GLACIER NATIONAL PARK — The full opening of Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun Road has been pushed back due to a cold and wet spring, but snowplows continue to make steady progress.
“It took us two weeks to get through a spot that normally only takes a week at the most,” said Glacier National Park Road Crew Lead Christian Tranel.
Tranel said heavy spring snow and avalanches caused his team to backtrack on snowplowing the road at least four times this spring due to dangerous conditions.
“Typically, we would be open right now, even with how the snow looks right now, it’s just nature didn’t cooperate very well with us,” added Tranel.
USGS Physical Scientist Zachary Miller’s main job is forecasting avalanche conditions on Going-to-the-Sun Road.
"It’s not a bad front office view,” added Miller who noted that 50 avalanches have hit the road this spring.
“What was different about this year compared to the last couple years is just that we saw that season in our main bulk of our avalanches come through, and the timing of them pushed back by two weeks to a month,” said Miller.
Tranel said his main concern is the safety of his dozen or so snowplow drivers.
“It can definitely wear on your mind after a while because that’s the first thing you are always thinking of is all the what-ifs, what could happen,” said Tranel.
Tranel has been working on Going-to-the-Sun Road for the past 11 years, an adrenaline rush like no other.
“You have to have a healthy fear, you don’t want to be so confident that you’re not aware of what could happen,” added Tranel.
Going-to-the-Sun Road through Logan Pass will open no sooner than July 13.