Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Berthoud avalanche had silver lining

WINTER PARK, Colo. (MTN)—The avalanche that blocked Highway 40 on the east side of Berthoud Pass on Jan. 6 had a silver lining. Businesses in Winter Park tell the Manifest that they had an unusually good day of commerce. Too, some think the publicity will help Winter Park in coming months. If not entirely accurately, the news reports repeatedly identified Winter Park as the closest resort to Denver.

For people trying to catch planes—the avalanche occurred mid-way through a Saturday morning, turnover day at ski resorts—the avalanche was a costly nuisance. The drive from Winter Park to the Denver airport, normally two hours, was more than doubled, probably more for drivers unfamiliar with the winding, circuitous route through Kremmling and Silverthorne. The ski area operator estimated a 10 percent drop in business.

The avalanche of the Stanley Slide caught eight people, knocking two cars off the highway. Nobody was seriously hurt, however. Avalanche experts estimate the winds that day had loaded the avalanche path within an hour. Snow in the slide path is routinely set off by highway crews using a howitzer.

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