Working from the Methow Valley side, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews reached the Liberty Bell pathways just past Spire Gulch between milepost 163-164 in their third week of clearing the North Cascades Highway, WSDOT reported.
“There are still a few weeks of clearing and then whatever road repairs are necessary before the North Cascades Highway is open,” Lauren Loebsack, WSDOT communications manager for the North Central Region said in a press release. “There is also some spring snow in the forecast. As always, we will also post updates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.”
Loebsack said her field trip with the clearing crews last week “offered amazing vistas and real insight into the talent and commitment required to clear the pass each spring.” She said crews were “making a full-court press on the avalanche paths east of Washington Pass summit.”
“The pace is steady and methodical,” Loebsack said. “Forecasts and conditions are reviewed. With snow still in the avalanche loading zones, snow conditions are checked in person by the avalanche control team, who also take shifts monitoring the hillside above the crews, watching for any snow slides. While it’s a rare occurrence, that continued risk is why we also advise those recreating behind the closure points to be prepared and check in with the Northwest Avalanche Center for current conditions.”
Clearing the highway began on March 27. Clearing the road for vehicles typically takes six to eight weeks to not only clear the road but also make necessary repairs and ensure that the avalanche chutes at Washington Pass are safe.
The highway was closed to traffic for the season on Nov. 8, 2022, between milepost 134 and 178 (Ross Dam Trailhead to Early Winters gate). In 2022, highway clearing began March 28 and the road opened on May 10.
The clearing crews will be working Monday through Thursday, and WSDOT asks that recreationists wait until the weekend to use the cleared portions of the highway.