A Colorado Sheriff Asks Don’t be a Clown in the Backcountry
A handful of offroad enthusiasts found themselves in a bit of a jam, literally, on the officially closed Black Bear Pass in San Miguel County, Colorado. As you can imagine, the San Miguel County Sheriff is not pleased.
A Facebook post dated Monday, August 14, 2023, details the circumstances leading up to the mess. Via the Facebook post, the San Miguel County Sheriff states, "Some people have it together and know what they are doing, but some who venture up there are complete ass clowns."
How It All Got Started
An 8:15 p.m. update posted to Facebook by the San Miguel County Sheriff details the events. It is believed that motorists spent hours digging out the deep snow on Black Bear Pass. Then, after navigating past/through the snow, they made their way further onto the pass. Ultimately, a vehicle became stuck below "the stairs," completely blocking the road.
Okay, So What's the Problem?
There are a number of problems involving offroad enthusiasts accessing this pass. For starters, it's still officially closed. The Facebook post from the San Miguel County Sheriff reads:
...Black Bear Pass is closed. There is still mitigation work that needs to be done to make it safe to drive, including, but not limited to, clearing rocks remaining from winter rock avalanches that can cause rockslides and injure or kill people. - San Miguel County Sheriff via Facebook
And Now For The Next Boo Boo
Accessing Black Bear Pass while it is still officially closed represents only the first of the problems. For their next violation, according to the San Miguel Sheriff's Office, these enthusiasts then posted to social media the pass was "unofficially open."
Could This Have Been A Misunderstanding?
Apparently not. A quote from Sheriff Bill Masters reads, "None of the people that were up there today should be able to claim they didn’t know Black Bear pass is closed." The statement from Sheriff Bill Masters continues:
People are supposed to pay attention to our county’s official announcement rather than social media rumors. It is your responsibility to know before venturing into the backcountry, whether hiking a trail, or driving on a pass, if the area is open and can be traveled safely. Black Bear Pass is dangerous, and you need experience and the right vehicle to navigate it safely. Some people have it together and know what they are doing, but some who venture up there are complete ass clowns.
Is This a Big Deal?
Keep in mind, if someone finds themselves in an emergency on Black Bear Pass under these circumstances, emergency services may not be able to reach them. People could potentially find themselves stranded for days.
In addition, if the vehicle pictured here had gone over the edge, it would have faced a 1,500-foot drop and four switchbacks.
The Day Was Eventually Saved
Kudos to Telluride Towing and a tow truck driver with nerves of steel for saving the day.
The Facebook post adds, "Some people are taking children into these dangerous situations, and in some cases, it’s irresponsible and possibly criminal behavior."
While we love our outdoor activities in Colorado, there is a measure of responsibility we must all observe. When roads and passes are closed, it's fairly safe to assume there is a reason. The photos here, a vehicle faced with a 1,500 drop, serve well to remind us all.