January 3, 2014
Don’t Force Winter
It’s surprising what kind of trouble you can get into when you’re riding in marginal snow conditions.
Over the years I have learned that patience is the best policy, even when it comes to snowmobiling. Although we all watch eagerly in the fall for those storm clouds … and the first accumulation of snow creates great anticipation for the season, you still have to show patience to allow snow depths to stack up.
The problem we all have is we all want to get out on the snow. But in our haste, we sometimes compromise safety for ourselves or our sleds. Thus, we tend to hit more things that aren’t significantly covered by snow or we ride in snow conditions more conducive to avalanche.
This past week we have seen two snowmobile deaths directly related to snow conditions. The first was where a rider hit a ditch that during normal years would likely be filled in with snow and unnoticed. The second was a rider who died in an avalanche, likely caused by ground hoar formed during the past cold dry spell.
Could these deaths have been preventable? Of course. They were accidents. Accidents are usually a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes all it requires is just being a few seconds later or a foot or two to one side or the other. These freak accidents leave loved ones wondering why or what if.
Sometimes we put ourselves in compromised positions because our desire to do the things we love … like snowmobile.
Nowadays, with the cost of snowmobiles being what they are, many may feel that to justify such an expense, one has to get out and ride as early in the season as possible—sometimes before snow conditions can improve or stabilize. It’s hard to sit back and wait for the next series of storms to come through to improve riding conditions. Sometimes we just try to force winter, which usually means we put ourselves into the steep terrain on the wind-blown slopes in order to find the best snow.
For some of us, snowmobiling is our passion—that’s what we live for. But no matter how great the sport is, it’s not worth dying for. So we all need to be just a little more careful, especially in early and late seasons when we’re trying to get every bit of winter we can. It’s during these marginal times when we’re exposed to the greatest risks.
Remember, there will always be another great day to ride … let’s just try to remain safe and healthy for that day. It will be worth waiting for.
Pioneer Country Travel Council