TELLURIDE--The thunderous blast from a World War II-era howitzer vibrates across the valley below this ski area's iconic Palmyra Peak.
Three seconds later, as the sun illuminates Palmyra's serrated turrets, a plume of black smoke belches from the middle of a steep snowfield. A billowing wash of snow engulfs the peak's nearly sheer "Nice Chute."
"Nice shot!" says Craig Sterbenz, Telluride ski area's director of snow safety, as ear-muffled ski patrollers slap high-fives behind their refurbished Army green cannon.