Friday, November 26, 2010

Snowmobiling almost unlimited around valley

In backcountry, watch out for avalanche potential


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

A pair of snowmachiners takes advantage of the plentiful snowmobiling opportunities in the Sun Valley area. The Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau reports that there are more than 500 miles of snowmobiling trails within 45 minutes of the Sun Valley area. Photo by Mountain Express

With more than 500 miles of snowmobiling trails in the Sun Valley area, riders have a lot of places to rev up their machines. But they need to be cognizant of avalanche potential, a danger that has taken its toll of snowmobilers in years past in the area.

There's likely not enough snow yet. A minimum of about 2 feet is needed. But snowmobilers in the Sun Valley area can typically count on excellent conditions from the beginning of January into May.

The chamber reports there are 120 miles of groomed trails within a few miles of Sun Valley. Favorite locations are the Baker Creek area about 10 miles north of Ketchum and the Wood River Recreation Area three miles west of Hailey.

On the other side of Galena Summit in the Stanley Basin, there are 170 miles of trail in the Smiley Creek and Stanley areas.

To the south in Camas County, there are some 200 miles of trails in the Fairfield area.

For information on equipment, rentals and guided tours people can visit the chamber website at www.visitsunvalley.com. For information about snowmobiling in the Stanley Basin, visit www.snowtracks.com/idaho/stanley.

Information about avalanche danger is available at www.sawtoothavalanche.com.

The Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center advises that snowmobilers need to be cognizant of avalanche potential in mountainous areas and offers educational courses specific for snowmobilers.

An Avalanche Basic for Snowmobilers course is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Woodside Motorsports in Hailey. Topics covered will include recognizing avalanche conditions and avalanche warning signs, understanding avalanche terrain, safe backcountry travel techniques, what to do if you're caught in an avalanche and immediate avalanche rescue within your group.

Snowmobilers who have attended an earlier classroom session are eligible to attend a field session on Saturday, Jan. 15.

The Avalanche Basics for Snowmobilers course is also being offered at the Legion Hall in Fairfield on Thursday, Feb. 3, with a field session scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 5.

For more information on courses, call 622-0095.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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