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High avalanche risk and snow slides close Chinook and Cayuse passes for the year

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Date: November 13, 2012
Contact: Summer Derrey, WASDOT Communications, 509-577-1943 (Yakima/Chinook)
Contact: Kris Olsen, WSDOT Communications , 206-440-4475 (Shoreline/Cayuse))
Contact: Donna Rahier, Mount Rainier National Park, 360-569-6501 (Ashford)

CHINOOK PASS - Crews closed Chinook (SR 410) and Cayuse (SR 123) passes early Monday morning due to multiple snow slides. After further inspection, the passes will remain closed for the season. 

"It's difficult for crews to maintain those routes and manage avalanche control through wet and unstable conditions like this," said Les Turnley, WSDOT maintenance supervisor. 

Approximately 20 inches of snow fell on the passes Monday, Nov. 12. There is a small break in the weather this week and the next major storm is forecast for Friday.

Each year WSDOT closes Chinook and Cayuse passes, usually in November, for the winter due to high avalanche risk and hazardous driving conditions. The combination of avalanche danger, mountainous terrain, lack of cell phone service, inclement weather and relatively few vehicles on the roads make driving these passes in the winter potentially hazardous. 

Chinook Pass (elevation 5,430 feet) is closed from Morse Creek (five miles east of the summit) to Crystal Mountain Boulevard (eight miles northwest of the summit). 

Access to the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort on eastbound SR 410 remains open.

Cayuse Pass (SR 123) is closed within Mount Rainier National Park from the 4,675-foot Cayuse Pass summit to Stevens Canyon Road. 

WSDOT offers a number of ways to get travel information:

  • View the Chinook Pass web page.
  • View the Cayuse Pass web page.
  • Download WSDOT's free smartphone app to check statewide pass conditions.
  • Tune into the Highway Advisory Radio at 1610 AM and 530 AM.
  • Call 511 using a hands-free device.
  • Refresh your memory on winter driving.
  • WSDOT photos (including photos of snow slides on Chinook Pass) available on flickr.

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Did You Know?

Floyd Schmoe, Mount Rainier's first full-time Park Naturalist.

Floyd Schmoe was Mount Rainier's first full-time Park Naturalist. In 1923, he launched the park's "Nature Notes", a series of writings on various park-related topics. There are hundreds of editions of the notes in the park's collection, all of which are accessible through the Mount Rainier History & Culture webpage: More...