Snowmobiles are designed to travel over snow. Snow is nothing more than frozen water. So wouldn’t the logical conclusion be if a snowmobile can travel over water in the frozen state, it should be able to travel over water in the unfrozen state?
Well, apparently not.
On a recent outing, SnoWest senior editor Steve Janes found himself literally up to his armpits in water and faced with serious challenges. When you’re 30 miles from the trailead and you have about an hour’s worth of sunlight and your snowmobile is submerged in four feet of water, what do you do?
Short answer: Go back in and drag as much of the sled out of the water as quick as you can. And there’s no easy or dry way to do it.
We managed to get most of the snowmobile out of the creek … but didn’t have a rope strong enough to drag it all the way up out of the creek’s steep bank. We knew the sled recovery would have to wait until the next day. Two of the four riders were wet up to their necks and temperatures were starting to plummet. It was time to get back to the truck before hypothermia set in.
SnoWest staff did go back the next day and complete the recovery, getting the snowmobile out of the mountains and in a warm shop so things could dry out.
Perhaps the greatest lesson learned was how effective snow suits are at maintaining body heat even when totally submerged in water.