Santa Claus Visits WildSnow Early, Leaves Snowmobile in Yard


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Santa must have been in an extra good mood the other day. Perhaps Mrs. Santa granted him a night of bliss or something like that, as he seems to have dropped a snowmobile off at our house. It had the key in it so we used the sled today and indeed…

Colorado backcountry skiing.
… the goods were had. In this turn, Jason was thanking Santa as well as the supreme being, though not necessarily in that order. He and Louie did six muscle powered laps, and Jason still made it to work that afternoon. Yep, thanks. (Zone we accessed on this trip is private land in the Elk Mountains of Colorado, we’ll re-visit some old public land snowmobile accessed haunts and blog them over the next few weeks.)

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Okay, it’s a 2008 Yamaha FX Nytro MTX (40th Anniversary Model so it has red accents), 4 stroke, 153 inch track, reverse, electric start. three cylinder fuel injected 1049cc screamer. Amazingly quiet, no 2-cycle exhaust issue, tows anything, scares the heck out of you when you hit the throttle. What’s not to love? Yeah, it’s a little tipsy on sidehills and a bit on the heavy side. But overall this thing blows our minds.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Louie gets some too. Homework on the horizon but I don’t think it was on his mind at the time.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Another shot before Mr. Nytro gets too beat up. (The “Mr.” designation was arrived at after he almost ripped my arms off.) We waited about fifteen years for a new snowmobile after wearing out our previous, which was a beater to start with. I’m glad we waited that long as we can now own a 4-stroke like this that’s so engineered it makes our old sled look like something from the stone age. We use our snowmobiles primarily as “work sleds” to reach remote zones where we then climb and ski under muscle power. Using a 2-stroke that expels acrid exhaust and makes an obnoxious racket has always seemed a Faustian bargain for such, this sled feels much more appropriate. It even gets better gas mileage!

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Couldn’t resist publishing this one.

Colorado backcountry skiing.
And this one of Jason.

Now everyone, please don’t tar and feather me for this Yamaha PR video, but I found it fairly amusing in an embarrassing sort of way — especially when the babe looks at the new Yamaha sleds and says “Oooooo, those are sexy!” with a sort of Minnesotan babe lilt that has to be heard to be appreciated.Link here.

Comments

42 Responses to “Santa Claus Visits WildSnow Early, Leaves Snowmobile in Yard”

  1. dave downing December 19th, 2007 4:25 pm

    i’m so jealous…

    that looks like way more fun than the flu.

  2. AJ December 19th, 2007 4:33 pm

    it looks wicked!

    are you sure it’s a “work” sled?

    maybe work and pleasure are getting mixed up :-)

  3. Lou December 19th, 2007 4:39 pm

    They say “enjoy what you do and you’ll never work another day in your life…”

  4. Michael Kennedy December 19th, 2007 4:45 pm

    Does this mean I have to upgrade, too?

    Looks like a sweet ride – let the “work” begin!

  5. Lou December 19th, 2007 5:18 pm

    Michael, that or buy some 2-stroke offsets (grin). (And once you experience electric start that always works, you will for sure become a believer — talk about shoulder preservation!)

    Indeed, “time to upgrade…”, for significance of that quote please watch video linked above.

  6. Tom G December 19th, 2007 5:29 pm

    I’m jealous. I’m also curious – since you define your sled use as mostly “work” or access, why did you choose this sled over a true utility sled like an Arctic Cat Bearcat WT. I’m no sledneck, but I dream of owning one for ski access and have spent some time reading ski discussion boards about what skiers think works best. I’m always interested in what people choose for a primarily ski access sled.

  7. ethank December 19th, 2007 5:58 pm

    Nice sled boys, Lou you need to start researching ski racks or attachment setups. Bungees are o.k., but they can come loose and beats your boards up. Carrying your boards on your pack is O.K. but can get painfull on long, washboard, approaches. There is a company that makes a ski rack (Cheetah Racing). I would like to retro fit something for my sled still playing with a few ideas. With your off road/backcountry engineering skills I am waiting to see what you come up with Lou. Keep your throttle pinned in the pursuit of the white plum of happiness!

  8. ethank December 19th, 2007 6:02 pm

    Thats the white plume or white room however you want to look at it!

  9. Lou December 19th, 2007 6:05 pm

    Hi Tom, simple, the places we access often require breaking a trail and doing what slednecks call “boondocking.” A full-on mountain sled (that drives well at slower speeds, as this one does) works great for that, while the big lunky work sleds simply are not designed for such. Also, the work sleds are designed to tow much more weight than we ever will.

    More, I’ve always enjoyed driving a performance snowmobile. So that factors in as well.

  10. Lou December 19th, 2007 6:11 pm

    Ethank, if I pin the throttle on that thing you’d be attending my funeral (grin). As for racks, we’re indeed making our own. It’ll evolve over the next few weeks. Louie ordered the metal today, starting it tomorrow.

  11. Barry December 19th, 2007 6:43 pm

    Beautiful sled, nice work if you can get it.

    I still think the snowmobile manufacturers are missing a growing potential market. Make me a light, affordable, 4 stroke sled with a ski rack system that I can use for ski access and I’ll buy one. And I’m not alone. I don’t need a fire breather like yours, just something to get me up untracked roads. I see a lot of folks scrambling for a simple machine for access. It may not be as sexy as the high performance mountain racers but some of us (probably most of us) have simpler needs.

    How about test driving a simpler sled somewhere along the line for us folks Lou?

  12. Lou December 19th, 2007 7:08 pm

    Barry, I agree there is a small market (compared to other sled markets) for such a sled. I’d imagine that it will actually exist in some form very soon, if it doesn’t already. One reason we got such a powerful sled is that we do end up pulling a loaded cargo sled, and having some torque for that is a good way to make life much easier, as is having electric start since one ends up stopping and going quite a bit during that kind of use.

    Anyone else have ideas about that? What 4-strokes are out there that would fit the bill?

    I’m indeed planning on reviewing some other sleds, sadly will be missing the next Yamaha dealer on-snow demo as I’ll be in EU during it, but will try to come up with something as the winter progresses.

  13. Matt Kinney December 19th, 2007 8:07 pm

    Good on ya for getting the 4-stroke. Good luck towing. Its a lot of work and I rarely see those sleds with…. sleds. Learns how to ride double which will require you to manufacture and weld a grip bar under the handle bar. The passenger sits between the driver and cowling, ducks and hangs on for dear life. Towing a skier only works for nice grommer areas like roads. I can get a picture of the modification from here and send it to you.

  14. Barry December 19th, 2007 8:22 pm

    Thanks Lou. The 2008 Yamaha Venture multipurpose comes close for me, although I can’t find the weight listed in the specifications.

    It would be great to see what you could do in the weight reduction department with one of these.

  15. Tom Gosiorowski December 19th, 2007 11:01 pm

    Thanks Lou for the insight on your sled choice. I’m also wondering if you can ride “two up” on your sled or must tow skiers in. I’ve never been towed behind a sled, although I have been towed behind a Chevy Blazer (but that’s another story), so I’m wondering about the practicality of towing skiers in over a four to six mile + approach. I had concluded that the “work” sleds that allow you to ride two or three up are more practical for this sort of application, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m talking towing “old folks” rather than 16 year old kids that bounce easily, and I’m also assuming that not all of my buddies can afford to buy their own sleds. Also, FWIW, and from what I’ve learned, the Ski Doo Skandic seems to be a good choice for a fairly inexpensive low power / high torque 4 stroke sled (although I believe the base model Skandic is a 2 stroke). It’s also quite light weight. This issue (choice of sled for skiing, or using a sled at all) can seem to be more polarizing than tele vs. AT.

  16. Mark December 19th, 2007 11:48 pm

    Reverse? Does it also have remote start and an alarm? Only kidding. Looks terrific. Lemme know if you need additional “testers.”

  17. MJ Hall December 20th, 2007 12:52 am

    Nice Lou,

    We just got done with a week of northern Colorado on our powder tools. Two Polaris RMKs, a 2008, 700 & 2005, 800 and our snowboards. Half the fun is setting them up for the task. If you are interested, I created my own lightweight system for transporting the boards. http://www.mhallmtbsnow.blogspot.com

    Happy Trails!

  18. Njord December 20th, 2007 12:59 am

    Lou,

    There is no way that you can bag on me and my helicopters now after reading this post… :)

    Njord

    should be home tonight!

  19. MJ Hall December 20th, 2007 1:27 am

    Hey Lou,

    Matt Kinney is right, on the transport. My wife sits in front of me and I stand up and drive. She hangs on for dear life to the middle mountain bar strap.

    When it gets steep, it can get exciting….the long tracks work well, to keep the skis on the snow.

  20. AJ December 20th, 2007 3:01 am

    sled + skins, a hybrid! :-)

  21. John December 20th, 2007 6:49 am

    Some guys I used to ski with in Canada used what I thought was a great towing system for skiers– old MTB inner tube clipped around your backside with a locking carabiner, tow rope through carabiner then through knotted loop in tow rope then into your free hand: nice cheap suspension, easy QR if you crash (and drop the rope) slight risk of biner rubber banding back into your, um, midsection. Have fun with the sled, looks great.

  22. Robert December 20th, 2007 7:34 am

    Mmmm. Looks like just the thing to enhance the ‘wilderness experience’. Still if folks can justify buying some huge SUV in order to take the kids around the block to school it should be easy to justify using 1049 cc of ‘mind blowing’ snowmobile power to go skiing. Then again, what with peak oil and climate change in a few years time skiing will be the last thing on everyone’s mind!

  23. Pundy December 20th, 2007 7:37 am

    Lou,
    I think it’s great you got a sled. Don’t let any of the nay sayers rain on your parade. Any skier who loves peace and quiet would love to have a sled for access as you can get away, yes, even from the other sleds if you choose wisely. Anyway, I’m interested to see how you set up the rack system. I have been using a Rev 2 smoke for a couple years now and want to change to a Yami but have been hesitant due to the exhaust outlet at the rear of the seat. A buddy of mine just got a Phazer MTX and melted the top of his pack wich had his beacon and backcountry took kit in it. “One large *$&# wad of melted plastic!” he said. I can hardly wait to see what your creative mind comes up with for a solution. Have a blast!!

  24. Lou December 20th, 2007 8:08 am

    Good comments everyone, thanks.

    Colorado is a funny place for snowmobiling. During most early to mid winters, even the best sled is going to have a hard time breaking trail in bottomless sugar just about anywhere but in an area that’s already been used, or on a snow covered summer road that’s got an even grade and plenty of width. Thus, most of our access sledding tends to be done on such roads, or on pre-broken trails. More, most of the access we do is fairly short. For all of the above reasons, towing skiers seems to work fairly well. If they’re used to being towed, they can see when you’re having trouble and drop the rope, as opposed to trying to ride double and being stuck with two people on the seat as soon as things get rough.

    That being said, we also double up (especially when it’s a long but mellow trail) and are planning on figuring out a good way of doing that on this sled.

    We’ve also found that using a rope around the waist (with automatic release as described in other comments) does work when the grade is consistent, but when the trail has a lot of up and down it can be better to have the arms involved in the action, to take up slack and such. After years of doing this I’ve also learned its important that the towed person be a fairly good skier, that the speed is kept down, and that the towed skier doesn’t goof around trying to “waterski,” at least not too much (grin). For what it’s worth, I’ve also observed that it’s easier to get towed on fixed heel ski gear than tele gear — more room for error.

  25. Lou December 20th, 2007 8:24 am

    Pundy, the exhaust outlet is indeed an interesting issue. It’s better for health because it’s behind you rather than under your feet like most other sleds, but it does need to be re-routed for cargo. They sell a “deflector” that sends the gas to the side, but we’re going one better and routing it through the cargo rack so it exits behind the rack. Doing it today and tomorrow if time provides. Will definitely blog it.

  26. adam olson December 20th, 2007 9:55 am

    NICE choice! You will have to show me the exhaust mod you come up with. My Mtn Vector has the same issue.

  27. Randonnee December 20th, 2007 11:05 am

    That Yamaha PR video is funny! It sounds Canadian to me, eh? I never knew that the Canadians had such great (simple) humor. Whomever, it is well done and funny!

    Good job on getting and using the sled and for blogging about it! That is a good example of real life that may shake up some delusional enviro-fanatics. It often seems ironic and almost funny when I hear snowmobile-use criticism from the SUV (“but we carpool”) driving city folks who drive for 4 to 6 hours roundtrip for a simple ski tour. Oh, yeah, they do it in a “green” fashion…

    We ski tow using my 1989 Ski Doo Tundra and 1996 Tundra II. We also pull a cargo sled with the avy dog in a kennel and my wife riding the sled musher-style. No problems, but we mostly road-tow to get to the skiing, then park the machine. One of my friends complained about the smoke, but he refused to allow me to open the snomo up because he refused to be towed fast, so that is what happens. My wife an I have towed 10 miles alternately and I had a great time on the trip out cutting turns on the rope on the piste-groomed road while singing “Satisfaction” (anybody remember the water-ski scene in the movie ‘Apocalypse Now”?).

    Yeah, my sleds are old and boring, but having bought one new, one slightly used, and a used trailer, I paid up front under $4k for all and spend $500 per year keeping them going. I would be happy to ride 4-stroke snowmobiles- are there any rich elitist-enviro foundations out there willing to sponsor me ($$) in researching the use of four-stroke snowmobile technology combined with my use of Dynafit carbon-fiber technology?

    It is great that new sleds have 4-stroke engines. After all, 2 stroke motorcycles were outlawed on US highways in 1976, just before I rode over much of North America on my 2-stroke bike. Anyway, it will be exciting to watch 4-stroke snowmobiles evolve to lighter and hopefully some less expensive versions.

    Time to get on the sled and go get some skiing.

  28. Lou December 20th, 2007 11:13 am

    Randonnee, I couldn’t figure out if that was a Canadian accent or Minnesotan. Anyone else have a take?

  29. Scott Newman December 20th, 2007 1:38 pm

    Lou, You know … as a “work” sled, this would qualify as business expense … thereby being tax deductable.

  30. Kimmers December 20th, 2007 2:38 pm

    Definitely Canadian – That’s one of the best PR videos ever. On another note, when things get deeper and steeper (i.e. can’t tow) and with the new sleds making it hard to “double up” – back to front, we ride “Canadian style”. Basically 2 people on either side of the sled, kinda like your position on the sled in the photo above, one knee each up, one person controlling the throddle and brake the other doing their job of leaning. I’m 5’2, 120lbs and my partner is 6’0- 200lbs and we manage it fine. p.s. if you get really good at this, you can even manage three……

  31. Lou December 20th, 2007 2:54 pm

    Rando, along the lines of driving to the ski tour, one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was at a 10th Mountain Huts trailhead a few years ago. We were getting ready for a trip and a large group from Denver showed up — in 5 cars with one or two people in each car. Some had the usual “I’m enlightened” stickers on their bumpers and so forth. It was great seeing a slice of reality. I’ll never forget it. I’m sure they all had a good excuse to drive in the style they wanted — as we did as well — only we don’t spend our energy wagging fingers at other folk’s recreation choices.

  32. Al December 20th, 2007 3:21 pm

    I second the inner tube around the butt ,we used that system mentioned above to tow 52 km at what was probably too high a speed last season .The lower attachment (than holding on with yer hands) anchor point ,the Z drag mechnaical advantage and the innner tube to absorb the shock makes for a reasonably easy tow … if we could have just got buddy to lay off the throttle .

  33. Al December 20th, 2007 3:34 pm

    I just watched that promotional vid & I did not hear a single eh?

    I would say they are from minnesota as in “Fargo” eh?

  34. Big Sky Rida December 20th, 2007 3:47 pm

    Just a tip for Louie…Next time out, put on your climbing harness, put a bike inner tube through the tie in point, tie a truckers hitch or bite on the tow line and then run the end through the inner tube out to the bite you tied in the line and then hold on to that with your hand. That way your being pulled directly from your hips and the inner tube takes all the shock…and if you bail, the line simply pulls through that “Z” you created…you can tow for miles and miles and not be worked.

    Cheers,

    jeff

  35. Dave F. December 20th, 2007 8:00 pm

    What happened to Jason’e face in the last shot? Was he having too much fun and you paintshopped his grin or does he have a flesh colored bandanna on?
    Thanks for sharing the sled stoke and generating the blog comments

  36. Lou December 20th, 2007 8:07 pm

    Aaaaa, it’s the man with no face! I’d like to say he had a flesh colored bandanna over his mouth, but I enlarged the shot and it looks like a combination of motion blur and some snow in front of his face caused the camera to Jpeg that area as a solid color artifact. Funny I didn’t see it, guess I was looking more at the overall feel of the shot rather than the details. I think I’ll leave it up as it’s pretty amusing. Good catch Dave.

  37. Ernie December 21st, 2007 6:10 pm

    Nice purchase but….I can’t help but remember the first time we climbed the back bowls in BC with a hired guide for a day of out of sight climbing and tele skiing. On the final climb of the day we got to the top only to be disturbed by a copter landing with the big dollar guys stepping out. Hopefully your blog will not turn into another sledders paradise, forgetting about those of us that still like to earn their turns.

  38. Matt B December 21st, 2007 6:24 pm

    Nice work on the sled Lou! congrats. A good way to get around when doubling is with each person standing on one side of the sled. the guy on the right drives, and the guy on the left holds onto the mountain bar and stand on the running boards with his arm under the drivers arms.

    Ive been using this technique for about five years, and is proven. Two good riders can sidehill like a sledneck, which is sometimes necessary. The towing is also hard on the clutches, doing so will cause excess wear much quicker than two people riding tandem.

    Here is a link for the best ski rack on the market. Ive had the same rack for over five years.

    http://cheetahfactoryracing.com/dualskibracket.htm

  39. Lou December 21st, 2007 6:54 pm

    Ernie, we’re still earning our turns, only in different places that we get to with a snowmobile instead of a car. And we didn’t buy a helicopter.

  40. Ernie December 21st, 2007 7:29 pm

    I’m glad you didn’t Lou…and I know you’ll continue to earn’m. Just try to keep it as pure as you can……
    Thanks for the great Blog…!!!!!!!!!

  41. joe December 31st, 2007 12:27 pm

    Wish i could afford the nytro, sounds like a sweet setup!!!!!

    I’ve been skiing with sleds for years now and just this past summer bought a 4 stroke, 03 rx1 mtn also known by many as a “1 ton”. after some serious modifications the sled is ski access monster and gets around in the mountains great! I’ve got around $4500 total in the setup plus a ton of time. In my area a 6-10 mile access thru clear cuts is required to access a starting point for skinning to good terrian. last weekend we towed 5 people plus gear and 4 dogs about 10 miles (1 trip) for some great turns. This weekend i pulled a stuck subaru out of the parking lot??

    I started out as a strict BC skier and bought my first sled for $75-, and quickly became a snowmobile mechanic. Anyhow let’s say i’ve evolved and learned the importance of having your shit together either skiing or sled skiing.

    if anyones interested in my setup email> jarlarch@yahoo.com

  42. Lou December 31st, 2007 12:37 pm

    Joe, I wish we could afford it as well (grin).

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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