Avalanches close Loveland Pass | VailDaily.com

Avalanches close Loveland Pass

Julie Sutor
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – Two avalanches occurred Monday along U.S. Highway 6 between Keystone and the top of Loveland Pass. One buried the highway’s west-bound lane under six feet of snow, resulting in a road closure that lasted at least until Tuesday morning. No one was caught in either slide.

The first avalanche occurred Monday morning in the second Steep Gully, just west of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. A-Basin Ski Patrol determined the medium-sized slide was probably triggered by a skier, but inspection of the slide area indicated that no one required rescuing.

“There are a lot of people out there who feel they’ve done something wrong by triggering an avalanche,” said Tim Finnigan, A-Basin mountain operations director. “If someone triggers a slide, we love to hear about it so we don’t mount a rescue just to look for nothing. We’re not going to second-guess anybody, we’re not going to reprimand anybody, and we’re not going to take away anybody’s pass. We just want to know everybody’s OK.”

The second avalanche in the Loveland Pass area occurred at about 3:30 p.m., between A-Basin and the summit of the pass. Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) crews closed the road in both directions all night between Loveland Basin and A-Basin ski areas in order to clear the west-bound lane of snow, assess remaining avalanche danger and conduct avalanche control work.

“It’s too late in the day,” CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson said late Monday afternoon. “We need lots of light to do that kind of work.”

CDOT said the second slide was not human-triggered.

Finnigan said that recent snowfall and rapid warming have made an already-unstable snowpack in Summit County even more tricky.

“We have a wide range of snowpack conditions across all aspects. There are a lot of hidden secrets in the backcountry right now,” Finnigan said.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.

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