HELENA – An expert run at the Great Divide Ski Area near Helena just got a little bit harder, and the resort’s owner thinks a weekend earthquake that happened nearby is to blame.
Owner Kevin Taylor says he thinks the magnitude 3.7 earthquake that shook the area early Sunday might have collapsed an old mining tunnel called a stope. He says the quake was three miles away from the resort and a fault line runs through a nearby ridge.
A ski patroller coming down one of the slopes Monday morning discovered the opening, which stretches about 10 feet across the fall line and 30 to 40 feet downhill. The hole, which is part of the maze of old underground mines, is between 80 and 100 feet deep.
Steve Opp, a reclamation specialist with the state Department of Environmental Quality, told the Independent Record thousands of stopes litter the Montana landscape, and he agreed with Taylor that this one could have been opened by the quake.
Opp says the DEQ will probably fill in the opening this spring. In the meantime, the area has been cordoned off.
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