January 28, 2012|
|Nothing Halfway About Snowmobiling in N.E. Oregon|
Our journey to Halfway started with a rather innocuous e-mail. We often get letters and e-mails about riding in various places around the West, but this e-mail wasn’t anything like that.
Panhandle Snowmobile Club president Whitey Bloom sent us an e-mail telling us about how his snowmobile club redid its trail map. The redo was because SnoWest Magazine readers were somewhat less than complimentary about the local snowmobile trail map in our annual Top 15 Trails in the West survey and the Panhandle Snowmobile Club wanted to change that. So the club redesigned its trail map.
That piqued our interest. Halfway, tucked away in the northeast corner of Oregon, has always kind of been on our radar as one place we’d like to snowmobile but we just never made it happen.
Boy were we missing out. A bit off the beaten path—definitely a bonus—Halfway is a great place to snowmobile.
Our first day of riding the Halfway area, named the Pine District (after the Pine Ranger District of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest) on the trail map—was a mix of groomed and ungroomed trails, wide open meadows and hillsides, some hillclimbing, tree riding and ridge running.
The incredible thing about the boondocking here is the trees are almost perfectly spaced to pick your way through. The riding may not be as technical as tighter-spaced trees, but you could find sections where it was tougher to navigate if that is your preference.
Speaking of trees, there’s a fairly decent-sized burned-out section—the last forest fire went through in 2006—in the area we rode that may not be real technical but it’s real fun. The burned-out areas aren’t the only wide open riding spots in the area, as there are plenty of open meadows and hillsides where you could open up the throttle. Then again, the burned-out areas might be just a little more fun as the burned snags give you some obstacles you have to negotiate as you make your way around. The burned-out sections were an especially fun part of the ride on the first day.
Our general route on the first day—general because we boondocked most of ride, only touching groomed trails going out and coming back in—had us leaving from the Clear Creek sno park, located about seven miles north of Halfway. From there it was a short ride along the groomed trail before peeling off and heading off on an ungroomed trail to open hillsides and meadows with a drainage or two here and there.
We also did a little climbing and playing by the appropriately named Lost Lake. It’s a short but steep climb out from the lake. From there it was to the Russel Mountain (7,508 feet) lookout and then on towards Deadman’s Point.
Seeing Far And Near
The snow was deepest and most powdery back in by Russel Mountain, the furthest most point we rode from the sno park. The truth of it is you can’t legally ride any farther north in this area because the lookout sits on the border of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Farther to the east, over near Duck Lake, you can ride farther north, actually even connecting to the Wallowa trail system that leads toward Joseph. That trail system leads to a couple of overlooks into Hells Canyon, an especially scenic—and deep—chasm between Oregon and Idaho.
A word of caution about the Russel Mountain lookout. You can climb to the top where there are some terrific views of the entire area, but just know it’s quite a climb up the wooden steps and second, it’s not exactly the safest thing to do. The steps were covered with snow and ice and the walkway on top, while fenced, was also full of snow and not easy to get around on. This is one of those disclaimer moments: climb the steps at your own risk. It’s a long drop to the ground.
From Russel Mountain we headed west, first to Deadman’s Point, then to the Clear Creek cabin, on to Table Top (from here are awesome views of the mountains in the Eagle Cap Wilderness) and then dropped down to Cornucopia, an old ghost town dating back to around 1884. At times, particularly near Deadman’s Point, we were skirting the Wilderness boundary, which follows some ridgelines, taking in views of the rugged Wallowa Mountains. Deadman’s Point was one of our stops where we got some impressive views of various peaks in the Wilderness.
From Cornucopia, where many of the original town’s buildings are still standing, we headed back to the sno park along a tight, twisty groomed trail.
Looking at the trail map—which is a good one by the way—and tracing our route for the first day, it was obvious we barely rode but a few miles of the nearly 280 miles of groomed trails in the Pine District. We didn’t even touch the eastern part of the riding area, nor the western part of the trail system. We mostly stuck to the middle portion.
As we had to hit the road about mid-day on our second day of riding near Halfway, we zipped up the groomed trail from the Clear Creek sno park and rode/played on the ridge between the Clear Creek and East Fork drainages. The riding was similar to the day before—open hillsides, meadows and drainages—and it was just as fun to blast up the hills and play in the trees. The open stretches of the ridge also offer magnificent views of the surrounding mountain peaks in and out of the Wilderness.
It was too bad we didn’t have more time to explore the other areas around Halfway. There is a lot of country to ride and play, from gentle hills to challenging chutes.
So, with map in hand, we’ll be back someday.
January 28, 2012|
“When in doubt throttle out” is actually an unsafe practice to rely on and usually is the result of a rider reacting late or behind a compromising situation. A rider who has mastered the skill of throttle control does not refer to this phrase often or at all.
Disciplining yourself to slow down to maintain control by applying only as much throttle as needed to execute a maneuver or traverse terrain fluidly is the result of understanding precision throttle control. Riders with this correct aptitude of skill avoid unwanted or unsafe situations and are always in control of their speed while maintaining situational awareness around them.
Throttle control, in reference to three “Points of Common Correlation,” acts as the “governor” or “that which controls speed and efficiency of energy in motion.” It is never completely mastered to one specific act or application for the obvious reason that no two lines of travel, terrain or conditions are identical.
Now, if we set these factors aside, there is one more complex mental and physical combined factor entwined in every scenario. Its complexity affects a rider’s throttle control competence either in a positive or negative dynamic. It is known as “neuromuscular junction and chemical exchanges” or in layman’s terms, our “mind-body connection.” In order to refine this rider motion through the 34 muscles and 48 nerves that control the fingers and thumb, we need to step back further into a rider’s predisposed mental and physical state as it is key for finesse of this function. This is why throttle control is probably the most complex factor when learning to ride any motorized vehicle and ultimately what defines a rider’s level of confidence and control when faced with challenging terrain.
In a previous issue [SnoWest, September, 2011, page 45] I addressed the importance of rider input, geometry and body language and in point, a critical tip of importance, “Where you look is where you go.” When we are “looking ahead” while applying the throttle it would be convenient if it were as straightforward as transferring the information from an imaginary “throttle input chart” embedded in our brain.
Instead our nervous system is relaying a multitude of information derived from past to current emotions of the known and unknown to result in the delivery of physical action (our neuromuscular junction). The physical aspect (chemical exchange) is what can be an added curveball, depending on the level of rider fatigue as a direct result of rest, hydration and nutrition. These are the dynamics of the “mind-body connection” and how it processes our speed, memory, attention, problem-solving and flexibility to a situation. When mixed together, it dictates the fluidness of motion as to how much and when to squeeze that throttle.
Now let’s think about how looking ahead affects throttle input on the “mind-body connection” principle. Imagine an individual taking a long road trip. First let’s compare the driver’s performance and mind clarity at 2 p.m. in the afternoon on the Interstate in comparison to that same driver traveling later at 2 a.m. in the duration of this same trip. The driver, fresh and unfatigued, maintains a consistent speed of 65-75 mph during the early afternoon and maintains a distant line of vision ahead. Later, that same driver at 2 a.m. has lost focus from fatigue and is unable to maintain a distant line of vision and his focus is just over the hood of the car. The result is speed fluctuation and hesitation from irregular throttle input and lack of confidence from fatigue.
If we transfer this scenario to a snowmobile, a rider’s throttle input as a result of physical and mental fatigue is the same. A rider tends to hesitate or back out of the throttle as he brings his line of vision in close and over the hood. Riders will then become stuck more frequently and in some cases compromise the necessary track speed and flotation to maintain a technical line of travel that can result in a damaged sled or injury.
I see this as a common mistake among novice to intermediate riders as they are often not looking out ahead and instead prone to looking down at the skis or directly over the hood of the machine. When the result is repeatedly getting stuck, novice riders tend to tire and get frustrated quickly without proper training.
Though throttle control is complex in its delivery, the exercises like those I incorporate into Backcountry Basics clinics are elementary. Contrary to disbelief from our delicate egos, any rider will advance from his or her current skill level when practicing on flat terrain in an exercise I call “100 yards of slow speed stops and gos.” On flat terrain a rider focuses on a destination to traverse toward at no more than a “walking speed’ while on pivot. The goal of the exercise is to smoothly and consistently “roll on and roll off” the throttle and maintain the sled on pivot throughout.
This builds confidence by familiarizing the rider through repetitive motor skill training that will overwrite any predisposed bad habits applying to throttle input and then they have strengthened their “mind-body connections” that will become evident later when faced with difficult terrain.
Connecting the three back together, a machine’s performance directly mirrors throttle input and consequent throttle input mirrors the rider’s input.
So remember, “When in doubt, take some time out” and practice.
Holt owns and operates Backcountry Basics and teaches riders of all skill levels how to improve their snowmobiling skills at locations across the snowbelt. For more information, visit backcountrybasics.com.
January 28, 2012|
|Teach Me Some Tricks|
One of the most common questions that I am requested to answer is simply, “What technique do I need to work on to improve my ride?” The answer is easy really: practice and refine your skills and put yourself in more extreme terrain.
More and more as I teach riding skills, I am finding that many sledders are applying the technique that is portrayed in the Schooled video series. And with a few tips they can engage themselves in backcountry riding the way it is meant to be.
So how did they get to this point? Was it the video or was it passed down from someone who attended a riding clinic? At any rate, if the rider is willing to lose a few bad habits and commit to the technique the way it is intended, then it is just a matter of practice, right? Well, almost. Practice is good to a point. If a rider isn’t willing to push himself he will not advance. The rider will advance by riding in progressively steeper and more intimidating terrain and by simply committing to the technique and applying himself to the task at hand. Don’t weaken.
I was on tour in Norway last spring conducting a series of riding clinics. Fredrick, whom I have ridden with in Colorado, was in attendance. He was hell bent on learning some new tricks. He kept asking me to watch him ride so I could coach him into being a better rider. He was applying the technique properly, although he was a little rough on the edges and a bit aggressive and he had the basics. He just needed to hone his skills. He might have even lured me into a tree once—wait a minute, that’s my role. As we worked into the trees and steeper slopes it was evident that Fredrick could apply himself, he just needed a riding companion who could challenge him.
On another ride I remember some very skilled riders who wanted to improve. The thing is they didn’t make any mistakes. They were good and had been practicing a lot. This all was in the absence of hazards. When challenged by trees and other obstacles they were completely shaken up and could not concentrate on using the technique.
If you want to advance your skills it is a matter of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Get stuck. Run over a tree. When you find your riding limit, ride outside the boundary of your limits. Soon you will find there are no boundaries and no dead ends.
Some friends and I came up with this idea once of marketing an energy drink called “Talent.” The thought is that when I rode upon the likes of Sanchez—or better yet—Burandt in a tree well or something a little more severe, I could whip out a can of Talent and say, “Ran out of talent didn’t you?” So if anyone likes this idea I will expect to see Talent on the shelves of C-stores across the snowbelt. It’s too bad we can’t just take something that would help us develop better skills. Guess I’ll just have to go the old-fashioned way with hard work and a lot of practice.
The practice is the part that is difficult if you have a 40-hour a week job. Now I have always said that a job is a bad habit and there should be a support group for recovering job addicts. So this is where the practice part works really well because it helps to get your mind off of that job addiction.
Consider someone like Chris Burandt who normally rides seven days a week all winter long and halfway through the summer. He is completely over having a job and while I’m not sure he still needs any practice, he is still improving. And I have plateaued. I don’t know what’s up with that, but I suppose now he will be able to catch up to my skill level. (Just kidding, Burandt.)
So what’s the deal with this practice thing? I see that participants in my clinics gain a tremendous amount of ability in two to three days of training. Then they go back to the daily routine and it might be two weeks before they are able to get back out in the snow. By now the training is not fresh on their mind and it takes the best part of a day to catch up to where they left off. Then it’s back to the routine and two weeks later it takes most of the day again to catch up.
It seems like if a sledder doesn’t stay with the program he won’t improve. Perhaps. So let’s not lose perspective on why we like to ride sleds—besides the competitive nature. It’s the out that we get from our normal everyday routine. It’s the pleasure of being in the outdoors. It’s about being close to nature and sharing it with your riding buddies.
Unless you are a pro rider and can get out several times a week, you may not improve rapidly. Just remember it’s about the experience. Get out and enjoy our great outdoors. And practice. You never know when you might run into me somewhere in the backcountry. This will be your opportunity to lose me in the trees somewhere.
Rasmussen, who owned and operated a snowmobile dealership for 25 years, is a long time competition hillclimber, holding multiple world championship titles, and is a founding member of RMSHA (Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association). He currently owns and operates Snowmobile Research Services, a consulting firm dedicated to advancing the development of mountain sleds and furthering the sport of backcountry riding with his ride clinics. See his web site at www.riderasmussenstyle.com.
January 28, 2012|
No cell signal? No problem. SPOT Connect provides connectivity to global communication satellites for sending custom text messages from the backcountry even far beyond cellular coverage.
By downloading the SPOT Connect App, SPOT Connect can wirelessly synch via Bluetooth with iPhone and most Android-based smartphones. New features include custom text messages, storing multiple pre-defined messages and contract groups and the ability to update Facebook and Twitter from remote locations. In a critical emergency send an SOS message for help.
Rugged and portable, SPOT Connect uses 2 AA Lithium batteries and includes a stand-alone SOS button.
SPOT Connect retails for $169.99. Service subscription required.
January 28, 2012|
When it comes to lightweight helmets nothing matches the BRP XP-R Carbon Light, which is 25 percent lighter than all other helmets in its category. New this year will be two more colors, Blaze and Bronze, to complement the popular black.
The XP-R features Multi Directional Carbon Fiber (MDCF) construction using carbon and aramid fibers to form a super lightweight, yet extremely strong shell with the weight of a size large at about 1275g. A tool less multi adjustable wide front peak incorporates an anti reflection sticker on the underside to reduce glare. A large flexible nose deflector is included with each helmet for great wind protection and the integrated rear fin helps with stability at speed.
With 10 ventilation points, air flow through the helmet to keep you cool is a sure thing.
The helmet retails for $449.99/$499.99. Contact BRP www.ski-doo.com.
January 28, 2012|
|Building a 2011 Polaris Pro RMK into a perfect backcountry mountain sled|
Flashy colors, hot rod power and a lot of bling ... sounds about right for a mid-life crisis. But there’s more to Project MLC than that.
When Polaris introduced its 2011 Pro RMK, we thought the peak of mountain snowmobile performance had been reached.
But you can always count on the aftermarket to improve anything.
Dealing with a first-year model is also tricky when you’re building a custom machine. Aftermarket companies can’t build parts until they have a machine that they can tear apart and that usually means late fall. That was the case as we set out to build Project MLC. In fact, our Polaris Pro RMK 155 was the sled that Boondocker used to develop its first Pro turbo kit. Pretty impressive when you consider too that Boondocker techs Jared Sessions and Tony Jenkins installed the kit for the first time during the Intermountain Snowmobile Show and did it in two hours. And if you think that it was a quick install that skipped a few steps, Project MLC left the show and went straight to Wyoming for an early season ride.
But before we made it that far, we had to get physical. That means the day after we picked up our 2011 Pro RMK from Rexburg Motor Sports, we started tearing it apart. Many people have commented about the irony of how some service tech at the dealership busted his butt to get the sled assembled and set up just in time for us to pick it up and undo everything he did.
First, we replaced the red side panels with black ones from Polaris and we left the foam lining off of the black panels to shed a few ounces. We removed the hood and pulled the foam off it as well. All that foam added up to a 2-lb. savings.
Next, we removed the headlight and put it in a box—another 3.25 lbs saved. We peeled the stock graphics off of any remaining places and removed the running board edge rails, bumpers, hood vents, handlebar clamp and spindles so they could be powdercoated in various Starburst colors. Once we got the colored parts back from Ace Powder Coating in Idaho Falls, ID, we reassembled the sled to “stock” condition and loaded it into the trailer for the Intermountain Snowmobile Show.
Intermountain Snowmobile Show Build
At the show in Salt Lake City, UT, Jeff Hawksworth from Skinz Protective Gear installed SPG front and rear bumpers and Airframe seat. The front bumper provides a very sturdy protection element and strong grab point for pulling on a stuck sled. The SPG rear bumper adds some weight compared to the stock carbon fiber tube bumper, but durability is critical in a rear bumper—especially the way we ride these sleds in the trees. The Airframe seat gives us a very mountain-riding-friendly feel with a very trick look and added storage with the SPG bag.
As mentioned, the Boondocker crew installed the pump gas turbo kit (including clutch components, Control Box and Electronic Boost Controller or EBC). One thing that was new for 2011 is how Boondocker pre-assembles the turbo kits at the factory so your installation job is simplified. That was one of the reasons we wanted to see if the turbo kit could be installed in a two-hour time frame. Typically, turbo kits could take anywhere from eight hours to a couple of days to install. But having them pre-assembled with clear instructions and capable technical support readily available by phone has cut a lot of labor time out of the process.
Other keys to Boondocker’s turbo kits being so successful are the timing key, exclusive TPS-Smart Electronic Boost Controller, Control Box with 3D tuning, a deep-snow tunnel exhaust outlet design, new Torque Building Air Box, No-Spill oil tank, intercoolers and cold air intakes.
Boondocker’s 3D tuning builds a three-dimensional fuel map based on boost, engine rpm and throttle position (rather than a two-dimensional map based on just two data inputs). The 3D tuning and timing key is what makes the turbo run clean and crisp like a stock engine prior to boost and seamlessly roll into boost power without a hiccup, lean spot or detonation.
At the Intermountain Snowmobile Show, we also had one side of our ArcticFX custom-colored “Broken Arrow” wrap installed by Dan Adams, an ArcticFX-sponsored Pro rider who has installed more than his fair share of wrap kits over the years.
Starting Line Products’ Dustin Pancheri installed a set of white Powder Pro skis on Project MLC. Initially, we weren’t sure if we’d stick with the Powder Pros once we hit the snow. It all depended on how the new chassis handled. But we can tell you that we never pulled them off. They are absolutely outstanding for the Pro RMK chassis. Pancheri also helped install a set of Stomp Grip pads to the tunnel sides, which are an adhesive-backed pad that has knobs on it that you can use to grip the sled with the inside of your boots. SLP carries Stomp Grips and Stomp Grip seat covers.
Idaho Snowmobile Show Build
A few weeks later, and with three more good October/November mountain rides on Project MLC, we loaded up and went to the Idaho Snowmobile Show in Boise, ID, for another round of installs.
Wade Durbin, Lance Robinson and Larry Chess of RSI Racing installed a set of 5-inch rise handlebars and gel-wrap grips with RSI grip heaters. We cut about half an inch off each end of the bars to narrow up the controls a bit. The gel-wrap grips provide great grip and comfort while absorbing vibrations.
Holz Racing Products provided a set of lightweight A-arms for Project MLC and Carl’s Cycle service technicians Bill and Kevin came over to the show to install them for us. The upper A-arm on the Polaris uses a threaded ball joint to adjust the spindle’s camber. Carl’s Cycle recommends having any installation or adjustment done by someone who knows how to properly set up the camber angle or the sled’s handling will go out the window.
Fox Racing Shox sent a set of Float EVOL air shocks for the front end of Project MLC and the Carl’s Cycle techs installed those along with the Holz arms. The Fox Float EVOLs are the best of both worlds of air shocks: they are lightweight and benefit from the external “Extra VOLume” chamber to maintain the shock’s performance under grueling conditions. We also installed a set of Fox Shox on the stock rear suspension initially to test and ride quality was superb. We found a comfortable setting with 65 psi in the main chamber of the ski shocks and 160 psi in the EVOL chamber. We ran 110 psi in the main chamber of the rear track shock with 200 psi in its EVOL chamber. That gave us a plush ride at speed down a rough, shelled out trail and performed very well off-trail in deep fluff and steep climbs.
Project MLC needed the ArcticFX graphics installed on the other side at Boise and Dan Adams’ wife, Irina, took care of that task.
Once again, Project MLC left the show in a trailer headed for big mountains and deep snow. This time, Boondocker took it to Colorado for some November riding and more testing.
As the season progressed, we added more parts. We took the sled over to Jackson, WY, where we installed an Enhancement Kit from Most Wanted Performance. The Enhancement Kit serves as a bypass valve that keeps cooled-off coolant in the tunnel heat exchangers from circulating through a still-hot engine after the sled has sat for a few minutes. The Enhancement Kit circulates the coolant that is in the front or engine portion of the cooling system and slowly bleeds in cold coolant from the tunnel as the engine temp steadies out. The Enhancement Kit comes into play when the sled is first started in the morning, too, shortening the cooling circuit the same way, which allows the engine to reach operating temperature more quickly. That is key to preventing piston scuffing and engine damage or failure. We were very pleased with how the sled’s cooling system operated with the Gizmo installed.
Another late addition to Project MLC was a full Mtn. Tamer rear suspension from Timbersled Products, complete with black IceAge slide rails and Fox Float shocks.
Timbersled’s Allen Mangum travelled to our backyard to install the skid in Project MLC and stuck around for a couple of days to ride the sled and make any ride quality adjustments. The Mtn. Tamer rear suspension is light (lighter than the stock rail by a couple of pounds) and gives the rider a wide range of adjustment in ride quality and weight transfer control. The Mtn. Tamer features a sealed, greasable slide mechanism on the rear arm with a knob for coupling control with infinite adjustment capability. The Mtn. Tamer is a tried and proven piece of dedicated mountain hardware.
After a few months of riding, we had a sag in the running boards. We installed a set of Better Boards running board inserts and Lincoln County Customs helped us install a set of custom-made tunnel reinforcements.
Project MLC Wrap-Up
So did all of these modifications and bolt-on products leave us with a better sled than we started with?
Yes. Our riding preferences lead us into trees, ugly canyons and long sidehills. The added power from the Boondocker turbo means you can go more places, go deeper into the canyon, go farther on the sidehill and get out of trouble spots like you could not do on a stocker.
The improvements to the chassis, controls and seat made Project MLC very user-friendly for aggressive backcountry riding. Nothing is in the way, the bars are just the right height and the sled is easy to manipulate in sticky situations.
And the suspension upgrades made it a machine that you could hammer through the war zone leading up the mountain and still be completely functional once you’re off making your own tracks. We could control weight transfer, nose weight, coupling, rebound and compression damping and could make any changes we needed to the sled’s overall ride quality.
From power to handling and everything in between, Project MLC is the prefect combination of components and a core platform for the mountain rider who’s going through a mid-life crisis of his own.
January 28, 2012|
The challenge with goggles is finding the right ones for the right conditions that fit your helmet. In order for goggles to work properly, they must fit properly. And this problem sometimes isn’t the goggles’ fault.
During this past spring we tried to find a goggle that worked well while in a variety of snow conditions. Naturally, different lens colors are designed to function better in different light conditions. What we found most common about last winter’s light conditions was that most days it was either cloudy or snowing, which meant a flat light and a lot of moisture in the air.
When you couple that with the deep snow we had, which translates to a lot of stucks and wrestling with sleds, the goggles were really put to the test.
The three most common problems we encountered with goggles were: Once moisture got inside, it was hard to keep them from fogging; some goggles didn’t seal up against the face, allowing moisture to come in; some helmets pushed the goggles down lower on the nose, causing congestion and resulting in more mouth breathing … which exposes the goggle to more moisture.
Although not all goggles encountered all of these symptoms, most encountered one or two of them. And once you fogged it was almost impossible to keep your vision clear.
Another problem with goggles is that once you stop and remove them (like when you are stuck or stopped to help someone else), you facilitate the moisture to reach the inside lens, compromising the effectiveness of the goggle to remain fog-free. Yet if you don’t remove the goggle then often the heat from your forehead coupled with the lack of airflow through the lens would cause them to fog.
Although we didn’t find a goggle that fit all helmets and worked perfectly in all conditions, we did find something that made the goggle better—the Haber Eliminator Fan.
This small battery-operated fan fit snuggly inside the HaberVision Prima Polarized Goggle and pretty much does what it claims it can do—keep the goggle fog-free.
The Haber Eliminator Fan has three settings: off, on and moisture-sensing. We found that by setting it on moisture-sensing, it will turn itself on when humidity starts to build in the goggle. Then, once it’s cleared out, the fan shuts off, saving battery life.
We have used the goggle in the most extreme conditions and have found that we can leave the goggles on throughout the ride and they will keep the lens clear—even when we’re digging our sleds out of some ugly situations.
January 28, 2012|
The farthest thing from a snowmobiler’s mind when he goes out to enjoy the snow is thinking of all the bad things that could happen that would turn a winter pleasure into a life-threatening situation.
While snowmobilers want to be prepared, few want to pack all the emergency and survival equipment available for every such situation. So it becomes a matter of choosing what one is willing to carry and what one is hoping he might not need.
Perhaps the most important element required in a life and death situation is heat—fire. And we’ve found a simple, lightweight product that provides a permanent heat source one can throw in a backpack or sled and forget about until the time it’s needed. The Survival Rescue Knife from Industrial Revolution weighs three ounces and is a simple thing to have in your backpack always. The main use for the rescue knife is for starting fires in survival situations. This compact knife features a short rod that is capable of providing instant sparks to ignite a fire.
How we used it: First, we prepared some dry branches to start a fire. We then dipped a dry stick into our fuel tank so we could “encourage” a quick start. (We could have just used paper … but when you have the capability, why not use gas?) Then after a few rapid rubs of the back of the blade to the rod, the sparks ignited the stick and we started our fire.
The Survival Rescue Knife comes with the built-in FireSteel, a 3.1-inch blade with spear-tip point and an emergency whistle. Industrial Revolution also sells windproof, waterproof, Stormproof Matches if you’re more into a quick strike.
These matches will light in extreme conditions. Since they are lightweight and compact, it’s easy to throw them in your backpack and keep them with you at all times. They are designed to stay lit for up to 15 seconds—enough time to ignite your fire.
Company: Industrial Revolution
January 28, 2012|
|Breaking The 400-Pound Barrier|
Building and riding a no-compromise modern snowmobile that weighs less than 400 lbs. has long been a goal of ours here at Rocky Mountain Xtreme. Our goal has been realized with Project Xtreme Mountain King, a highly modified 800 Pro RMK that weighs less than 400 lbs. without sacrificing any day-to-day usability.
We’d like to share our ideas on what lightweight sled modifications can do for you. We’ll also discuss why lightweight mods are worthy of consideration, take a look at the components that comprise our latest project and compare this XMK to previous lightweight sleds we’ve built.
It is a well-known fact that the two most critical predictors of snowmobile performance are weight and horsepower. If we decrease weight or increase power, performance is very likely to improve. As snowmobiles evolved over the years, features like independent and long travel suspensions, bigger tracks, larger engines and more sophisticated engine management systems have all generally conspired to add weight to snowmobiles. Those improvements have made our sleds much more enjoyable to ride. Most of us wouldn’t trade all that modern technology for a sled that’s simply lighter but probably wouldn’t run, ride or handle as well. We have learned, though, that building lighter versions of current sleds always makes them perform better and they are more fun to ride.
I was introduced to the virtues of lighter snowmobiles by my good friend Jon Bayne not long after becoming a Polaris dealer in 1994. Bayne was a customer of the dealership and was working on getting as much weight as possible off his XLT at the time.
In addition to teaching me a bunch about powder riding, his sleds always worked better in deep snow and consistently demonstrated the virtues of lighter weight. Many other folks also noticed those advantages and in 2000, we built our first custom XMKs for several customers. Those sleds started with a Polaris Gen II bulkhead that was mated to a custom-built Holz tunnel and then finished with all the lightest components that were available.
It was riding mine for a couple seasons that really taught me how much of an advantage riding a lighter sled really gives you. Not only is it possible to climb higher and go further before getting stuck, but most riding can be done with considerably less effort than your buddies riding heavier machines. While that advantage may be less apparent leaving the truck with everybody refreshed and recharged, it normally becomes very evident by mid-afternoon when herding around their snow barges has taken its toll.
Back then, our sleds had only 141-inch tracks and weighed about 410 lbs. dry. Since then, we’ve built mod 800s in the Edge era, a Summit 1000 and 900 RMK that each lost a staggering 80 lbs., as well as several Dragons. My ‘09 Dragon 800 was about 50 lbs. lighter than a stock one which put its dry weight in the 430-pound range. That weight loss combined with some extra horsepower made it the most enjoyable sled of any I had thrown a leg over.
Throughout all of those projects, the technology of the base sleds was improving and the resultant project sleds got better as well, but we never could quite get back to the weight of those early machines.
While I think it’s safe to say that the manufacturers have known how important weight is, especially for mountain riding, other engineering considerations resulted in new sleds often weighing more than their predecessors in the ‘90s and early 2000s. While it was true that the top sellers in the West were always the largest displacement engines, the birth of the 900-1000cc class sleds did remind us that having that much weight planted in the nose of the sled is not a recipe for making it more fun to ride. Even with 80 lbs. removed from them, the weight distribution still limited them from being quite as much fun to ride as the smaller twins. It is still true that a majority of riders opt for the biggest engine they can buy but only if that engine does not result in a large weight disadvantage. In 2008, Ski-Doo introduced the Rev XP platform, and thus really deserves credit for bringing the weight discussion back to the forefront. Although the initial XPs had some chassis challenges that actually masked how light they were, any fairly conducted test between different brand sleds generally proved that the lighter sled did float and perform better, especially in deep snow. When Polaris was ready to introduce its latest chassis, the Pro RMK, weight loss was once again a key selling point.
With a dry weight of a claimed 431 lbs. on a 155-inch 800 Pro RMK, we couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like after having been put on a diet. Once we rode the Pro and got to appreciate both the weight loss compared to a Dragon and the rigidness of the chassis, we felt even more confident that the sled would work even better with less weight.
The sled that we built and rode last year was about 408 lbs. and did confirm we were headed in the right direction. With some more work and even lighter components, the Pro XMK weighs in at just more than 386 lbs. dry. Even though we’re not ready to reveal the whole recipe for the secret sauce, the major ingredients for this much weight loss include replacement of the rear suspension, replacement of the entire front suspension and skis, replacement of the chaincase with a belt drive, lightweight exhaust components, a lighter seat and modification of the driven clutch.
While we have been accused in the past of prioritizing weight loss over functional considerations, you’ll notice that this sled still has both the stock headlight and taillight at that weight, along with both original bumpers as well. In addition, we could have lost more weight by running Walker air shocks on the front and a simpler shock on the rear. We’ve chosen to leave the coil shocks on the front and the superior shock on the Holz Alpha X rear skid to ensure great ride and handling characteristics along with lots of adjustability. We did have the opportunity to display this sled at both the Denver and Salt Lake City snowmobile shows and a common question was, “Where did you lose most of the weight?” To Polaris’ credit, there is not a single spot on these sleds where it’s possible to lose a lot of weight. Instead, it takes losing a little weight in a lot of spots.
I am often asked at the shop about upgrades and specifically in what order I would do them. Even though we are obviously proponents of losing weight, at our altitude in Colorado, the best initial upgrade is almost always a moderate increase in power and drivability from some engine mods. It simply provides the biggest improvement for the money spent. However, when the discussion turns to making big investments, I am less convinced that spending it all in the engine compartment makes the most sense. My experience is that almost every rider, regardless of his base skill level, is a better rider on a lighter snowmobile.
Alternately, I don’t believe that every rider’s skill benefits from having significantly more horsepower. In actuality, the trade-offs normally associated with big bore or turbo engines can make riding them even more challenging than a stock sled. While the permutations of mods performed and dollars spent is endless, it’s at least worth considering that building a lightweight sled with moderate engine work can get you a similar weight-to-horsepower number as a high horsepower engine mod on a stock chassis.
Those who know me well would probably classify me as a numbers guy. After all, we built an engine dyno to quantify horsepower changes because trying to describe mod work in terms of sled lengths was too imprecise. Given that, it’s worth considering whether my earlier assertion about a lightweight sled performing similarly to a pump gas turbo actually makes sense.
On our dyno at altitude (and not corrected to sea level), a stock Polaris 800 makes about 110 hp. For comparison, that’s more than an original M8, about the same as an Apex and less than the Ski-Doo 800R. With our head mod and an SLP pipe, the horsepower increases to just more than 120. Combining the two, 386 divided by 120 means this sled will be carrying about 3.22 lbs. per horsepower.
In our experience, a stock Pro weighs between 434 and 438 lbs. If we add a relatively simple pump gas turbo, that’s still likely to increase weight by at least 20 lbs. On the dyno, we’ve generally found that 6 psi of boost is worth about 30 hp. For the sake of round numbers, let’s call our turbo horsepower 140. Again, combining the numbers, we have 456/140=3.26 lbs. per horsepower. Now, before anybody gets too invested or excited about these numbers, please keep in mind that I’m simply making the point that a light sled with some engine work can get you to a weight-to-horsepower ratio in the ballpark with a pump gas turbo. These numbers are general estimates based on previous turbo projects and are not the result of testing a specific kit. In fairness, we are also talking about a turbo at relatively low boost levels. We have certainly had higher boost 800s on the dyno making in the 180-200 hp range and it’s quite clear that it’s impossible to lose enough weight to achieve the kind of weight-to-horsepower ratios that high boost turbos produce.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to invest several thousand dollars in building big power or a seriously light sled, which one makes more sense? For me, the lighter sled is more fun to ride more of the time. The weight loss is more noticeable as the riding gets more technical. If you consider the physics, the lightweight sled will be more efficient. If two sleds have the same weight-to-horsepower ratio and one is heavier, it must be producing more horsepower. In a two-stroke, more power means it must be burning more fuel to produce that power. Given the amount of fuel it takes to make big horsepower, the efficiency of the light sleds means having a longer fuel range and perhaps being even lighter than the big power sled which may have to haul extra fuel.
Lastly, the long-term ownership costs of light sleds tend to be lower than big power sleds. Generally, the cost of lightweight parts is fixed and they don’t continue to cost you money in the same way that a high horsepower sled is likely to. While it may be possible to bend or break light parts, they don’t have the potential or tendency to blow up like modified engines do. Even if the turbo or big bore engine doesn’t suffer a catastrophic failure, extra horsepower does shorten the life of the engine, wear drive clutches out faster, etc.
In fairness, hitting that hidden rock early in the season on the lightweight sled will be more expensive to fix when the front end is made of titanium.
There is also no feeling quite like going uphill with the skis dangling and listening to that special sound that a turbo makes.
If Mindy (my wife) will agree, I think the solution is to own one of each.
(Facey is owner of Rocky Mountain Xtreme in Colorado. For more information, contact 303-654-0867 or visit www.rmxtreme.com.)
January 28, 2012|
|Still an ideal entry-level mountain sled|
Take a look in almost any snowmobile dealership or look at any of the major manufacturers’ websites and it’s easy to think snowmobiling these days is all about big horsepower, superchargers and turbos.
Horsepower rules the roost.
Almost, but not quite.
There’s still the Yamaha Phazer MTX, which brings a little sanity to the big horsepower-dominated mountain segment.
The four-stroke Phazer MTX isn’t just Yamaha’s entry-level sled; it might just be considered the entry-level snowmobile for the entire mountain lineup. Ski-Doo and Polaris each come to the mountains with a 600—their entry level machines—and Arctic Cat, which dropped the 600 from its lineup for 2012, has the four-stroke Pro Climb 1100, which is similar in horsepower figures to the Yamaha Nytro MTX.
That leaves the Phazer MTX as the only sub 100 hp mountain sled available for 2012. The Phazer has a horsepower rating of 80.
Back when the Phazer was first introduced in the 2007 model year, Rob Powers, then Yamaha’s snowmobile marketing manager and now Yamaha’s snowmobile product manager, said, “The Phazer Mountain Lite is a super lightweight, long track sled that’s ideally suited for deep snow riders who crave a highly maneuverable sled for technical riding and just having fun. It is an easy sled to ride, so it’s not intimidating to people just developing their powder legs.”
That’s probably just as true today as it was five years ago when Powers first said it.
The Phazer hasn’t really changed much since its introduction in 2007. Here’s a look at what has changed on the Phazer since the 2007 model year. The “new” Phazer was first introduced as the Phazer Mountain Lite and the name was later changed to Phazer MTX.
At the Phazer’s introduction to the media, Powers said, “The Phazer Mountain Lite’s first two design mandates, light weight and nimble handling, are closely related. Our engineering department began with a lightweight 2-cylinder engine and proceeded to build the sled around it. The compact chassis is constructed with our exclusive controlled flow die casting technology. This allows us to build a very rigid chassis without a lot of weight. That rigidity allowed the suspension engineers to develop a very precise handling suspension setup.”
• New FX chassis
• Tall, lightweight, narrow YZ-style seat
• Rear-exiting exhaust
• High-visibility LED taillight
• ProMountain FX 144 rear suspension
• 14x144x2-inch deep snow track
• Ventilated hydraulic brake
• Integrated chaincase and magnesium cover
• Extruded FX spindles
• FX double wishbone front suspension
• Naked front end styling
• Advanced fuel injection
• Engine idle adjustment
• Genesis 80FI engine
• Customizing-ready windshield mounts
• Digital FX gauge pod
• Push button electric shift reverse
• Tall, wide bars with center strap
• Sport rider-forward position
• MSRP $7,199
• Named changed to MTX
• Handlebar hooks added (heated all the way to the end of the hooks)
• Short windshield
• Snow panels (The panel closed off the gap between the seat and the tunnel, helping reduce the amount of snow and ice buildup on the tunnel and footwell areas of the sled. This necessitated a redesigned gas tank; therefore, the panels wouldn’t easily retrofit to the 2007 Phazer)
• Estimated dry weight 515 lbs. (This was one of the few times Yamaha ever released any weight figures on the Phazer.)
• MSRP $7,399
• New HPG front, center and rear shocks
• New white and Yamaha Blue graphics as well as black and orange graphics
• MSRP $7,499
• New graphics
• MSRP $8,099
“The Phazer MTX is such a lightweight sled with excellent reliability and such high fun factor that we didn’t have a lot to change for 2011,” Wade West, Yamaha snowmobile marketing manager, said at the time. “We updated the color and graphics and pretty much left it at that.”
• White/blue color and graphics
• Oil pressure sensing system (If the oil pressure drops while riding, the ignition and fuel supply is controlled to limit the engine’s rpm and reduce the load on the engine. If necessary, the system will stop the engine, offering another line of engine protection.)
• MSRP $8,299
• New graphics package
• Replaceable bearing wheels (first introduced on the 2010 FX Nytro MTX SE 153/162)
• MSRP $8,599
We’re definitely not snowmobile engineers, but if we were aiming to keep the cost of a sled down, we’d keep it as simple as possible while still making it fun and functional. That might explain why the changes over the years have been minimal.
One marketing line Yamaha has ridden pretty hard with the Phazer MTX is it’s the “lightest four-stroke mountain sled on the market.” The claim bears out due to the Phazer engine’s 2-cylinder design, which makes it lighter than the Nytro MTX’s 3-cylinder powerplant. And while we don’t have any weight figures on the new Cat mountain four-strokes, we’ll make an educated guess that the Phazer weighs even a little less than the M 1100.
So while horsepower has its place in the mountains, so too does the Phazer MTX, which is a decent entry-level machine or ideal for any rider not looking for big horsepower.
January 28, 2012|
Two years ago, when it came to 4-stroke mountain sleds, you had a couple of choices: the Yamaha Nytro MTX or Yamaha Phazer MTX.
Then, a year ago at Haydays, Yamaha unveiled a bombshell of sorts when it announced you could buy a supercharger or turbo and install it on your Nytro. Of course, there were several companies already offering turbos and superchargers for Yamaha sleds, but this was the first time you could buy compressed air units right out of the Yamaha catalog. That was quite a breakthrough for Yamaha.
Now, for 2012, you can still buy a supercharger or turbo for your Yamaha right out of the catalog but the vendor has changed on the turbo. As we shared with you in the October issue of
SnoWest, Yamaha announced it was going with the Mountain Performance turbo as its official vendor. MPI was already supplying the supercharger.
Arctic Cat, on select 2012 M 1100 sleds, is offering a turbo, which comes stock with the machine. Yamaha’s turbos and superchargers are aftermarket products. Yamaha snowmobile product manager Rob Powers stressed that the turbo and supercharger are not factory-approved components and are aftermarket products, although MPI is an approved vendor. We should also point out that while Yamaha only warranties the snowmobile, MPI does offer a warranty on its turbos and superchargers.
So you’re leaning toward a Yamaha and want the added horsepower so you’re thinking of purchasing the MPI turbo. Or do you want the supercharger? Which one is a better fit for you?
As was pointed out in the main 4-stroke article in this issue, “2012 Mountain 4-Strokes,” the supercharger creates between 170-175 hp (compared to the stock Nytro at 135 hp), while the turbo creates 180 hp. That’s at about 10,000 feet and those numbers will change a little depending on elevation.
Here are a few differences between the supercharger and turbo:
• The MPI supercharger uses the stock Nytro exhaust.
• The supercharger relies on engine rpm for boost, which is why the throttle response is more crisp. However, as you gain elevation, you lose rpm and thus, you lose boost and throttle response.
• There is no turbo lag with a supercharger.
• Superchargers are more involved (read: labor intensive) to install than a turbo.
• Superchargers are harder to ride through trees and technical terrain because of the instant boost.
• The weight of the supercharger is added to the nose of the sled, next to the engine. The weight of the turbo is added over the rear of the sled.
• Turbo lag lets you roll into your line before the power comes on, where the supercharger power is on whenever the throttle is on.
January 28, 2012|
Everybody needs to load a sled into the back of a pickup at some point. Finding a ramp that stays in place and doesn’t require that you hit it with enough speed to clear the truck’s front bumper just to make it into the bed is challenging. Or is it?
We tested the new Rev Arc Sled Ramp by Bosski last season and although we were initially put off by its over-engineered design, we changed tunes the first time we drove a sled up it.
The Rev Arc ramp is designed so that the track contacts the ramp before the skis do so there’s no chance of pushing the ramp up and off the tailgate. The design also provides constant positive traction, allowing the sled to crawl up the ramp at safe speeds—you don’t need momentum to carry you over the apex. The Rev Arc ramp also features a curved top transition, taking the point out of where the ramp meets the tailgate.
A ratcheting strap ties the ramp to the truck’s hitch or bumper so that there is no way for the track to spin the ramp out from under the sled. Blue ski runner guides keep the skis from pushing out to the edge of the ramp.
The Rev Arc Sled Ramp weighs 47 lbs., which isn’t bad compared to other tri-fold ramps we’ve used.
The Rev Arc Sled Ramp consists of four main sections that fold in on each other. Overall, the folded size is slightly larger than the typical tri-fold ramp. It takes a little more effort to set up initially, but once you use it you won’t be bothered by that.
The Rev Arc Sled Ramp retails for $329.99.
January 28, 2012|
Dalton Industries has the industry’s largest selection of helixes and that selection is continually growing. New models for this season include the new 2012 Arctic Cat models, more angles for the Polaris P-2 driven and a new updates list of cuts for others.
Contact Dalton Industries
(902) 897-3333 or www.daltonindustries.com.
January 27, 2012|
Another new design making up Klim’s 2011-12 lineup, the Extreme Bib improves upon the innovative pant/bib hybrid that has become a favorite of the most active off-trail riders. Combining the comfort of a riding pant with the deep-snow protection of a high-back bib, the Extreme offers ride versatility like no other. Klim built it right with guaranteed waterproof and supremely durable Gore-Tex Performance Shell technology.
Then, Klim added a more refined fit around the knees and bulked up on Cordura overlays where the pants touch the sled. Features include: Klim’s exclusive Seat Dry Tech Construction, 500D Cordura overlays on knees and inner boot area and underlays in high-abrasion areas, integrated Powder-Hater boot gaiter design and non-slip adjustable suspenders.
The bib is available in sizes S-5XL Regular, S-3XL Tall and S-5XL Short and retail for $329.99–395.99.
Contact Klim (208) 552-7433 or www.klim.com.
January 27, 2012|
NEXTECH has developed an adjuster plate to quickly change the height of your front arm on the rear suspension. This allows for change of approach angle and ski pressure easily and also reinforces the tunnel.
Five positions allow for more or less ski pressure as desired. Built with titanium aluminum and stainless steel for strength and long lasting good looks. Price is $89.95 CAD for the pair.
Contact NEXTECH (780) 983-5389 or www.carbonsled.com.
January 27, 2012|
Patrick Custom Carbon has used Indy Car technology to design and develop carbon fiber clutch covers for Polaris P85, Comet 102C, Belmont 4 Post and Arctic Cat clutches. The Polaris P85 carbon fiber clutch cover with titanium bolts fits on any year and can be done while mounted on the sled.
The average weight savings is approximately 300 grams of spun weight vs. stock. The lighter weight allows for faster acceleration.
Contact Patrick Custom Carbon (815) 721-5150 or www.patrickcustomcarbon.com.
January 27, 2012|
Amidst the snow flurries on that cold January morning, a group of four snowmobilers wound their way through the rugged backcountry in the Salt River Range east of Alpine, WY.
Poor visibility due to the flat light made for difficult riding conditions as the group carved across the slopes and traversed the sidehills while picking their way through tight canyons. An old access road carved its way above a steep drop-off which fell down into a flowing creek. However, deep snow on the steep slope crowded the road to the point where even the slightest track wash would cost a rider the sidehill.
For the last rider in the group, most of the good lines had already been trenched out or polished down to the frozen earth, leaving little good snow to set the track or create new lines. Suddenly, the back end of the sled slid sideways across an exposed rock and dangled over the 100-foot drop to the creek. With a frantic grab of the throttle, the rider pushed the sled into a drift of snow which secured it to the mountain.
About 15 minutes later, during which time a lot of shoveling occurred to get the snowmobile leveled on a narrow platform where it could be driven back to safety, the other three riders returned to celebrate the scraping off of the tail rider.
Over the years I’ve learned one important truth when it comes to snowmobiling: You don’t want to be the weakest link in your group.
By being the weakest link, you usually find yourself in situations that are just a little beyond your comfort level. Regardless of where you start out in a ride—second, third or fourth in line—you usually work yourself back to the rear. This is both good and bad. The good is you can take a little more time to assess the terrain before you make a commitment on your line. The bad is that the trenches get deeper, the bumps get harder and the availability of fresh lines becomes much more scarce.
Being the weakest link also makes you vulnerable to the butt of the jokes. And the only thing worse than being the weakest link is being the weakest link and not knowing it.
Usually, riders assemble in groups of close equality in riding abilities. Although there is usually a “pecking order” in who leads and who follows, not everyone is always on the top of their game. In other words, the weakest link can vary depending on who’s riding well and who’s not (sometimes it’s whose snowmobile is running strong and whose sled is just not making power that day).
Regardless, it’s always good to look around your group before the start of each ride and try to decide who’s going to be the weakest link … and then do everything you can to be just a little bit better than that guy on that ride.
January 27, 2012|
I just perused the latest issue and had somewhat of an epiphany. You are a bright fella; I hope it struck you as well.
I think you found the guy to write about older sleds, junkyards, and “antique” performance parts. His name is Mike Lundberg [“How About Some Stories For Us?” SnoWest, October, 2011, page 10]. Your back-and-forth with him showed an eloquent writer, a passionate sledder and an overall intelligent man. I think an occasional quip or “article” in the mag from him would be a very welcome addition. It sounds like he has come up through the ranks in much the same way as most of our community has.
If nothing else, please forward this mail to him. I want him to know that some of us love and embrace the nostalgia … even if we have moved on to keep up with the Joneses. We all have roots somewhere. It’s nice to remember them on occasion.
Via e-mail from Wyoming
Closure Of Granite Mountain In McCall To Snowmachines
I am a resident of McCall and an avid rider. Following is my personal letter regarding the closing of Granite Mountain—our mountain. Please note that there are 4 million acres in Idaho closed off to snowmachines, but 0 acres closed off to backcountry skiers. This proposal will ruin our already dwindling economy as well as our businesses.
Snowmobile Use On Granite May Become A Thing Of The Past
Originally Squaw, Granite and Hitt mountains were all open to any and all public use which included motorized recreation. Around 2004, Squaw and Hitt mountains were closed to all motorized use and only available to backcountry skiers. The Payette National Forest gave Brundage exclusive rights to the southeast side of Goose Lake and Soldier for their cat skiing program, later giving Brundage mixed use rights to the south side of Granite for the same purpose.
Most importantly, the south and east sides of Granite are the areas used for motorized recreation. Granite offers riding for beginners and intermediate riders as well as plenty of recreation for advanced riders. Its surrounding areas can be used by everyone in any skill set or at any age, local or tourist. The rest of the mountain is too steep or totally inaccessible for riding and much too dangerous for beginners and intermediate riders as well as children or those riders getting up in age to ride. Few snowmobiles and riders have the capability to ride this steep and rugged country.
Neither Squaw nor Hitt can offer enjoyable riding to anyone but very experienced riders. They are unfriendly areas to beginners, intermediate, young and older riders. Squaw Mountain is too steep for anyone not at expert level. It is dangerous for anyone who is unfamiliar with the area. Hitt Mountain is almost twice the distance of Granite and Squaw from the parking lot and will require extra fuel as well as extra time to access it. Most people will be too exhausted and cold once they reach Hitt to enjoy any of it. A select few will be able to enjoy the riding on Squaw and Hitt while the rest of us will have to park our machines and watch.
• This proposed “trade” will close Granite almost entirely.
• From Goose Lake up the mountain will be off limits.
• There will be no route to the Lookout.
• You will not be allowed to ride up the chutes from Twin Lakes.
• Granite is popular and enjoyed by all.
• Squaw is rarely used and by experts only.
• Hitt is not used at all and will require a whole day and extra fuel to enjoy.
The backcountry skiers who got Squaw and Hitt closed in the first place have complained for years that their areas were too far away from the parking lot on Brundage. With this proposal, they will give back what they took away in the first place and also take away a mainstay area for all snowmobiles, both local and tourist.
This closure is not year-round. It is only from January 15-March 30, which is the best snow conditions for snowmobiles as well as Brundage’s busiest time for the cat ski program. This move will further profit a private company, privatize public lands, thus denying the public the right to recreate in an area convenient, safe and well known with their families and friends.
During Segregation, most public businesses had signs that stated, “Whites Only. No Blacks Allowed.” There is already 451,200 acres of public land closed to motorized recreation. This draws a line on a map that states, “Skiers Only. No Snowmobiles Allowed.” These closings vastly limit a specific user group and are similar to discrimination and segregation.
We need to make a stand or give up our rights entirely.
(ED—For a little background information on what Rittenhouse is talking about, visit www.snowest.com and navigate to the Sept. 22, 2011, news update titled, “Payette National Forest To Host Public Meeting On Proposed Special Order For Management Of 2011-12 Winter Snow Season.”)
I Feel Mike’s Pain
I feel Mike’s [Lundberg, “How About Some Stories For Us?” SnoWest, October, 2011, page 10] pain. I love looking through your magazine and going to dealers to check out the new sleds. I even check out the new reveals that manufacturers do when hyping a new sled.
The hard truth is I can’t afford to buy these cool new machines. I have a family of five and other obligations so buying new is just not an option. All my kids ride their own sleds but what they ride is at least twice as old as they are and nearing how long I have been kicking around.
I wish this side of the sport was looked at a little more--old sleds that have proven their worth, modifications that make old sleds perform better and what sleds work well for kids learning to ride. It’s lame, but I got excited to see an older sled in the pictures of your article about Routt County [“Routt County: Powder Heaven,” SnoWest, October, 2011, page 41].
Please just don’t forget about the guys who are in it to enjoy time with family. My kids will be the next readers and buyers of snowmobiles in the future as long as the sport does not cease to exist.
Also, tell the manufacturers they need a good mid-size sled like the old 340s.
January 27, 2012|
|NPS to implement one-year rule for 2011-12 Winter Use Plan|
National Park Service planners will implement a “One-Year Rule” for the upcoming 2011-12 winter season, in order to allow time to better address significant public input regarding the proposed long-term regulation.
More than 58,000 responses were received during the 60-day public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that closed on July 18, with significant input on the long-term proposal’s requirements and approaches. The goal had been to have a new long-term final Winter Use Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and regulation in effect for the park by December, 2011.
Among the issues that NPS wants to analyze further before issuing a long-term regulation are:
• Variable preset use limits
• Air quality and sound modeling assumptions
• Proposed Best Available Technology (BAT) for snowcoaches
• Adaptive management framework for emerging technologies
• Costs of avalanche mitigation efforts on Sylvan Pass
• The 10:30 entry time requirement included in the preferred alternative
• Opportunities for non-commercially guided access
In the near-term, the NPS plans to issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) that will select only the “transition year” portion of the preferred alternative. In addition, the NPS will issue a final rule—allowing winter use for one year—allowing the same use levels with the same restrictions as the interim rule that was in place the past two seasons.
The rule will allow for up to 318 commercially guided BAT snowmobiles and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches per day in Yellowstone for the 2011-12 season. It will also continue to provide for motorized oversnow travel over the East Entrance road and Sylvan Pass.
Following the issuance of the ROD and one-year rule, the NPS will immediately begin work to supplement the FEIS. The NPS intends to have a final supplemental EIS, a long-term ROD, and a long-term regulation in place before the start of the 2012-13 winter season.
January 27, 2012|
|Sleds also meet BAT for GTNP|
BRP has 10 2012 Ski-Doo snowmobile models certified for use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks where some of the toughest emission standards are enforced. These BRP products stand alone as the only 2012 models to be certified with no modifications or kits.
Snowmobiles must be certified as Best Available Technology (BAT) by the National Park Service to enter Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. BAT certification is one of the most stringent standards for air and noise emissions in the world, requiring hydrocarbon emissions of less than 15 g/kW-hr, carbon monoxide emissions of less than 120 g/kW-hr and sound level limited to 73 decibels.
These 10 Ski-Doo snowmobiles are all equipped with four-stroke engines, either the ultra-quiet and efficient Rotax ACE 600 engine or the more powerful Rotax 4-TEC 1200 powertrain. The certified Ski-Doo snowmobiles require no modifications or throttle limiters to meet the BAT standards.
“BRP is committed to providing responsible recreational products that meet or exceed our customers’ needs while being as environmentally friendly as possible,” Robert Lumley, vice-president, sales and marketing, Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo, said. “Unlike our competition, these 10 machines require no modifications. All customers using these models across North America are getting this same kind of fuel economy and efficiency, not just sleds limited to Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Parks.”
BRP’s Rotax ACE 600 engine was designed for efficiency, with every aspect focused on maximizing output, minimizing fuel consumption, reducing maintenance and extending longevity. Fuel economy on some models is an industry-leading 8 L/100 km (29 mpg).
The Rotax 4-TEC 1200 engine is designed more for performance. This engine meets the demands of experienced riders across the world by delivering a lightweight and powerful four-stroke package that translates to easy handling and quick acceleration in the Rev-X chassis.
Ski-Doo models certified for BAT are offered in one-rider and two-rider configurations, including: the Grand Touring SE, Grand Touring LE with the Rotax 4-TEC 1200 engine, and the Grand Touring Sport, MX Z Sport, MX Z TNT, Renegade, Tundra LT, Tundra Sport, Expedition Sport and Skandic WT, all equipped with the Rotax ACE 600 engine.