Mountain riding can be very addicting, with lot of fun. There are several types of riding in the mountains. Hill climbing had become a popular sport, mainly from recent advancements with sleds in the last 20 years. Besides just riding on the trails as a 3-point stance, or up a climb on a slope, you can try a "twist" or "tippy" ride by carving your way up. (2 and 1 point riding). The author, Karl Shoemaker, can show you a few ways to have fun in the sun with your friends and do a little showing off. Some of these pictures look "easy" however, are not, but don't worry, with some practice you'll be amazed at what you can do. Part of the fun of snowmobiling is the "journey" to learning, not just the "destination". Ask lot of questions to your understanding buddies and they might even show you some tips. As always you are welcome to ask, here and even ask for a ride. Just bring your best attitude and a modern sled and you'll almost be guaranteed to have fun. Most of these pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Shown here is carving through the powder in a "swinging" maneuver, similar to power skiing, except going uphill, or at least on level ground. If you look closely (click to enlarge the pictures) some of the turns looks like the skis are pointed in the wrong direction. This is done on purpose and called "counter steering". Sometimes, the tails of the skis (going the opposite direction of the tips) can actually help keep your lean on the turn, thus, turning the handlebar the opposite way, just for a moment makes this maneuver easier, in some cases. You really have to do it several times to get the "feel" of it.
What's happening below the surface is the tails are digging in and pulling you over (just a little) to help your carving.
It's also very safe to bring at least 2-3 buddies to help out, should there be a problem.
Communicate what everyone's intentions are, test your radios and avalanche transceiver and go have some fun!
If it's the straight up climbing that's your bag, there's plenty of areas to do that as well.
Most of these type of steep slopes can successfully be climbed, just be aware of the previous warnings about slides.
The center picture is the most common type of open terrain for sport climbing and "high marking".
It's a real ego booster as well. Cornices, as shown on the right do have potential for both fun and disaster so asses the situation well.
After you become proficient at hill climbing, turning out at the right time and competing with your buddies, you can sit back and feed your ego with a snack/drink and fun talk.
For cornice "reverse" jumping (that's going up into the "fluff", that can be fun as well and produce some spectacular pictures to being home for those summer blues. If you want to get started on something a little safer, try finding a "small" cornice with a "safe" landing, should something break loose. Basting up through them makes a spectacular spray of snow everywhere. Here's the author's trying his abilities at it. With several tries put a nice smile on his face.
"Heavy" carving can be fun, as well. One trick the author likes to do is run circles around the rest of the group, literally, on a lake with a fresh layer of powder. More the better, up to about 2 feet; the rest is waste. This does come with a price, since it's very rough on the lugs of the track, after several seasons of this, a lot of the outside lugs get torn off about 1/3 of the way. Click on that picture for a larger view.
The author's last demonstration and favorite move is sidehilling. This, again takes practice but once mastered makes a cool way to get up a hill, and even has a practical point to it, should this be the only way up, because of the slope being too steep. In extreme angles cases you can hang half you body out for additional weight transfer, or just do it to look "cool". Ether way it's a lot of fun. After a fun day of bust'in the snow it's sure a nice, welcome riding with a well groomed trail as shown here on a nice late afternoon in December.
Want to see more of carving? Karl's done a pretty nice job playing around and showing how it's done. In the group he's riding the 1M black/green sled. These files are rather large,(50 MB) so you really need to be on a high speed connection, and running a fast PC, say 700 MHz or faster, with Windows 98 or later will display them properly (Win XP works great). Due to bandwidth limitations only two clips are here. Once the clip starts you can hit alt+enter for full screen.(toggles on-off for full screen).
Here's some of the answers from the guys on the forums: (spelling and grammer not corrected)
If the hill is steep, I stand as far forward as possible. You turn out while you still have forward momentum. When you turn out keep one foot on each side of the tunnel (less chance of missing a running board and putting a leg in suspension - never a good idea!) If you mess-up, pin it. Let the sled dig in. If you let it just stop it will just slide backwards the brake won't hold it. If help can't get to you, get your shovel and create a level spot to turn the sled around on. After you get better, you can usually pull the sled around by yourself without digging.
Putting your weight towards the back helps with traction, you don't want to do it so far back that you lack the balance to steer and lean properly if you need to go sidehill or around some trees or something. I find that standing slightly rearward of my normal flat-ground standing position works, most of time for good straight shots. If the hill cants at all or I have to make a turn at some point I put the downhill leg kneeling on the seat and when necessary both feet on the uphill running board.
When turning out always stay on the uphill side of the sled with both feet or with the downhill knee on the seat. Make sure you have the speed to make it back around. I have seen too often (and done it while learning) people who don't quite make it around and end up rolling the machine down the hill sometimes with minor damage, others with the need for a tow.
By your last statement, I assume you are talking about getting stuck? Or more like losing control?
If you know you aren't gonna make it up to the top of the hill and can't turn out safely (either from lack of speed or not enough room or whatever), just bury the thing. Keep going until it stops and you get stuck or just slow down a little and then give it the gas until it sticks. Then just get out your shovel and dig the snow away from one side and kinda make a little shelf to drag it around until you can ride it down the hill. If you're talking about losing control of the sled, i.e. it starts to roll over on you, don't get caught on the downhill side of it, get out of the way and if its rolling slow enough you might be able to slow its progress with a few well-placed tugs as it goes over. I stopped a friend's nice mod sled after three rolls by grabbing the rear grab bar as it came around. If all else fails just let it go, its not worth getting squished or drug into a tree at high speed, its not worth getting injured or killed over.
My suggestion to you is pick a small hill and practice. Yes, you could make it to the top but try and turn out before the top so you get a feel for it. maybe only go up the hill 1/2 throttle to make it feel more real? But, the way it sounds right now, stay off the big climbs until you know what you are doing....You can total a sled and your body real quick and that is not cool!
I often see one crucial mistake that seems to get riders in trouble. Often they fall off they try to stop their sled from rolling or going downhill... If the sled does not have much momentum you can try to stop it, but if it is rolling or has a bit of momentum built up get out of the way. I have seen a lot of guys get rolled over by a 500+lb sled... It always looks painful.
Take small bites and work your way up the hill as your skills progress. I have seen several first timers go out west with something to prove and return with a wrecked sled. Take your time and the skills will improve.
after you get comfortable climbing the next technique is side hilling, as your sleds starts to lose momentum you bring one ski up and keep going up at an angle, (just like walking up a hill, it easier to walk to the right or left than straight up). Just takes practice, also good to ride with another rider that is good at climbing.
Find a hill that isn't to steep and just practice turning around on it for a while. Then move onto a hill that you have to turn around on once you have the feel of it.
Go up the hill in stages 100ft--200ft--300ft and get the feel for it..Practice makes at least competent as I've yet to see perfect yet...
Don't put the downhill knee on your seat like Turok says, this "technique" will end up getting you and your sled into alot of trouble!.
Having sledded out west for a while now I have been able to give my friends, first time mtn riders, a few quick lessons that seem to help. Get your butt off the seat and stand up at all times. Be prepared to kick your, soon to be downhill, leg over the seat and firmly plant it on the uphill rail. This takes a little practice to hit it without thinking about it. I agree with the decision to stick your sled. I went downhill, my first time out in the late 80's on a 121" Formula Plus, backwards at about 40 mph and had to wring out the underoos when I was done.
Best advise was practice ......stand as far forward as possible, this works very well on the very steep climbs to keep control of the sled you do not want to wheelie every where while climbing...looks cool yes but it don't help you. But then you are not there yet,definitely turn out while you still have forward speed you have to kinda shift your weight around a bit first to get it to start turning then to get back on the up hill side I usually do not need to put both feet on the up hill side if I am turning out with speed but in your case get both feet on the up hill rail as it starts level out put your foot back on the other side and point it down hill.Practice,practice,practice.Also it was mentioned before find someone to ride with who can do this and watch them. Hope this helps I am not very good at explaining things.
Sooner or later you will have to turn out in all kinds of conditions so practice in it all.... It is easier to turn out on a hill with very little pow on it, you just go up and turn around using your body weight,and speed to keep the sled from rolling.
One thing that I learned... when you start up the hill find that spot on the hill that you think you are comfortable getting to and then keep that spot for your turn out spot. I have passed that spot too many times because I thought I was really climbing well, and then realized too late that I wouldn't have the remaining momentum to get back out of my climb. Then there you sit, on the side of this hill with your machine sticking straight up in the air, and no one can really stop to help you out. Don't try to be the highmark on the hill. Find that spot that you are comfortable with, and go for it.
Hmm... sounds like good advice, I will have to listen to myself more often! LOL
Know your limitations. Remember, it takes time to get the hang of things and if you ride beyond your limitations, thats when you get into trouble. The most dangerous situations you may encounter will be dropping off steep hills. You cant stop and speed can kill. Be sure of your skill level when attempting steep long hills. If your riding with experienced riders they should be able to clue you in on what is dangerous and what is safe. Only take there advice if you know them well and the advice is trustworthy. Have fun and be safe
AWSOME This is hands down the best thread I have seen in along time. honest to god! nice advice and good work to all helping the new guy!
Try not to cross over ruts when you turn around!!!
Your ski may fall into one, and, if you are unsure... OVER YOU GO!!
And don't let off the gas until your nose is pointing downwards.
The only way to get the real feel, is to slowly work your way up.
In some snow conditions, (hard or spring stuff) you can really benefit from a quick shift of your weight to the downhill side mid turn to pull it around. if you try to hang on the uphill side you may swing the track down hill before the front is ready to come down. That leads to a nasty roll down the hill because you can't did in/bury at that point.
I may be on the wrong track here, but there is no way I am hanging on to the sleds with both feet on the uphill side when turning around. When I am ready to turn, I turn. Putting your weight on the right side when turning left is the quickest way to be stuck up high on the hill. From what I have gathered, the process is this:
Go up with speed and confidence. Always stand in order to lean in either direction. The hill is not a flat plain, it leans from side to side as you climb so be prepared. The tracks and the slope are your nemesis.
When you run out of horsepower or sack, plan your turn. When you are headed down, you are a passenger so make sure you have your escape route planned. This is the moment of truth.
At the apex. keep your throttle going and pull hard, downhill. This involves putting as much weight as necessary on the downhill side of the sled.
When you turn, contract your sphincter and ride it out.
How do you side hill with both your feet on opposite sides of the sled? I am not being a smarty I am just wondering because I have to get on one side or the other to side hill.
Same thing applies to turning out when you do not have tons of track speed,you would wind up under your sled.I have seen this many a time.I turn out just like you describe alot of the time but this is usually done while packing a bunch of speed.Just wanted to make that clear.
For sidehilling i just act like i'm carving and pin the throttle, counter steer and lean towards the hill.
Seems that with all the good advice being expounded here they've forgot to tell you the most important part, Don"t let your friends make up the rules as you go!!! Like; doesn't count you were tracking, doesn't count you didn't turn out to the left, doesn't count you got to big a run, doesn't count you were on the Nos button, doesn't count cause you have 62 more cc's, doesn't count cause we talked about the rules while you were suck on the hill. Get the pic.
I have to agree about how a person should keep a foot on each running board when it's time to turn out. The only time you should put both feet on the uphill side would be if you need to sidehill for some reason whether it's to make the top or just to get higher on the hill. From my personal experience I've found that if you put both feet on the uphill side you end up covering more of the face when you "turn out" and you are alot more likely to get stuck up there.
Great advice everybody. These are the posts that keep me thinking This forum Rocks. True snowmobilers are the ones who are always willing to help anyway they can:D
I don't think that is good advice for a beginner,that is a rolling waiting to happen,after he has some climbing time in he will learn how not to get stuck,but I would rather see him get stuck than roll a new sled down the mountain.....After some experience he will learn how to do what you are talking about,and then I totally agree with you.
If you are a beginner, Practice a lot. You can practice turnouts and sidehilling on a small hill or 1-200 feet up a hill and still learn without screwing up and having a long way to the bottom. Even a new guy can pin the throttle, point and shoot. your sled survival rate is far more likely from 100' up a hill than 1000' if you screw up. Learn your technique, then you will be ready to use it anywhere on the hill.
As rkymtnkg, said, some of the advice is definitely not for the novice rider. But they are all things to keep in mind as you progress. Stump bumper summed it up very well
I remember the fun of ruts when I first came to the mountains! Now that's some funny stuff! (remembering those good times)
My own experience with rolling down the mountain was not carrying enough speed at the apex. I was actually turning out early, but I let out of the throttle too much. Seems like a mistake that happens more when inexperienced. It's kinda funny to watch, too. :D I think your perspective of sleds kinda changes after you've wrecked for the first time.
I still consider my self a novice climber and I will pass on a lesson that I seem to forget every year. Here goes.. your sled is capable of getting you places that you will not want to ride down. I don't know how many times I have been blazing up a hill, make my turn and find myself scared because I have to ride down this hill now. Keep that in the back of your mind and you will be okay.
When hillclimbing, expect the unexpected. Stay loose, but hang on tight. Keep those elbow and knees bent to absorb sudden bumps. If the skis come off the snow, don't panic cause you can steer by shifting bodyweight.
Survey the hill for rocks, stumps, and anticipate same being hidden under the snow. If your climbing in powder snow and your track or skis are digging in, be prepared to hit rocks and stumps once in a while.
I was climbing a deep powder covered hill about 6 years ago. Everything was going great. No visible rocks. Track was digging in over a foot or so and I was almost to the top. I was headed at a slight angle to the left and all of a sudden my track hit a huge boulder. It wasn't the hit that threw me off, but rather the sudden loss of traction and the back of the sled sliding quickly to the left, then stopped sliding to the left after it got into the deep snow (about 2-3' to the left). At that point, forward momentum was halted and in one quick continuous motion I was thrown off the left side of the sled. Then the sled rolls over the top of me, kinda squishing me into the powder snow (didn't hurt at all), then sled keeps rolling down hill. I suppose 2-3 rolls, hood had come open (didn't have the extra hood straps like someone recommended), windshield came off in 2 pieces, air filter foam, parts were flying and hood was flopping around. At the same time (after the millisecond it took for my eyeballs to pop back into my head) I was running/sliding after my sled. About that time it landed upright and started heading diagonally down the hill straight toward a bare boulder-strewn area. I took this opportunity to make a flying dive for my rear bumper. Bingo - I grabbed it. Now what? I held on tight and dug my toes into the snow as anchors and was able to straighten the course of my sled and avoided the boulders. After my buddies stopped laughing, which took a few minutes, they started making runs at the hill to retrieve my parts. After about 4-5 runs I had most things except those 0-rings which hold the windshield on. I only found a few under my hood. In retrospect, now I'm more careful when climbing in powder. More conservative unless it is a known hillclimb area.
Also, when going up hills and down, expect there will be big holes where previous riders have been stuck. Just keep on the throttle going up over them or when coming downhill, lean way back and you may even gas it a little to lighten the front end if you hit one going downhill because you don't want your front end to dive into the hole too far, especially if the snow if firmer. Powder snow isn't as big a deal.
If you do encounter some bad ruts when you are turning out keep on the throttle so the low side of the front end doesn't fall into one and start the rolling decent. 99 times out of 100 the throttle is your friend, especially when it gets all rutted up, both when going straight up or turning. One of my friends has a tendency to let off some and then he gets tossed around lots. The guys that keep her pinned are nearly always better off. Bad part about keeping the hammer down is when you do screw up it will usually be big.
The number one most important thing to remember, when turning out, is always turn out under power, don't let off the throttle, until you are pointed back down hill.
There you have it; opinions from the ones that have been there.
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