Independence Pass

Introduction

One of Colorado's spring skiing ultimates...

In spring, usually during Memorial Day weekend or soon after , the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) snowplows open Independence Pass, 20 miles E of Aspen on Colorado State Highway 82.

On top of Blarney Peak directly north of Independence Pass summit, looking south. Glisse options abound in every direction from the Pass.

Opening "82" is cause for celebration among Colorado ski mountaineers, since the pass road provides access to about 200 square miles of beautiful alpine touring terrain, including hearty Grizzly Peak and the sublime reaches of Colorado's highest oberland.

 

Backcountry skiing on Grizzly Peak.
Chuting the Griz.

 

Bear in mind that winter closures of Independence Pass are at low elevation gates on the east and west sides of the pass. The snowcovered road is a popular snowmobile route, but somewhat long for foot access to the routes below. Thus, this is more of a spring and early summer mountaineering area. For road closure status, see the CDOT website.

Pray you don't see this when you head up to Independence Pass for some skiing. But sometimes CDOT closes the road because of rockfall or avalanches, and the spring opening date can be delayed as well. Check CDOT website for closure info.