Friday, June 10, 2011

Colorado Snowpack: Independence Pass

My Colorado snowpack tour concluded on Friday with a half day tour from Independence Pass east of Aspen.  I've never started a tour so high before.  I was sucking wind right from the get go.

In terms of avalanche hazard, the road through Independence Pass is one of the most dangerous in the country.  Here you can see a couple of major slide paths that intersect the highway east of the pass, but there are more around the corner in the distance, and the route west to Aspen is bisected by many large slide paths.  It's a scary place.  

The snowcover here is more extensive than it was around Berthoud Pass, in part because of the extensive high topography.

As was the case throughout Colorado, there's plenty of dust in the snowpack, which is unfortunate as it leads to a more rapid snowmelt and earlier loss of loss of snow coverage.

Nevertheless, there were some good turns to be had.

And, on the drive home, some impressive snowbanks.  This is a year that will be remembered for a long time.

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