After ten years of hiking, walking, skiing, and snowmachining to our Thompson Pass home each winter, my wife Tabitha and I decided our guests (and us!) needed more time to ski incredible Chugach snow and less time dealing with the one-mile of snowed-in access road each winter. Solution: A plow truck picked for just the right mix of power and size, combined with a super efficient snow blade.
Our 2006 Ford F-250SD with regular cab and eight-foot bed gives us a fairly short wheel base, which will come in handy for tight turns on our serpentine road to the Chalet. Packed with a 5.4L. V8 engine, gas mileage is ignored (bonus, it has get up and go power which is handy for passing RV caravans slow cruising our highways). This is a big truck parked alongside other trucks in Valdez. It came with the standard Super Duty suspension with the addition of the Snow Plow Package, to increase suspension beef in the front end for working the piles of white stuff. With no extras or frills this is about as light in weight as an F-250SD gets.
The best part of our setup is the plow. The BOSS Poly Power V-Blade (bossplow.com) comes in a variety of widths and we chose the nine foot blade to get just a few extra inches of snow off the road. The Poly-blade material is tough and much lighter than steel. With variable pitches available â€œon the flyâ€?, I make less passes than a conventional plow. The V-position can be used for the first pass through deep snow or ramming those pesky snow berms back from difficult spots.
During winter operations, the truck is fitted with studded tires and is able to actually plow uphill (10 degree grade) at times. I have been more than satisfied — last year was the first time the road to the Chalet was open all winter. With 250 inches a year in a remote coastal environment, the snow comes often and your plow must be easy to operate and reliable. This is essential to our livelyhood, as easier access to the Chalet translates to more business.
This truck and plow have exceeded our expectations and best of all, increased ski time for guests and of course, myself and Tabitha
Our rig meets the environmental mission of our operation. This truck/plow setup is the lightest and most efficient on the market for standard truck plows when considering power to blade width ratio. This maximizes fuel savings, and with our small GEO Metro as a daily driver, keeps overall transportation cost as low as possible. And like backcountry skiing, less weight is best as long as you’ve got the power to get where you want to go!
Matt Kinney is author of “Alaskan Backcountry Skiing – Valdez and Thompson Pass.”