Snowmobile Club Tips That Could Save Your Life

By MJ Joiner, Revelstoke Snowmobile Club

New to the backcountry?

Many skiers and snowboarders new to the Revelstoke area who are keen to explore the backcountry may not consider themselves potential sled skiers or sledders just yet, but statistically the percentage is much higher than many realize. You don’t need to own a snowmobile to get your first taste of the ‘two stroke chairlift’, and many will get an opportunity their first season in town. From friends who own sleds, to affordable rentals or going halves with a buddy on a Revysell special for the season, we at the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club see a multitude of new users each year.

It doesn’t take long to see why skiers and snowboarders use sleds to access and explore lines in our backcountry, a well ridden sled can climb faces far steeper than you can tour and in a fraction of the time. Here’s a few tips to help!

– Carry a beacon, probe and shovel and take an avalanche course. Wear a helmet.

– Terrain guides and Avaluators are available in our club house at the Boulder lot.

– If you can, go with someone who knows the lines. Don’t follow tracks!

– Do not tow. No towing is allowed at Boulder or Frisby. Do not ski on trails, tracked vehicles only are allowed on trail.

– Carry skis and boards vertically, never horizontally, on your pack or in a properly built rack. Ski straps a must. Bungees are the quickest way to lose your gear off the trail or into another sled.

– Ski boots with soles that grip and a walk mode are easier to ride in. If you can’t manage wear old snowboard boots. If you sled in sneakers you’re gonna have a bad time!

– Side by siding is the easiest way to double. Weaker rider on the left, stand up strong and hold the mountain strap, try to use the left grip only to assist in steadying yourself. Left hand rider feels with the right shoulder for the drivers left shoulder. You will keep both riders fresher this way and have a lot more fun. If your buddy is a hundred pounds lighter than you just stick him or her in front.

– Be aware of what and who are below you, be courteous and respectful of sledders below lines and you’re more likely of an appreciative audience. Check speed coming into tracked zones, hitting a sled trench at 80km feels like hitting a wall.

– Be respectful of heli ski terrain and heli skiers. No one wants to deal with a hopping mad ski guide!

For many sledders sled skiing and boarding is what got us into snowmobiling, the ability to get out into the mountains and the powder is second to none. Some people choose predominantly to use their sleds to access and shuttle lines, whilst others may find the allure of hitting those same lines and drops on sleds too tempting!  

Have a great season! Braap!