Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Snow begins to close off passes

Drifting has caused several feet of snow to build up at Dollarhide Summit, local man reports

Express Staff Writer

High country snows blanket 7,900-foot Trail Creek Summit northeast of Ketchum this week. Travelers are advised to drive at their own risk if they take to rural high-elevation roads in the mountains surrounding the Wood River Valley. Photo by Willy Cook

Ketchum resident Tyler Corrock and several of his friends got a little more than they bargained for last week as they attempted to drive over 8,700-foot Dollarhide Summit.

Negotiating the road's last switchbacks prior to crossing the remote pass deep in the Smoky Mountains southwest of Ketchum, they began pushing through two feet of snow, Corrock recalled Tuesday. Soon after, the two feet of snow became four feet of drifted snow, he said.

"Just on the other side of the pass is where we ran out of road," he said.

That was enough. Corrock said they quickly concluded they should turn around rather than try to continue on to their ultimate destination far to the west over several more remote mountain passes.

"We were trying to get to Idaho City," he said.

The group's adventure is just one of many signs that winter is beginning to close in on Idaho's high country. To the west and east of the Wood River Valley, the closing off of isolated passes should serve as a wakeup call to local motorists who may still want to make one last backcountry drive this year.

From the sound of it, Corrock won't be heading out anytime soon. Since his drive up Warm Springs Creek, a wet weather system that arrived over the weekend dropped additional snow at elevations 7,000-feet and higher.

"There's probably a lot more snow up there now," Corrock surmised.

Northeast of Ketchum this week, motorists could also be seen turning around where the pavement ends as Trail Creek Road begins its steep climb to the distant, 7,900-foot Trail Creek Summit. The road, which was muddy down low and snowy higher up on Monday, is a convenient route for local drivers wishing to take a shortcut to the Lost River Valley and Mackay area.

Though road crews with the Blaine County Road and Bridge Department haven't officially closed the road to Trail Creek Summit for the season, motorists are advised to travel at their own risk.

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