December 17, 2011

Avalance Airbags: Keeping You On Top

Brian Beck

Avalanche airbags work by the principle of Inverse Segregation. Or for those who are unfamiliar with that term, the “Brazil Nut Effect.”

Let’s say you have a can of mixed nuts and all the different sizes of nuts are dispersed equally throughout the can. If you shake that can of nuts back and forth, the Brazil nuts (or any of the relatively large nuts) will eventually end up on top. This is because the smaller nuts fit into the void spaces and sink to the bottom, thus making the bigger nuts “float” to the top.

In an avalanche, snow particles act in a similar way. The smaller pieces sink to the bottom and the bigger pieces tend to float to the top. This is why it’s common to see large chunks of a cornice on top of an avalanche debris pile.

If an avalanche victim has an inflated airbag during the avalanche, not only is he much larger than the surrounding snow particles, but he is also much lighter and less dense, since about six cubic feet of air is contained inside the airbags.

Avalanche airbags have been around since the 1980s in Europe and SnowBigDeal has been selling them in North America since 2004. They have grown immensely in popularity over recent years, due to their very high success rate in keeping avalanche victims alive. Statistics show that since airbags have been on the market, around 98 percent of avalanche victims who deployed an airbag have survived.

However, the exact success rate for avalanche airbags in general is unknown, due to the fact that many avalanche survivors do not report their incident to the airbag manufacturer.

We at SnowBigDeal have worn each type of airbag and are thoroughly familiar with each one. Here’s a very brief review of each brand currently in production, in the order they were introduced into the market.


ABS is headquartered in Germany and has been making avalanche airbags since the 1980s. The company started with a single airbag design, but now all ABS packs have dual airbags. The dual airbag system has two airbags attached to the sides and inflates to a total airbag volume of 170 liters.

The activation trigger contains an explosive charge that punctures a canister filled with compressed nitrogen that fills the bags. ABS uses nitrogen to fill their airbags because nitrogen prevents the system from freezing up at extremely low temperatures and it has a fast expansion rate. The new ABS packs have removable storage packs that can be purchased individually and docked to the base unit that contains the airbag system.


This will be the fourth season for SnowPulse airbags in North America. Headquartered in Switzerland, the company manufactures a 150-liter single airbag that is filled with compressed air. The SnowPulse airbag is attached to the shoulder straps and creates a U-shaped airbag around the head and upper body of the user. This design is intended to float an avalanche victim face-up and to provide more protection for the head, neck and upper spine.

A large number of avalanche victims die from trauma. Many even die before the avalanche stops moving, so Snow- Pulse has addressed this issue with the added trauma protection of its unique airbag design.


WARI LLC of Minnesota is the manufacturer of the AviVest. This will be the third year of the AviVest on the market and the company makes two types of avalanche vests: the original AviVest and the Impact Vest. Both are very comfortable since weight is evenly distributed due to the fact that they don’t have narrow shoulder straps like the backpack models do.

The AviVest has storage for a shovel, probe and other gear in the back and also two pockets in the front for goggles, radio, GPS, etc.

The Impact Vest has storage in the back, but not in front. The Impact Vest has a protective plate over the sternum of the user to offer protection from tree branches, handlebars, etc. Both AviVest packs use a compressed air canister with a pressure gauge, so it’s easy to see if the canister is full. One single airbag is attached to the back of the vest, filling with 150 liters of air.

BCA Flato30 airbagBCA

In 2010, Backcountry Access, located in Boulder, CO, became the first company to release a $500 airbag pack to the market. Since then, the pack has increased in price, but so has the performance. The BCA airbags use compressed air to fill a 150-liter single airbag that is attached to the top of the pack.

The BCA “Float” airbags are deployed by pulling a cable on your right shoulder strap, so snowmobilers can pull with their left hand while keeping their right hand on the throttle to outrun an avalanche. BCA packs come with several O-rings so you can refill the canister and additional refill kits are cheap.

Editor’s Note: Beck is sales director at

Views 111
December 17, 2011

Product Test: Simmons Skis

Simmons SkisWe had a chance to try out a prototype trail ski from Providence, UT-based Simmons Skis that took the Gen3 concept of the modified dual keel/concave design with a shorter outer keel. The ski was about three inches narrower than the Gen3’s 8-inch width, which made it a little more attractive.

We put them on our Ski-Doo Summit Freeride to see how they would affect handling and sidehilling.

We found the narrower skis were tremendous for sidehilling and handling down the trail. However, once seeing how aggressive the skis performed, we dropped the limiter strap all the way to reduce ski pressure. This reduced some of the steering effort without sacrificing any of the handling or control.

TSimmons Skishe big test for the skis was in the powder and across sidehills. In dry snow, although we did feel less flotation, the skis still functioned as you would expect they should. However, since we were testing them in the spring, as the day progressed and the snow turned to a wetter texture, the handling became heavier, requiring more effort that what we were experiencing with our stock skis.

Our conclusion is the narrow skis were perfect for sidehilling. When it came to cutting through the powder, the skis also performed outstanding. However, since these are the narrower skis, flotation was compromised. Late in the day when the snow started to soften up, the skis had a tendency to dive a bit. This would make us conclude the Gen3 version would probably perform better when it comes to flotation. Perhaps the standard Gen3 skis are the best of all worlds.

Company: Simmons Flexi-Skis

Views 150
December 17, 2011

Don't Break the Bank

Five lightweight mods that won't trash your wallet

Jarrid Juse

SilencerIn recent years, factory snowmobiles have evolved from common 500 plus-pound/135 hp machines into 450-pound/165 hp sleds. As a result, the inexpensive light weight parts like chromoly and aluminum have become standard issue for the manufactures, making lightening your sled harder and more expensive.

The great news is, there are still products available that will lighten your new sled and not “break the bank.”

The first thing I would look at would be an exhaust Silencerpipe and lightweight silencer. Typical weight savings are 10-15 lbs. in some cases and you will see an increase of 5-16 hp, depending on the model. The cost of this mod will run $600-900.

Next I would look at a lightweight seat. The ergonomics of new snowmobiles have improved over the years with a more forward rider position and higher seating, resulting in a more comfortable riding position. With that said, there is always room for improvement. I feel Boss Industries has the leading edge when it comes to aftermarket seats. With a little Seathigher seating position on some models and, of course, lighter seats you will see a 4-9-pound weight savings at a competitive $400 price tag.

Plastic have evolved with new materials and processes to form and mould lighter hoods and panels. Changing out a set of panels or a hood can result in 6-16 lbs of weight reduction with a trick personal look to your new toy. Cost is around $300.

HoodTitanium has always been an exotic material left for the elite sled builder with a price tag most would cringe at. As I said earlier, with the evolution of new materials and processes it has become surprisingly affordable. A lightweight bolt kit with a typical 3-pound weight savings will cost about $370. Titanium will not tarnish or rust while providing excellent strength and good looks. I use it on every build I do now and have had excellent results.

BoltsHiperfax sliders are a great way to increase slider life and shed some weight. Hiperfax material has a melting point of 750 degrees F compared to the factory ones of 300 degrees F. This increase allows the user to remove inner wheels on the rear suspension, dropping anywhere from 4-8 lbs of unsprung weight and also giving you even slider wear. You will need a set of rail mounted ice scratchers to provide some cooling and lubrication for those long trails to the alpine.

I have used this upgrade myself for 10 plus years and Sliderstypically Hiperfax last 3-4 1000-mile seasons. Cost will run $178.99 for the Hiperfax and $39.99 for scratchers.

For more information, contact Juse, owner of Absolute Power & Performance, (780) 460-9101 or

Views 88
December 17, 2011

Mountain Freerides Put the Hurt on Mountains

Lane Lindstrom

Polaris Assault "the grandfather of the Freeride segment"What started out as a curiosity when the Polaris Assault was unleashed on the mountains just three model seasons ago has evolved into a full-blown mountain class that has quickly become one of the most popular, right behind the 800cc sleds.

Arctic Cat introduced the HCR the same model year— 2009—as the Assault but the Assault seemed to get all the attention that first year. Ski-Doo came a little late to the party—model year 2011—with its Freeride sled but made a pretty big splash when it did arrive.

Now much more than a curiosity, the mountain freeride sleds are different things to different people. For professional hillclimbers, the freeride machines are their weapon of choice when competing in hillclimbs. For the serious backcountry rider, these sleds offer beefed-up suspensions (and chassis in some instances), stiffer tracks and different handlebar setups, all designed for all those riders to pound the bumps and jumps a little harder than your stock mountain 800.

We knew this segment was going somewhere after Polaris sold a bunch of Assaults when those machines first came out. Now with Cat and Ski-Doo in the mix, the mountain freerides are one more exciting option for western riders.

For 2012, the mountain freeride class offers a full complement of sleds to choose from, including (with available track sizes) the Arctic Cat HCR (153-85 durometer track), Arctic Cat M1100 Turbo HCR (162-85 durometer), Polaris 800 RMK Assault (155) and Ski-Doo Summit Freeride 800 (137, 146, 154).

We should mention at the outset of the following questions that Arctic Cat didn’t bring a M800 HCR to the annual photo shoots so most of the answers will be between the Polaris Assault and the Ski-Doo Freeride. We did ride the HCR M1100 Turbo so that will be in the mix on some questions.

Ski-DooWhich sled has the most significant changes for 2012?
Once again, Arctic Cat wins the prize in this area, as it has in the mountain 800 and four-stroke segments. The name is the same for the Cats in the freeride class but that’s about it as the two HCRs are the newest in this segment. New from the bumper to the snowflap, not only does Arctic Cat come to the mountain with a new M800 HCR, but also an M 1100 Turbo HCR. We’ve detailed in previous issues this season all the new features on Cat’s mountain sleds (ProClimb chassis, Arctic Drive System, ARS front suspension, new running boards, new skis and the list literally goes on and on), but we definitely should make a point to highlight the new M 1100 Turbo HCR, which is a whole new animal for the freeride segment.

Ski-Doo thinks the freeride segment is a big enough deal that it decided to just create a new segment in its lineup for the Freeride. New for 2012 are three track lengths: 137, 146 and 154. The new Rev XP seat on the Freeride also features a small storage compartment and the shocks used for 2012 are KYB Pro 40 piggyback easy adjust racing shocks. The new easy adjust compression damping adjustment knob does not require tools, similar to the rebound adjustment knob on the front shocks.

The big news with the Assault is that there is now a model (not mentioned above) in the Switchback brand, the Assault 144. Whereas the Assault 155 sits in the Pro RMK chassis, the Assault 144 uses the Rush front end and Rush steering post and has lugs only 1.352 inches deep compared to the 155 which has 2.4-inch deep lugs.

Arctic Cat HCR M 800 naturally aspiratedWhich sled feels the most powerful?
It’s hard to argue against the M 1100 Turbo HCR with its 177 hp. Straight up, the turbo wipes the other three sleds in the class, including the M800 HCR. If we’re just going with the 800s in this class, then the nod goes to Ski-Doo’s Freeride.

Which sled makes the least power?
This year we didn’t (at least yet) get any seat time on the M 800 HCR, this decision boils down to the Polaris and Ski-Doo and the Assault just doesn’t build as much horsepower as the Freeride.

Which sled’s powerband is best for climbing?
Again, comparing just the naturally-aspirated sleds, if you’re going straight up the hill, the Freeride has long legs and scampers up the hill. Throw some turns in there or trees on a hillside and the Polaris Assault is tough to beat because of its broad powerband and nimble chassis that allow for some maneuvering.

Which sled’s powerband is best for boondocking?
Not to sound like a broken record, but having not had a chance to ride the naturally-aspirated HCR, this comes down to the Polaris Assault and Ski- Doo Freeride. It may not have the most power in the class but the Assault allows you to use every bit of power you need when you’re working tight trees on an off-camber hill. It’s smooth and useable power. For the record, the HCR Turbo is a bit much in tight trees. This is a hillclimber.

2012 Ski-Doo FreerideWhich sled has the smoothest powerband for all conditions?
This question’s not so easy to answer. Throwing all kinds of western riding into the mix from hillclimbing to boondocking to busting powder, it’s a tossup between the Assault and Freeride.

Which sled has the best front suspension?
One of the best features about all the sleds in the freeride segment is that they use premium shocks and the suspensions are set up for pounding the moguls. You can ride these machines hard and they just come back for more. They all have pretty sweet setups but the sweetest just might be the Freeride with its KYB Pro 40 R easy adjust shocks although a couple of SnowTest staffers made a pretty strong argument for the Assault and its Walker Evans compression adjustable needle shocks. Cat uses Fox EVOL shocks on its Arctic Race Suspension front end but it was a little hard to get a good feel for the ride on the HCR Turbo because of the weight on the front end.

Which sled has the best rear suspension?
Again, Ski-Doo has the KYB Pro 40 easy adjust shocks in the SC-5M 2 rear suspension and got the nod from most of the SnowTest staff. The Assault’s RMK coil-over rear suspension is no slouch with its Walker Evans compression adjustable needle shock (rear track shock) and coil-over shock (front track shock). The HCR/HCR Turbo have the M rear suspension with Fox Zero Pro (front arm) and Fox Float (rear arm) shocks. It does well but both the Ski-Doo and Polaris are better.

2012 Polaris RMK Assault 155Which sled has the best track?
This is not as easy as the pick we made in the “8 Is Enough” story in the October issue because the tracks on three of the four sleds in this class are different than the 800s.

Tracks in the freeride segment tend to be stiffer (stiffer durometer) for hillclimb competition, which is usually on a hardpack course with nasty ol’ ruts, not deep powder.

Arctic Cat uses an 85 durometer track, compared to an 80 durometer track on Cat’s other mountain sleds. Polaris’ tracks are also stiffer. Ski-Doo’s track is the same as on the Summit but it also has the deepest lugs off the three brands in this class with its PowderMax II 2.5-inch.

Tracks chew up the snow. That means there is a little tradeoff with the mountain freeride sleds. Generally speaking you get a more premium shock package so you can hit the holes a little harder but if the powder is soft then the stiffer tracks trench more. Cat’s Powerclaw works well in all conditions, even with the stiffer durometer which, interestingly, works better in deep powder than Polaris’ stiffer track.

Which sled has the best seat?
The SnowTest crew couldn’t agree on this one. Some like the narrow Assault seat, others the new Rev XP seat with storage and still others the Cat seat. This one boiled down to personal preference.

Which sled has the best running boards?
Cat’s new running board design works really well in the deep snow with the other two playing catch up.

Which sled has the best skis?
Ditto on what we said in the mountain 800 class: Polaris … no contest.

What sled feels the lightest on snow?
At 446 lbs., the Polaris Assault rides lighter and is lighter than the Ski-Doo Freeride (489 lbs.). Again, we don’t know about the Cat M 800 HCR. The HCR Turbo definitely isn’t the lightest on snow.

What sled feels the heaviest on snow?
The M 1100 Turbo HCR has the most power but it’s also the heaviest.

2012 Arctic Cat ProClimb M 800 HCRWhich sled sidehills on open hillsides the best?
Polaris gets the nod here. The Pro Ride chassis is one nimble piece of engineering.

Which sled handles the best on rough single-track trails?
Even though we think Ski-Doo has the edge in suspension both front and rear, the Assault handles better on those shelled-out backcountry trails and that’s thanks once again to the chassis.

Which sled handles the best on groomed trails?
The Ski-Doo Freeride.

Which sled is our top pick for this class?
The edge—and it’s the slightest of margins in this class—goes to the Polaris Assault over the Summit Freeride 800. In fact, it wasn’t a unanimous pick on the SnoWest SnowTest staff. Ask us again later in the season after we’ve had some more seat time on the M 800 HCR and that might change, but for now we’re going with the Assault.

Views 192
December 17, 2011

Exclusive Western Canada Travel Guide

Blue River, BC. Photo by Thunderstruck Films www.bigskyx.comIt’s been a couple of seasons since we paid much attention—at least in any kind of detail—to the great snowmobile riding in western Canada.

It’s time.

There are so many great choices of where to ride in western Canada it’s almost silly—and difficult—to really do justice to every single riding spot. There are a bunch.

So, consider our exclusive western Canada guide as more of a highlight reel of what’s available in Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory.

Comprehensive might be a bit of a stretch to describe our snowmobiling guide, but we think we’ve hit most of the riding areas for western Canada. We do think we’re giving you a pretty good place to start.

Riding in western Canada is as diverse as anywhere on earth. Moving from east to west, you have the prairies of Alberta before you reach this wall of mountains called the Canadian Rockies, which forms the provincial border between Alberta and British Columbia. From there to the Pacific Ocean, British Columbia is range after range of mountains. Up north in the territories, you can ride next to the Arctic Ocean while in the Northwest Territories as well as near massive rivers and in some mountains. Once you get to the Yukon, you have even more mountains and glaciated valleys. You won’t get bored in any province or territory.

The snows come early in the season and stay late in the spring, providing sledders south of the border some early season riding opportunities while they wait for the snow to fall closer to home. That’s just one more advantage—out of many—of the riding in western Canada. We say one of many because there are so many options. Your biggest challenge might be simply choosing where to ride.

Those are the kinds of challenges we like.

Crowsnest Pass. Photo courtesy Travel AlbertaAlberta

Alberta offers some of the greatest variety of riding in Canada—from the prairie to the mountains.

The majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains, which form just about half of Alberta’s western border, gradually give way to the vast rolling prairie that makes up the land mass from the Rockies to the province’s border with Saskatchewan.

In between is some excellent snowmobiling, from the top of the province to the bottom and from the east to the west.

You can choose from nearly 4,000 miles of groomed trails as well as some of the best mountain riding anywhere. The province has a well-maintained and diverse system of trails that covers just about every part of the province. And that means choosing high elevation trails, such as those near Crowsnest Pass and along the Rockies, or hitting the trails among rolling hills on the prairie, as far north as High Level. And if you don’t need a groomed path and have a sense of adventure, there is plenty of wide-open country to explore.

If you’re leaning toward some powder and high elevation riding then head up to the Canadian Rockies. One of the more popular mountain riding areas is Crowsnest Pass, which, ironically enough, also has one of the province’s biggest trail systems. Riding begins at about 3,799 feet and goes up from there, to between 7,499 and 7,998 feet. Snows are deepest in the bowls that dot the Canadian Rockies. Storms pound the Canadian Rockies to the tune of between 118-236 inches every winter.

There are other mountain areas worth exploring, especially between Crowsnest and Banff National Park in Kananaskis Country. Popular riding areas here include McLean Creek, Cataract Creek and Sibbald Flats. For more information on Kananaskis Country, log on to

Still another great mountain riding area is Kakwa Wildland Park, located on the border of Alberta and British Columbia, about a 2-hour drive south and west of Grande Prairie. The powder is deep and the riding wide open.

With just a few exceptions, access to the mountains and/or prairie riding areas is usually no more than a few hours of drive time, regardless of where you are.

Pumpkin Park, Smoky Lake AB. Photo courtesy Travel AlbertaGuide

Alberta Snowmobile
Groomed Trails—3,914 miles
Highest Point—Mount Columbia (12,293 ft)
Greatest Average Annual Snowfall—Waterton Village 189.6 in.
Average Yearly Snowfall For The Entire Province Of Alberta—55 in.

Alberta Destinations

Location Elevation Feet Snowfall Inches Groomed Trails Mi Full-Service Town Information
1) Alberta Beach 2,191 46 142 Alberta Beach, Edmonton Alberta Beach 780-924-3181
2) Athabasca 1,837 55 310 Athabasca Athabasca Country Tourism 780-675-2230
3) Barrhead 3,969 51 62 Barrhead Barrhead & District C of C 780-674-6100
4) Battle River Trail 2,175 32 149 Forestburg, Sedgewick Village of Forestburg 780-582-3668
5) Bonnyville 1,699 23-35 186 Bonnyville Bonnyville Chamber of Commerce 780-826-3252
6) Caroline   59 40 Caroline Village of Caroline 403-722-3781
7) Cold Lake 1,774 51 37 Cold Lake Cold Lake Information Centre 800-840-6140
8) Crowsnest Pass/Pincher Creek 3,799-7,998 196-236 745 Crowsnest Pass (Bellevue, Blairmore, Coleman) Crowsnest Pass C of C 888-562-7108
9) Drayton Valley 2,749 53 37.2 Drayton Valley Brazeau Tourism 800-633-0899
10) Edson 3,041 106-118 310 Edson Edson 780-723-4918
11) Elk Point 1,984 45 56 Elk Point Elk Point 780-724-3810
12) Fairview 2,198 64.5 31 Fairview Fairview & District C of C 780-835-5999
13) Fort McMurray 1,210 67.7 155 Fort McMurray Fort McMurray Tourism 800-565-3947
14) Fort Saskatchewan 2,034 31-41 99 Fort Saskatchewan Fort Saskatchewan C of C 780-998-4355
15) Fort Assiniboine 2,201 40 37 Barrhead Barrhead & District C of C 780-674-6100
16) Golden Triangle 2,398-3,969 36 219 Fox Creek, Whitecourt, Swan Hills Fox Creek C of C 780-622-2670, Whitecourt C of C 780-778-5363, Town of Swan Hills 780-333-4477
17) Grande Prairie 2,194 70.8 78 Grande Prairie Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce 780-532-5340
18) Grande Cache 4,097 75.4 n/a Grande Cache Grande Cache Tourism and Interpretive Centre 888-827-3790
19) High Level 1,108-2,099 23.6-59 186 High Level High Level & District C of C 780-926-2470
20) Hinton 3,172 59 34 Hinton Hinton Chamber of Commerce 780-865-2777
21) La Crete 918 20-35 37 La Crete La Crete Chamber of Commerce 780-928-2278
22) Lac La Biche/Lakeland County 2,076 49 n/a Lac La Biche Lac La Biche Region 877-623-9696
23) Olds 3,412 48 62 Olds Olds Chamber of Commerce 403-556-7070
24) Rainbow Lake 1,899 39.3-59 168 Rainbow Lake Town of Rainbow Lake 780-956-3934
25) Rocky Mountain House 3,241 64 621 Rocky Mountain House Rocky Mountain House C of C 800-565-3793
26) St. Paul 2,122 38 68 St. Paul St. Paul Chamber of Commerce 780-645-5820
27) Two Hills 2,460 39 31 Town Two Hills Town of Two Hills 780-657-3395
28) Valleyview 2,499 59 56 Valleyview Valleyview 780-524-5150
29) Westlock 2,132 47 93 Westlock Town of Westlock 780-349-4444
30) Kakwa Wildland Park 5,905-10,498 Up to 59 ft. 31 Grande Prairie (2 hours) Kakwa Wildland Park 780-538-5350


British Columbia

British Columbia Destinations

Location Elevation Feet Snowfall Inches Groomed Trails Mi Full-Service Town Information
1) Stewart 0 to 8,000 224 none Stewart Stewart/Hyder Chamber of Commerce 888-366-5999
2) Fort St. John 1,699-2,499 73 124 Fort St. John Fort St. John & District Chamber of Commerce 250-785-6037
3) Smithers 1,640-8,500 80 24.8 Smithers Tourism Smithers 800-542-6673
4) Mackenzie 1,998-5,498 128 none Mackenzie Mackenzie Chamber of Commerce 877-622-5360
5) Chetwynd-Pine Pass 3,000-6,000 69-121 none Chetwynd Chetwynd and District Chamber of Commerce 250-788-3345
6) Kitimat/Terrace 4,593-8,858 132-166 none Terrace, Kitimat Terrace & District C of C 250-635-2063, Kitimat C of C 250-632-6294
7) Tumbler Ridge/Dawson Creek 1,597-6,499 69 298 Dawson Creek, Tumbler Ridge Tourism Dawson Creek 866-645-3022, Tumbler Ridge C of C 250-242-0015
8) Prince George 1,998-7,000 90.5 62 Prince George Tourism Prince George 800-668-7646
9) Anahim Lake/Tweedsmuir Park 2,998-4,921 46 none Williams Lake (196 mi) Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourist Association 800-663-5885
10) McBride 2.529-8,202 74 35.7 McBride McBride 866-569-3366
11) Quesnel/Wells 4,150-6,561 188 93 Wells, Quesnel Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourist Association 800-663-5885
12) Taseko Lake 4,498-10,000 44-79 none Williams Lake Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourist Association 800-663-5885
13) Williams Lake/Quesnel Lake 1,788-3,083 69-79 none Williams Lake Williams Lake Chamber of Commerce 250-392-5025
14) Valemount 2,499-7,998 45-87 66 Valemount Village of Valemount 250-566-4435
15) Clearwater 2,227-8,038 157 none Clearwater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce 250-674-2646
16) Mica Mountain 3,936-7,545 232 none 100 Mile House South Cariboo Visitor Info Centre 877-511-5353
17) 100 Mile House 3,474 62.6 none 100 Mile House South Cariboo Visitor Info Centre 877-511-5353
18) Green Lake 3,789 63-69 31 Clinton Village of Clinton 250-459-2261
19) Gold Bridge/Bralorne 3,398-9,000 Up to 46 ft. none Gold Bridge, Bralorne Bridge River Valley Chamber of Commerce 250-238-2534
20) Golden 1,499-9,000 67-188 62 Golden Golden Chamber of Commerce 800-622-4653
21) Revelstoke 1,988-7,952 Up to 59 ft. 43 Revelstoke Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce 250-837-5345
22) Mt. Washington/Comox 0-4,921 Up to 26 ft. none Comox Comox Valley Visitor Information Centre 250-334-3234
23) Tod Mountain/Tranquille Lake 3,999 - 5,997 157-196 none Kamloops Tourism Kamloops 866-372-8081
24) Sicamous 1,148-6,561 78-196 44 Sicamous Sicamous Chamber of Commerce 250-836-3313
25) Pemberton Ice Fields 2,000-8,028 359 16 Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish Pemberton & District Chamber of Commerce 604-894-6477
26) Salmon Arm 1,728-6,561 71-106 44 Salmon Arm Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce 250-832-6247
27) Hunters Range/Enderby 1,181-6,233 40-79 none Enderby Enderby Chamber of Commerce 250-838-6727
28) Whistler 2,499-8,198 161-359 none Whistler, Squamish Whistler Chamber of Commerce 604-932-5922
29) Logan Lake 3,510 39 155 Logan Lake District of Logan Lake 250-523-6225
30) Vernon 1,824-3,280 39-236 none Vernon Tourism Vernon 800-665-0795
31) Lumby 2,998-6,797 65-236 99 Lumby Lumby Chamber of Commerce 250-547-2300
32) Radium Hot Springs/Invermere 3,080 59 none Radium Hot Springs, Invermere Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce 250-342-2844
33) Merritt 1,952 39 none Merritt Tourism Merritt 250-378-0349
34) Kelowna 3,608-5,249 196-276 186 Kelowna Tourism Kelowna 800-663-4345
35) Squamish/Brohm Ridge 898-6,797 143-393 none Squamish Squamish Visitor Centre 866-333-2010
36) Coquihalla Connector 4,898-5,698 59-67 none Merritt, Kelowna Tourism Kelowna 800-663-4345
37) Cypress Provincial Park 984-2,978 244 none Vancouver
38) Bacon Lake/Campbell River 2,624-5,577 Up to 10 ft. none Campbell River Campbell River Tourism 800-463-4386
39) Coquihalla Pass 3,497-6,797 590-826 none Princeton Princeton Chamber of Commerce 250-295-3103
40) Kokanee Range/West Kootenays 3,838-6,998 149 none New Denver Slocan District Chamber of Commerce 250-358-2719
41) Elk Valley/Sparwood 3,497-6,499 97-344 none Sparwood Sparwood Chamber of Commerce 877-485-8185
42) Big White/Graystokes Plateau 7,601 118-196 none Kelowna Tourism Kelowna 800-663-4345
43) Cranbrook/Kimberley 4,035-6,561 55-157 none Cranbrook, Kimberley Cranbrook C of C 800-222-6174, Kimberley C of C 866-913-3666
44) Castlegar 1,561 83-118 none Castlegar Castlegar Chamber of Commerce 250-365-6313
45) Fernie 3,497-6,998 140-275 none Fernie Fernie Chamber of Commerce 250-423-6868
46) Fort Nelson 1,253 70 none Fort Nelson Northern Rockies Regional District 250-774-2541
47) Kamloops 4,264-8,036 72-264 60 Kamloops Kamloops Visitor Centre 800-662-1994

There are a number of places that make various claims when it comes to snowmobiling: the best snow, the best scenery, the best terrain, the best trails, the best off-trail riding.

But there are very few places where the right combinations of all those characteristics snowmobilers yearn for come together to create the near-perfect riding spot.

British Columbia is one such place.

The snowmobiling in British Columbia is better than you can imagine. And it’s not just one spot in the province that offers all those qualities—it’s riding location after riding location.

When it comes to the white stuff, it seems like there’s always snow somewhere in the province, even during the middle of the summer. There are places in BC that receive anywhere from 26-59 feet of snow. And as the storms move from west to east, the snow gets drier and fluffier and it’s powder heaven.

All that snow falls on quite a variety of terrain. The mountains are rugged and provide some of the best hillclimbing you’ll find anywhere. Of course, there are plenty of places riders of any skill level can enjoy. The variety of riding places is what helps set British Columbia apart. Yes, there are mountains, meadows and bowls. Yes, there are trails, forest roads and ridgelines to ride. But how many places can you ride and see the ocean? The remote town of Stewart is one such place. It’s one of those places where the deep snow (49-59 feet) and reach-to-the-sky mountains work together to make it a magical place to ride.

Then there is Vancouver Island, where up to nearly 10 feet of snow falls and there is ample riding available.

Then there’s the glacier riding. The Pemberton Ice Fields might be the most popular spot to ride glaciers but even those who continually ride there are amazed at the beauty and the endless snow.

There are dozens of riding areas in BC, covering nearly every corner of the province and each offering its own uniqueness. Another great attraction of BC sledding is abundance of riding spots close to the major metropolitan areas. For example, some of the best riding in BC is less than an hour away from Vancouver. The terrain is magnificent and the scenery just can’t be described. You really do have to see it to believe it.

There are also lots of riding spots not close to major metropolitan areas, such as all of northern BC, say north of Smithers and Fort St. John. Northern BC also gets plenty of snow … you just have to have a plan if you’re going to ride it. You need to locate services and definitely know where you’re going. It is wide open country up here and you might get awful lonely. There are also a couple of snowmobile areas in the far northwest corner of BC where snowmobiling is popular, such as near Atlin. But that area is mentioned in the Yukon Territory section because access is only through the Yukon.


British Columbia Snowmobile
Groomed Trails—7,456 miles
Highest Point Mount—Fairweather (15,299 ft)
Greatest Average Annual Snowfall—Revelstoke 167 in.
Average Yearly Snowfall For The Entire Province Of British Columbia—77 inches

Northwest Terr.

Just about anything you do outdoors in the Northwest Territories is an Adventure with a capital A.

It’s remote. It’s rugged. It’s big. It’s harsh. Its topography includes everything from mountains to barren lands to massive waterways and lakes. And sometimes it can be unforgiving.

And you could ride a snowmobile just about anywhere. Your only limitations are the size of your gas tank and what kind of supplies you can carry.

Snowmachining in the Northwest Territories isn’t quite up to the recreational status it is in most of the rest of Canada. Most folks who live in this vast 452,480-square-mile chunk of real estate (Texas has 268,580 square miles) still use their snowmachines as a necessary mode of transportation and a means to hunt and fish for food.

What? Use a snowmachine for recreation?

Oh, yea.

Do we even need to talk about sharing all that snow and land with others? There are 43,439 people (compared to 50,000 musk ox or 700,000 barren land caribou or 15,000 polar bears or 26,000 moose) living in the NWT.

Even though the territory is pretty much wide open to riding, we’ve listed areas where there are towns nearby because that’s where the services are and those are pretty good starting points for your Adventure. In fact, if you look at a map of the Northwest Territories, you’ll see wide swaths of land between many of the towns we’ve mentioned below.

We readily admit the places we’ve listed aren’t the only places to ride.


Great Slave Snowmobile
Groomed Trails—None
Highest Point—Mount Nirvana (9,098 ft)
Greatest Average Annual Snowfall—Fort Simpson 67 in.
Average Yearly Snowfall For The Entire Northwest Territories—58 in.

Location Elevation Feet Snowfall Inches Groomed Trails Mi Full-Service Town Information
1)Fort Smith 666 60 none Fort Smith Fort Smith Visitor Centre 867-872-3065
2)Hay River 541 49 none Hay River Town of Hay River 867-874-6522
3)Fort Liard 699 60.3 none Fort Liard Fort Liard Visitor Information Centre 867-770-4161
4)Yellowknife 669-797 50-70 none Yellowknife Northern Frontier Visitors Association 877-881-4262
5)Western Arctic 0 to 6,561 66 none Inuvik, Fort McPherson, Tuktoyaktuk Western Arctic Regional Visitor Centre 867-777-4727



The more we learn about Yukon Territory, the more convinced we are that it may just be one of the best-kept snowmobiling secrets in Canada.

It might be tempting to say the Yukon is off the beaten path, but actually it’s on the main highway—the Alaska Highway. It does take some effort to get to this northern part of Canada, though. That tends to keep the crowds to a minimum, especially in the winter.

Towering mountains—Canada’s tallest peak, 19,550-foot Mt. Logan, is in the Yukon—plenty of powder, a limitless number of backcountry trails and beautiful scenery all await any adventurer.

In the Yukon, you’ve got the Continental Divide taking a wild ride on the east side of the territory while on the west it’s the St. Elias Mountains, home to the territory’s tallest peaks.

When you decide to ride in the Yukon, you have to have a plan. It’s big, wide-open and has limited services in most areas of the territory. One of the biggest challenges is to ensure there are tourism services—gas, food, lodging and the like—where you’re riding. Selected services are available at many of the small communities in the Yukon, but for a wider variety, you’ll need to hit the territory’s bigger towns, most of which are found along the Alaska Highway (crosses the territory east and west) and Klondike Highway (north and south through the territory).

Because of the remoteness of many of the riding areas, it’s a good idea to check with the KSA before heading out. The KSA can give you plenty of information that can help you when making travel plans.

Location Elevation Feet Snowfall Inches Groomed Trails Mi Full-Service Town Information
1) Atlin 2,263 57-60 none Some services in Atlin, BC, and Carcross. Full services in Whitehorse Atlin Visitor Information Centre 250-651-7522, Whitehorse visitor information 867-667-3084
2) Dawson City 1,640-4,921 39-63 31 Dawson City Klondike Snowmobile Association 867-667-7680
3) Faro 2,352 44 none Faro Campbell Region Interpretive Centre 867-994-2288
4) Haines Summit 3,937-6,561 Up to 10 ft. none Haines Junction (2-hour drive) Klondike Snowmobile Association 867-667-7680 Village of Haines Junction 867-634-7100
5) Mayo 1,653 57 none Mayo Village of Mayo 867-996-2317
6) Watson Lake 2,254 77 none Watson Lake Town of Watson Lake 867-536-8000
7) Whitehorse 2,316 57 none Whitehorse City of Whitehorse 867-667-6401

Views 125
December 17, 2011

BoonDocker EZ Jacker 1.9 Performance Module

BoonDocker EZ Jacker 1.9Unleash the maximum horsepower on pump fuel from Arctic Cat 1100 Turbo models with the new BoonDocker EZ Jacker 1.9 electronic module. Building on prior knowledge gained during the development of the original Z1 turbo Hi Jacker, BoonDocker has created the new EZ Jacker 1.9 module.

The EZ-Jacker requires no tuning or adjustments and is designed for users looking for a simple yet effective performance upgrade that will provide maximum power on premium pump fuel.

The EZ Jacker easily plugs in to factory connectors to make performance-enhancing electronic boost and fuel adjustments. The electronics are housed in a compact waterproof metal enclosure that is a similar size to a credit card. The EZ Jacker is also equipped with a handlebar-mounted rapid response button that when pressed at low turbo boost conditions causes boost to increase faster, leading to quicker acceleration.

Priced at $399.99 the EZ Jacker is a simple and inexpensive upgrade for the 1100 turbo. The EZ Jacker has been thoroughly tested and proven to increase power on all models equipped with Arctic Cat’s 1100 turbo 4-stroke twin cylinder engine including the new 2012 models. The Hi Jacker 2.0 is also available for users looking to further increase horsepower and tune the machine’s boost and fuel system to match specific performance upgrades.

Contact BoonDocker Performance (877) 522-7805 or

Views 146
December 17, 2011

Foam Drink Holders

Foam Drink HolderKeeping your drinks from getting beat up and turned into grenades is the reason for these new Foam Drink Holders. Using long-lasting water-resistant closed cell foam, R&M has developed a drink holder that won’t retain water, holds up to 11 drinks or can be modified to hold fewer drinks and fit your individual needs.

Great for tunnel bags, backpacks, coolers, seats, etc., and is made in the USA. The Drink Holders retail for $13.95.

Contact R&M Lightning Products (801) 467-2442 or

Views 445
December 17, 2011

Dalton Midweight Brute Arms

Dalton Midweight Brute ArmsThe Midweight Brute Arms are another option for tuning today’s Ski-Doo sleds (TRA 3 Rev chassis and newer clutches). Following the tradition of the original Dalton Brute Arms, these new arms are built from super tough 7075 alloy.

Some clutch tuners like to use more arm weight and less at the pin or tip. Sometimes less pin weight will allow for different backshifting characteristics or the combination of more arm weight and less pin weight may allow the use of different spring rates, etc. Other applications just run out of pin weight and need to add more to the arm so they can use a lower pin weight that is more available.

In 2005-07 the 1000 SDI model came with close to 80 gram steel arms in the TRA 5. Many other stock Ski-Doo models use stock arms that are close to 40 grams.

Dalton Midweight Brute Arms are adjustable from 45 grams up to almost 49 grams and allow you to move the location of weight within the arm positions for fine tuning.

The arms retail for $299.

Contact Dalton Industries (902) 897-3333 or

Views 171
December 17, 2011

TAPP Clutch

TAPP ClutchThe new billeted TAPP primary clutch has been designed to be a Totally Adjustable Performance Product with high tech features that will TAPP out your competition when it comes to performance and on snow adjustability for your sled. Whether it is for trail or mountain riding, boondocking, racing or anything in between, a TAPP primary will improve shifting, economy and performance over any other clutch.

• Key features of the TAPP Clutch include:
• Weights and ramps are easy to adjust and accessible without any need to remove from motor or disassembling clutch when replacing weights or ramp profiles.
• Ramps have clicker style bolts with 6 positions and can be set in up to 21 different positions because of the four arm clutch design, i.e., two opposing ramps can be set at No. 2 while the adjacent ramps are set at No. 3 for very fine adjustment.
• Weights can be adjusted the same way with opposite amounts of weight for fine adjustments and easy changes in a few moments.
• Rollers are available in three sizes, allowing for additional tuning.
• Compact design for tight spaces with multi-angle sheaves offering stronger and smoother acceleration.
• Extensive venting provides more surface area, resulting in cooler running temperatures and extended belt life.
• High tech bushing materials withstand extreme heat and provide many miles of low maintenance operation.
• The centralized mass/low inertia design provides unmatched throttle response.
• Designed for use with factory clutch bolt and puller.
• Comes complete, ready to bolt-on and ride in one of three configurations: stock, mid and high horsepower.

The TAPP Clutch improves on the simple roller weight concept used in the past and provides an incredibly smooth progressive shift that is very easy to tune.

Currently TAPP Clutches are shipping for all Ski-Doo, Yamaha and Arctic Cat 4-stroke sleds from stock to high horsepower turbo applications. Testing is underway and plans call for a release of stock and 2-stroke turbo clutches in December 2011.

The clutches will retail for $1,795.

Contact C3 PowerSports (250) 833-3538 or

Views 196
December 17, 2011

Redline Jacket, Bibs

Redline JacketJust like the redline on your tachometer represents the mechanical limits of how hard you can push your sled, MotorFist also knows that riders like to push themselves to the limit. That’s why there is the new MotorFist Redline series insulated gear, engineered and specially designed for all those who like to take it to the limits in extreme cold and high speeds.

Redline Jacket features and benefits include:
• Toray Dermizax fabric 2-layer construction
• Insulated jacket with wicking liner
• Waterproof, windproof and breathable
• 6-ounce insulation in body
• 4-ounce insulation in sleeves
• Durable reinforcement panels on shoulders and elbows
• Fully taped waterproof seams throughout
• YKK water-sealed zippers with garages
• 2-way front zipper with offset chin and garage
• 2-way zippers on mesh lined armpit vents
• Powder skirt
• Hem and collar drawstring
• 2 hand pockets and 1 chest pocket
• 2 interior storage pockets, goggle pocket and MP3 pocket with headphone loops
• Fleece-lined neck
• Lay flat wrist closures and powder cuffs with thumbhole
• Articulated shoulders and elbows
• Glove-engineered interchangeable zipper pulls
• Kill switch D-ring
• Laser-cut reflective panels

Redline Bib features and benefits include:
• Toray Dermizax fabric 2-layer construction
• Insulated bib with wicking liner
• Durable reinforcement panels on seat and knees
• 6-ounce insulation from waist down
• Uninsulated chest and back above waist for improved comfort
• Waterproof, windproof and breathable
• Fully taped waterproof seams throughout
• Side stretch panels at midsection
• YKK water-sealed zippers with garages
• 2-way front zipper
• Full length 2-way leg zippers
• Powder skirt
• Two hand pockets and one quick access thigh pocket
• Heavyweight fleece-lined seat
• Adjustable and powder gaitors with boot clips
• Raised back of ankle for walking with ease
• Articulated seat and knees with removable kneepads
• Gusseted crotch
• Glove engineered interchangeable zipper pulls
• Kill switch D-ring
• Laser-cut reflective panels

Contact MotorFist (877) 347-8411 or

Views 116
December 17, 2011

An Article You're Missing Out On

Dave Moe, Boise, ID

Dear Editor:

There is a potential article or series of articles that SnoWest is missing out on. Each year you document the shootout, taking representatives and their sleds to locations and perform certain tests and each rider scores each sled.

I would like to see the same thing done on turbo setups. You might have to do four separate tests so each brand is represented.

I love riding. I want a turbo, but the information out there is biased and it seems everyone has the best on the market. Even the SnoWest forums are full of bashing and mis-information. If you look at the forum activity and post counts I think this type of article would be warranted. Right now there are 4,074 threads with a total of 46,562 posts on the four turbo forums.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

(ED-That is an interesting story idea. It certainly would create a lot of comments, I’m sure. To try and make it apples to apples would also be an interesting task. We’ll keep your idea in mind for a potential story in the future.)

Views 75
December 17, 2011

Go Back To The Way You Started

Tracy and John Walt, Via e-mail

Dear Editor:

Even though we are from the upper Midwest, we travel west every year and have used your website to stay up on what’s going on in the mountains. We also look to this site for contacts to purchase products. I don’t want to register to view certain items.

Go back to the way you started so we can enjoy SnoWest again.

Views 66
December 17, 2011

IceAge Changes Name, Opens Western Location

Thanks to continued growth, IceAge is making some moves. First, IceAge Mfg is now IceAge Performance. The company is expanding its product line as well as teaming up with some of the best in the industry.

IceAge will continue to manufacture and supply sledders with stronger, lighter solutions for your snowmobiles. Along with its current offerings from Timbersled, KMOD and Holz Racing Products, IceAge will be your source for MotorFist, 509 Inc. and BCA. IceAge chose those brands because, like the company itself, these other companies are passionate about what they do.

IceAge’s goal is to provide snowmobilers with the best possible products whether you are chasing epic pow, climbing a gnarly chute or tearing up the grass drags.

Second, IceAge has expanded and opened a new location in Gallatin Gateway, MT. Located just outside of Bozeman, at the Gateway to the Mountains, IceAge’s new store will showcase all of its online products and more. Need help choosing what suspension or components or gear will work best for you and your sled? You can stop on in. Can’t get there? No problem: check them out online at

For more information, contact IceAge Performance, 84 Penny Lane, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730, or (877) 5-ICEAGE.

Views 85
December 17, 2011

Wyoming Charity Ride Coming In February

The 14th annual Wyoming/Yellowstone Charity ride for Multiple Sclerosis will be held in the Togwotee Mountain, WY, area from Feb. 3-8, 2012.

While the primary purpose of the ride is to help raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis, sledders have the added benefit of seeing some spectacular scenery (the Tetons) and perhaps even some wildlife. There are no management or guide fees (volunteers only) and all proceeds go to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA).

Interested participants can contact Ed Livingston at (307) 587-5192 or

Views 72
December 17, 2011

Transmontana 2012

Transmontana is a snowmobile ride through Montana that helps raise money for direct services for families living in the Montana who live daily with the challenge of Multiple Sclerosis. The proceeds from the ride go to the Northwest Region of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America.

Sponsored by the Montana Snowmobile Association and supported by Teva Neruoscience, this year the 500-mile ride will start at the Canadian border north of Eureka and end at Raynolds Pass, just outside of West Yellowstone.

Transmontana 2012 begins Jan. 15 and ends Jan. 20.

For more information, contact Twila Webb (406) 297-3377 or

Views 124
December 17, 2011

Tomahawk Parka

Tomahawk ParkaThe all-new Klim Tomahawk Parka brings high mobility, extreme condition comfort and updated ventilation and cargo technology to an impressive new level. Completely redesigned with aggressive patterning to deliver a seamless riding experience, the Tomahawk Parka is one of Klim’s most comfortable all-day boondocking garments.

The new styling fits right in with the freeriding crowd and the rest of Klim’s fresh new looks. Featuring the full benefit of Klim’s Gore-Tex Performance Shell guaranteed waterproof and highly breathable performance and the undeniable advantage of Klim’s legendary quality, riding in the Tomahawk in 2012 is a sure bet for more miles and more fun.

• Materials, fabrics and features include:
• Highly breathable Gore-Tex Two-Layer Performance Shell Technology
• 500D Cordura Underlays
• Fleece-lined comfort collar and beard flap
• Maximum visibility 3M Scotchlite reflective trim
• Internal comfort liner
• YKK zippers throughout and water-resistant zippers in exposed areas
• Cargo: four external pockets (two chest, two hand), two internal pockets
• Ventilation: four port Max-Flow ventilation (two vertical chest intakes, two vertical back exhausts)

The Tomahawk is available in sizes S-5XL and retails for $339.99 (S-2XL) and $379.99 (3XL-5XL)

Contact Klim (208) 552-7433 or

Views 125
December 17, 2011

New Upgraded scala rider G4 PowerSet

Scala rider G4 PowerSet Version 3.1Cardo Systems, the world’s market leader in wireless Bluetooth communications for motorcycle helmet headsets, is now offering its new updated scala rider G4 PowerSet for snowmobiles for communicating with other snowmobilers while on the move.

Having introduced Bluetooth sled-to-sled communication via small and light headsets that easily clamp to snowmobile helmets, Cardo is introducing significant new features and upgrades for the new season to enhance the great clarity and range offered by the scala rider communication systems.

Cardo’s scala rider communication systems come with ultra-thin microphones especially designed to fit snowmobile helmets comfortably. Users can enjoy easy communication with their group via the hands-free wireless communication system.

Software Version 3.1 introduces multiple new features for riders including a click-to-link feature enabling calls between the rider and any other snowmobile G4 PowerSet user within the product’s range. The scala rider G4 PowerSet for snowmobiles now features parallel connectivity to an MP3 device and mobile phone devices, giving users additional freedom to place phone calls or listen to music while riding.

Other great features in addition to the intercom include streaming wireless music from your smartphone, talking on your Bluetooth phone and listening to GPS directions. For users who prefer to listen to the radio while riding, the new Version 3.1 includes Automatic Radio Tuning that will help capture available signals, even in remote terrain. Users can now press one button to set up to six station presets and use a new station scanning feature for safer handsfree operation.

The new scala rider headset also offers added versatility. The Version 3.1 software upgrade includes an innovative microphone feature that gives users the ability to adjust the gain of the microphone to switch between snowmobile and motorcycle usage. In addition to the gain control, users can also move the VOX sensitivity levels to match their need. Adjustments can be made either through the PC software or the device’s own Voice Configuration Menu.

Contact Cardo Systems

Views 89
December 17, 2011

Runnin' On Empty

Staying Involved In Snowmobiling

Lane Lindstrom

Over the past several weeks I’ve spent I don’t know how many hours checking and re-checking all the information associated with the travel guides (Western Guide to Snowmobiling and the western Canada travel guide in this issue) we put together each year. Mostly, I double check phone numbers and websites and trail information, that kind of stuff.

Sometimes it can get pretty tedious. But most of the time it’s actually fairly interesting because I love to read anything to do with snowmobiling, including on various chamber of commerce/convention and visitor bureau websites, which, well, aren’t always the most interesting reading. “Hey, come snowmobile here because we have snow.” Sometimes that’s the extent of some chambers’ efforts to entice sledders to their area.

I’m pretty sure I would probably get done a little faster with this research but I tend to get bogged down a little as I read about snowmobiling in this place or that. What really slows me down is when I try to search out new places to ride. It takes a lot of research to pick through websites and other sources of information in an effort to present not only the most up-to-date information available but any new riding opportunities.

As I check, recheck and compile all this information I am once again reminded of the many places there are to snowmobile in the western United States and Canada. It’s safe to say there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of riding areas, depending on your definition of what a riding area is. My definition includes trails and off-trail riding so that’s why I lean toward the thousands of riding areas.

I’m pretty hesitant to put in writing that snowmobilers have hundreds, maybe thousands, of places to ride because environmentalists will, in their weird, twisted way, say something like, “See, even SnoWest Magazine admits there are thousands of places to ride so creating more Wilderness won’t put a big dent in where snowmobilers can ride. They won’t even miss it.”

That is definitely not what I’m saying. Quite the contrary, in fact. There used to be even more places to ride just a few years ago—even last year—but they have since been closed down to motorized and even mechanized use.

I don’t know how many times I’ve gone on a snowmobile trip to an area I’ve never ridden or only been to once or twice and sledded with some of the locals who tell me, “We used to be able to ride over there but it’s now a Wilderness or closed down to snowmobiles.” I may not hear that every ride but certainly more often than not.

Do we need to ride every square inch of snow in the West? No. But not every square inch needs to be locked up in Wilderness or some other land closure.

Maybe you haven’t heard much about public land issues lately because it’s fairly quiet in your neck of the woods right now. However, I want to point out that every state in the West is dealing with some sort of land issue that affects our riding. Many Canadian provinces are dealing with the same thing.

Maybe you don’t pay attention because you don’t ride in that particular hot button issue place. After all, it’s Washington’s or Oregon’s or Idaho’s, etc. problem, right? Perhaps but we all know how mobile snowmobilers are and how we like to ride new areas. Maybe that area you’ve been looking at riding is in trouble thanks to a myriad of environmental groups who want to make it their own personal Wilderness area. Does that catch your attention? Is it just Washington’s or Oregon’s or Idaho’s problem now?

Or perhaps you’re having some issues in your own favorite riding area and need some help rallying the troops to stand up to keep public lands public for everyone, not just a select few. You could use some help so it’s not just you or your club or your state snowmobile association’s issue—it’s all snowmobilers’ issue.

One of the greatest strengths of our sport is our willingness to help others, whether it be through a charity or roadside litter pickup or digging your buddy out of a powder hole. That’s who we are.

That’s why we need to stay vigilant on public lands issues and help when and where we can. That’s who we are.

It might be trite to say and we’ve heard it probably hundreds of times, but the future of our sport really does depend on our involvement.

Views 67
December 17, 2011

Salute To Canadian Troops

Browne, Gerald Cpl (Retired) CD2, Markdale, ON

Support Canada's TroopsDear Editor:

As a retired service member of 24 years, I know the need for our troops. Some think that we are all about war but this is far from the truth. I myself served four years in Germany and had three rotations in Bosnia. In Bosnia we ensured the peace remained, as well as supporting orphanages, rebuilding schools and helping families in need. Much the same is being done in Afghanistan today.

I put together a sled to show support for our troops—to thank them for their hard work and sacrifice they have to endure over the years. My son will eventually take his turn overseas so I know what it is like to be deployed and how the families of those deployed now feel.

Remember that this is not a show of support to the government but to our men and women serving in all branches of the Canadian Forces.

As I said above, I served for 24 years. I started off in the Armoured Corp. on Jan. 1, 1983 and transferred to the Air Force in 1991.

I served with the Lord Strathconas, Royal Canadian Dragoons, 8th Canadian Hussars, 19 Wing Comox, 407 Sqn. and 427 Sqn, which changed to 427 SOASSqn before I was released from the Service.

I was posted to Calgary, AB; Lahr, West Germany; Gagetown, NB; Comox, BC; and finally 427 SOAS. My son is now serving as an AVN Tech. in Trenton, ON.

Views 137
December 16, 2011

Sahen’s Truck

I’m not sure why I turn everything into a race or why I feel I have to be first with everything, but I do. One of my favorite races or firsts is the right to stake claim to being one of the first in the country to ride a sled on snow each year. This is a day that drives me crazy waiting for. You better believe when I hear of anywhere with 8 inches or more of snow hopefully your truck is more modded than mine because I’ll race ya to it! Here’s how October 9th went down for me and my snow hungry buds on our first ride of the season:

6:00am I checked the snotel site one more time to make sure the 250 mile drive from my house was going to be worth it. 27 inches…are you kidding me? Carl Lewis couldn’t have caught me from my front porch to the truck.

6:06am Barely missed a deer on the way into town…did he want race? I couldn’t tell so I didn’t turn around.

6:15am Grab Sahen and Randal, fire up the sleds and load them up into the trailer. Yah, I was the first one in the trailer, no big deal.

6:20am Convince Sahen that since I’m loaning him a sled and taking my trailer, that were taking his truck…sucker.

6:21am Race him to the driver’s door. Thank goodness I have long legs, I’m driving!

6:35am Not sure why eating fast is cool, but I ended up losing the breakfast burrito race. Probably because I was texting, drinking my Monster and driving with my knee. Glad I’m not in my truck.

7:30am Raced a ski rack-carrying Subaru that thought the left lane on the highway was where you were allowed to only drive the speed limit. What is wrong with people? Trailer with 5 sleds…no problem taking care of the Suby. I didn’t even know an EGT gauge could go that high! Glad I’m not driving my truck.

10:20am Just smoked into the parking lot. 250 miles, 4 hours on the dot, averaged 62.5 mph and went through a full tank of gas. Glad I’m not driving my truck.

10:30am This next race is one I have so much practice with I’m not sure I can lose. Watching me getting geared up as an outsider has to be comical to watch. You would think I had fire ants in my shorts. Hey, it may look funny but I was the first to start my sled and hit the snow.

10:32am Yep, I’m the first one off the trail. As I look behind and see the group follow, I smile under my helmet and know it’s game time! At this point I’m not so pumped on Sahen riding my sled.

11:30am First stuck of the year. Yep that’s me too. It was so awesome when Sahen came ripping up the same line and got bucked off into the trees right next to me. “Hey buddy!” We had a lot of firsts right there: First high five that we got each other stuck, First 1-2-3 ski pull, first time we had to get a saw out, first time we openly admitted we were out of shape, first thought of why we are so addicted to this awesome sport.

1:00pm I was the first to remind the group that in our excitement we didn’t pack water or food. But we made sure to have our phones to post pictures to make all you suck’as jealous!

3:00pm Sahen beat me with another first. Yep you guessed it, he earned the honor of being the first to wreck a sled. Got away with just a bent set of bars. Really not pumped he’s riding my sled now. His truck is in for it on the way home!

5:30pm First day on the snow comes to an end. Tired, hungry, and so freaking happy I can’t even stand it.

7:45pm First to come in a little hot on a corner with the trailer. I’m glad I couldn’t hear the tires squealing over Sahen’s 12-year-old girl scream. Glad I’m not driving my truck.

9:20pm Come smoking back into Kremmling. Beat my time by 10 minutes. He was giving me the ole headshake that he’s seen from me countless times. So that’s what it looks like. Hey, we made great time ok. So we shortened the life of a few items. In the honor of our first sled ride it was so worth it!

11:30pm Get a text from Sahen as he’s driving home that there’s a weird vibration coming from the rear end now. Hmmm, maybe we should have drove my truck. Thanks Sahen!

What a day and what a start to the year. See you on the snow!

Let it snow

Chris Burandt

Views 61
Pioneer Country Travel Council

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