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Using snow mobiles to access back country

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I did my first full winter in Colorado last winter and was curious to see quite a few snowmobiles on trailers (I am now going to refer to them as sleds as it is less to type).

There looks to be acres of untracked that would be much easier to access on a sled.

Growing up in a basically hot country we had no use for sleds and I have no experience of them. I have ridden dirt bikes however and no that any high powered off road machine has its inherant dangers (due to the operator).

I also read about a few sled related deaths especially breaking through ice when following frozen streams.

A friend (who has grown up skiing and sledding in Colorado) has said that a party of four skiers and four sleds is the best set up for doing laps and having a margin for safety ie avalanche, sled mechanical failure or sled crash.

What are the opinions out there in Epic land please?

Is there anyway to get professional sled training rather than taking a punt on making friends with the patrol and getting some tuition from them?

Finally what is the best sled for power/ float/ ease of use/ carrying capacity and ease of maintenance?

Thanks
post #2 of 14
Sleds on ice are better on lakes. Check the ice thickness. Sleds on ice with moving water are often a recipe for disaster.
post #3 of 14
my bet is you will aof alot more sled access skiers on Tetongravity.com. I now know a couple people that have sleds and might get a chance to use them next year.

Generally they are not used for the actual climb up but instead used to get where noone else can get and you still skin/hike up what your going to ski.
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
my bet is you will aof alot more sled access skiers on Tetongravity.com.
Like Sledneckripper?
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
Like Sledneckripper?
ummm yeah if you like ******* **** talking sledskiers....but there is aalot of people over there that have or stll do it, and arent sledneckripper.

I wish SNR would leave that site for ever
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
I wish SNR would leave that site for ever

Happy Birthday!
post #7 of 14
Hey, I thought only Epic was lame enough for moderators.

Sorry, no help on the sled question except that other than wilderness areas, they can get you to the goods. It would be almost pointless unless you have a partner who also has a sled because sledding and BC skiing alone are kind of like endorsing the Darwin principal.
post #8 of 14
As long as the sleds stay out of the designated wilderness area I have no problems with them. Keep in mind that a lot of the areas you sled into to ski/ride, get tracked out fairly quickly. Sleds let a small group of users make multiple runs fairly quickly. Not that earn you turns places don't get tracked either.

There are definitely some more remote locations you can go into, but of course the further out you are the harder it is to get help if you need it.

Make sure you take an avy course, carry the avy gear, and that your partners do that same. Sledders accounted for half the avalanche related deaths this past year. I think that is the first time it has happened and that number is growing. There are a lot of numbskulls out there on sleds in the bc.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
Sledders accounted for half the avalanche related deaths this past year. I think that is the first time it has happened and that number is growing. There are a lot of numbskulls out there on sleds in the bc.
Yes, I would bet that the majority of Sledders don't have beacons.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew R View Post
There looks to be acres of untracked that would be much easier to access on a sled.
You really need some specialized terrain, there really isn't as much good, ride able ski terrain, as you would think.

I have a pair of Ski Doo 800 Summit X 151's. They seem to be the most common mountain sleds were I ride. Polaris RMK's are also very popular.
Get something fairly new, they break down a lot, especially if you don't know what your doing. Get your friend to mentor you on how to ride deep snow and how to dig out your sled. It's a lot harder than it looks.
post #10 of 14

Snowmobiles/sleds

Andrew R. Do it all the time but we limit outselves with some common sense. Most avalanche sleds burried are guys racing to the top of some pretty dangerous cornices etc.. If you use some common sense sledding can be safe. Some rules we use: Usually one sled, sometimes 2.

Here in out local mts. we have a lot of railroad beds that are no longer used and usually try to come down a hill to either the RR right of way or a road (logging/access etc. dirt/snow covered). The usual is 3-4 people which will be 1 driver, 1 on back of sled and 2 on water ski ropes behind. Up we go usually on a skid road or access road. 3 skiers down and the sled driver meets them at a designated spot. Switch drivers. At Lookout Mt. we ski off the back (lift served) 2400 vert. down to RR access and get towed back to parking lot/lifts, we switch off drivers. Pretty much limit ourselves to safe pitches, and non avalanche country. I know its not as daring etc. but all of us survive every year and we do some really awesome virgin powder runs. Riding the rope uphill on switchbacks can be hairy and it really help if rider has some water ski experience with slack rope situtations. Guys say it absolultely wears you out especially up hill but not true if you've water skied (i.e. straight back/relax and ride). Great fun, a lot of lst tracks and a real adventue as every day is different.
post #11 of 14
Around here access issues are such that you pretty much need a sled to ski BC.

We tend to use our sleds to get to the base of whatever it is we want to ski, and then just skin up regularly from there. Sometimes we ride double on my sled but usually we just tow people behind. It's easier although a bit of a PITA. I have a 1997 Yamaha Mountain Max 700.

I've skied before with folks who use sleds to do runs, and in that case you need a bigger sled than what I have... my friend who skis that way uses a 900cc Arctic Cat of some flavor, with a long track and huge lugs. He's also pretty skilled - riding double uphill in powder takes some doing if you're not going to spend the whole day digging out.

To my mind I'd rather do it the way we generally do - use the sled for access, use the skins for altitude. Better overall experience, and besides my snowmobiling skills suck. I hate spending all day digging out a stuck sled.

Whatever you do, be sure that you get a machine designed for use in the POWDER. There are a lot of trail-riding machines for sale that are fine for what they do but which will make your life a living hell if you try and ski with them. You're looking for a minimum of 600cc's, long track, lugs no less than 1.75" and if you're not too picky about chunking the people behind you more is better. There are snowmobile clubs all over Colorado - if you're in Denver the group is the Mile High Snowmobile Club. Most of them are populated by really friendly, family-oriented people who are happy to help you learn what you need to know. There also used to be an annual Snow Show at the National Western Complex in September where you could shop for used machines.

X2 re: beacon and avy skilz. I'm constantly blown away by sledders high marking on slopes showing very recent avalanche activity and/or very dangerous conditions. WTF are those people thinking???
post #12 of 14
there was a whole issue of Freeskier last year devoted to sledding.

you should try and dig it up...if you can't i'm more'n happy to either photocopy the articles or send you the entire magazine.

it had trip reports from pros, two opposing editorials on the environmental impact of sleds, background on their use, etc.
post #13 of 14
I don't own a sled, wish I did, but there are a LOT of places where the access road to the goods is closed in the winter, making it a seriously long haul just skinning. With a sled, you can cut the approach out of the equation, making a lot of stuff a lot more accessible, and you don't have to worry about being too proficient with a sled (or having anything all that powerful) because you're just going to be on a road anyways. I think that'd be my method if I did get a sled, at least for a while.
post #14 of 14
it can take an hour to dig one sled out ...not everything white and untouched is gonna be yours to rip.

But they are great utilitarian devices to get the BC done.
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