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Heavy snow, avalanche danger close Monarch Mountain

CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — A second Colorado ski area was forced to close in two days Tuesday because of heavy snow and avalanche danger.

Monarch Mountain did not open because nearly 2 feet of snow fell at the Chaffee County ski area since Monday morning.

The Colorado Department of Transportation also closed U.S. 50 because of avalanche control work.

The highway, which takes drivers from Salida to Gunnison over Monarch Pass, is the only accessible route to the ski area reopened about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday.

“The good news: it snowed all day and night yesterday (18″!),” Monarch Mountain wrote on its Facebook page Tuesday morning. “The bad news: Monarch will not open today. Monarch Pass is has been closed all night for avalanche control, preventing Monarch Mountain maintenance, food service, and grooming crews from reaching the mountain.”

At 7 a.m., the resort said 20 inches of snow had fallen in the past 24 hours, 28 inches in the past 48 hours and a whopping 68 inches in the past week.

Monarch Mountain also closed last week because U.S. 50 was shut down by CDOT for avalanche control work.

It also posted photos on its Facebook page showing the huge amount of snow at the ski area.

On Monday, Crested Butte Mountain Resort was forced to close after more than 1 foot of snow fell. Its snow stake was buried beyond the 18-inch top, and heavy winds forced officials to cease operations.

Crested Butte reopened Tuesday, though lift openings were delayed.