For the week of December 30, 1998  thru January 5, 1999  

Avalanche grabs snowcat on North Valley Trail

The driver of a snowcat grooming a cross-country ski trail north of Ketchum escaped uninjured on Monday after the cat slid off the trail into a creek bed about 60 feet below.

According to Jim Mayne, trails supervisor for the Blaine County Recreation District, driver Pat Harper was grooming a trail along Titus Creek, to the west side of Highway 75 across from Galena Lodge, when the accident occurred at about 8:30 a.m. He said the site is about one-quarter mile from the highway, and is part of the recreation district’s North Valley Trails System.

Mayne said the weight of the cat caused an approximately 100-foot-wide section of snow to suddenly give way, dragging it down to the creek. He said two feet of snow had fallen the previous night, in many areas on top of a sun crust.

"I’m sure that’s what led to this movement," he said.

Mayne said that when the cat came to a stop, Harper scurried out and climbed into a tree well, where he waited until he was sure the snow had stabilized.

Mayne said the year-old, $180,000 Pisten Bully cat appears to have sustained only minor damage. He said one of the tracks is damaged, but that the mechanical parts appear intact. However, he said he won’t know for sure until the cat is pulled out of the creek bed.


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