Cleaning the roads and spreading sand and mag chloride might very well keep a large crew of plow drivers busy in any Colorado town. But add 160 avalanche paths and several feet of new snow to the equation and watch the men and women in any road maintenance crew get severely worked, not to mention stressed. During the 2005-06 winter seasons, the Colorado Dept. of Transportation triggered more than 700 avalanches with explosives, 351 of which hit Colorado's highways. CDOT monitors and controls about 275 avalanche paths statewide 160 of those are located on U.S. Hwy 550 between Ouray and Durango. So, the next time youre stirred to consciousness at 3 a.m. while its dumping outside your window, be assured that the men and women in the day-glow suits are main-lining coffee and making it possible for you to race your car into the mountains the following morning to play in the snow.

CDOT plow driver Dak Klein pulls the cord on a sign signaling
travelers to expect heavy machinery on the road ahead. Avalanche forecaster Susan Hale uses an avalanche probe to
mesure the center-line depth of a slide that crossed Highway 550
during a recent control mission. Avalanche forecaster Jerry Roberts gets a closer look at a slide
path on Highway 550, north of Silverton. CDOTs Ray Kessler stands on Highway 550 while a front-end-loader
removes snow from the road. CDOT employee Paul Wilson readies the avi-launcher before firing
explosives into the starting zone of an avalanche path that
otherwise might cross the road unexpectedly.