To the west of us, just across the border in Idaho, a heavy load of snow has severely damaged the Hamby Saddle warming hut. Officials at the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest have closed the shelter for public safety. The warming shelter is on Road 464 at Hamby Saddle on the Moose Creek Ranger District.

Monday, February 7th, citizens notified the Forest Service that the hut had collapsed. Apparently, the damage happened over the weekend. Officials went to the site and determined the hut was unsafe for people to use. They have closed it until further notice.

Jennifer Becar of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest noted in a news release that most buildings throughout the forest are inspected on a five-year cycle. The Hamby Saddle hut was at the end of a five-year inspection cycle, having been examined in 2017. At that time, the checkup showed no structural needs.

damaged Hamby hut
An Idaho hut in the snow. (Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest-provided photo)

Moose Creek District Ranger Ron Tipton said, "We currently have facility engineers inspecting the warming hut to determine what caused the collapse. In the meantime, we ask that visitors avoid the Hamby Saddle warming hut and abide by the emergency closure."

The warming hut is often used by snowmobilers in the Grangeville and Elk City areas in Idaho. It's along the Elk City Wagon Road. There are over 350 miles of groomed trails in that area. Snowmobilers pass by the shelter at Hamby Saddle to reach the top of Anderson Butte.

For more information on Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest closure alerts and notices, check their website.

By the way, no such problems in Montana on the Bitterroot and Deerlodge-Beaverhead National Forest warming huts. We've heard the usual excellent reports on the Gordon Reese warming hut on the Chief Joseph Pass cross-country trails and the nearby May Creek Cabin. However, if you notice something out of place or damaged, please report it to the US Forest Service.

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