SR20Washington Pass on the North Cascades Highway was calm and clear late last week before high winds and heavy snowfall prompted the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to temporarily close the highway on Sunday (Dec. 1). On Tuesday (Dec. 3), WSDOT announced that the highway has been closed for the season, from the Silver Star gate west of Mazama to Granite Creek. WSDOT spokesman Jeff Adamson said that avalanche and maintenance crews checked out the highway Tuesday morning, after about 3 feet of new snow had fallen, and found unstable avalanche zones and several slides. The largest slide, below Liberty Bell Mountain, was 150 feet wide and 12 feet deep. “The determination was made that it wasn’t safe to put a crew there to clean up, much less to let anyone drive under those chutes,” Adamson said. The highway officially closed for the winter on Nov. 20 last year, Adamson said.

Photo by Don Nelson