May 29 PM Update
Inside source says the official opening of Independence Pass is now June 5th, 1:00 PM. Source also says they’ll be grinding some of the road for new pave, so bicycle riders may not exactly enjoy that situation.
(original post below)
Well, time to blog some bad news. Reports are coming in that they’ve still got miles of road to open before they’ll ungate Independence Pass, the road connecting Aspen with points east and providing access to a vast region of high altitude backcountry skiing. Thus, the road is not opening as anticipated for this Friday. We’ve heard estimates of everything from several more days to a week, with newspaper reports saying it’ll open the weekend after next.
|The promised land. You can go up there if you drive a catering truck. Otherwise, be gone you pesky public.|
Sadly, the situation has some unfortunate wrinkles that chap my hide. For starters, bicycle riders are reporting that a film company and associated support vehicles are being allowed to use the plowed portion of the road — while regular folk like us are shut out. More, even though they’ve got a gate up at Lincoln Creek, they’ll continue to close the road by shutting the lower gate, thus blocking us from a slew of excellent skiing that could be had from the upper gate. Also, what’s the deal with allowing bicycles and not cars? That is incredibly elitist and discriminatory. If the road is closed, I say close it to everyone.
By all accounts it was a circus up there today. A CDOT vehicle was turned on its side off the road, being recovered. Adding chaos, a catering truck was motoring up and down the pave tempting bicycle riders with smoked barbecue aromas. All the while a State Trooper was spending hours guarding the gate so regular folks like us wouldn’t think we could go up there and enjoy ourselves.
What a joke. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble laughing.
There are alternatives (though they pale in comparison to alpine access provided by the Inde Pass road). The folks who plow the Fryingpan Arkansas water roads (out of Basalt, Colorado) got their snow removal done weeks ago up the Fryingpan, and they don’t bother with gates (perhaps CDOT needs to hire them). So that’s an option, along with the Castle Creek road out of Aspen. Marble area is still yielding skiing as well, and farther afield from our home base, a few hours of driving takes us to the San Juans, Vail Pass, or Loveland Pass.
So we shall see what the weekend brings.
|Photo Ryan sent in that he got from CDOT, thanks Ryan! This is above the upper hairpin on the Western Slope side, Linkins Peak in background. Looks to me like they need to stop piddling around and hire some of those miners from the San Juans to clear our roads. But then, I think the issue is that they can’t use big machinery or it’ll wreck the pavement. To that I say take it back to dirt like the old days. Or just do staggered gates so we can use the road our tax money paid to be cleared!|
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.