2,000 travelers marooned by avalanche danger

updated 12:59 a.m. ET Jan. 1, 2008

I-70 west of Denver reopens Monday afternoon

DENVER - Wind-whipped snow and avalanche danger closed the main highway through the Colorado mountains for most of Monday, stranding thousands of travelers as they headed to New Year's Eve celebrations.

Portions of a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 70 -- the main route between Denver and some of the state's biggest ski resorts -- were shut down in both directions from around 5 p.m. Sunday until about 4 p.m. Monday.

Stranded travelers take refuge early Monday inside Summit Middle School near Breckenridge, Colo.
( see right image )

The long delay had some travelers contemplating the prospect of welcoming the new year on a cot in a shelter. More than 2,000 spent Sunday night in shelters, but the Red Cross closed all its shelters Monday after traffic started moving.

Doyle Peterson told Denver's KUSA-TV that it took him two to three hours to drive home to Denver once the highway was opened.

"I was thinking I was going to have to spend New Year's Eve in my pickup truck," Peterson said. "I just opened up a beer in celebration and said `Yeah, finally I get a warm shower.'"

Rush for booze

Liquor stores did a brisk business after the highway shut down.

"We've definitely seen a rush," said John Will of Antler's Discount Liquor in Frisco.

Leaha Widrowicz was trying to get back to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with her boyfriend and his mother after a skiing trip but had to spend the night in Frisco, missing their midnight flight from Denver International Airport.

"We're not even thinking of New Year's right now," Widrowicz said. "We are just trying to get home to family."

High winds piled deep snow into more than two dozen narrow ravines in the mountainsides -- known as avalanche chutes -- raising the danger of deadly avalanches cascading onto I-70. Blowing snow reduced visibility to nearly zero.

Authorities cleared out that snow before letting traffic through again.

Gusts hit 70 mph

Wind gusts at the Eisenhower Tunnel, where the interstate passes under the Continental Divide at 11,000 feet above sea level, reached 70 mph.

The section of the highway that was closed carries as many as 39,000 cars on Sundays during this time of year, officials said.

Loveland Ski Area, about 45 miles west of Denver, shut down for the day because the highway closure kept skiers and workers away.

While many people took advantage of seven Red Cross shelters in schools and recreation centers, others relied on the kindness of strangers.

Brian Jerry of Colorado Springs said people he had never met before let him stay in their Silverthorne home because motels were full. "We called the local Quality Inn, and they basically laughed at us," Jerry said.

Blowing snow and low visibility also kept one other mountain pass closed Monday; two others that had been cut off were reopened.

In Utah, an avalanche at a trailhead Monday swept away a man whose snowmobile had broken down, authorities said.

"Two people went to help, and my understanding is the slide triggered 400 yards above them," said Lt. Jeff Winterton of Wasatch County Search and Rescue. "The other two were able to swim out of it."

Rescuers performed CPR on the man before he was airlifted to a hospital in Provo, Winterton said. His identity and his condition were not immediately released.

Authorities had warned of the danger of avalanches in Utah's backcountry, where thousands of people were expected to ski, hike and snowmobile on New Year's Day. Avalanches there have already claimed two lives this season.


Travel smoother as weather improves

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Air travel in the Midwest was returning to normal Saturday following a storm that blanketed the Great Lakes region with several inches of snow.

Only two dozen flights were canceled Saturday morning at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, aviation officials said. Across town, Midway Airport officials reported no cancellations. Both reported no significant delays.

That was in sharp contrast to Friday, when nearly 300 flights were canceled at O'Hare because of the weather and delays averaged 30 to 45 minutes. Delays at Midway Airport averaged 30 minutes, with about 25 cancellations.

By early afternoon Saturday, the storm had largely blown out to sea after spreading snow across northern New England, with rain elsewhere in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic states. Radar showed snow lingering in northern Maine and Canada's Maritime Provinces.

On Friday, both runways at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were closed due to snow for about three hours, airport spokesman Ryan McAdams said.

A tractor-trailer jackknifed on a highway near Madison, Wisconsin, spilling 50,000 gallons of condensed milk and 90 gallons of diesel fuel, sheriff's officials said. The driver was not hurt but was cited for driving too fast under the circumstances.

The Green Bay Packers asked for 300 people to help shovel snow at Lambeau Field on Saturday in preparation for Sunday's game against Detroit.

At Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, snow caused some ground-radar equipment to shut down Friday, forcing the closing of a runway to arriving planes for about two hours, said Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Some were elated by the winter wonderland.

"We love it. Business is wonderful today," Sara Voegeli, ski manager at the Villa Olivia Country Club and Ski Area in suburban Chicago, said Friday.

In the Southeast, forecasters said additional rain was likely this weekend in the Atlanta metro area, and may determine whether 2007 is the driest year on record for the region.

Source: CNN Travel

Adventure racers discover Hundred Islands

The love of adventure and travelling, it seems, are closely linked to each other. Seeking their wander lust in exploring new places, sensing a new–found adventure with every step of the way, adventure lovers become eager travelers in every chance they get to seek out thrill and excitement in unfamiliar territories.

Thirty-seven teams, who came together for yet another successful year of the heart-stopping island escapade "Smart Hundred Islands Adventure Race" held in Alaminos, Pangasinan, recently found themselves awed by the natural wonders of the new place they visited amid the adrenalin-pumping one-day race that pushed them to the limits.

The racers, coming from diverse backgrounds ranging from serious athletes, military servicemen, corporate professionals, university students and professional adventure racers, all went up to the challenge of exploring the wonderful flora, fauna and exciting culture of the Hundred Islands Park and its nearby natural reserves in a once-in-a-lifetime eco-adventure marathon.

Elite category first place team member Roel Ano affirms this. "The islands were beautiful. I enjoyed exploring its natural wonders and was mesmerized by its breathtaking sights."

Sarah Gay Lao, Fun category team member first placer also agrees, "It was my first time in Alaminos and I find it a great place to unwind and take time off from the everyday hassles of work or school. The Hundred Islands serene surroundings allow you to enjoy nature at its best."

Alaminos City, the home of the Hundred Islands National Park in the province of Pangasinan, is the perfect place for a laid back vacation or a fun–filled excursion. It now also caters to adventure lovers who want a taste of nature coupled with exciting sports and activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving or kayaking in the turquoise waters; and spelunking in the many mysterious caves of the Hundred Islands National Park.
The city recently wrapped up its ‘’Smart Hundred Islands Adventure Race" with Alaminos Mayor Hernani Braganza and organizer PETCO playing host to this adventure marathon that tested the skill, strength, speed, and wits of adventure racers from all over the country.

The course brought the teams to the islands and islets of the Hundred Islands National Park and to other undiscovered areas of interest in the city. The racers were given the once-in-a-lifetime experience to unravel the wonders of Alaminos and everything in its lush landscape as they went through the race. "We enjoyed exploring the undersea caves, it will surely be a hit tourist attraction once it becomes an eco-tourism facility," Ano shares.


Aside from the experience of travelling to unfamiliar territories, adventure racers get the ultimate high from the many challenges posed in each race they get into. The Hundred Islands adventure race raised the bar a notch higher by posing more challenging feats for the participants.

"It was a tough race, even for us in the fun category. We weren’t familiar with the place, but the wonderful atmosphere inspired us to use our resources in order to navigate fast while still enjoying the surroundings," adds Lao.

The experience indeed left a lasting remembrance on the many participants who were game enough to unravel the beauty that lay on the pristine isles and islets of the Hundred Islands National park.

More than the exhausting but rewarding tasks that led them to victory, what the winners remember most is the warmth of the culture and the people that complemented the natural splendor of Alaminos. "How the people of Alaminos embraced their visitors and tourists was truly fantastic. Big smiles were always drawn in their faces wherever we went," shares Lao.

Among those who emerged winners of the race were: Elite Category: Sandugo AFP, 1st place, composed of Raquel Espinosa, Roel Ano, and Merlyn Lumagbas, who are all servicemen in the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Trek Ground Zero, 2nd place, composed of Bobby Relos, Louie Peralta, Padua Editha; Sandugo Trek, 3rd place, composed of Thadeus Festin, Jasmine Lasota and Jake Custodio from Quezon City; Team Sagul, 4th place, composed of Christine Bueta, Dela Cruz Antonino and Dela Cuesta Mendel; and UPM Woohoo, 5th place, team of students and professionals composed of Dennis Lopez, Dante Paulo Unson and Roselyn Cabral.

Winners in the Fun Category were: UST MC Boon, 1st place, composed of Julius Cruzat, Frederick Agoot, Sarah Gay Lao 20 years old, all students from the University of Sto. Tomas (UST); UST MC Chepot, 2nd place, composed of Sid Aris Amarillo, Ma. Jaycelyn Martinez and Carlos Amarillo; Global like Trek, 3rd place, composed of Jeoffrey Tan, Lemuel Basa and David Basa from Metro Manila; Joshua Brothers, 4th place, composed of Renato Ancheta, Oliver Arellano and Alfonso Alpuerto; Batch Pakers, 5th place, composed of Mark Romano, Katrina Erika Aranjuez and Jacob Matias all from UP-Diliman.

More Links:
December 2005.MT PULAG, BENGUET
July 2005. Mt PINATUBO

Source: Manila Bulletin Online

Sagada Itinerary

Transpo Rates:
1. Manila -> Sagada:
Manila to Baguio: Victory Liner Bus: Php 385.00
Baguio to Sagada: GL Bus: Php 200+.00
The Victory Liner Terminal is a quite far from the GL liner so i suggest you
a taxi. Taxi fare is around Php 35.00 to 50.00.

2. Sagada -> Manila
Sagada to Bontoc: PUJs: Php 35.00 - the last jeepney going to Bontoc from
Sagada is at 1pm.
Bontoc to Manila: Cable Bus: Php 600.00

3. Scenic Route:
Manila -> Baguio -> Sagada:
a. The highest point in Luzon - or is it the second highest point in Luzon. Nothing much to it really, its just the highest point...hehehe
b. Long and winding road - experience 6 or so hours of curves and whatnot.
c. Rice and Vegetable terraces

Sagada -> Bontoc -> Manila
a. Kadchog Rice Terraces
b. Bontoc Museum
c. Chico River
d. Bay-yo Rice Terraces
e. Banaue Rice Terraces

one last suggestion, if you are taking the Manila - Baguio - Sagada route, try to leave Baguio as early as possible. Landslides are becoming a usual occurence along the Baguio - Bontoc road due to the widening and road improvements being implemented.