Cyclists stranded by avalanche on Sun Road

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Cyclists stop at an avalanche across Going-to-the-Sun Road at Triple Arches in Glacier National Park on Monday. (GNP photo)

No one was injured, but 13 bicyclists were stranded in the alpine section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park after an avalanche swept over the road at Triple Arches.

Triple arches is less than three miles from Logan Pass. The road was open to cyclists over the holiday weekend. Park plows had reached the pass late last week.

Glacier Park road crews took about eight hours to clear the road of both a rock slide and the avalanche debris so the cyclists could get out.

They were a little cold, the park said in a release, but in otherwise good spirits.

Earlier Monday, the park had closed the road to pedestrian and cyclist traffic at the Loop after a separate significant rock slide blocked the road and prevented emergency vehicle travel. However, many cyclists were already beyond the road closure at that point. Two Glacier National Park volunteer bike patrol units were also up the road, though on the west side of the avalanche slide area, the park said in a release. They relayed the call for help to park dispatch, and stayed in the area for more than four hours until park rangers gained access to the scene.

This was not the first time this spring that avalanches have gone down over the road while people were cycling in the alpine section.

Spring avalanches on the highway are common and people have been stranded before, the park notes.

The Park urges cyclists to turn around if they encounter a slide or see avalanche activity and to not cross avalanches that are over the road. One slip could result in death.

“If you see fresh snow on the side of the road or across the road, even if you are excited about your bike trip, turn around,” said chief Ranger Paul Austin. “Take responsibility for your safety and though disappointing, plan on heading out another day. Biking along the Going-to-the-Sun Road is not the same as an easy bike trip around town.”

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