Operation to open Ute Trial on Aspen Mountain begins
The helicopter buzzing around Aspen Mountain on Tuesday morning was related to Pitkin County’s efforts to remove a precariously perched rock atop Ute Mountain.
The helicopter ferried equipment, including fencing, rock-splitting equipment, compressors and generators, to Ute Rock, which split apart in a lightning strike during a thunderstorm this fall, county engineer G.R. Fielding said in an email.
The county decided to get rid of the remaining piece of Ute Rock rather than run the risk of it tumbling down the steep slope, which also features the popular Ute Trail, and hitting people, homes or infrastructure. The project is costing the county, which owns the mining claim where the rock is located, $124,000.
The city, which administers the Ute Trailhead, closed the trail for safety reasons soon after the rock split in September and sent large boulders tumbling down to the street below. It remains closed.
The helicopter began transporting the equipment about 8:30 a.m. from a spot east of Aspen near the Northstar Nature Preserve, Fielding said. Traffic on Highway 82 near that spot faced minor delays when the helicopter picked up the equipment, he said.
Crews are scheduled to begin installing rockfall fences today below Ute Rock. After that, crews above will break Ute Rock into “something manageable” and move it farther up the slope to secure areas, including abandoned mine shafts, Fielding has said.
The project is expected to take about 10 days, he said.
Ute Rock is located at the top of Ute Trail on Ute Mountain, which is the easternmost peak on Aspen Mountain.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Those of you who were not alive in the 1950s may be connected to toy trains through Thomas the Tank Engine. Thomas revived train toy sales that had rapidly declined beginning in the 1960s. The…