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Avalanche threat stalls Colo. travel

Associated Press
Published January 1, 2008


DENVER - Wind-whipped snow and avalanche danger closed the main highway through the Colorado mountains for most of Monday, stranding thousands of travelers as they headed to New Year's Eve celebrations.

Portions of a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 70 - the main route between Denver and some of the state's biggest ski resorts - were shut down in both directions from around 5 p.m. Sunday until about 4 p.m. Monday.

The long delay had some travelers contemplating the prospect of welcoming the new year on a cot in a shelter.

In the meantime, the champagne had to wait.

"I've got some in the car, but it's probably frozen by now," said Ken Simons of Grand Junction. He and his wife were trying to get to Denver for New Year's when the closing of the highway forced them and more than 2,000 others to spend Sunday night in shelters.

With no definite word on when they could hit the road again, some faced the prospect of welcoming 2008 on a cot in a school gymnasium.

High winds piled deep snow into more than two dozen narrow ravines in the mountainsides - known as avalanche chutes - raising the danger of deadly avalanches cascading onto I-70. Blowing snow reduced visibility to nearly zero.

In Utah, an avalanche at a trailhead Monday swept away a snowmobiler, authorities said. The man was rushed to a hospital in Provo, said Kim Butler, a Wasatch County sheriff's officer. His condition was not immediately available.

[Last modified December 31, 2007, 23:59:48]

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