Boost on Tap TESTED: YAMAHA FX NYTRO
ZippERmouth creek GOLDEN, BC
THE VERDICT ON THE SKI-DOO REV XM
ROADTRIP PLAYLIST RIDING TIPS
Mountain Sledder Magazine $4.95 Issue 3 Fall 2013
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GEAR GIRL GOES CAMPING // ULTIMATE MOD VIPER SR // PARASLEDDING // THROTTLE DECISIONS // GALLERY
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>> FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS >> COVER PHOTO
>> Russell Dalby
Russell Dalby – Dan Treadway, Pemberton, BC
Russell is the kind of guy who will help anyone out of a jam but he will heckle you as he does, which usually lightens up the mood in stressful situations. He has become one of the top snowboard photographers in the world, and with his staff photographer role at Monster, he has broadened his photography into multiple action sports including epic snowmobile airs from the likes of Dan Treadway and Brett Turcotte. Russell has documented his travels worldwide, with amazing photos of some of the most beautiful places on earth. Oh and did I mention that his dog ate horse poop, in front of friends and family, while he and his new bride were saying their vows this summer?
>> CONTENT MANAGEMENT, LAYOUT AND DESIGN Publisher: Tim Grey Content Manager: Patrick Garbutt Graphic Design: Nick Marks, James Wheldon, Shane Gault, Tim Grey www.SummitCommunications.ca
>> CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Steve Crowe, Patrick Garbutt, Tim Grey
>> CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
- Bryn Hughes
>> Mark Schilperoort
Dave Basterrechea, Chris Brown, Kertis Broza, Julie-Ann Chapman, Faith Dusevic, Patrick Garbutt, Chuck Gorton, Chris Granter, Tim Grey, Bryn Hughes, Jessica Joy, Geoff Kyle, Matthew Mallory, Neil McLaren, Patrick Orton, Curtis Pawliuk, Dan Treadway, Daryl Treadway, Dave Treadway
The world of backcountry sledding has so many unique and cool characters because of its adrenaline fueled, adventurous, athletic lifestyle. One crazy character and a good friend of mine, “Skippy”, has all these qualities and more. Along with his skills on a sled, he also brings a talent for shooting and capturing incredible winter photography. These qualities go well together because it takes a great sledder to get to the technical spots in order to shoot the best angles in this unique environment. In the off-season, Skippy likes to push the limits on his moto when he’s not taking down giant cedars in the remote forests of BC. One way or another, this guy finds a way to keep his adrenaline peaking at all times.
>> CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
Rob Alford, Dave Best, Dave Basterrechea, Julie-Ann Chapman, Stephen W. Clark, Russell Dalby, Patrick Garbutt, Tim Grey, Mark Gribbon, Jeremy Hanke, Bryn Hughes, Vera Janssen, Blake Jorgenson, Daniel Leslie, Shane Lewis, Steven Lloyd, Neil McLaren, Chris Messervey, Patrick Orton, Curtis Pawliuk, Brandon Peterson, Thierry Provencher, Nadia Samer, Mark Schilperoort, Alain Sleigher, Daryl Treadway, Dave Treadway, Todd Westlake
Mountain Sports Distribution 1.888.987.SLED
>> CONTACT // EDITORIAL
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THE OF MOUNTAIN SLEDDING
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>> Chris Brown Chris Brown is a household name in the mountain sledding world, but if you don’t know who he is, then look him up (and no, he is not the girl friend beating hip-hop artist). Having made a name for himself with his go-huge antics in front of the camera, he has transformed this into a successful business guiding and teaching clinics out of his lodge in Whistler. For years Chris has been pushing the limits of the sport, and these days he is the face of Yamaha snowmobiles, spending almost everyday of the winter riding, guiding, teaching and showing us that a thumper can be tossed around through the trees and in the air. - Matthew Mallory
Copyright ©2014 Summit Communications All Rights Reserved. Printed in Canada.
IN THIS ISSUE
18 FIRST TRAX 800’ Sled BASE Honours Late Friend’s Memory Throttle Decisions Avalanche Safety Series The Dawn of Parasledding
24 RAD ZONES : Gorman Lake On a sunny day when the conditions are right for travel, it doesn’t get much better than Gorman Lake.
26 GEAR GIRLS Add one part cool gear, one part hot babe, pour over ice and voilà! Good looking gear.
28 RIDING TIPS : Re-Entries Chris Brown breaks down the re-entry in this step-by-step how to.
36 PHOTO TIPS Whether you shoot on your iPhone or a big-budget DSLR, these tips will help you get better shots of your riding pals.
40 ULTIMATE MOD : Viper SR Neil from Boost-It describes his pre-production Yamaha Viper mod.
46 ROADTRIP PLAYLIST Don’t be subject to your friend’s tragic taste in music. Here’s an eclectic list of songs to try out on your next road trip.
48 ZIPPERMOUTH CREEK The secret is out. The discovery of a new zone, and casting judgement on the Ski-Doo REV XM chassis.
58 BOOST ON TAP Boost unleashed on a 2014 Yamaha FX Nytro test ride in the Monashee Range of BC.
16 OVER THE HILLS : To Be There First These are the few-and-far-between moments that we as mountain sledders live for.
69 GALLERY Nine pages of stunning photography and epic riding.
82 AND FAR AWAY : Staying Out Late The darkness starts in the deepest places and slowly swallows the valleys below.
15 Photo: Mark Gribbon Location: Brandywine, Whistler BC. Rider: Kale Stephens
F1RST To be there first awakens an incredible feeling. It is a hard-to-define sensation, but once you’ve felt it you can never forget what it’s like. It’s that feeling you get when there is a fresh blanket of snow on the trail, and it’s up to you to decide where the track goes. Or the sense of accomplishment that comes from picking your way through unfamiliar trees and steeps as you punch into a new place for what feels like the first time anyone’s ever been there. Pulling up to a fresh meadow or hill and looking at a vast, uniform surface of white, it feels phenomenal to have the chance to pick where to place your mark, knowing that it will be the best place no matter where you choose. These are the few-and-far-between moments that we as mountain sledders live for and dream about.
Most of the time it takes meticulous planning to achieve these moments; time off work, the right riding buddies, weather systems, and destinations must all align. Everything must come together perfectly for that rare opportunity. Occasionally, we just so happen to be in the right place at the right time, by dumb luck. We can go an entire season without such a moment, or can get them on backto-back days in the midst of a monster storm. If you’ve ever laid your own fresh track, planned carefully to get one, or even simply dreamed about it, know that you’re in good company. You’re a mountain sledder, and that feels good. - Patrick Garbutt
OVER THE HILLS
17 Photo: Mark Gribbon
800’ SLED BASE HONOURS LATE FRIEND’S MEMORY
HEN IT COMES TO SLEDDING, PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES ARE CONSTANTLY FINDING NEW WAYS TO WOW THE CROWD. Recently, professional skier and BASE jumper, Erik Roner, did just that by BASE jumping an 800 foot cliff while riding a snowmobile. Roner is a professional skier who played a big role in bringing ski-BASE jumping to the mainstream public. He is part of the adrenalin junkie Nitro Circus crew, and has countless BASE jumps under his belt, including jumps involving dirt bikes. However, BASE jumping a snowmobile is something new, even for Roner. The snowmobile used was the Polaris of the late Shane McConkey, a professional skier who was well-known for breaking the boundaries of ski-BASE. McConkey and Roner were good friends and had BASE jumped together in the past. McConkey had given his 2002 Polaris RMK 700 to Roner prior to his passing, and when it became time to retire the sled, Roner decided to pay tribute to the original owner.
“Roner decided to pay tribute to the original owner.” Roner loaded up the sled and headed to an area near Fernie, BC for the jump. The snowmobile was airlifted to the top of the mountain, where he spread some of McConkey’s ashes on the dash. He then collected as much speed as possible and drove straight off the cliff. He held onto the airborne sled for almost four seconds before he pulled his chute and watched the machine slam into the ground below. As a responsible backcountry user, Roner used the helicopter to airlift the destroyed sled and all its parts back to the staging area. There, he sold what remained of the sled and the accompanying trailer for $400. Erik Roner has paved the way for a new form of sled disposal, one that most people would not be willing to attempt. To see the video yourself, visit http://ronervision.com. - Faith Dusevic
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Photos: Todd Westlake Location: Fernie, BC Rider: Erik Roner
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FIRST TRAX pital Powder Ca of Canada
New Avalanche Safety Webisode Series Designed for Sledders
HROTTLE DECISIONS IS A NEW EDUCATIONAL MOVIE SERIES THAT FOCUSES ON AVALANCHE SAFETY.
Created by the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) and funded by the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund, it is an up-to-date eight part video series that shows well-known riders in popular locations including Golden, Fernie and Revelstoke.
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Topics include: Companion Rescue Terrain Avalanche Forecast Evaluating Hazard When No Forecast is Available Weather Snowpack and Formation of Avalanches Essential and Recommended Gear Safe Travel Practices in Avalanche Terrain Gilles Valade, CAC’s Executive Director, explained that “these are ground breaking videos” because “there’s nothing like them available specifically for snowmobilers”. The series is produced by FD Productions, a film crew that is very familiar with sledding. The information presented utilizes research that was conducted a year prior to filming. It provides substantial information on how to make the right decisions to avoid dangerous situations yet still enjoy the mountains. Sledders are always pushing the boundaries; whether it is going higher, going deeper or finding an area no one’s been before. As mountain snowmobiling continues to progress, understanding how to avoid an avalanche is becoming even more crucial. Snowmobiling is no stranger to avalanches; life-altering or ending accidents have affected snowmobilers in the past. Throttle Decisions aims to lessen that effect through education. The series is set to be released in the fall of 2013; just in time for the upcoming sled season. To find the videos, visit: www.avalanche.ca/ca - Faith Dusevic
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THE DAWN OF
WENTY-THREE YEARS AGO, BRISCO, BC RESIDENT ERIC ODDY BEGAN TO THINK ABOUT WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO COMBINE HIS TWO FAVOURITE THINGS: PARAGLIDING AND SNOWMOBILING.
The idea of actually flying his sled began to sprout as he sat on the back of a friend’s snowmobile preparing to launch himself and his paraglider into the air. Twenty years later, Oddy and another friend, Dale McKnight, began to put the idea on paper. It took three more years of testing before he would be ready to fly. Although a seasoned snowmobiler who had also spent two decades paragliding, combining the two sports had created a new list of potential dangers for Oddy. One of the important concerns is how to control the snowmobile once airborne. Another is the chance his paraglider might fail while he is in the air. “Things can happen and then I have to figure out what to do with it. It’s so extreme, but I guess that’s why I like doing it,” he says.
Oddy is constantly refining his new sport, but still remembers the first time it worked. “It was an amazing feeling; the whole front end lifted and it was such a cool feeling,” he says. And although Oddy has been developing parasledding for several years now, his efforts only became well known after he posted a YouTube video in December, 2012. Various news outlets picked up the story, including Discovery Channel, who later filmed Oddy flying through the air for two kilometres without touching down. Despite this feat, Oddy says parasledding has not yet reached its full potential; he has more plans underway. Although he would not elaborate much on the secrets he has in store, he did say that he is “working on dropping things off of [his snowmobile], maybe even humans”. Eric Oddy’s original video can be viewed at: http://youtube.com/luraina77 View Discovery Channel’s video at: http://bit.ly/19bb8BF Get the free mobile app at - Faith Dusevic
http:/ / gettag.mobi
Get the free mobile app at
http:/ / gettag.mobi
22 Photos: Alain Sleigher Location: Chatter Creek Rider: Eric Oddy
MakE TRaCkS foR GoLDEn
1 EPIC TRIP. 2013-14 Snowmobile Guide
Trails ... owmobile much more
photo: Dave Best
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Pat Garbutt Photo. Chatter Creek
240 km of groomed trails, 13 distinct zones, 4 maintained areas,
Elevation 9000 feet Distance 20 kms to Alpine Difficulty Advanced
Photo: Dave Best Rider: Riley Suhan
Photo: Daniel Leslie
A medium-sized drainage that connects to a massive network of valleys beyond, Gorman is the access point for exploration of a huge part of the Dogtooth Range of the Purcell Mountains. You won’t find a lot of trees to ride, but there are bowls, hills and chutes as far as the eye can see.
On a sunny day when the conditions are right for travel, it doesn’t get much better than Gorman Lake. One underrated benefit of riding Gorman is its proximity to town. At only 8km from downtown Golden BC, you can be at the trailhead within minutes of fueling up. You don’t even have to get on the highway, which means you never have to be cocerned about road closures spoiling your fun. In fact a few locals have been known to tempt fate and the ire of the local constabulary by sledding directly to the zone from their own backyards. From the trailhead, the 20km groomed trail follows a series of logging roads that wind their way up a bench and into the Gorman drainage. Along the way you’ll see the turn off for the West Bench Trail, which meanders its way north for 40km. But that’s not what you came for. Continue on, and before long you’ll find yourself cruising through some high elevation cutblocks with mammoth, breathtaking cliffs across the valley. At the end of the trail, as you break through the trees into a meadow, be aware that you’re in big country now, and on both sides you’ll be exposed to avalanche paths. If you haven’t already got out your airbag handle, now is the time. Before gaining the lake, beginners will find themselves challenged by a mandatory climb of a short but moderately steep hill that has thwarted more than a few greenhorns on their first attempt. Keep at it, and once you make it past that hurdle, it is relatively smooth sailing on up to the lake.
If it’s a sunny day when you crest the rise and look down over the lake, you’ll realize why Gorman Lake is such a popular place when the weather’s good. The lake itself is surrounded by a cathedral of gorgeous peaks, and the zone is just beginning. If however, it happens to be socked in or snowing then you’ll quickly understand why you’re the only group there. With little in the way of trees in this alpine environment, it can be like navigating around the inside of a ping-pong ball when the weather’s poor. If that’s the case, then it’s best to cut your losses and head back down to play in the well-spaced trees alongside the cat-track below. Around the lake there are several massive chutes to pull if that is your bag, but be aware that the slopes on the north side of the lake tend to be sun-affected and are less ideal. Also if you feel tempted, as many do, to drag race your flatland compatriots across the lake, note that the edges of the lake are hard to see at times, and there may just be a surprise jolt at the finish line. Once past the lake, you can head either north or south over the adjacent passes into the next drainages. To the south lies Holt, which is a broad, roly-poly valley with numerous fun quarter-pipe and windlip features. North, however, is the direction to head if you’re looking to venture out far into the backcountry. When the visibility is good and the snow tight enough, you can travel a long ways through Lang and Cirque creeks, and on to Quartz Lake. You can also access East Quartz via a burly climb to the west of Lang Creek. Each of these drainages is a mini-zone of its own, all gained from the same starting spot, Gorman. Gorman Lake is maintained by the Golden Snowmobile Club, and a $20 (cash only) day pass is required of non-members. BCSF members receive a discount on day passes. Access is via Dogtooth Forest Service Road, near the Golden Golf Club. Due to active logging, the use of VHF radio communication is advised. Watch for posted signs and give logging trucks the right of way. The parking lot is reasonalby large and can accommodate 4-place trailers, although on busy weekends parking may overflow onto the roadside. - Tap Winslow
N THE PREVIOUS ISSUES OF MSM WE FEATURED STOCK PHOTOS OF GEAR ON PLAIN BACKGROUNDS. WE THOUGHT WE COULD DO BETTER. INTRODUCING GEAR GIRLS: SAME COOL GEAR, DIFFERENT FORMAT. HOPEFULLY YOU’RE INTO IT. EITHER WAY, WE HAD FUN, EVEN THOUGH WE HAD TO PAY THIS CHICK TO HANG OUT WITH US... - ED.
Model: Britt Schafer Photos: Patrick Garbutt Words: Jessica Joy Location: Bush Harbour / Kinbasket Lake
509 Oversized Beanie
$24.95. No one wants to see your helmet hair. Perfect for job interviews, Christmas dinner, etc. www.Ride509.com
Mammut Probe Plus
$59.99. If youâ€™re ever buried in an avalanche and this 280cm probe pokes you in the eye, it will be the happiest probing you ever receive. www.Mammut.com
Skinz Extra Low FreeRide Series Seat $449.95. Super low seats make for fast side-to-side transitions. And dropping 5-12 lbs from your stock seat means you can pack a bigger lunch. www.SkinzProtectiveGear.com
509 Carbon Fiber Helmet
Strikt Freeride Jacket $399.95. Because this isn’t 1986 in Northern Ontario. And it’s time to start wearing jackets by a brand that doesn’t also make your toolbox. And hey - you’ve got babes to impress. www.Strikt.ca
$399.95. The $6-Million Man of helmets. Better… stronger… faster… and $5,999,600 cheaper. 2.5 lbs of awesome. www.Ride509.com
509 Aviator Goggle (Pink Splash)
$139.95. Perfect for flying alongside Maverick and Iceman at the Navy’s elite fighter weapons school, or snowmobiling. www.Ride509.com
Highmark by Snowpulse:Vest $839.95. You could wear an avalanche airbag made for skiers. Or you could wear this. Regardless of your choice, stop calling drinking beer at the truck “après”. www.SnowpulseHighmark.com
FXR Adrenaline Glove
$119. FXR’s Triple Chamber Technology means the Adrenaline glove keeps you warm and dry. Marshmallows however, will stick to this glove. www.FXRracing.com
509 Polarized Aviators (Stealth)
Highmark by Snowpulse: Pro $839.95. If you were tumbling down a raging river and someone offered you a water wing or a lifejacket, which would you choose? Think of the Protection Airbag System as your lifejacket. www.SnowpulseHighmark.com
$179.95 Polarized lenses cut out glare from the sun and snow, making you a much less squinty and whiny snowmobiler. www.Ride509.com
XXX ModRods Standard Vent Kit $190. 7-Piece Standard Vent Kit (White Cat Skull). Cool air in, hot air out, super durable, graphic of a cat’s skull on it. What more could a sledder want? www.XXXModRods.com
FXR Team Boot $199.99. These boots are so comfortable you might just wear them all day riding AND all night at the bar. Classy. www.FXRracing.com
DeLor me InReach SE $299.95. Listen up, city slicker – your iPhone doesn’t work around here. But the new SE allows you to text from anywhere – and see that your messages have been received. omg. 2ez. www.DeLorme.com
8” PowderHound SlyDog Skis $450. SlyDog claims this is the widest ski on the market. It was wide enough for our barbeque and we thinks that’s pretty damn good. www.SlyDogSkis.com
Strikt Rigger Bib Pant $399.95. Don’t tell us you’re “not a bib-pant kind of guy”. This pant is going to change that. www.Strikt.ca
509 Gear Tee
$29.95. Everyone knows that black t-shirts need washing half as often and can work under suit jackets. Treat yourself to something durable and versatile. www.Ride509.com
Sony Action Cam $199. Not as great as the GoPro3 but cheaper. Good enough to record a model changing wardrobe from the bushes. www.Sony.ca
509 Paint Tr ucker Hat
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WORDS BY CHRIS BROWN DEMONSTRATION BY BRETT TURCOTTE Photos by Tim Grey
Jump Selection: Finding the right jump for a re-entry is key. Ideally you want to find a jump that has a smooth run-in and transition to a steep face. The more vertical the face, the more height you will get and the more it will pop you back to the landing. A re-entry is best if it works like a quarter pipe. That way you can land on the tranny next to where you took off from. You can also do a re-entry whip and land on the upper deck and ride off the lip as shown here. The Approach: Much like approaching the face of a regular jump, you want your body to be neutral. You should be standing, centred on your sled, with equal weight on each foot. No sitting! Have your arms and knees bent, ready to absorb any impact. Look out ahead of your skis.
The Takeoff: As you come up the face of the jump you want to be leaning into the direction you are whipping. Your body weight will pull the sled as you leave the lip. You should be full throttle as you are coming up the face. As your skis leave the ground you can start turning your head in the direction you are whipping. In the air: You will be on the throttle as the sled leaves the jump and starts to whip. I turn my head right back to where I took off from. This really helps get the body and sled to follow, enabling the 180. Once the sled has come around, you can ease off the throttle. Spot your landing. You will most likely land where you look.
As you approach the ground you want your body ready for the impact. Brace yourself and have a firm grip on the bars. Elbows and knees should be bent to absorb impact. Keep looking ahead—you could get whiplash if you are looking down. Just as the track hits the snow you can give it some throttle. The amount of throttle can also depend on the attitude of your sled, meaning: is it track heavy or nose heavy? Try not to land too heavy on either the track or the skis. Ideally, you’ll touch down with the track and skis at the same time. Getting the track to spin upon impact will also make the landing smoother. Once on the ground, drive through it. Keep looking forward, and keep your momentum up.
3 Tur Start small and work your way up as you feel comfortable. Try this in soft conditions as it will make the learning curve much easier. The most important thing to remember while doing a 180 or re-entry is to be confident. Do it right and don’t hesitate. Hesitation can hurt you sometimes. Have fun and good luck! If I see you out in the backcountry I can show you how to do this!
Cheers, Chris www.ridewithchrisbrown.com
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Burandtâ€™s Backcountry Adventure Guide FXR MTN Pro Ride Team Athlete Photo George Marsh
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PHOTO TIPS BY PATRICK GARBUTT
GET BETTER SLEDDING shots LOCATION
• Whenever possible, wait for the clouds to pass for bright sunshine. Full sun will make the snow pop with white, and give good contrast to your photo. • If it is an overcast day, zoom in close on the rider to reduce the amount of bland, grey snow in the shot. Switch your camera to the “Cloudy” mode. • The best time to shoot is early morning and late afternoon when the sun is low, which results images with vibrant colour and well defined shadows.
• Make it look like a powder day— even if it wasn’t—by venturing off the beaten path to find a patch of untouched pow for your shot.
• Avoid distracting elements like tracks, other sleds, and empty beer cans in your shots.
• Train your buddies to show a little restraint and wait until you’ve got the shot before going bananas on the area. • Whenever possible, put a nice foreground in front of a nice background.
Good - Late day light = amazing snow texture - Action right on the shadow line, as discussed - In focus and super sharp!
• Keep it interesting by varying your composition so that the rider is not always in the middle of your shot. Google “Rule of Thirds”. • Make the horizon level and the trees vertical. No camera tilt/fake steep cheesiness!
Photo: Blake Jorgenson
Bad < - Overhead cloud makes for grey snow - Rider dead-centre in frame - Tracks! Find a fresh spot! Bad > - Distracting shadow in corner - No communication = where are you going!? - Tilted horizon
• Shoot either on Sport mode or at a shutter speed of at least 1/800th of a second to avoid a blurry rider and/or background.
• Pre-focus your camera to avoid camera delay when pressing the button, so you can capture the action at its peak moment.
• Thoroughly discuss what will happen and where, so you and the rider are on the same page.
• For sharp shots, hold the camera still. That means lay off the coffee and cigarettes, Edward Surgeonhands.
• Do this by half-pressing the shutter button with the focus selection on the spot where you think the action will happen.
• Try to compose your shot, then let the sled ride through without moving the camera.
• Then recompose your shot and snap away by pressing the button fully, knowing that you won’t accidentally be focused on the background by mistake and miss the shot.
• Have the rider wait until you are sure you have all your settings dialed in. Take a test shot and make any adjustments necessary before giving the thumbs up to rip the snot out of it. • Make your rider give you a 10 second warning before “dropping”, and get ready to nail the next Mountain Sledder cover!
Photo: Patrick Garbutt
Good - Nice foreground, nice background - Classic use of Rule of Thirds - Patiently waited for nice light
Edmonton, alberta Premiere! Saturday, October 19, 2013 @ 7p.m. Capitol Theatre, Fort Edmonton Park Prizes, Specially-Priced DVDs & More!
tickets available at select edmonton retailers.
GLACIER HOUSE RESORT
GLACIER HOUSE RESORT
GLACIER HOUSE RESORT
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Radium, Epic Mountain Sledding
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MS: How did you get started on the build?
INTERVIEW & PHOTOS BY PG
HERE WAS A LOT OF EXCITEMENT IN THE MOUNTAIN SLEDDING COMMUNITY LAST SPRING WHEN YAMAHA ANNOUNCED THE RELEASE OF THE VIPER SR MODEL FOR THE 2014 PRODUCTION YEAR. THE HUBBUB CENTERED AROUND THE VIPER’S POTENT COMBINATION OF THE SRV CHASSIS, BUILT BY ARCTIC CAT, BASED ON THE POPULAR DESIGN USED IN THEIR OWN MOUNTAIN SLEDS, AND THE LEGENDARY YAMAHA 4-STROKE GENESIS POWERPLANT. ALTHOUGH THE VIPER IS DESTINED FOR PRODUCTION AS A TRAIL SLED IN ITS INITIAL YEAR, THE POTENTIAL FOR A TURBO-BOOSTED LONG-TRACK MOD CAUSED MORE THAN A FEW MOUNTAIN SLEDDERS TO SNOW-CHECK THE VIPER WITH THAT VERY OBJECTIVE IN MIND. NEIL FROM BOOST-IT DECIDED TO JUMP THE GUN AND BUILD HIS OWN PRE-PRODUCTION VIPER FROM SCRATCH.
Mountain Sledder: Why did you decided to build a pre-production Viper?
NM: We bought a brand new 2013 Arctic Cat M1100 turbo and used it as our donor. We wanted to start with a new sled so everything was new and we could see the effects of wear when running the Yamaha powertrain. We brought home the new 1100 Cat, drove it in the shop, and pulled out the entire powertrain including engine, intercooler, all electronics, and clutches. We also removed the steering and fuel tank components. We were left with a bare frame, so basically a clean slate to start with.
MS: What custom work was necessary? NM: Because Arctic Cat (AC) used the rear PTO motor mount as a bearing support for the jackshaft, we had to fabricate the bearing support. We also needed to fabricate the rear motor mounts, front motor mounts, upper frame supports, side bulkhead supports, and then exhaust. In order to fabricate all of these components, we needed to have a Nytro engine sitting in the engine bay to establish engine placement as well as confirming clutch centres. Yamaha had released a lot of really good pictures of the Viper without body panels so we were able to learn from them. This gave us good direction as far as motor placement and exhaust configuration.
MS: What other modifications were required? NM: We knew we couldn’t use the stock tank, so we actually cut the tank in half and built an aluminum tank that fit inside the rear half of the stock plastic tank. This gave us a stock look. We also used the stock Yamaha Nytro fuel pump and had it fitted in the tank using the AC fuel pickups. We did not want to use the AC secondary clutch so we decided to use a Team Tied secondary clutch. Rather then take the time to make the reverse mechanism work in the chaincase, we removed all of the reverse related components.
Neil McLaren: We were really excited to see Yamaha move to a better handling chassis and liked the fact that even though the exhaust is rear exiting from the motor, Yamaha had figured out a way to exit the exhaust to the side and also keep a large capacity fuel tank. When building turbo kits, it is ideal to use the stock exhaust and the stock fuel tank. These are two components that often have to be fabricated in a turbo application. We wanted to build a sled that would be as close to a production Viper as possible. That way we could fab up a prototype turbo kit and ride the sled. This would tell us a couple things. How does the sled ride and handle with the Yamaha powertrain configuration, and can we expect reasonable performance from the stock exhaust header configuration? We also wanted customers to ride and feel the machine at work. Telling a story about how a sled rides and handles never compares to the actual riding experience.
42 Sled Tech
43 Continued on page 46
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MS: What sort of turbo kit did you use, and what was required to fit it? NM: Once the motor and exhaust were complete, we built a turbo kit using a new Garrett GTX 2863 turbo and our own water-toair intercooler. The AC tunnel configuration did not allow us easy access to a tunnel mounted heat exchanger for our intercooler, so we used a modified stock Nytro radiator and mounted it in the nose of the sled to chill intercooler fluid. We then mounted a fan behind the radiator that runs as soon as the sled starts. The water-to-air intercooler acts as a tremendous heat sink when charge temps are increased from compressing air from the turbocharger. We use our own XIC fuel controller to control fueling through extra injectors that are mounted in the intercooler. The turbo mounting was challenging because of the confined space. We wanted a stock look to the sled, so all components had to remain under the stock panels and the panels were not modified for heat or space. Exhaust exits the stock exhaust location in the belly pan.
MS: What is the estimated output, and how does the build feel on snow? NM: We estimate the horsepower to be 180-190 at 6 lbs boost. We were surprised that the stock fuel pump could only supply us enough fuel to safely run at 5.5-6 lbs boost before the engine would run lean. This is a good indicator that our turbo setup is making great power at low boost. Many people that have ridden the sled have commented that it is by far the best handling 4-stroke sled they have ridden, or they could not even tell that it was a 4-stroke because they could not feel the added weight. One customer had mentioned that he had never ridden a sled that was so easy to adapt to.
MS: What would you have done differently, or what further mods do you plan to make now that you have had the chance to ride it?
NM: We have put close to 500 km on the sled now and will be making a change to the exhaust header to shorten it slightly. We don’t think that there will be a performance advantage, but we will use some stronger materials that will extend the life of the header pipe. The stock rear suspension could not keep up to the added power of the sled so a suspension upgrade was done. Also, we are now in the process of changing the track to a 174x3, swapping a few other components like skis, and removing the chaincase in favour of a belt drive. The fuel system is being upgraded to use a high flowing fuel pump so we can push the boost up to 1012 lbs on the stock motor configuration.
MS: In what ways will this build be different from the production Viper mods you are building this fall? NM: This build took about 3 weeks to complete. We have close to 150 hrs in to the build so that would be $14000 in labour alone. The production Vipers will be very easy to mod, and we estimate that our turbo kit will be a straight-forward install that should take about a day. I know there are some customers that wanted a full mountain chassis from Yamaha, but the fact is, many mod customers change out tracks, suspensions, skis, etc, anyway, so really the cost of building a Viper into a modded mountain sled is really reasonable. As of May 1st we had 15 orders for turbo kits and do expect at least 15 more for next season. We would like to get a limited supply out on the snow for the first year and really prove how well they work.
MS: Any closing thoughts? NM: I don’t think that people should assume that the new Viper is just a Cat with a Yamaha engine. Yamaha obviously has made some engineering changes that will bring this sled up to Yamaha quality standards. The way Yamaha has mounted the engine up and back has made this sled incredibly easy to handle because the weight is in the middle of the sled and high enough so the sled has a great tipping point. We are really excited about the new Vipers and think they will be the ultimate 4-stroke mountain sled.
Neil would like to say thanks to his wife Jennifer, his son TJ, and his cousin Mark for all of their hard work and long hours on this project, and all of the work they do at Boost-it. – Ed.
Photo: Tim Grey
y sled and I once hitched a ride home from Revelstoke with a tattooed, beefcake friend-of-a-friend that I didn’t know well. During the course of the requisite small talk, a U2 song came on the radio. Hoping to find something in common to talk about, I threw a Hail Mary with a prejudiced remark regarding the questionable heterosexuality of the band as a whole (I believe I said “U2 is so gay”, as if that were even possible), wholly expecting a resounding affirmation of my excellent musical taste and what’s more, my supernatural ability to correlate artistic creative choice with sexual preference.* Instead, my buffed up chauffeur promptly and surprisingly asserted that in fact, U2 is an awesome band. It turned out that he is a huge fan, has been to numerous concerts, and apparently embraces the band’s entire discography. Shit. Well, at that point it was too late for me to admit that I too actually enjoyed their music, insomuch as it was used primarily as the backdrop for some after-hours poor decision-making (on behalf of the girls at least) during a few late nights in my college years. The discussion of which would have surely made for abundantly more interesting conversation than the silence that followed while I tried desperately to recover from my bumbled attempt at reaching common ground. I should have just said Ski-Doo sucks (he was a Polaris guy). Sledders are an interesting bunch—a circle of friends unified by our love of the sport. And while sledding may bring us together from different places, jobs or lifestyles, in many aspects we are a pretty homogeneous group (no, that doesn’t mean we’re all gay. Who’s the bigot now?). Look around; we are primarily white males, with a particular weakness for cured meats, and most of us with blood pressure scores in the “some concern” range. We all like deep powder, dry gloves and more horsepower. But we are not all the same, and it’s not fair to judge a book by its tattoos. So if you’d like to get to know your sledding pal just a little bit better, a good long road trip is a great way to achieve that. And while you’re doing it, take note of what’s on their music playlist, as it can serve as a window to a better understanding of their personality.
This theory was recently tested on a road trip to McBride with my friend ‘Eric’, whose name has been changed for the sake of anonymity (his real name is Dave). I know Eric as a pretty cool guy,
so you can imagine my concern after some time on the road as I noticed a strange and disturbing phenomenon; it seemed that his iPod had become trapped in some sort of 90’s popular alt rock infinity loop, as if no music had been created before or since— Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins, Counting Crows, Rage Against the Machine and Radiohead mixed with the occasional softie such as gag-inducing Savage Garden thrown in for good measure. I began to feel like I had been transported to some sick and twisted parallel universe where time and space had no meaning, and I had to look behind to see that we still had sleds from the 21st century sitting on the back of the truck. Phew. So what did I learn about my friend Eric you ask? Well, I’m sure I could draw some tenuous pseudo-psychological connection to his steadfast particularity and obstinate pig-headedness. But I’d rather just say that he tends to stick with what he likes, without much regard for popular opinion. And although I haven’t shared his particular affinity for 90’s rock, at least not since... well, the 90’s... I have to give him some credit for sticking to his guns and not bowing to pop culture. He’s a tenacious fellow, loyal, and I know he’ll always have my back. That said, it took a helluva long time to convince Eric that he would, for the remainder of the trip, be banned from playing his own music in his own truck on penalty of our friendship. But in the end it did work out. Eric was exposed to some new and different styles of music that he has since come to enjoy, and I learned that musical variety truly is the spice of life. So next time you hit the road with some buds, spend a little time preparing your own playlist, lest ye be judged. Make a nice mix, keep ‘em guessing, and you’ll end up with a little something that will keep everyone in the truck happy. * This was some years ago and I’m a reformed, enlightened individual now. I enjoy rainbows and unicorns just as much as the next guy, so no need to write into the magazine with hate mail, thanks. However, if you really just must, then please send all correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
HERE’S AN ECLECTIC LIST OF SONGS TO TRY OUT ON YOUR NEXT ROAD TRIP. THEY’RE ALL A LITTLE DIFFERENT, BUT PRETTY GOOD IN THEIR OWN WAY. MAYBE YOU’LL FIND SOMETHING THAT YOU LIKE. IF NOT, WELL, YOU CAN ALWAYS GO CRAWLING BACK TO THE “THEORY OF A STAIND PUDDLE OF NICKELCREED” CHANNEL ON YOUR SIRIUS XM AND BEG CHAD KROEGER HOW TO REMIND YOU.
“Truck Got Stuck” Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer 2006 This Southern Alberta foothills lovin’ country band will get your toe tapping regardless of on which side of the Great Divide you reside. However, anyone sporting a pickup with a Calvin-pissingon-a-truck-brand-logo sticker in the rear window should be advised that: a) Your truck gets stuck in the song too, and b) Calvin-pissing-on-anything stickers are lame. Actually, a Calvinpissing-on-a-Calvinpissing-on-a-truckbrand-logo sticker might be pretty cool.
“Good Ass Intro” Chance the Rapper Acid Rap 2013 The first track on Acid Rap will tell you that 20 year old Chance is better than he was last time. It’s a reference to the previous year when he skipped school for 10 days straight to produce his first mixed tape, #10Day, that propelled him into the spotlight. If you happen to be a high school principal, his attitude might put you off, but otherwise there’s plenty to like about this album.
“Lonely Boy” The Black Keys El Camino 2011 The Black Keys have been killing it for over a decade with their lo-fi blues rock, but their music continues to be better received with each successive album, no doubt in part to current collaboration with producer Danger Mouse and his pop influences. If you’ve only recently started enjoying The Black Keys’ work, then it will definitely be worth your while to check out their older, less well known stuff.
“Little Houdini” Sage Francis Li(f)e 2010 Listening to this country music inspired rap-ballad is kind of what it might be like to hear Eminem performing the Dukes of Hazzard movie script at a Detroit honky-tonk bar. Weird as that sounds, this song tells a fantastic redemption story about a convict hijacking Crystal Gayle’s tour bus (amongst others) in a daring getaway to see his Momma on her deathbed.
“Enter the Ninja” Die Antwoord $O$ 2010 The South African duo comprised of Yolandi Nisser and you guessed it, Ninja, celebrate everything “Zef” in their progressive hip-hop act. Zef is an Afrikaans word that defies definition, but essentially refers to the culture of lowermiddle class and the glorification of cheap things (yep, white trash!). Die Antwoord’s (The Answer’s) music is equally hard to define, but it is definitely interesting.
“Please Read the Letter” Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand 2007 Bluegrass isn’t for everybody, and as such Alison Krauss’ usual fare may not be your cup of energy drink. And while the addition of Robert Plant’s voice doesn’t add much Led in this case, just know that if it’s good enough for Plant, it’s good enough for you. Allow Mr. Led Zeppelin himself to hold your hand as you dip your toes together into a wonderful cross-genre experience of harmony and musical talent. Just try and remember that it’s a long drive and it can’t always be 2 Minutes to Midnight.
“Battling Go-Go Yubari in Downtown L.A.” edIT Certified Air Raid Material 2007 Glitch Hop is a relatively new form of electronic music that emerged in the mid-90’s. It intentionally incorporates “sonic artifacts” or glitch sounds such as disc skipping, electric hum, crashes, bugs, and distortion to replace traditional percussion in the creation of rhythm tracks. This song comes from edIT’s second solo album, and if you like it, check out his collaboration in The Glitch Mob’s Drink the Sea.
“Master of Puppets” Metallica Master of Puppets 1986 This relatively unknown band, pronounced “Met-al-licka”, has some… Okay, okay, so you’ve heard of these guys. But if you’re going listen to the same old stuff, you might as well pick the crème de la crème. Crank it!
Z IPpERmOUTH C REEK
& THE VERDICT ON THE SKI-DOO REV XM Words and photography by Tim Grey
IF JEREMY HANKE HAD A MIND-ERASER TOOL HE WOULD HAVE NO DOUBT TRIED TO USE IT ON ME.
Instead he let his ‘heavies’ (the tatt’d up MMA fighters who were with us), get the point across that I should proceed cautiously with the privileged information I now possessed. After two amazing days in the Revelstoke backcountry with local Ski-Doo ambassador Rob Alford and his friends, I had seriously lucked out to be a part of their latest, greatest breakthrough into a new zone on our third day together. Sometimes things just work OUR LITTLE SECRET? out.
Mountain Sledder had assigned me to cover the story of the 2014 Summit Rev XM’s rollout and we decided that there was no better way to test this product than to spend some days with Revelstoke-based rider Rob Alford and to see what he could do with it. Of course Rob ripped on the sled but we kinda knew that was going to happen. He’s been on the leading edge of mountain sledding’s curve for more than a decade and just about nobody explores, airs and shreds harder than him. The real test, it would turn out, ended up being much more personal than I expected. Keeping up with this icon on a real day of pleasure sledding would end up being the opportunity I needed to fully appreciate what the new REV XM could do. When I called Rob in fall 2012 to ask if we could ride the new XM together he was luckily into the idea, so we booked three days together months in advance. In late March 2013, when our time came, I rolled into Revelstoke under cloudless blue skies and checked into McKenzie Log Chalet, the bed and (make your own) breakfast that Rob owns and operates. The perfect weather, the plush accommodations, the three 2013 Summit XMs sitting outside the chalet (and the 2014 model on Rob’s truck) seemed to confirm that I was in the right place at the right time.
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ZIPPER MOUTH CREEK
Rob went about precisely hitting airs and lines
exactly as they had been discussed.
Blue skies and great snow blessed our first two days and Rob was on his best behaviour: waiting patiently for photography and film shots to be set up and then precisely hitting airs and lines exactly as they had been discussed. 509 filmer and producer Mike Reeves had joined us and Rob put on a clinic on how to be a boss in front of the camera. I found it interesting that he never hit the same jump twice. Unlike other sledders, who like to roll the first couple of hits to get speeds right, Alford acted like he knew every feature like the back of his hand and he stomped all his airs without the slightest sense of worry. His 2014 Rev XM Summit X (163”) was performing well by doing everything he asked of it, including stomping big airs on stock shocks. We spent the first two days in remote places to avoid the masses but the zones were certainly not secrets as we did bump into others. The third day, however, was to be much different. The pressures of his late spring job (shrimpin’ boat captain) were now dictating Rob’s schedule and this was to be the last day of the season for him in Revelstoke. But Alford still had unfinished business with the winter. He had heard about a new zone which he’d never been to and decided that today had to be the day to push it. Although we had technically booked this day together, we had clearly achieved our goals of getting good shots of the new XM during the last two days. This day, Rob was on
a mission and it was clear as we got ready in the morning that it was his full intent to go discover this place, with or without his media entourage. I decided to roll the dice and pretend like I belonged during the morning routines. I didn’t ask if I should come and Alford never asked me not to and as we rolled out of Revy bright and early, the stage was set. After meeting Jeremy Hanke and his buddies at a trailhead, Rob and I unloaded and zoomed on a labyrinth of logging roads for several kilometers. Rob, who’s never one to hammer fast on a trail, was easy to keep in sight at the start. This confidence booster was quickly shattered however, when in a nondescript spot, he cut a hard left and wiggled his way up an old clearcut and disappeared among the head-high trees growing around stumps. Hanke followed without so much as a look back and I, in third, was about to get my first taste of why Zippermouth Creek is undiscovered by most. The combination of the terrain, the deep snow and Rob and Hanke’s track trenches made for a heart pounding squirrel-fest for me. The obstacles came in sections and after making the first two good pulls, a small gully made me miss my line and an ill-timed, sharp left hook spat my sled one way and me the other. I was now stuck, mid-run, with no one in sight and thoughts of doubt throbbing in my head as I struggled to catch my breath.
Nothing’s worse than the nervous energy that comes from hanging out with sledders who are better than you and who are depending on you not to ruin their day. It was clear that success was my only option on this approach and after a few minutes I had righted my sled and was back for more rodeo action: slaloming uphill in deep powder and tight trees. This would not be the last time of the day I was grateful for my 163” track, which seems to allow for climbing at slower speeds, better floatation and more traction than its 154” sibling. Upon reaching the top of the cut block, I caught a glimpse of Alford disappearing into a gully far ahead and that was the last I’d see him for a while. Over the next half hour I followed his track up, down and around this sporty cut block as ‘we’ (he) searched for the access point into the valley above. Soon enough it became apparent that the high access wasn’t going to yield and we would be descending back nearly to our starting point. It was disheartening to give back the terrain we had gained but I couldn’t ignore the growing sense of relief that maybe we weren’t going to make it into the zone and I’d be off the hook on this wild adventure. The refined Rob Alford of the last couple days seemed to be replaced with a much more raw version of himself. Despite my nervousness, it was fun to see him try and push in to this place. Alford roamed through the difficult terrain with such ease and enthusiasm; his single intent reminded me of a dog trying to locate a stick that’s been thrown beyond its sights. Breaking new ground is something Rob’s clearly done many times during his tenure in Revelstoke and this day
one dead-end cut block wasn’t going to be what stopped us. Within a few minutes at our low point, Rob had already found another avenue to explore: a creek bed. If the cut block had been a saddle bronc then surely this creek bed was going to be the bull ride. As I rounded a tight corner to get a view of the shot I was greeted by a series of cascading pillows that would require mandatory sidehills around gaping open water holes with 15’ plummets. These features, no doubt held, the biggest moment of truth of my season so far and again, no one was around. Alford’s track was in front of me but he was long gone and I couldn’t even hear him. The others were still scratching through the cut block and being ahead of them gave me only limited confidence. I was left alone with the path to success before me but also the opportunity to really f’ this day up. It was time to see if ‘The Most Specialized Mountain Sled Ever’ was really all Ski-Doo said it was cracked up to be. The best part about the 163 XM is the how easy it is to nurse the throttle. You can approach things slowly but still quickly get the power you need to overcome obstacles, all with less trenching than shorter track models. When you combine this power-to-float relationship with the tMotion suspension, whose oscillations allow for greater side-hilling capability, along with the flex edge track, you get a sled that allows a
I was left alone with the path to success before me but also the opportunity to really
f’ this day up.
rider to maneuver through terrain with an ease that I’ve never felt before on a Ski-Doo. I thought about these aspects of the sled, almost as an out-of-body experience, as I slowly picked my way up the rowdy creek bed; I was in disbelief of my own actions as I successfully negotiated the incredibly technical terrain. Breaking it down into small little sections seemed to be the best way to keep my nerves at bay and I used every skill I had to stay in line with Alford’s track. Luckily my sled responded. The shorter ski span (36” vs. 40”) made a big difference and I could cut into the side of the slope much more easily than I ever could before on older Ski-Doo chassis. Sometimes I had to deviate from Alford’s track because the fresh snow was easier to hold a line in but I always quickly returned to his path, and kept my speeds slow. Zippermouth creek didn’t give in easily. The creek bed roamed for a long time. Sometimes, just to gain a single pillow, we had to deviate high up on steep flanks of the creek, through thick trees with hollow snow only to come back down again a few metres further ahead. By the time we all re-grouped, at a point with the terrain becoming more open, I had shaky hands but was filled with stoke. I have serious doubts I could have pulled that off on an XP; the XM had no doubt made me a better sledder.
The discovery of finding what is over the next pass is
The discovery of finding what is over the next pass is always enthralling but it’s especially good when you’re rewarded with better than expected terrain. That was the case this day and as the narrow creek bed opened up we began to see the spoils of our efforts. Vast mountain expanses of the beautiful Monashee mountains were revealed and our group soaked up terrain like gluttonous explorers. It’s not something that happens too often, especially with this seasoned crew that you break into a place this huge and good and have it for yourselves. For hours we roamed, finding bowl after bowl and never once did we see another track. Occasionally we’d stop to take in a view or hit a jump but the main focus was to push as far as we could. Hanke claimed it as the best day of his winter and Alford cautiously implied that he only has one or two other places as good as this on his hit list. But even before we turned around from our far point, I knew I’d have to temper this new-found enthusiasm with the fact that I was a journalist on assignment and it’s exactly my job to tell others about the goods and how to get them. In essence, these guys couldn’t have brought a worse person along. Here are the directions to where I was, which has been clearly stated as Zippermouth Creek (as in, zip’yer mouth about this). 1. Get a map. 2. Find a spot that looks cool. 3. Try to get in there and if you do, swear your mates to secrecy. That, it would seem, is the sledders’ ‘brocode’ around Revy and enforcement of it, is not something I’m willing to trifle with.
ZIPPER MOUTH CREEK
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BEACONS So if I canâ€™t talk about where I was, at least I can talk about what we were on: the 2014 Ski-Doo Rev XM. There was a lot of hype going in to the 2013 season about the new REV XM platform. With several new technology upgrades, a chassis re-working, a recalibrated E-tec engine and a heavy marketing push, the 2013 XM had garnered a lot of attention. But now in the spring of 2013, as the 2014 prototype was already in the hands of the elite rulers like Alford, the verdict on the Rev XM was ready to be levied. Was the sled full of gimmicks and the sales the result of expert marketing, or was it really the game changing piece of equipment it was touted to be?
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The judgment on the Rev XM platform can probably best be understood by the moves Ski-Doo made to improve it for the 2014 model. As in, absolutely nothing. Nothing besides the mind boggling extension of the warranty to 4 years (on the spring-check model; the fall 2014 model’s warranty is 3 years). So confident is Ski-Doo in this model that their only major revision to the entire offering was to serve up an even longer warranty on the new ones and to extend the platform across their entire mountain line including the Freeride and the 600 SPs. That’s an impressive statement. After miles covered and our tanks emptied we made our way back to the trucks. The conversation on the way home recounted our wild adventure and only then did I confess how nervous I was at the begining of the day. Rob brushed my feelings off as foolish and I took it as a compliment. The real verdict on the REV XM is as good as it gets. If an ordinary sledder like me can hop on and keep up with the likes of Alford and Hanke, then what other kind of endorsement do I need? What matters most to me is not that ‘Rob Alford’ rides the new XM. Rather, I just care that I know I can hang out with him if I’m on one.
Zip’Yer Mouth Creek 1. GET A MAP. 2. FIND A SPOT THAT LOOKS COOL. 3. TRY TO GET IN THERE 4. SWEAR YOUR MATES TO SECRECY.
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t was already a couple of hours past dark when we stiffly stepped off our sleds at the wrong trailhead. Four out of five sleds had low fuel lights on, but our stoke was still overflowing. We knew that the day had the potential to be epic right from the get-go, but what we couldnâ€™t have imagined was that it would involve an impromptu traverse of nearly the entire Monashee Range. 60
Mountain Sledder had planned for some time to meet up with Yamaha representative Randy Swenson for a tour on the 2014 FX Nytro M-TX at Eagle Pass near Sicamous, BC. Given the deep conditions at the time, Randy had suggested that we take to the hills with a Mountain Performance, Inc (a Yamaha partner) turbo’d edition of the new model, and naturally we agreed that yes, boost would be in order. We met Swenson just outside of Revelstoke, and he informed us that a couple of other sledders would be joining us for the day, among them, ‘Big’ Jim Phelan of Thunderstruck Films. I was personally a little apprehensive at this announcement, having reviewed Thunderstruck 11 in issue 2 of MSM with a somewhat critical eye. Although I had not met Phelan before, I did know for a fact that they don’t call him ‘Big Jim’ for nothing. The feeling that I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into would be the theme for the day.
NATURALLY WE AGREED THAT YES, BOOST WOULD BE IN ORDER
As we began to unload at the Eagle Pass trailhead, it was left to MSM publisher, Tim Grey, and myself to choose who would ride the 2014 Nytro. After a heated round of roshambo, it was decided that Tim would ride the Nytro and I would be stuck on my own sled. Despite cursing the loss, I was somewhat relieved to know that I would be for the most part of the day off the hook for any damages to a pre-production sled that didn’t belong to me and that I couldn’t afford to wreck. So we headed up the trail. It wasn’t until we reached the gas drop at the start of the zone that a few realizations dawned on me. The first being that I was the only guy in our group on a non turboboosted sled; second, that I seemed to be the only one who wasn’t packing along a jerry or two of spare fuel for the day; and last but not least, Tim and I were the only two riders totally unfamiliar with the area, and were quite definitely on the low end of the considerable riding capability of our group of film studs. I suddenly felt a little apprehensive about what was to take place, and just a little out of my element.
Tim finding his groove on the 2014 Nytro.
Not having time to dwell on my new feelings of inadequacy, we quickly left the main trail there and followed a single track that traversed to a less trafficked burn. Before long we had left all tracks behind, and Big Jim pulled out his camera to shoot Swenson playing around on a steep hillside with nicely spaced burned trees. The heavy snowfall from earlier in the week had settled nicely, leaving us with medium density pow that was deep but not quite bottomless, and firm enough for good traction but still providing no shortage of faceshots and the opportunity to spin donuts anywhere we pleased. Tim promptly found a spot to start emptying the tank on the Nytro. Having ridden it only on the trail thus far, he was at first a little hesitant, being probably a little concerned about adapting his riding to an unfamiliar chassis, and more rightly apprehensive about the possibility of plowing a straight-out-of-the-box machine into a burnt, yet still solid tree. It took a couple of turn arounds to get a feel for the machine, but by the time I had setup for my shot, Tim was hard on the throttle and wheelie-ing up the fresh snow with ease. He rode around that area for a bit while I stifled my jealous rage as I watched him find his groove on the Nytro. I finally got my chance to hop on the sled a few minutes later when we pulled up to a sub-alpine lake with a long, gullied face that had distracted the rest of the crew for the time being. Having ridden a Yamaha sled before only briefly, I was reminded of the brand’s reputation for quality workmanship as I stepped aboard. The body and controls felt very durable, stylish and wellmade. With a turn of the key, the Nytro sprang to life with that distinctive throaty sound that I like so much. It was kind of fun to just sit there and listen to the exhaust as I burped the throttle, but that wasn’t what we had come for! I took a couple of turns around the lake to get a feel for the throttle response and to see how the machine handled on its side before venturing onto some of the adjacent hills. What surprised me most was how quickly riding the sled felt very natural to me. I expected to struggle at first, and admittedly did tip the sled over a couple of times before I figured out that it required much less input than I had expected. As I ventured off the lake and onto the surrounding hills, I found the Nytro to have quite a large sweet spot on its side that was easy to maintain
62 The posse overlooking Thunderstruck’s stomping grounds.
throughout a carve or sidehill. With my feet a little further back than I’m accustomed to, the sled had a very nice fore/aft balance point, which quickly began to feel quite ‘right’. After Swenson and his Yammy posse had made a couple of ambitious climbs up the adjacent gullied face on their custom built, long-track 300+ horsepower Nytros, the rest of the group headed up the less death-defying way. Cruising up the shoulder of the hill, finally with the chance to properly unleash the MPI turbo, the machine came to life. Ripping up the slope in the fresh, and with just a squeeze more trigger, the skis would lift and the sled accelerate, where my stock 2-stroker would have slowed despite a wide-open throttle. The Nytro could pull off wide, uphill carving turns that were a blast! I began to realize the potential to utilize the entire hillside as a playground, rather than just ‘making it’ straight up. We stopped at the top to take in the broad view of Eagle Pass and the surrounding peaks. Tim hopped back on the Nytro and I snapped some shots in the rolling plateau terrain, while Big Jim and the Thunderstruck boys did some filming in the bowl below. The upper zone still had soft snow, and Tim and I got a little sidetracked having fun on the low slopes and wind sculpted features of the plateau before we realized that we had absolutely no idea where the rest of our crew had gone. Thankfully, the guys managed to find us despite the confused and shoddy description of our location over the radio, and we moved on down a big face, across a lake, and up and over the other side. After continuing on in that direction for what seemed like forever, the crew stopped for a sandwich while Swenson put on another performance in a mid-slope bowl feature. Sitting there in the sun, Big Jim chatted to us about the Thunderstruck films and his particular style of shooting, and to my relief, he cleared the tension about my film review by taking the chance to goodnaturedly poke fun at me about it. No longer in fear that I would die that day at the hands of a 6’7”, 300lb man, we took the time to get a couple more shots
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of the 2014 Nytro in action, and Big Jim even showed us a couple of wheelies on his own high-output Thunderstruck wrapped sled. Then, seemingly out of the blue, Randy suggested that we consider continuing on to the Boulder Mountain trailhead, rather than head back the way we had come. As I was already completely disoriented at this point, and since it is theoretically impossible to get more lost, my vote was in favour. After some discussion about fuel reserves, weather and conditions, and how to retrieve the trucks, it was decided that we would go for it. As we pushed further back, I knew that we had made our way well into Eagle Pass by the now scarce existence of sled tracks there, even after several days of no new snow, which usually drives sledders into the far corners of every sled zone. We regrouped at the last tracks to be seen, and with nary a clue as to which way was up, the exciting and slightly unnerving feeling of being deep in the backcountry settled in. I relaxed my cautious instinct by reassuring myself that our crew knew every tree and pillow in this area, and I promised myself to stay within close proximity of our local leaders. Two blinks later, I was stopped dead and buried up to my running boards while everyone else easily navigated their way up and over the steep, fresh and densely covered hillside. I cursed Tim for hogging the Nytro and its blessedly easy climbing manner, while I broke out my shovel and hoped that the crew would save at least a stitch of the untracked meadow above for me. Finally after getting unstuck and making a few runs at the hill, I made my way to the top and immediately claimed some more time aboard the Yamaha. Ripping around the gently rolling meadow, I managed to make a few more observations about the sled. The cockpit felt nice, with pleasantly sloped body panels that seemed to eliminate knee bashing. Being rather tall myself, I felt that the bars could use a little more height for stand-up riding, but they felt good for technical riding with my knees bent. The running board design left something to
Swenson playing hard... on the way up.
// WHEN THE SNOW IS AS FRESH AND DEEP AS IT OFTEN IS IN THE MONASHEES, THE TURBO SLED IS THE WEAPON OF CHOICE //
be desired however, having rather small holes which seemed to result in snow build-up in the deep conditions we had. Otherwise, the suspension felt very smooth and the prototype front-end allowed the machine to flow easily from side-to-side during powder carves.
I expected to feel more weight to the sled, being a 4-stroke and all, but this feeling didn’t at all present itself during riding. In fact the sled felt quite light and nimble, no doubt due to the stock 162” length track and abundant power on tap. It wasn’t until I buried the sled “turbo-deep” while trying to navigate a tech sidehill above a group of fir trees that the issue presented itself.
I hopped off the sled and gave a couple of hopeless tugs on the ski. Sadly, I had, in my own ineptitude, augured the track halfway to Hades. Fortunately, the solution to the problem revealed itself equally quickly; the guys came straight over to give me a hand. With the help of some buddies and a handful of Thunderstruck trademarked pink pulling straps, I was on my way with a smile on my face in short order. We carried on from that area and I began to feel quite confident on the Nytro. I discovered that having 4-stroke torque and available boost at the flip of the throttle, I could move more slowly and with better control through technical terrain than I
was used to doing, and Iâ€™d still have power in reserve to make an uphill turn or get myself out of trouble as needed. I also discovered that very tight turns were made possible by cracking the throttle and using the track speed to help adjust the sledâ€™s side-to-side attitude and bring it around quickly. I felt that the boost came on strongly without any noticeable lag when I needed it. And for the most part, when I wanted it was when it was time to do wheelies!
ventures into the remote backcountry. I could see that the Thunderstruck crew was riding these Nytros for a very specific reason, and that was to take themselves far into the backcountry through challenging terrain during times when the snow is simply too deep to get there on a stock machine. My impression that a long track, turbo 4-stroke sled is only good for climbing chutes had been shattered by the crew and their very impressive riding of all kinds of steep, very technical terrain.
Back on my sled, we travelled east, making more than a few big descents into big alpine bowls, sidehilling around sloping shoulders, and up burly climbs. The route is necessarily convoluted, traversing up-and-down long ridgelines and winding around massive peaks and across several lakes. It is certainly not the straight-forward kind of route that makes a lot sense to the first time traveller. We had come far and descended a long way, so it was with a certain amount of pucker factor that I continued along at the back of the pack, beginning to worry at each descent that my stocker would be unfit to punch up the deep snow on the ensuing climb.
As the day wore on and the light began to fade, with still no end in sight of the steady ups and downs, I began to wonder if weâ€™d ever see the other side. I had become weary in body and mind after 8 hours of high energy playing, mixed with the excitement of exploring new terrain. Tiredness had affected my ability to competently navigate complex terrain, so it came as a sense of relief as we crested the last hill in the dark, and began to make the final descent into the depth of the valley bottom below.
It became obvious as we pushed further on, that when the snow is as fresh and deep as it often is in the Monashees, the turbo sled is the weapon of choice for these types of committing
Halfway down the long track, we stopped at the edge of a large avalanche path that offered a clear view down to the twinkling lights of Revelstoke far below. We sat there in the dark for a moment in celebration of our crossing, basking in the lights of our sleds and in the glory of an epic day in the mountains.
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STAYING OUT LATE STAYING OUT LATE
The late-afternoon antics turn calm and heart rates settle as engines are silenced. Squished lunches are finally opened and jerky is nibbled. The high alpine view is spectacular and the yellow sun casts long shadows across the ranges. Itâ€™s a moment rich with leisure. Thoughts of turning for trucks are near but not pressing and conversations roam to subjects beyond the immediate needs of lifeâ€™s frantic pace. An idea is hatched in the contemplation of surroundings and a machine is cracked to life. With the crew as spectators, a single soul explores his boundaries on a feature. His second pass raises a set of
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79 Photo: Patrick Garbutt Location: Revelstoke, BC Riders: Randy Swenson, Jim Phelan, Jeff Rosner
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