In District 7, we get plenty of mudslides, falling rocks and debris flows, but avalanches, not so much. In Alpine County, however, the Caltrans avalanche crew at Caples Lake Maintenance Station typically handles 75-100 assignments each season.
What exactly does an avalanche crew do? Working at 8,000 feet, they break up snowpacks before they become unstable and generate avalanches, much like our climbers in District 7 loosen rocks from slopes to prevent them from plummeting on the roadway below. After the snow is dislodged, plows quickly remove it and the highway opens. To break up the snowpacks, they use something called the Gazex Avalanche Control System, which is just as awesome as it sounds. Check it out in the video below.