Independence Pass opens after week delay to clear avalanche debris | AspenTimes.com

Independence Pass opens after week delay to clear avalanche debris

Staff reports
INDY PASS OPENINGS   A look at the opening dates for Independence Pass since its latest opening in 2008:   2019 – May 31 2018 – May 24 2017 – May 25 2016 – May 26 2015 – May 21 2014 – May 22 2013 – May 23 2012 – May 11 (early opening) 2011 – May 26 2010 – May 27 2009 – May 21 2008 – June 5 Source: CDOT

Independence Pass east of Aspen opened a bit early Friday after a week-long delay from its traditional opening.

Independence Pass east of Aspen opened a bit early Friday after a week-long delay from its traditional opening.

Officials with the Colorado Department of Transportation swung open the winter closure gate east of Aspen just after 2 p.m. Friday. They were hoping to get it open by 5:30 p.m. Friday but were able to open a bit earlier.

Each spring, crews try to open Independence Pass on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend. However, with this season’s large snowpack and numerous avalanches on the Pass the opening was delayed for the first time since 2008, when it did not open until June 5.

“We wanted to see the epic snowpack,” Eve Orr, of Aspen, said about her visit to the top of the Pass after it opened Friday.

In 2012 the Pass opened May 11, two weeks ahead of schedule.

“Because of all the remaining snow and avalanche debris motorists are reminded to take it slow, be aware and enjoy the beauty of this scenic highway,” CDOT said on its Facebook page.

“It’s basically another world up here,” said Rob Orr, who accompanied his wife up the Pass on Friday.

The opening was a bit lackluster compared to years past, likely because it opened more than three hours ahead of the announced time.

Usually there is a line of cars waiting at the closure gate (which is about 5 miles east of Aspen) to be the first ones up. However, when the gates opened, there were just CDOT crews and a few others.

One of the avalanches this winter took out about a 100-foot section of guardrail near the 12,095-foot summit, and crews spent the past few days fixing the railing.

VIDEO: We went up Independence Pass for sunset last night. Not too bad.

Posted by The Aspen Times on Saturday, June 1, 2019

Independence Pass will remain open through the summer and traditionally closes for the winter in the first week of November. The earliest it’s been closed and not reopened in the past decade was in 2010 when it closed Oct. 25. It stayed open until Nov. 17 in 2016 and ’17.

Officials with the Colorado Department of Transportation opened the gate east of Aspen just after 2 p.m. Friday. They were hoping to get it open by 5:30 p.m. Friday but were able to open a bit earlier.

Each spring, crews try to open Independence Pass on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend. However, with this season’s large snowpack and numerous avalanches on the Pass the opening was delayed for the first time since 2008, when it did not open until June 5.

In 2012 the Pass opened May 11, two weeks ahead of schedule.

Friday’s opening was a bit lackluster compared to years past, likely because it opened more than three hours ahead of the announced time.

Usually there is a line of cars waiting at the winter closure gate (which is about 5 miles east of Aspen) to be the first ones up. However, when the gates opened, there were just CDOT crews and a few others.

One of the avalanches this winter took out about a 100-foot section of guardrail near the 12,095-foot summit, and crews spent the past few days fixing the railing.

Independence Pass will remain open through the summer and traditionally closes for the winter in the first week of November. The earliest it’s been closed and not reopened in the past decade was in 2010 when it closed Oct. 25. It stayed open until Nov. 17 in 2016 and ’17.


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