SLED/SKIING LESSONS LEARNED 2005-2006
*for discussion. Intended for those who go big - or want to in the future
1. Better to sled with more than one sled due to equipment malfunction requiring a tow out to parking lot.
2. Consistent communication is required between both sledding parties and the separated skiers (1 - FRS radio / person) Ensuring a line of sight between sledders and skiers from a safe terrain island is critical due to a skier’s injury potential and avalanche possibilities.
3. Re-evaluation of slopes is vital between 1130 hrs and 1400 hrs when snow conditions change the most. All slides I've seen at sledding areas have occurred so far this year in this time frame. (use extra caution when sledding and skiing on sun exposed rock bands in the afternoon. Beware of others above you - especially when the leg-humpers come out on the weekends).
4. Steeper slopes should be “ski cut” on the convex prior to dropping in. The sled spotters should have binos to observe the skier in the event of a entire face fracture.
5. Observe the line from the bottom and the top and plan for response routes up the slope with the sled in the event of an accident. Avoid closed out approaches with tree lines and cliffs.
6. Carry spinal immob, and toboggan for more remote access and riskier terrain and lines. E.G. Sale mountain where cell coverage is non existent and transit time to the parking lot is extended due to poor non-groomed trail conditions.
7. If your ski boots sink below the snow in spring conditions, do not ski or sled the slope it is too unstable. Beware of cross loaded slopes with windslabs. Move to treeline if this occurs. Limit travel time where evidence of previous runouts occur.
8. If you plan on hitting advanced terrain, each person should carry a personal rescue pack with rope, 3 10’ lengths tubular webbing, 3 prussiks, 3 carabiners and emerg rations, plus avi gear and a candle. Carry a rope retrieval system for over cliffs. (learn rescue skills including snow anchors and haul backs – at least 3 people should be trained) Know how to build a snow cave.
9. Always topo the area, grid with GPS and keep map with you. Try to research area prior to and after trip with google earth (downloaded from the web)- when the clouds drop in everything looks the same.
10. Double check your H2O supply prior to leaving the truck. 1 L H20 + 1 Gatorade per person for each day. Carry emergency rations.
11. Check avi transceivers prior to departing onto the trail. Not at the cabin or site, most trails in are in exposed avalanche terrain. Bring extra batteries, and an extra peeps in case someone forgets theirs.
12. Buy a locking gas cap to prevent fuel theft from vehicle at base.
13. Always carry spare fuel for sled and in vehicle while traveling. Bring wd40 for soaked wiring. Bring extra blue juice for windows, and for lock de-icer (Louise to Revy will drink a bottle for sure)
14. Duct tape, twist ties, bungee cords and zap straps rule
15 .Ski small slopes to start, then work up to bigger lines to establish safe zones. Start early if you want big lines
16. Keep and open mind and encourage everyone to voice their concerns. Be realistic. Try to avoid peer pressure. If there is any doubt – investigate further until it is removed. If doubt remains, it’s there for a good reason - move on to something else. (the mountain will still be there next time) Do not make route decisions solely based on previous tracks – snowmobile or ski lines.
17. Check for “rock wells” on staircases and around cliffs. Scout out landings for buried frozen sled tracks, as well as displaced rockfall and frozen babies heads from above.
18. Expect hidden logs and roots between untracked trails in tight trees. (Almost ripped off an A-arm and nun in 10’ at Sale this year). Reduce sled speed to slowest possible in these areas.
19. Wear the DESS on steep side hills, sketch traverses and approaches over cornices. Do not use it on steep uphills as it can become disconnected and you’ll have to restart your sled while traveling downhill. (practice this on small gradual slopes)
20. Don’t turn off or take off peeps in huts during breaks. This prevents people forgetting to wear them or turn them back on. You may depend on it when buried. (dig a hole and put a bit of snow over your head, you won’t laugh at this paragraph anymore.)
21. Bring extra gloves, toque, goggles and socks while on the mountain. 1 spare set between 3 people should do-except for the socks =1/per. Even though it may be spring like weather 100 KPH on the return trip home brings huge wind chills.
22. Everyone wears a full face helmet. I’ve avoided ~ 5 serious jaw injuries this year alone. Chewing on the drivers skull ain’t no fun. Not to mention all of the other sick crashes we have. Teeth are expensive.
23. Crank the DIN on your skis. Snowboards may be the better option in deep heavy snow if you’re impartial to what you ride. (losing a $600 ski sucks) don’t wear leashes, they love to razor femoral arteries and break femurs.
24. Make sure new guests have proper boots (they sometimes don’t know just how much snow there needs to be for good sledding)
25. Always leave home(hotel/camp) with a full tank in your vehicle. Your buddy will appreciate it in case you need to bug out to the nearest H in an emergency. Check local emerg #’s. 911 may not work in some areas.
26. Install a rubber washer under the kill switch on your bars. It sucks when you get bucked going up steep slopes only to have the sled die because your forearm hit the kill switch.
27. Bring an extra chain, belt and plugs, most new sleds have spaces for these. Make sure to check that factory supplied tools work on vital components. My plug wrench was a poor fit and strips the plugs it was designed for. (I’ve pitched it and got real tools in the slot instead.) Include a towing strap for your sled. – remove the belt of the towed sled.
28. Bring a tool kit for boards, skis and vehicle/trailer include spare trailer wiring plugs/sandpaper for corrosion and conductive dielectric grease. Consider bringing a hair dryer/extension cord to dry out cameras, GPS, Peeps, and the ECM(engine computer) on your sled. (use the lowest heat setting) – this is also good for frozen ski boots and cold toes. Make sure the lug wrench for the spare trailer tire fits.
29. Keep a spare set of keys for your truck/sled/locks with the other sled and opposite ski team as yourself.
30. Wear earplugs under your helmet. Most occupational compensation plans cover limited hearing loss if you are exposed to recreational noise (sleds). (I’ve lost 15% in my right ear in 6 years,…what?...what?)
31. Wear knee pads under your gear for all those times you smash your knees, after 3 or 4 days it starts to add up and ruins your lines.
32. Cover skis while in the box of your truck during highway commutes. The edges get the shit rusted out of them.
33. Check the local sunset times. Trying to find your skier in the dark sucks. GPS is good for this on the Hunt/Fish mode.
34. Make sure everyone is aware of the risks, your groups’ rules, and what their role is when an emergency arises. Bigger groups are more complex. Usually 4-8 people and 2-4 sleds are preferred.
- “All ski movies are carefully controlled. It’s all staged. Skiers and safety experts spend all year researching big lines and building scenes. Most people think this is spontaneous and that’s what gets them into trouble. “
- conversation with Chris Davenport Jan 06 Lake Louise, AB.