Operation Palaci comes to a close

Right to left: MBdr Lefave, Gnr Kostenchuck, Gnr Hammond, Bdr Pashe, Gnr Lacsamana, MBdr Ribeiro, Bdr Pizunski, MWO Lenius, LT Burrell, Cpl Gagnon, Sgt Gingras, MBdr Hilbich, Bdr Delongchamp, Bdr Rockwell, Gnr Timm, Gnr Hall, and Bdr Ferguson.

Right to left: MBdr Lefave, Gnr Kostenchuck, Gnr Hammond, Bdr Pashe, Gnr Lacsamana, MBdr Ribeiro, Bdr Pizunski, MWO Lenius, LT Burrell, Cpl Gagnon, Sgt Gingras, MBdr Hilbich, Bdr Delongchamp, Bdr Rockwell, Gnr Timm, Gnr Hall, and Bdr Ferguson.

Ashley Materi, 3rd Canadian Division Public Affairs ~

Operation Palaci, the combined military and Parks Canada effort to keep Roger’s Pass open during the winter, has come to a close.

This year, members of the 17 Royal Canadian Artillery fired 400 rounds from 16 gun positions that marked 134 different avalanche paths and approximately 270 artillery targets.

“I’m very proud of the troop for the work that they have done,” said Lieutenant Jermaine Burrell, troop commander. “This was a great learning opportunity for junior artillery officers in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.”

The avalanche control program required two rotations of approximately 17 Royal Canadian Artillery members, 12 Parks Canada avalanche forecasters and technicians, and visitor safety staff, two Parks Canada Law Enforcement Officers, and Parks Canada highway staff.

Each day, approximately 3,000 vehicles make the journey through Rogers Pass in B.C., connecting Canadians and visitors to the cold-weather splendours offered in Glacier National Park and beyond. This historic travel corridor through the Columbia Mountains receives, on average, 10 meters (32.5 feet) of snow at tree line each year. Road conditions can quickly become treacherous in inclement weather, and avalanches that reach the Trans-Canada Highway create chokepoints for thousands of vehicles and dozens of freight trains.

In partnership with Parks Canada, military gunners from all over Canada come together during Operation Palaci to conduct avalanche control using C3 105mm Howitzers with meticulously planned artillery strikes. Running annually since 1961, it is the longest-running Canadian Forces operation, domestic or expeditionary, in Canadian history.

“The operation is vital in keeping one of Canada’s main transport and travel arteries opened during the winter months,” says Captain Nelson Bath, the Joint Task Force Pacific officer responsible for overseeing the operation. “The use of howitzers is one of the primary options for avalanche control in Rogers Pass. Due to the extreme nature and location of the trigger points for the avalanche paths, no other system on its own, has been found to function reliably to ensure the safety of the Trans-Canada highway and its travelers.”

Parks Canada would like to thank this year’s troops from the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, who contributed to another successful season of Operation Palaci. Parks Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces have collaborated since 1961 on the world’s largest mobile avalanche control program. This work is vital in keeping the major transportation corridor open through Glacier National Park in winter.”
– Nicholas Irving, Superintendent, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks

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