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Old 12-17-2012, 03:56 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,783,192 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
Apparently, you haven't driven over Norwood Hill and Dallas Divide. There used to be a small ski area just on the west side of Dallas Divide. Not exactly lowland desert. (Dallas Divide is higher in elevation than is the town of Telluride.)
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Old 12-17-2012, 04:09 PM
 
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It's not quite this bad.
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Old 12-17-2012, 04:22 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Apparently, you haven't driven over Norwood Hill and Dallas Divide.
You mean the gently rolling hills located a few miles west of Ridgway?

Colorado Photograph - Autumn, Dallas Divide

http://amazingcolorado.com/norwood-hill3.jpg


Pleasant and harmless when it comes to winter driving.
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Old 12-17-2012, 05:38 PM
 
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I hate to be snarky here, but Dallas Divide can be brutal during a bad winter storm--very prone to serious blizzarding and drifting. Those "gentle" hills have sufficient enough grades that a number of truck runaways have occurred there, too. I used to drive that road frequently--I've seen its ugly moods first hand. "Pleasant and harmless" is an inane comment. Go look up the CSP reports of wrecks on either Dallas Divide or Norwood Hill in the winter. Oh, and a friend's spouse drives both EVERY DAY--he would certainly contest the "pleasant and harmless" comment.

As for proveick's photo, that was a Warn winch promotion photo taken somewhere in Washington state, I believe--whether the photo was "doctored" or not, I do not know. A friend who spent years as a geologist has some very similar photos of his Chevy 4WD truck on 4WD trails in the San Juan here in Colorado where he would regularly have to take his truck with his equipment--the kind of places where either the passenger or driver had a several hundred foot dropoff if he stepped out of the truck.
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Old 12-17-2012, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
22,079 posts, read 10,271,083 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westcliffe View Post
Is it not economically feasible to put guardrails, is there a physical inability to place them along those cliffs, are the avalanches and masses of snow that would be pushed into them just ridiculous, or is the road some regional test of grit that the population enjoys? I opted to take this road one March after heavy wet snow fell in feet across the San Juans. I was too impatient to go around through Moab or Dove Creek. I gave it due respect, cringed as we made it through the ascent out of Ouray, and then crept along the mostly inside portions for the rest of the way to Durango. My kids couldn't believe that there were literal inches between our tires and the cliff on the passenger side. Not much room for error..... Actually it wasn't too bad as every other drivers were petrified to use it so the traffic was almost non-existent. Certainly there are a handful of spots where even a minor snows slide would mean the end. That isn't too comforting as a person could still die even after driving correctly and prudently Just about the most amazing country though. Many portions of state look so average after seeing what appears to be the Alps in Colorado!
A friend of mine was a long-time CDOT employee, and told me that the primary reason for not putting in guard rails was because it made it much more difficult to plow the snow off the highway. Whether that's correct or not, I can't say, but I can see some logic to it.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:36 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
I hate to be snarky here, but Dallas Divide can be brutal during a bad winter storm--very prone to serious blizzarding and drifting. Those "gentle" hills have sufficient enough grades that a number of truck runaways have occurred there, too. I used to drive that road frequently--I've seen its ugly moods first hand. "Pleasant and harmless" is an inane comment.
You can try to spin it any way you want, jazz, but I'll take that route any day over 550.
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Old 12-18-2012, 08:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
You can try to spin it any way you want, jazz, but I'll take that route any day over 550.
I never said that it wouldn't be preferable to US550 during a bad winter storm, but the CO145/CO62 route is neither the benign tame little animal in winter that you describe.

One of the problems that people unfamiliar with Colorado highways suffer is that they get complacent about roads that can present real hazards. US50 is an example. Most people talking about US50 in winter automatically assume that Monarch Pass will be where they experience the worst winter driving conditions. Monarch can certainly be rigorous, but Cerro Summit and Blue Mesa between Gunnison and Montrose on US50 can be every bit as bad or worse in many winter storms. Why? Because Cerro and Blue are just high enough in elevation to get some heavy snowfall and just low enough that it frequently turns the road into very slick black ice. In decades of driving Monarch, Cerro, and Blue on a pretty regular basis, I often found conditions more hazardous on Cerro and Blue than I did on Monarch during the same winter storms.

In the end, there is no substitute for experience. I have the benefit of decades of experience driving almost every Colorado highway in winter conditions, and I grew up in a family that was driving those same highways the whole time that I was growing up. That not only gave me the experience of knowing the "moods" of those highways in winter, but I also learned to read cloud, wind, and weather patterns well enough to be able to anticipate where and when I would hit bad weather. I'm actually scheduled to drive US550 in the next couple of days--I'm studying the weather and cloud patterns right now to see when my best chance will be to avoid the worst of the coming storm.
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Bend, OR
3,296 posts, read 8,423,223 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
You mean the gently rolling hills located a few miles west of Ridgway?

Colorado Photograph - Autumn, Dallas Divide

http://amazingcolorado.com/norwood-hill3.jpg


Pleasant and harmless when it comes to winter driving.
I'm sorry 80keys, but I have to agree with Jazzlover on this one. I used to work for the Forest Service For the GMUG, and one of the worst drives I experienced was coming down Norwood Hill and up over Dallas Divide. It can be tame, but it also can be pretty darn treacherous!

Check out this blog post for some pics of winter driving conditions along Dallas Divide: Mountains Rule: Surviving the Dallas Divide
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Old 12-18-2012, 02:45 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,764 posts, read 16,838,766 times
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hey delta....you and jazz take 550, let 80keys take the Dallas Divide route, and I'll sit in my recliner by the woodstove in my new Sorel slippers from REI. You all drive safely now, and have great fun!
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Old 12-18-2012, 05:47 PM
 
11,256 posts, read 43,199,644 times
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What's been only alluded to a little bit in this thread re the mountains in this area ... take your pick, 550 or Monarch or Dallas Divide or whatever ...

is that these are some of the mountain areas of Colorado where the weather patterns more closely replicate the strong gusty winds and cold temps found in SE Wyoming. Due to the way these mountains align and the prevailing frontal passages, even on a "normal" weather day, the winds are strong/gusty with exceptional updrafts and downdrafts.

Monarch Pass is well known as a pilot eater for folk from out of the area not familiar with mountain flying. They look at a sectional, see the altitude and the area affording them a lot of room to fly, and think they this is a benign area compared to some of the other mountain passes in the region. It's not. It's a violent area, and looking at the cloud formations is but a small clue as to how violent this area is. I've flown it more than I've driven it, and I've had an overwhelming number of days when it was very difficult to keep the dirty side down due to the violent and unpredictable up/down drafts.

So this becomes significant in driving the area. Even with a small amount of moisture, the roads become icy and visibility is lower than anticipated in comparable winter storm conditions around the region ... even at higher altitudes, or out on the plains where the winds can dissipate. Faced with driving this area in a winter storm of any intensity, I'll pass on this and take alternate routes if I needed to get around the region. And that's with properly winter equipped AWD cars of exceptional capability and over 50 years of driving this region and the backcountry ....

Given the narrow roadways and little margin for error if you take an off-road excursion, these roads are frequently far more challenging than I-80 in a blizzard. Those are conditions where prudence, IMO, calls for staying off the road.
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