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Massive avalanche on Berthoud Pass Hwy 40 towards Winter Park

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Just hearing about it on MSNBC now. CDOT says the highway closed. The newsreader is saying CO officials are calling it the largest slide they've ever seen there. They've rescued 6 people, many cars are buried, and some cars were pushed over the edge.

Clueless NBC Weather Plus "weatherbabe" who keeps giving the weather for Copper Mountain and Georgetown when asked what the conditions are on Berthoud pass.

Thoughts and prayers for anyone who was heading up to Winter Park or elsewhere through the pass today. Still very sketchy news.
post #2 of 29
Saw that on CNN - wtf?!?!?!
post #3 of 29
The power of nature!
post #4 of 29
they're saying it was 15 feet deep 100 feet wide. Not very wide, but deep for sure. Hoping everyone is OK
post #5 of 29
No on the ground details yet... just lots of guessing...
Here's hoping everybody is ok!
post #6 of 29
Oh gosh. I just called my brother and asked if he was on his way to Winter Park and he said "we're already here". Thankfully they went up yesterday. He knew nothing about the slide but when he looked out he said it was looking fairly sparse.

The only info I could find was on CNN.com. He said it's a pretty notorious area there at the STanley slide.

I hope everyone is okay.
post #7 of 29
Bears in CO. please check in and check on each other.

Mark, Lisa and everyone please be safe!!!!

post #8 of 29
9news.com has limited information on it.
I hope everybody is ok!!!
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
I'm fine - I'm at home with a busted shoulder watching the clueless newsdroids. Lisa is over in Frisco at a cross-country ski event doing on-snow exercise demos. So we weren't anywhere near it.

Hope everyone is ok who was heading up that way.

I've gotta rant about the clueless newspeople. I already mentioned the idiot weatherbabe (using that sexist term deliberatly because she lived up to the stereotype) who kept giving the Copper weather. They also kept cutting to stock footage of a Summit County ambulance, nowhere near it!

Then MSNBC newsdroid Contessa Brewer interviewed an actual avalanche expert. He said "We're not sure if this was a natural avalanche, or if it might have been caused by a skier." She then goes "you mean someone was skiing out of bounds?" and he responds, "No, it's not out of bounds, it's backcountry in the National Forest - it's just like going for a hike there, it's public land." She asks with a stunned-deer-headlights look "you mean people are allowed to do that?" and upon hearing his "of course" she stops, and just says "Wow."

Also the blame game is starting. Various talking heads are saying things like "now the question is how was this allowed to happen. How did they miss this section when they've already admitted that last Tuesday they actually set off an explosive charge to cause a controlled avalanche." (as if this was the first time these news idiots ever heard of this).

It's called NATURE you idiots. Stuff happens. There isn't always somebody to blame/sue.
post #10 of 29
Latest report says 2 cars pushed off, 6 people okay, 1 injured.

Went up to A-Basin with a friend this morning. Left at 6:30, usually early enough to avoid all traffic, but it was bumper-to-bumper all the way through. It was crazy. Roads were actually in pretty decent condition, except around Georgetown -- anyone driving by there, be very careful. Lots of blowing/drifting snow coming across from the lake and VERY icy slick spots. Saw lots of cars spun out. Helped dig out one car near the Loveland on-ramp on the way back.

Scary thing is, WP was in our plans, but we decided to hit up the Basin on the drive up.
post #11 of 29
OMG! They just interviewed some woman on CNN from Georgia who actually said

"there was no warning or anything about the avalanche from Denver. They never told us that this could happen." : (isnt' there some sort of head banging out of frustration guy?).

I guess she assumes they are something like thunderstorms?

Then she went on to rant about what a dangerous road 40 is. : Yes, I'm aware that there is always a chance of something like this but I believe they do everything in their power to avoid this. I'm assuming Colorado doesn't want to be known for burying their tourists and residents in 20 feet of snow. :
post #12 of 29
The photos are coming in and it looks VERY exaggerated in size from the initial report. I expected something like when Buffalo last slid. It ran for over a mile.
post #13 of 29
Not to Hijack,
Faisasy, How was the Basin? Had to work a 1/2 day today, but will see everybody in the am. Might even get the White flu on Monday & do Copper with everybody!
post #14 of 29
Originally Posted by Mr. Vertical View Post
Not to Hijack,
Faisasy, How was the Basin?
Basin was BRUTALLY cold and the wind was picking up. We stuck to the West Wall and surrounding areas (in the sun!) -- great cut-up powder, with only a few hard bumps underneath here and there. Trees had good soft snow too.
post #15 of 29
Great! Will bring extra, for warmth. See you in the AM!
post #16 of 29
Picture from CNN:
post #17 of 29
Gee, that doesn't look too bad. News reports here were sketchy. It sounds like a few cars got swept off the highway, but no one was hurt seriously. The news was, however, calling it a "massive" avalanche.

Any idea how long is US 40 going to be closed for? Are people going to have to drive through Granby & Kremmling to get home from WP? Looking forward to updates.
post #18 of 29
I think Berthoud Pass is open again, at least that is what the person on the radio said during the four hour drive back from Copper today.
post #19 of 29
Berthoud Pass is already open. And the news was calling it a massive avalanche because it was a massive avalanche, regardless of the fact that no lives were lost. It was 100 feet wide and 15 feet deep -- that's big.
post #20 of 29
Where was it at, at the top of the pass by the old ski area or further down. That photo looks like further down, but that might just be the angle?
post #21 of 29
The Fox News Report is worth watching. Faisasy is absolutely right that is a big deadly slide. Notice the size of the trees it took out before it even reached the road. That was not a common occurrence, and being swept off the road and buried in that area has serious potential consequences. Luck was on our side only two vehicles were affected on a weekend.
post #22 of 29
Originally Posted by faisasy View Post
And the news was calling it a massive avalanche because it was a massive avalanche, regardless of the fact that no lives were lost. It was 100 feet wide and 15 feet deep -- that's big.
I guess everyone's definition of "massive" is different but I wouldn't consider a 100' x 15' debris depth "massive".

This one:


was 900 feet wide and covered a road 20' deep for 500 feet wide.

And that isn't even remotely close to the scale of the 20-year path on Buffalo which ran for about a mile in 2003 and was about 1500 feet wide.

post #23 of 29
a little perspective folks: Berthoud was closed at least 3 times last year due to slides; this is a high-mountain state, slides happen frequently on the high passes.
post #24 of 29
Officially this is what was reported today by CAIC: A 3 to 5 foot criwn and 2200 vertical foot run is pretty impressive. As indicated, it is large but not maximum. This was a potentially deadly slide, and I don't really understand the point of the posts that trivialize it. There are slides every year in Berthoud, but we don't often see one this size release naturally and run across the road. The preferred circumstance is road closure, avy control operations, road cleanup and reopening. This is quite a wake-up call that hazardous conditions exist on the front range.

Originally Posted by CAIC
A large natural avalanche occurred between 10:00 and 10:30 am on January 6. It slid in the Stanley slide path, a southeast facing slope southwest of Berthoud Pass. Two cars were caught and pushed off the road. There were 8 occupants. Only one person was hospitalized, with what the news media reported as a broken rib. Forecasters on site said it ran to the road in all three gullies, with two adjacent debris piles and one separated. The debris piles on the road were 100-150 feet wide, and 3 to 7 feet deep, with a maximum depth of 18 feet. The crown was 4 to 5 feet deep, and the avalanche ran a little over 2200 vertical feet. The classification is HS-N-R4D4, meaning hard slab, natural, large (but not maximum) relative to the path, capable of destroying a large truck or building. This was the largest avalanche in the past 3 winters, but was not the largest the slide path could produce. In February 1986, a larger avalanche ran approximately 2500 and crossed the lower road. In December 1987, an avalanche in the Stanley path hit one car and pushed it off the road.
post #25 of 29
It was a huge slide. Don't have any doubts about it. If those people were not inside a car they would be dead. THat path crosses the highway twice. In this case it only went across the upper part and not to the valley floor. If that had of happened, it would have been classified as "massive".

I was on the pass yesterday riding in the backcountry. We were in the current creek drainage, I was assembling my splitboard and heard the avalanche rip. Not an uncommon occurence up there after storm, especially with the amount of wind transport going that day. Those were the two main reasons we decided to stay below treeline for the day.

It sounds like an explosion when a slide of that size rips. I figured it was a slide maybe in No Name or Winterpark was blasting the cirque. About 30-40 minutes later my cell phone starting ringing off the hook. That's when we knew an avalanche had ripped at Berthoud. Of course I was expecting a skier/boarder accident, didn't expect the road to be closed.

If we hadn't of picked up a solo skier to tour with us parked at Current Creek it would have been a long skin back to the top of the pass. We had started from the summit and were making our way North as the day went on. There was zero uphill traffic after the slide. Really quite strange to see the pass with no traffic on a Saturday.

The long way around and 6 1/2 hours later I got home. I obviously bagged going out today after that epic.

CDOT really did blow it on this one. Berthoud had gotten a good shot of snow in the last 24hrs and the amount of wind transport above treeline was obvious. Feet of snow was getting moved. We were surprised on the way up that they hadn't blasted that path in the early AM. I give those guys credit, they do a great job and my hat is off to them. Still, a bit of a cover up going on. This much I am pretty sure of. The next time the pass gets 4" they'll blast that slide path until they see dirt.
post #26 of 29
One of my friends was heading upto WP and missed it by 3 mins.. Snooze functon saves lives too I guess. He said it looked pretty big and he helped with the rescuers and headed out to Loveland..
post #27 of 29
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
Still, a bit of a cover up going on.
Cover-up? Interestingly, I helped perform a live rescue a few years back that used to be on the CAIC site but has now been removed. Not sure why except that the two buried victims were part of a CMC class and I believe that CMC is a big supporter of CAIC. Not making accusations. Just stating facts...
post #28 of 29

Skiing at Winter park

I was skiing at Winter Park on that powder Saturday, when the slide went. Fortunately for the die hard locals who head to Winter Park most of us had passed through the pass at 7-8 not 10:30. The slide chutes where the avalanche let go are some of the earliest paths on the road up just outside of the town Berthoud Falls.

I think everyone forgets that it was incredibly windy even closing the above treeline lifts on the Mary Jane side. So most of the windloading that triggered this slide occurred that morning. So even though CDOT had blasted earlier, this was a new problem. Luckily no one was hurt but forced me to stay over instead of drive back.
post #29 of 29
CDOT had blasted the Tuesday before the slide. No matter how you read it that is not just blasted.

There was a fair amount of new snow received on the pass and the amount of snow being wind transported was obvious.

If they had of blasted that morning, I wouldn't have been so critical.

I am sure someone got their arse chewed pretty dang good behind the scenes.
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