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Old 09-01-2009, 11:38 PM
 
Location: Bend Or.
1,126 posts, read 2,443,404 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
It can be extremely dangerous or totally benign with dry roads. Often times there can be weeks with little snowfall and then other periods of time where snow falls regularly.

Most storms don't last too long usually, so if you have a whiteout in the mountains on I-70 in most cases by mid day the next day, the sun comes out and CDOT clears the roads. The best recommendation is to time your drive so you stay over in motel in Denver for a night. Then you can gauge via the CDOT website the status of the roads and weather and leave the next morning if it's clear.

I'd avoid driving at night since much of the snowfall comes at night. If going westbound and during the winter avoid Friday night. I call it the "Friday Night Maniacs" as people stream up to the ski resorts for the weekend. Problem is they drive like madman and maniacs even in poor weather. Safety doesn't matter to them, all that matters is getting to Breckenridge in 1 hour 45 minutes.

Also do not drive in snowy conditions with all season tires. They are just about useless.

Having made several thousand trips on I-70 and associated roads between Aspen and Denver covering many hundreds of thousands of miles and in addition being a professional winter driving instructor, my recommendation is never to risk it when you don't have the experience of the road or the local weather.

Problem areas to use caution in winter going westbound on I-70 are:

Mile Marker:
247-244 Floyd Hill
228-205 Georgetown to Silverthorne
195-180 Copper Mtn. to East Vail
173-171 Dowd Junction
157-155 Dead Man's Curve past Wolcott
128-116 Glenwood Canyon

Also I learned from life changing experience in the Superstorm of 2003 and other experiences that a number of things are essential to carry for mountain driving:

Maglite Flashlight with fresh batteries
Folding shovel
Thick durable work gloves
Thin felt gloves for manipulating small objects
Spare gallon bottle of windshield washer fluid
*** Trax for boots
Cap, scarf, ski jacket and wool sweater
Before leaving Denver, charged cell phone, full windshield washer reservoir and full tank of gas
Good snow tires like Bridgestone Blizzaks or Nokian Hakkas are recommended
As someone that has spent more than one night in blizzards I would add two things to the list. A jug of water, and a can of beef stew.
( Independance pass is real fun in a blizzard)
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:08 AM
 
16,488 posts, read 20,871,024 times
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Wanneroo gives some solid advice here, particularly with the "Friday night maniacs". I don't know how many trucks I've seen jacknifed on the interstate because of knucklehead drivers. And there are truckers out there who are at fault as well. Last year, a law was passed doubling the fines for truckers who do not chain up when the digital boards on the road are calling for chains on all commercial vehicles. No reason for it.

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 09-02-2009 at 03:00 PM..
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Old 09-02-2009, 09:29 AM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,503,132 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 20yrsinBranson View Post
I've got news for you Collint, when you are travelling down a 17 percent grade on a curvy road and you push on your brakes and turn the wheel and your car just keeps going in the same direction, it's a pretty sobering experience. My advice is to take a more southern route and try to avoid the high passes as much as possible. It's well worth driving out of your way, trust me. 20yrsinBranson
What you describe is "understeer" initiated by too much speed into the corner and losing grip on the front tires. For starters slowing down is key. Driving too fast for conditions is a big problem in Colorado. A lot of people are under the impression with four wheel drive they can blaze along at normal speeds. Problem is grip comes from the tires and once the tires exceed their grip threshold you are going bye bye. Hence when living in places like the Colorado Mountains, good winter tires are essential.

I-70 has moderate grades at around 6-7% so for a normal car there isn't much to worry about as driving the 2 lane roads such as US 24 or US40. Also many severe passes like Independence Pass close in October and don't reopen until May.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DOUBLE H View Post
Whirnot gives some solid advice here, particularly with the "Friday night maniacs". I don't know how many trucks I've seen jacknifed on the interstate because of knucklehead drivers. And there are truckers out there who are at fault as well. Last year, a law was passed doubling the fines for truckers who do not chain up when the digital boards on the road are calling for chains on all commercial vehicles. No reason for it.
Can't tell you how many times I had a semi sliding backwards towards me. On Floyd Hill one time I had one in the left lane, one in the far right lane sliding backwards towards me. My only escape was through the middle and up the hill so I shot through and both semis collided together behind me.

Personally I favor execution on the side of the road for truckers that break the chain law, rather than fines.

I do give the state credit for starting to crack down as it was becoming a major problem. They opened a new rest area at Dotsero and expanded the lanes at Vail so they could chain up.

Last edited by Mike from back east; 09-02-2009 at 11:29 AM..
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Old 09-02-2009, 03:52 PM
 
Location: NOCO
535 posts, read 1,391,167 times
Reputation: 236
Sometimes nature just wont allow anyone through, other times, if you just ease your way through, don't get impacient, came prepared, and be smooth you should have no problems.
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Old 09-03-2009, 11:45 PM
 
Location: Way on the outskirts of LA LA land.
3,040 posts, read 10,414,704 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karpiel View Post
That's because drivers are very inconsistent.

They close sections when the plows are unable to keep up with the snowfall, most of the time it seems to be due to truckers without chains and people without snow tires getting stuck on Floyd Hill, Georgetown hill and the EB approach to the tunnel. No matter how hard CDOT tried to clear the snow, stupid stuff will happen.

Car gets stuck at Georgetown, people slow to change lanes and gawk, the lower speed causes more ill-equipped drivers to get stuck, spinning tires cause huge icy ruts to form, not even 4wd with chains can get through due to the road being blocked, plows can't plow with cars in the way...
This is essentially the same scenario as what happens on California's famous "Grapevine" stretch of I-5. The California Highway Patrol is also very inconsistent in their closure strategy (or lack thereof). The biggest difference between CA and CO, is that the CHP does not have a chain requirement for I-5, so they just shut down the highway instead of making people chain up. I guess they figure that there are too many flatlanders from L.A. on the freeway that having a chain requirement would just make things even more dangerous. Who knows, they may even be right about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bindenver View Post
If you are going to northern CA or Utah - consider I-80.
I would suggest if heading to the southern part of either state, I-40 might be a better option. If taking I-40 and heading to Utah, you may want to take US 89 up through Page, AZ and into Utah.

One final consideration to keep in mind is driving across Utah if you take I-70 (or any other route, for that matter). There are parts of I-70 in Utah that can be treacherous, just as there are in Colorado. A couple years ago, I headed west out of Denver after waiting for a storm to clear enough that I could get through safely. By the time I got into central Utah, the next storm was already coming in, and it made driving in Utah much more challenging.

There is a long stretch of I-70 in Utah (~110 miles) that has no services, between Green River and Salina. Be certain to check the weather forecast especially before heading across this stretch, since the storms move from west to east, and you would be heading the opposite direction. The incoming storm could meet you head on, so be sure to plan for such an occurrence.
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:44 AM
 
Location: cheyenne wyoming
225 posts, read 993,702 times
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well it doesn't look like i'll be driving through there in the winter... it'll most likely be the spring before i make the drive.
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:42 PM
 
Location: Summit County (Denver's Toilet)
447 posts, read 1,417,530 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by collint View Post
well it doesn't look like i'll be driving through there in the winter... it'll most likely be the spring before i make the drive.
Thing is that in March/April we can get our biggest dumps.....or it could be 40-50 degrees so you never know
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Old 09-08-2009, 04:55 PM
 
12,825 posts, read 20,022,713 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdavid93225 View Post
There is a long stretch of I-70 in Utah (~110 miles) that has no services, between Green River and Salina. Be certain to check the weather forecast especially before heading across this stretch, since the storms move from west to east, and you would be heading the opposite direction. The incoming storm could meet you head on, so be sure to plan for such an occurrence.
Sometimes, as alluded to earlier in the thread, it's worse being in high desert in a major winter storm than in the mountains. The blowing snow can be pretty bad, and plowing services struggle to keep the drifts from overwhelming the road. Classic case in this regard was the young family who nearly died on their way from SF to Idaho out in Northern NV in a bad storm (there was even a movie about it).

More recently, part or all of a young family (I don't recall the details) perished in of all places the coast range, just a bit north of the CA - OR border - it was shoulder season (fall or spring, can't remember which), they were trying to drive from I-5 to US-101 on secondary roads, had no winter gear, low profile "city" flatlander tires, no chains, etc. Sudden storm came in off the Pacific and that's all she wrote.
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,661 posts, read 9,393,458 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaHillbilly View Post
More recently, part or all of a young family (I don't recall the details) perished in of all places the coast range, just a bit north of the CA - OR border - it was shoulder season (fall or spring, can't remember which), they were trying to drive from I-5 to US-101 on secondary roads, had no winter gear, low profile "city" flatlander tires, no chains, etc. Sudden storm came in off the Pacific and that's all she wrote.
Then a couple years ago there was that Asian couple with a baby who got stuck in the snow somewhere Oregon. After several days in the car, the man decided to go look for help and died of hypothermia.

With chains and the knowledge of how to put them on and use them, and they could have gotten their car unstuck and been back on the road in an hour.
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Old 09-09-2009, 03:15 PM
 
12,825 posts, read 20,022,713 times
Reputation: 10902
Quote:
Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
Then a couple years ago there was that Asian couple with a baby who got stuck in the snow somewhere Oregon. After several days in the car, the man decided to go look for help and died of hypothermia.

With chains and the knowledge of how to put them on and use them, and they could have gotten their car unstuck and been back on the road in an hour.
That's the one. That's what I was referring to. They were trying to get out to the coast from I-5. I doubt they even had chains. Many people who live in the flat lands only equate chains with Dec, Jan and Feb. Unless one spends time in the high country, one might not realize you could need chains (unless you have good tires and 4WD) any time it's not summer (and in really high passes, any time of the year).

One time in late April we were on our way to a place along the Truckee River, our base camp for some spring skiing. A good dump happened in Donner Pass and probably half the drivers were completely unprepared. No chains, lots of fair weather drivers with low profile road racing tires on their way to gamble in Reno. Spin outs left and right, cars in the ditch, what a mess.
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