Berthoud Pass

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Berthoud Pass
DSCN2519 berthoudpass e 600.jpg
View from the summit of Berthoud Pass
Elevation 11,307 ft (3,446 m)
Traversed by U.S. Highway 40
Location Clear Creek / Grand counties, Colorado,  United States
Range Rocky Mountains
Coordinates 39°47′52″N 105°46′37″W / 39.79778°N 105.77694°W / 39.79778; -105.77694

Berthoud Pass (/ˈbɜrθəd/ BURTH-əd; el. 11,307 ft./3446 m.) is a high mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado in the United States.

The pass is located west of Denver, and provides a high route between upper Clear Creek Canyon to the upper valley of the Fraser River in Middle Park to the north. The pass traverses the continental divide at the Front Range, on the border between Clear Creek County and Grand County.

Vintage photograph of Harry Yount at Berthoud Pass in 1874
Harry Yount at Berthoud Pass in 1874

The pass is named for Edward L. Berthoud, the chief surveyor of the Colorado Central Railroad during the 1870s. Accompanied by Jim Bridger, Berthoud discovered the pass in July 1861 while surveying a possible route for the railroad. Berthoud reported that the pass was suitable as a wagon road, but not as a railroad. The pass has steep grades on either side (6.3%), along with winding switchbacks and many tight spots.

The pass is currently the route of U.S. Highway 40, north of its junction with Interstate 70 in Clear Creek Canyon. It provides the fastest road access to Winter Park and a secondary route to Steamboat Springs from Denver and the Colorado Front Range. However, the pass is one of the most notoriously difficult passes in Colorado for motorists, based on its height as well as the large number of switchbacks on the southern side of the pass.

Berthoud Pass Ski Area[edit]

Berthoud Pass Lodge July 1963

Once home to the now-defunct Berthoud Pass Ski Area, the pass is a destination for local backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers due to its abundance of steep and challenging terrain and plentiful snow averaging 500 inches annually. The twisting road on both sides of the pass also makes "car shuttles" possible, eliminating the need for skiers and snowboarders to hike back to the top of the pass after each run.

The ski resort was closed in 2002 due to financial problems caused by lack of water and sewage at the top of the pass. In 2003 the lifts were taken down, while some people continued to ski using snowcats for lift transportation. In 2005 the Colorado DOT began using a fund to restore the area to its natural state. First on the list was the demolition of the historic lodge.

New building in September of 2013

A new warming hut was opened at the top of the pass in May 2008, along with an expanded parking area, two scenic viewing areas and a new summit marker sign. The ski lodge and facilities had been in use since the early 1950s and the new warming hut includes modern features such as composting toilets, radiant floor heating and green construction.

Berthoud Ski resort is claimed by some to have been the first resort and lift in Colorado. Some say it was the first resort to openly welcome snowboarders.

The summit of Berthoud Pass is located at approximately 39°47′53.70″N 105°46′36.88″W / 39.7982500°N 105.7769111°W / 39.7982500; -105.7769111 [1].

Berthoud Pass current signs

Backpacking and recreation[edit]

Founded in 2003, Friends of Berthoud Pass is a grassroots collective of backcountry enthusiasts committed to preserving the legacy of public recreation at Berthoud Pass. They are a non-profit 501c(3) tax exempt organization managed by a volunteer executive board and supported by a diverse and active member base.

Berthoud Pass is a unique environment, where a major highway crosses the Continental Divide in a topographically and climatically ideal location that lends itself to a lengthy season of challenging deep powder skiing. This combination of elements at Berthoud Pass creates a unique set of circumstances for land managers, and FOBP has played a pivotal role in giving public voice to the policy process.

In its short history Friends of Berthoud Pass has endeavored to fashion a new paradigm in winter recreation on public land. They have successfully mobilized public involvement in lobbying the US Forest Service to incorporate the needs and wishes of winter backcountry users in redevelopment plans and positioned themselves as a key stakeholder in the public policy process.

The Friends of Berthoud Pass avalanche education curriculum has expanded from two classroom sessions in 2004 that reached 100 people, to a 2008 roster of eight classroom lectures educating more than 1,000 individuals in basic avalanche awareness and more than 150 participants in an on-snow practical course.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Berthoud Pass, Colorado (Elevation 11,313ft)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 42
(6)
47
(8)
50
(10)
57
(14)
62
(17)
70
(21)
76
(24)
75
(24)
73
(23)
63
(17)
54
(12)
47
(8)
76
(24)
Average high °F (°C) 21.2
(−6)
24.2
(−4.3)
28.7
(−1.8)
36.2
(2.3)
45.0
(7.2)
54.2
(12.3)
61.9
(16.6)
59.9
(15.5)
53.0
(11.7)
42.4
(5.8)
30.4
(−0.9)
23.2
(−4.9)
40.0
(4.4)
Average low °F (°C) 1.4
(−17)
2.0
(−16.7)
6.2
(−14.3)
13.6
(−10.2)
23.1
(−4.9)
32.0
(0)
39.2
(4)
38.0
(3.3)
31.0
(−0.6)
20.9
(−6.2)
9.8
(−12.3)
3.2
(−16)
18.4
(−7.6)
Record low °F (°C) −33
(−36)
−34
(−37)
−24
(−31)
−12
(−24)
−3
(−19)
11
(−12)
26
(−3)
21
(−6)
4
(−16)
−5
(−21)
−28
(−33)
−30
(−34)
−34
(−37)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.49
(88.6)
2.90
(73.7)
4.11
(104.4)
4.43
(112.5)
3.85
(97.8)
2.23
(56.6)
2.45
(62.2)
2.63
(66.8)
2.05
(52.1)
2.36
(59.9)
3.36
(85.3)
3.63
(92.2)
37.48
(952)
Snowfall inches (cm) 49.8
(126.5)
42.4
(107.7)
57.9
(147.1)
54.6
(138.7)
37.2
(94.5)
11.8
(30)
0
(0)
0.3
(0.8)
8.7
(22.1)
28.0
(71.1)
49.1
(124.7)
51.4
(130.6)
391.2
(993.6)
Source: The Western Regional Climate Center[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  2. ^ "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°47′52″N 105°46′37″W / 39.79778°N 105.77694°W / 39.79778; -105.77694