The Colorado Department of Transportation is planning to open Independence Pass to vehicle traffic this week. The winter gates are scheduled to open Thursday.

Crews start in April, clearing the high mountain pass of snow and debris. One of the last steps is avalanche mitigation, where officials from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center set off slides, then road crews clear away the snow. The avalanche work was done Thursday. CDOT spokesperson Tracy Trulove is confident the road will open on time.

Aspen Snowmass/Jeremy Swanson

The Aspen Skiing Company closed 30% of the terrain on three of its mountains Wednesday. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason reports.

There’s been at least four nights where temperatures did not allow for the snow to freeze, causing instability on the steep stuff. Company spokesman Jeff Hanle.

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

On Tuesday, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center released a more detailed review of what happened during a slide on New Year’s Day. Aspen Mountain Powders Tours had a tough day on the first day of 2015. The company, operated through Aspen Skiing Company, had a ski guide injured in an avalanche, and was one person away from injuring a client. 

CAIC/Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol

There’s an avalanche watch for Aspen and surrounding areas, from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The CAIC says new snow and winds from an ongoing winter storm make natural and human triggered snow slides likely on steep slopes with an angle of more than thirty degrees.

Welcome to Valley Roundup, a review of the top news stories in the valley in the past week.

Aspen lost another longtime local in avalanche. And this week marks the first anniversary of the murder of Aspen native Nancy Pfister.

Municipal elections are coming up in Glenwood Springs and Aspen. This year, it’s all mail-in. But in Aspen, you can still vote in a traditional way at two polling places.

Meanwhile, Aspen City Council is countering a citizen ballot measure on development limitations. Will it just confuse voters more?

Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol

The man who died in avalanche on the west side of Aspen Mountain was a long-time local who skied every day. John Martin Gancsos went by “Marty,” and had two passions: skiing and whitewater kayaking. The avalanche he was caught in Monday happened outside the ski area boundary, in an area Gancsos knew well. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

The atmosphere at Little Annie’s Eating House Tuesday was somber. Marty Gancsos had been working night shifts at the restaurant as a favor to a friend. Rohn Fleming owns Little Annie’s and asked Gancsos to jump on board.

Mountain Edition - January 8th, 2015

Jan 8, 2015

Good afternoon and welcome to Mountain Edition.

The upper Roaring Fork Valley saw a dramatic rescue this week, after three elk fell into an icy pond.

A local ski guide gets caught in an avalanche; it’s a reminder that avalanche season is in full-swing.

A new climate report shows Aspen has seen temperatures warm over the last several decades.

Much larger fines are looming for oil and gas companies who don’t follow the law.

And, Basalt inches closer to deciding how to redevelop parts of downtown.

Your Evening News - January 7th, 2015

Jan 7, 2015

Explore Offer Comes from a National Nonprofit Group  

A collection of national nonprofits that fight for such causes as the environment, social justice and consumer protection might be the new owner of Aspen’s Explore Bookstore soon. The Aspen Times reports the group known as the Public Interest Network has a contract to buy Explore Booksellers and the attached restaurant for $5 million. In order for the deal to go through a Texas bankruptcy judge must approve it in the case of Samuel Wyly who owns the store. Over the past 30 years, the Public Interest Network has held events in Aspen and been fans of Explore. Officials with the group say the survival of an independent bookstore meshes with its mission. The Texas judge is expected to review the offer today. If approved, the sale of Explore is expected to close on January 16th.

Your Morning News - January 7th, 2015

Jan 7, 2015

New Healthcare Enrollment Numbers

More than 3,000 people in Pitkin, Garfield, and Eagle counties have signed up for private health insurance since November 15th.

3,330 residents of the three counties signed up between November 15th and December 15th. That’s for health care coverage starting in 2015 according to the online health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health. Megan Burch is overseeing the effort to help residents in the Roaring Fork Valley and Eagle County sign up for health insurance.

“We’re really thrilled with the enrollment numbers to date, and they’re tracking very closely to our goals for this second enrollment period.”

The difference is Garfield County is about seven hundred people short of that overall goal. So Burch’s office is planning more outreach and events there to help residents sign up for health insurance.

Screenshot from powder.com

There’s been a troubling problem with avalanche deaths in recent years... and now Powder Magazine and gear company  Black Diamond have joined forces to figure out what's going on. They’ve hired a freelance journalist to dig deep into what happened during certain accidents-- and what's being done to help backcountry travelers make better decisions when avoiding avalanches. APR's Elise Thatcher talks with writer David Page about the project, called "The Human Factor."