Chris Oler has been riding for over 20 years. During that time, Chris has clocked an impressive number of technical riding miles and penned one enviable riding map. But what really keeps him hooked is the riding culture itself, which led him to co-found a local riding group, BRAP Culture. What began with about 10 people is now 130-plus strong and has a pretty straightforward goal—score powder.
How long have you and your buddy Jesse been sledding together?
Me and Jesse have been riding on/off for the last 20 years but we really started riding together in the last five years.
What got the two of you into sledding?
Both our parents were interested in sledding. Our parents knew each other through work, and this is what brought us to ride together.
What machines do you ride?
We both ride Ski-Doos. I have a 2014 Summit 162 (modified). Jesse has a 2008 Summit X 163.
What was your first sled?
My first snowmobile was a Yamaha 440 SS. It remained stock at first, then we started with a one-inch bolt on the paddles for mountain riding and then a 1.75-inch paddle track. From there, it was a '92 Indy 500 SKS, a '98 700 RMK, a 2008 Summit X, and my current ride a 2014 Summit 162. My favourite sled was the 2008 Summit X, came off the dyno (dynamometer) with 184 horsepower and weighted in at 515 pounds RTR (racing throttle response). Tag team that up with a 3-inch track and a 30-horsepower shot of NOS (nitrous oxide)—it was a blast!
Where do you usually ride?
In the last 20 years, I have (created) a map that makes anyone jealous, and people still to this day are trying to confiscate it. But currently with residence in Golden, 90 per cent of my riding is local or in the Columbia Valley.
What is your favourite type of riding?
Typically, I get my kicks out of technical riding and exploring (the big drops into the next valley always keep you wondering if you’re getting out).
What is your favourite thing about sledding?
The culture, it really is. How people come together for rides. How you can meet a person for the first time for the first ride and seem to be buddies forever. We started a group called BRAP Culture. Originally it was about 10 people. Now it is 130-ish strong. This season’s ride clocked in close to 35 people (maybe more—I didn’t count there were so many) and about 20 rigs. We filled the Subway parking lot and then some in Golden. Scoring powder, well that’s also just the name of the game.
What does this sport mean to you?
Sledding is a passion for me. I have been riding for 20 years now. It is a lifestyle that everyone I know acknowledges and supports. Being in the backcountry in some of the most remote terrain is just pure awesomeness. To this day, I am still surprised with the areas we claim.
How often in a season are you able to ride together?
Me and Jesse get together five to 10 times a year. We both have commitments outside of sledding. For me, last year I got over 50 rides in.
Tell us a little more about the day you took this picture.
If I remember correctly, this picture was taken a couple years ago. The original plan was to ride Golden with a big snowfall reported there at the time. Leaving Saturday morning, we got halted at Field by a road closure. Instead of wasting precious time, we bolted to Radium Hot Springs and this is what we found. A lot of the time finding snow is just luck, but maybe there is skill to it!