avalanche paths as it weaves its way to Snowbird, the town of Alta, and Alta Ski Area. Today, with the ever-increasing popularity of skiing, there is frequently bumper to bumper traffic during the winter season. Avalanche professionals in LCC have a lot of pressure to keep the road and ski slopes open. The use of artillery for avalanche mitigation in the United States was started by Monty Atwater in Little Cottonwood Canyon in 1949. Since then, avalanche specific technologies have been developed worldwide, and utilized in LCC to perform avalanche mitigation missions. The first Wyssen Avalanche Tower in the United States was installed across the highway from Alta Ski Area by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). Alta Ski Area, UDOT, and Snowbird currently use howitzers to release avalanches. The U.S. military recommends, however, that the avalanche gun program look for new solutions to avalanche equipment and ammunition, the avalanche gun program should look for new search.

Our solution

In 2021, Alta Ski Area installed four Wyssen Avalanche Towers in East Castle to protect groomed ski slopes below. This replaced an avalauncher previously used for avalanche risk mitigation in this terrain. After one season of using the new RACS, Alta ski area proceeded to install five Wyssen Avalanche Towers on Mt Baldy replacing howitzer targets. With plans to install an additional five towers on Mt Baldy, in 2023, Alta Ski Area will no longer require howitzers to mitigate avalanche risk in the ski area. Wyssen Avalanche Towers have proved to be an effective and efficient solution to replacing projectile explosive targets at the ski area. They decrease the time needed for avalanche control which can lead to faster opening of ski slopes.
With the installation of Wyssen Avalanche Towers to mitigate avalanche hazard at the ski area, avalanche mitigation can be conducted remotely, and Alta Ski Area employees can trigger avalanches out of harm’s way.

First Ski Areas in North America

Alta Ski Area, and neighboring Snowbird, were the first ski areas in North America to install Wyssen Avalanche Towers. Due to their effectiveness, Dave Richards, the head of the Alta Avalanche Office, calls them “true avalanche hunters“. This name bears historical significance as it was used to refer to Monty Atwater and his team as the first preventative avalanche mitigation program in the canyon. Wyssen Avalanche Control is proud to provide an innovative next step to Monty Atwater and The Avalanche Hunter’s pioneering work in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

A Project of:

Wyssen USA Inc.

3550 Frontier Ave, Suite A2
Boulder, CO 80301
Tel.: +1 208 891 95 43


Jasper Thompson
Tel. +1 505 699 9912