Heavy snowfall continues to create avalanche conditions on Red Mountain Pass

by Dalton Carver

Last Sunday was a busy one for Colorado Department of Transportation and its avalanche mitigation crews. Red Mountain Pass was weighed down by more snow last weekend, prompting eventual closure of the road for an indefinite period of time. The highway was closed through Wednesday. At press time, there was no time provided for reopening.  
Announcing the closure at 5:40 p.m. Monday, CDOT warned travelers Red Mountain Pass would be closed for an ‘undetermined amount of time’ after a naturally-triggered avalanche on the south side of Red Mountain. Monday’s news release described more than half a mile of snow slabs that were 10 to 30 feet deep in areas. The slide also carried down a significant amount of debris, limbs and trees.
CDOT already had plans for a mitigation closure the morning of March 4, but Sunday’s slide that occurred around 11 p.m. resulted in an indefinite closure to create more time for snow removal, which would require equipment driven in from Montrose.
“Just before midnight, we (made the closure decision) for the safety of anyone traveling the pass in the middle of the night,” said Lisa Schwantes, southwest regional communications manager for CDOT. “Since we knew there was going to be mitigation the next morning anyway, the pass stayed closed.”
The following morning, CDOT also closed the pass south of Silverton. A crew in that area began...

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