Castle Creek Road near Aspen open again after early-morning avalanche

Staff reports
A look at the avalanche that broke off Highlands Ridge as seen Saturday from the Sundeck atop Aspen Mountain.
Carolyn Sackariason / The Aspen Times

Castle Creek Road outside of Aspen re-opened about 8 p.m. Saturday after crews did avalanche mitigation from a helicopter to work on the slide area that came down early Saturday morning.

Crews dropped 10 charges from a helicopter in the afternoon, and no other avalanches were triggered. The road was cleared and opened in the evening.

One residences was damaged by the initial avalanche, but no one was home at the time, according to Pitkin County officials. The extent of the damage is unknown.

A crew from Holy Cross Energy discovered the slide just after 5 a.m., and it crossed the two-lane road about 4 miles up from the roundabout.

Power is expected to be out or limited into Sunday for the approximately 40 homes in the area above the slide.

“Though potentially inconvenient, long-term safety is crucial and is best managed by dealing with the heavy snow loads that are currently poised on the steep slopes adjacent to the valley,” Pitkin County officials said in an update Saturday afternoon.

“The Pitkin County IMT is working closely with (Colorado Avalanche Information Center) to mitigate the risks to the public,” officials said Saturday. “There are greater than 40 residences affected by the closure. Telephone and power service has been interrupted to some of these.”

There were no reports of injuries from the slide.

Road closure on Castle Creek Road due to an avalanche at mile marker 4 on Saturday morning. Mountain Rescue Aspen team members gear up to head into the field to insure safety precautions during clearing. (Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times)

The road leads to Ashcroft, which is about 10 miles up from the roundabout.

According to Pitkin County Deputy and Public Information Officer Alex Burchetta, the slide was approximately 500 feet long by 12 feet deep and happened between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Burchetta shook his head stating people were attempting to walk across the slide this morning. A second slide was reported last night by Conundrum, he said.

Mountain Rescue Aspen team member, Matt Lanning, sleds past the road closure on Castle Creek Road due to an avalanche at mile marker 4 on Saturday morning. MRA was called in to insure safety during the avalanche clearing process. (Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times)

A small Mountain Rescue team was sent into the field for safety while clearing the slide and a drone was used to document the site of the slide.

The full alert: Pitkin Emergency Alert for the Aspen, Snowmass Village area(s): Castle Creek Road is closed due to an avalanche at mile marker 4. Do NOT attempt to pass over the slide path. Fire/EMS services still intact, although expect a delay in response. Call 911 for emergencies only. Updates to follow. 

Road closure on Castle Creek Road due to an avalanche at mile marker 4 on Saturday morning. (Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times)

This is a developing story that will be updated.