SnoWest At 45 Years
When I was a boy (a little more than 45 years ago) it seemed the snow was always much deeper. I remember playing outside with drifts taller than me … but then, I was a short kid. And I remember even then getting my snowmobile stuck in the bottomless powder.
But as I look back, I sometimes forget that in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, snowmobiles had about four inches of travel and the running boards were only six inches off the ground. So basically, a foot of snow was deep enough to do the job.
Although I still think the snow was deeper then, I also believe that with today’s snowmobile technology we are constantly looking for deeper snow to challenge us.
Just like the snowmobile industry, SnoWest Magazine has evolved a lot in 45 years. And for the majority of those years I have been enjoying the evolution. I’ve seen a lot of changes throughout the years. I witnessed several companies come and go during that time. The industry has had a lot of good years … and a few not so good.
But it kept on. Just like winter.
I never had a summer when I wasn’t looking ahead for the first snow of the season so I could go riding. And I never had a spring when I didn’t think there would still be time for one more good ride.
At SnoWest, we have always been snowmobile enthusiasts first and snowmobile journalists second. We work hard riding, so we can free up the time to play hard riding. We’ve been the No. 1 supporter of the industry, and the No. 1 critic of the sleds. (Our annual evaluations and snow tests have constantly called for improved technology for mountain riding.)
In the beginning, all sleds were created equal. But in our early years we realized that not all riding conditions were equal. In the early 1980s we started screaming at the OEMs to make models for mountain riding. First we battled for track length. Then we pushed for deep lugs. Then came power-to-weight.
Each year as the sleds improved, our access to the higher elevations increased. We went from putting on 100 miles a day per ride (mostly trails) to around 50 miles a day per ride (mostly powder). We’ve always been able to get out on the snow around 25-30 days per season.
It was very common for us to log 3,000 miles a year on the snow during the 1980s when we spent a great deal of time riding trails (because that’s what those sleds were designed to do). Nowadays, with mountain sleds providing access to the best snow, we spend more time in the powder and average closer to 50 miles per day. We still get out as many times … but it takes a lot more work to log miles when you’re chest deep in powder.
With each ride comes a new adventure. We have been upside down, broken down and turned around. We have run out of gas (more times than we can remember), been buried in powder and submerged chest deep in water (when the creek was deeper than we thought). We have been wet, cold, tired and hurt. But we have always been anxious for the next ride.
Many of you have grown up with SnoWest Magazine. Some of us have grown old while working on it.
Although the snow doesn’t seem to be as deep as it was 45 years ago, the passion is certainly as strong as it ever was. And as always, we’ll take it one ride and one adventure at a time. As for the snow depths … we’ll still manage to find enough powder to do our testing.
We know … it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.
- Steve Janes