Yamaha Snowmobile Ski Rack for Backcountry Skiing

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 8, 2008      

We’ve been incredibly busy powder skiing, so our Nytro snowmobile ski rack fabrication project took way longer than anticipated. It’s finally done, though tweaks are ongoing (as with anything at WildSnow HQ). How to do it:

Snowmobile ski rack for backcountry.
Yesterday, headed out with the Nytro for some backcountry skiing. Two guys grabbed the ropes. Our new snowmobile ski rack holds my Black Diamond skis and a shovel. Avy danger around here has been rather high, so for backcountry hits the past couple of days we’ve been staying in the aspen forests, where lower angled timber terrain provides good turns if the snow is based and deep. West of our town here in Colorado, a vast network of groomed snowmobile trails provides access. For most of the season the snowpack in this zone is too shallow and sun damaged for good skiing, but sometimes you get an 8 week period in February and March when anything steep enough to ski goes off. It’s that way now. The sled is the key. And yeah, it’s got to have a ski rack to be functional.

Snowmobile backcountry skiing.
Ski rack is designed by Louie Dawson. It’s built with light gauge steel rectangular tubing, 1/2 inch size so bungee cord hooks easily fit.

Snowmobile backcountry skiing.
Front of our snowmobile ski rack is low so you don’t bang your knee on it when dismounting, rear vertical angle is raked for aesthetics. Krylon cherry red compliments the Yamaha anniversary red of the sled highlights. We insulated the exhaust tube with three layers of header wrap. It still gets hot, but you can briefly touch it with bare skin without getting burnt and place luggage on top if you’re careful to inspect once in a while to make sure things are not getting cooked. Don’t want it to get too bulky, however, so figuring the insulation out is tough. Exhaust tip is nice soft silicone tubing so it’s one less hard edge to bump.

Snowmobile ski rack parts.
The ski supports are quickly removable from this rack, for times we might go snowmobiling for its own sake. Louie built the ski latches using recycled snowboard bindings.

Snowmobile backcountry skiing.
Ski rack supports fully attached and assembled. The lower part of the system is also assembled from snowboard binding parts, and bolted to the side of the track tunnel. The whole system is super simple and amazingly solid due to the ski lying flat on the upper support.

Snowmobile backcountry skiing.
Ski support in use.

Complete custom snowmobile ski rack.
Another view of the ski rack we made fro this snowmobile. It’s about as light weight as we could engineer, provides the much needed exhaust extension, and holds two pairs of skis like they’re part of the sled. We wrapped the upper rack bars with electrical tape so they don’t get scratched by bungee hooks and ski bindings. As mentioned above, two layers of header wrap is not quite enough insulation on the exhaust extension tube, so we’ll be working on that issue. In all, super functional and makes our backcountry lives much easier, it carries luggage as well.


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26 Responses to “Yamaha Snowmobile Ski Rack for Backcountry Skiing”

  1. joe February 8th, 2008 11:23 am

    how are the voodos?

  2. Lou February 8th, 2008 11:34 am

    Voodos: width is great, dislike twintip tail and they’re heavy, they ski fine though at this length (165) I feel like I need a bit more tail behind me. What I really want it the first generation Verdict in a 170…

  3. Rick February 8th, 2008 11:41 am

    That looks really nice. Being able to pull out the ski supports is $$$. It looks like you solved all of the problems that the “x-rack” has. I have pretty good luck using Rafting grade cams and strapping ’em down. Its simple and easy but I still find that my sled is happiest when my skis are on my back.

    Sleds are a Backcountry Skiers Friend

  4. scottyb February 8th, 2008 1:29 pm

    Years ago I used verticle PVC pipes of sufficent diameter to hold skis, my Artic Cat Pantera had a very nice rack on the back already and we used hose clamps to attach the pipes at all four corners of the rack. I have seen a very nice ski caddy in use at some ski areas, on a sled, this was a rectangular device which had a slot in the center that the skis slid into. The device was clamped to the factory racks on the sled, somewhat similar to your setup.

    Many ways to skin that cat or carry that ski.

  5. Lou February 8th, 2008 1:44 pm

    I used to use the PVC method, but too many low hanging branches cured me of that design. Plus, it was heavy and bulky and the skis shook around like crazy unless they were bungied in tightly.

  6. chad February 8th, 2008 2:21 pm

    Tell your kid nice work- that looks real sharp.

  7. Derek Meier February 8th, 2008 2:39 pm

    I’ve got a pair of those 1st gen. Verdicts 170cm, never skied, drilled for dynafits @ ~300 bsl. they are orange and black. Great mod on the machine!! Love the avy posts!!

  8. Jeff February 8th, 2008 9:01 pm


    Might want to double check, but you most likely just voided your warrenty on the sled because you drilled holes into the tunnel…Yamaha said that to by buddy when we was messing around with a rack on this Phazer.

    Hope not though…and besides, was is a warrenty anyways.

  9. Lou February 9th, 2008 8:41 am

    Jeff, whatever… we drive it such low miles that the warranty will probably be gone before we’d ever need it. Also, that kind of thing is at the discretion of the dealer/service, if they’re nice and the issue isn’t something directly caused by the holes, I doubt they’d make a federal case out of it. After all, warranty work is good for their shop income. Now, if I’d Swiss cheesed the tunnel and it broke, that’s another issue entirely. We were pretty careful just how many and where we drilled the holes. A couple even replaced existing rivets.

  10. Arch February 9th, 2008 3:48 pm

    Reading this reminded me of something I tried last year. I didn’t have access to the car so, to reach the trailhead, I strapped my skis to the crossbar of my mountain bike. Was actually a workable idea which turned out to be a bit of a beasting on account of the dodgy path I chose. Scratched the bike a bit, too.

    This year, I thought I might try attaching them to a bike rack at the rear (which I didn’t have at the time). Anyone tried this with any success? I’m thinking it might be a bit rear-heavy, but maybe with a bit of forward lean…..who knows? Who needs one of those pesky ‘cats.

    (I’m trying to avoid carrying the skis on my back as I’m recovering from a slipped disc).

  11. Frank February 11th, 2008 10:18 pm


    A BOB trailer is far and away the best way to go for using your bike as a trailhead access vehicle, and will get all of your weight off your back. I used a friend’s BOB last year to access Mt Evans before the road was open to cars, here’s a link to my trip report, so you can see what I’m talking about: http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=85914

    Some nice looking sled mods, Lou/Louie.

  12. Lou February 12th, 2008 8:10 am

    Another option for gated dry roads is a motorcycle, again with a bike trailer if needed. ATVs work too and I know of several groups that put those to good use in springtime. When I was skiing all the 14ers, I used a motorcycle one time for the Maroon Creek Road when it was dry and gated.

  13. Jim Jones February 13th, 2008 10:14 am

    Nice Rack! I prefer the vertical tube method.

  14. Arch February 29th, 2008 3:53 pm

    Thanks for the advice and apologies for the delay in acknowledging it. I reckon a BOB is the way to go.
    A wee dirt bike would be nice, but don’t know if the Commander-in-Chief (aka wife) would approve the expenditure.

    This pedal-power approach is kind of appropriate given today’s eco blog-spat!

    PS Lou. That spoiler for the Dynafit Tour Lites arrived here in Tuscany this morning. Thanks. I’m just about to press that juicy orange “make a donation” button….

  15. Robert J March 3rd, 2008 5:35 pm

    Looks like a great way to strap on the skis. What would something like this cost?

    The biggest barrier X-rack and cheeta has is the fact there product is over-priced.

    We need something that is simple, removable, and low cost.

    Who’s got the next great idea?

  16. Hans Svensby April 8th, 2008 10:47 am

    hi i wonder what u.s internett shops sell the new “Dynashim” you have been writing about..

  17. Lou April 8th, 2008 11:12 am

    Hans, so do I. Perhaps call Scarpa USA and ask. ‘best, Lou

  18. Frank November 30th, 2008 8:59 am

    Lou, where do you suggest for sled access skiing in the Cdale/valley area?

  19. Lou November 30th, 2008 10:59 am

    Frank, that is a good question. I know of several places, with various quality, none where hybrid (sled for ski lift) is appropriate, only use sled for access:

    Huntsman Ridge, if trail isn’t packed can be difficult to sled.

    Sopris, take legal Hay Park sled trail, park at base of peak in various locations (my favorite).

    Leadking Basin, can be impossible depending on amount of snow creating sidehills on access road.

    4-mile Park, popular sled play area but several lower altitude “mountains” can have good timbered powder skiing from mid to late season.

    Marrion Gulch, lots of terrain up there, only good with decent mid-season snowpack. Look for Ski Sunlight to have a 40 to 45 inch base or better, then go, otherwise forget it.

    I’ve heard there is some stuff up in the Flat Tops, when we’ve got a good snowpack.

  20. Frank November 30th, 2008 8:17 pm

    Ive heard Lenado is a good place to go. Any feedback?

  21. Lou November 30th, 2008 9:44 pm

    Whoops, forgot that one. It’s can be really really good up there, but lots of southerly stuff that’s best during a good mid-winter snowpack situation. Adam? You rang? Want to take Frank and I for a sled tour up there?

  22. Brad Noble September 25th, 2009 11:48 am

    Have you seen the Powderack for snowmobiles. It is removable with a quick release system and works for skiis or snowboards. It is very fast and easy. Check out the videos at Powderack.com.

  23. Brad March 9th, 2010 1:42 am


    How did you get your skis on the motorcycle? I just sold my bike, but when I rode and didn’t own a car I always dreamed of a ski rack for my bike. But in CA, you would have to ride a long time on icy roads to get to most areas, so that sort of killed my idea.

  24. Lou March 9th, 2010 7:26 am

    Brad, when I’ve used a motorcycle I’ve just improvised the ski attachment by using a bunch of bungie cords and straps.

  25. Dodson November 28th, 2012 8:35 pm

    Lou-what did you use to modify your exhaust?

  26. jonathan johnson December 16th, 2012 8:12 pm

    We mounted a couple of pairs of backcountryadventuregear.com ski racks on one of these sleds in less then ten minutes. to divert the exhaust all you need is a 45 or 90 elbow and face it the direction you want it then pop rivet it in. don’t waste weight and hours of your time when you could be skiing check out these racks.

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