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Disney slide: Avalanche mitigation causes snow to pile onto highway for first time since 1957

The last time snow from an avalanche reached US-40 was during a filming for a Disney documentary. Two people, including a filmmaker, were killed in that incident.

CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. — Snow piled onto Berthoud Pass Sunday while crews performed avalanche mitigation operations -- the first time snow from an avalanche reached that far since 1957, when the path earned the name "Disney slide."

Berthoud Pass, which provides a route from I-70 to Winter Park and Grand County, was closed at the time.

The last time the snow reached the highway, the path was called the "Dam slide," according to a Clear Creek County historical document.

RELATED: 'Just hold onto something': Family describes surviving avalanche that swept them off I-70

That changed on April 8, 1957, after the Colorado Highway Department triggered an avalanche for two filmmakers, who were contracted by Disney to create a documentary on avalanches and wanted to capture one in action.

Freelance photographer John Hermann, as well as Highway Department Supervisor Wayne Whitlock, were killed during the filming.

Hermann's assistant, Roland Wyatt, was also buried but was able to dig his way out and suffered only minor cuts and bruises.

When the avalanche was triggered, it released a monster slide, something locals warned the filmmakers and highway workers could happen. 

RELATED: I-70 reopens between Georgetown and Vail Pass after 9 hours of avalanche work

The air blast alone snapped large trees, launching them up to 200 feet in the air. A powder cloud was estimated at several hundred feet high.

Hermann and Whitlock had set up their cameras on the highway, directly in the avalanche's path. When the snow came, both were buried under several hundred feet and killed.

Wyatt had positioned himself on the outside of the path.

After the incident, the path's name changed to the "Disney slide." 

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