What is a Gazex?
So what are those funny pipes that stick out of the mountain?
The term Gazex or Gaz-Ex is often heard around La Tania due to the main 3 off piste couloir type runs down from the Dou Des Lanches 4-man chair on Col de la Loze know locally as Gazex 1, 2 and 3. These runs were named by long standing La Tania locals Darlo Nic, Kiwi Billy and Little Mark.
There were originally only 3 of these avalanche control systems above La Tania, but now there are many more throughout La Tania and right across the Three Valleys.
A Gazex Pipe in Courchevel
They are the large, downward facing pipes that are frequently seen on ridges and couloirs above easily accessible slopes and pistes.
The Gazex pipe is principally an expansion chamber that directs the hot gases to the zone at risk in order to set off controlled avalanches.
The actual technology consists of a propane and oxygen tank located at a distance from the Gazex tube. The gases are piped to an expansion chamber located at the base of the tube, mixed and ignited.
The actual detonation is done via remote control from a very safe distance.
Thanks to David George at the excellent off piste information site www.pistehors.com
Billy Manson with a Gazex in the background near Dou Des Lanches above La Tania
A Gazex unit in place to prevent a build up of dangerous snow above a piste in Courchevel