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Avoiding mountain passes in winter


Hikeamble
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It would be nice when planning a driving route in winter to be able to avoid mountain passes simply by selecting them OUT in preferences. Failing that it would be nice if they were shown on the map so that you could manually avoid them using waypoints to route around them.

 

Anyone have any simple solutions that already exist to do this?

 

I'm using a Garmin Vista CX with Mapsource City Navigator NT mapping.

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You cannot avoid mountain passes in many areas unless you a)don't travel, or :D stay out of the mountains. I checked your profile, but no clues on where you live or cache.

 

General tips. from one who travels just a bit.. 1) know the weather forecast in advance. Time your trip accordingly. 2) most commonly, the major highways will be the first to be cleared, and receive the most effort during. Highway depts. try to use their resources to help the most people in the shortest amount of time. 3) carry snacks, some blankets, water, and a brightly colored tarp at least 10 feet square. 4) keep fuel or gas tank over half full anytime you are going away from populated areas.

 

First, the tarp. Unfold it and paint "HELP" in contrasting color. After drying, refold and store. In the event you get stranded, put it out. Tie to nearby fence, anchor with rocks, bungie it over car if you want. It needs to be easily spotted. Ration your water and snacks. Bundle up to keep warm, ration your gasoline by running engine only enough to make temperature tolerable. Be wary of trapped fumes. Stay with your vehicle near your tarp, you are easier to see from the air that way. If you must leave, take down your tarp and take it with you to use as shelter if needed, or to quickly unroll if you hear engines overhead.

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Thanks for the comments Lee.

 

I live a half hour from the Canada/US border on Highway 97. We drive several times a year including once for a couple of months in the winter, down to S. California. There are numerous routes we can take to do that. Some have more passes than others and in fact by following the Columbia River we can avoid any passes at all from the border to I-5 at Portland. So I am well aware of where the passes are and how to get around them. I'm also aware of the highway info for Washington State and Oregon including the hiqhway cams which are right at the passes.

 

The issue isn't what to do when driving in winter, it's the absence of the passes with Mapsource. If they were included in preferences it would be simple to just tick the box to avoid them if possible and then let auto routing do its thing. As it is, I need to check each pass for conditions and then add waypoints to the route if I want to avoid a pass.

 

This issue would not only apply to winter driving. Someone hauling a heavy trailer at any time of year might wish to avoid the passes as well.

 

It would seem to me to be a relatively simple thing to add passes to the POI in Mapsource and then add them to the selection criteria under preferences.

 

Can anyone give me an e-mail address where I could suggest this to Mapsource? When I Google for Mapsource I get Garmin and when I try to contact them I get their format for support that ends up giving you a bunch of FAQ questions and won't let you send an e-mail.

 

I thought perhaps someone else had thought about this issue and knew of an answer but I'm beginning to think there probably isn't one other than to get them to add passes to the maps.

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You cannot avoid mountain passes in many areas unless you a)don't travel, or :D stay out of the mountains. I checked your profile, but no clues on where you live or cache.

 

General tips. from one who travels just a bit.. 1) know the weather forecast in advance. Time your trip accordingly. 2) most commonly, the major highways will be the first to be cleared, and receive the most effort during. Highway depts. try to use their resources to help the most people in the shortest amount of time. 3) carry snacks, some blankets, water, and a brightly colored tarp at least 10 feet square. 4) keep fuel or gas tank over half full anytime you are going away from populated areas.

 

First, the tarp. Unfold it and paint "HELP" in contrasting color. After drying, refold and store. In the event you get stranded, put it out. Tie to nearby fence, anchor with rocks, bungie it over car if you want. It needs to be easily spotted. Ration your water and snacks. Bundle up to keep warm, ration your gasoline by running engine only enough to make temperature tolerable. Be wary of trapped fumes. Stay with your vehicle near your tarp, you are easier to see from the air that way. If you must leave, take down your tarp and take it with you to use as shelter if needed, or to quickly unroll if you hear engines overhead.

 

I don't see how the GPS/software combination would define a "mountain pass". If it is snowing and icy, then a 2,000 foot "pass" is just as slick as one at 10,000 ft.

I don't even count them as mountains unless they are at least 8,000 ft. But, I have been scared out of my wits driving roads in Washington State that were only 3,000 ft. and snowy.

Edited by Alphawolf
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I should add, that there are a great many people who live in our area (the Okanagan Valley) who head south for the winter to S. California or Arizona typically. A standard topic if leaving after the beginning of November is what route to take to avoid the passes.

 

So I see a whole segment of the GPS using market who would benefit from passes being included on the maps.

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Hi Alphawolf, they wouldn't need to 'define' what is a pass. Simply copy the ones that are on state maps. The Blewett Pass for example is on Hwy. 97 between Oroville (where I cross the border) and Hwy. 84 (where I turn west to head towards Portland and get on the coastal side of all the mountains. It is the only pass on Hwy. 97 to that point. I can avoid it by going around on Hwy. 17 and down to I-90 and on to 84. There is a negligible difference in distance or driving times. In summer I'd take the pass since it is more scenic but in winter I can avoid the pass if the forecast even suggests it MIGHT snow.

 

The altitude of a pass as you say, may be irrelevant. It's the gain or loss over distance (grade) that determines whether it is a white knuckle ride or not. However it is also true that more snow falls at higher altitudes so staying below 3000ft. can often avoid snow altogether in some areas at some times. I believe it is standard mapping practice to show all passes that have some signifigant altitude gain/loss from the surrounding area. I don't know what that standard is but they have one. Those passes are marked on highway maps.

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If the feature is not part of the map database, then no amount of emailing to Garmin will make it be there. And since the map data comes from Navteq, that's where you would want to start. However, I wouldn't hold my breath since, as has been pointed out, "mountain passes" are not easily identifiable.

 

A better solution might be to set up a custom avoidance on your copy of MapSource so that when you create routes those areas that you want to avoid are avoided. Be aware that the custom avoidances don't transfer to the GPS unit.

 

The other solution (for units that support it) would be to create a Custom POI file and load it to the unit and set a proximity alert. Unfortunately, your unit doesn't support Custom POIs. However, you could still create the points and load them as Waypoints so that you could see them on your map.

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There is certainly some basic "passes" information out there, as Garmin's own MetroGuide USA v4.01 (2001 data) identifies many. The data providor was Tele Atlas, rather than NavTeq. A quick search in MapSource returned results for both Blewett Pass and Old Blewett Pass.

 

As for non-autorouting MapSource offerings, passes were/are identified in U.S. Roads & Recreation, US Topo, and 2008 Topo US.

 

Unfortunately, that does not address your "avoid passes" preference issue, but these points could easily be made into waypoints for the area you travel, increasing your awareness of them.

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You're probably aware of what happened to James Kim and his family. It is awful he died, but it is more amazing that his wife and children survived - they were extremely lucky.

 

As an amateur radio operator, I don't travel anywhere without a handheld transceiver. In my case I use a Yaesu VX-7R, which is a small, rugged, waterproof handheld radio that can transmit on 4 different bands, and receive everything from TV to CB to shortwave, including AM, FM and weather radio. Mine is modified to allow transmission on any frequency the radio can physically transmit on. In a life or death situation I would (and could legally in that instance) transmit on any frequency to make contact.

 

My point is if you travel in remote areas, especially during dangerous weather, obtaining an amateur license and a $300 radio would provide arguably the highest likelihood of communicating for help.

 

Dan

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