Annual effort to reopen Artist Point about to begin

It's July and we still have snow burying one of our highways. July! I guess it's not all that unusual for snow to still be covering Mount Baker Highway at Artist Point this time of year. Especially since the stretch of highway we're talking about is nearly a mile above sea level. It's just weird, to me anyway, that it's July 1 and I'm writing about snow.

(Where and what is Artist Point?)

We took a scouting trip up to Artist Point last week in a snow cat to assess the snow conditions. A little reconnaissance mission, if you will, to find out what we'll be against this year when we start the annual effort to reopen the road. You'll never guess what we found on our trip: Snow! And lots of it, too.

In the snow-covered upper parking lot at Artist Point

The snow was anywhere from 15 to 20 feet deep in the upper parking lot. Crews couldn't even see the top of the restroom. It was completely buried. Most years, crews can see the top of the restroom peaking through the snow. Not this year. We never got the sun/warmth we needed in June to help melt back the snow at Artist Point.

View of Mt Shuksan from Artist Point

We will start clearing the road on July 6. It's probably going to take a little longer to clear the road this year because of the deeper-than-usual snow. Usually, it takes anywhwere from two to three weeks, but this year could take a little longer. We'd like to get the road open in July... we'll see how it goes. Who knows, maybe the sun will show up in July and aid our crews in the snow-removal process. The sun can melt and move a whole lot more snow a lot faster than we can, that's for sure.

If you'd like to stay up to date on the clearing progress, you can subscribe for our Whatcom County e-mail updates and/or check the Artist Point website. We'll also post pictures on our Flickr account when we get new ones.