The hairpin curve - North Cascades Highway

Photo courtesy of Cliff & Joy Schwab.


We're overlooking what is typically referred to as the hairpin curve along the North Cascades Highway. This photo was taken on Friday, April 8, before we started clearing the snow off the highway.


The hairpin curve runs through several major avalanche zones - as can be seen here


From this perspective, it sure makes the avalanches across the highway appear small. The reality is, though, that the slides are up to 60 feet deep over the highway in the Liberty Bell avalanche zone.

  • Don Couture 4y

    Looks like there are 3 slides across the road already. One of these days I am going to drive that road but I think I will wait until after mid June.
  • Jim 4y

    Awesome shot...
  • EllenBerdan 4y

    Interesting to see from above! Glad the road is closed in winter. It's a spectacular drive! From east to west is best!
  • aka_fb1 4y

    I agree with the east to west route. Way prettier and a lot of fun on the motorcycles. However, next winter season, we are trying to get a group together to snowshoe the highway. I cannot think of a nicer way to see it.
  • frogman2007 4y

    captain4550, not every place along the Highway is avalanche prone. The NWAC also issues daily avalanche forecasts throughout the winter. The mountains can easily be enjoyed in the winter as long as caution is exercised.
  • Jim 4y

    Are you kidding me?
    I'd walk there now before they open it to cellphone wielding drivers.
  • phreespirit 4y

    Don Couture I made the drive in Aug 2009 and it was STUNNING. The only bad weather we hit was torrential rains in, you guessed it, Rainy Pass. Other than that, it was a breathtaking delight. Was hoping to do the drive again on Sunday, May 15th, 2011 but it looks like that won't be happening :(
  • Don Couture 4y

    I am sure the mountains offer enjoyment all year round but I still maintain that one should weigh the risks vrs. enjoyment before going. Cautious people are killed every year on the mountains around here. Unexpected things happen. I will stick to transversing the highway during the summer months. The risks are considerably minimized during those days.
  • Kyle Kruchok 4y

    That would be the coolest job to have. Hiring?
  • Taxtropel 4y

    And people are killed by the millions every year around the world simply driving. Not to mention the deaths from preventable illness and habits. The risk of the mountains, although there, is a minimal risk when compared to the risks we take on a daily basis. So get out of your cubicles and live a little!
  • localguy2012 3y

    On the photo WDOT identifies a feature as Spiral Gulch. It is actually Spire Gulch - named after South Early Winter's Spire at the top of the gulch.
  • Alex Svendsen 3y

    I couldn't agree more Taxtropel
  • seeseagle 3y

    This would be a fantastic spot for a web bout it guys?
  • CAVU4 3y

    Don Couture
    I want you flying my plane !
  • cntry44grl 2y

    Oh, yes! Web camera! Every morning all winter long I peek at pass web cams. Would like one of this view.
32 faves
Taken on April 7, 2011
  • ƒ/6.3
  • 34.8 mm
  • 1/1250
  • 75
  • Flash (auto, did not fire)
  • Show EXIF
This photo is in 3 albums

Additional info

  • Viewing this photo Public
  • Safety level of this photo Safe
  • S Search
    Photo navigation
    < > Thumbnail navigation
    Z Zoom
    B Back to context