Like many diehard sledheads, Andrew McKenzie spends every spare second preparing for snowmobile season.
“Winter is a busy time of year of year for me, working all week to get up early on the weekends and go ride,” said McKenzie, a residential gas fitter/HVAC installer in Enderby, B.C.
Where McKenzie differs from other riders is what he does with his free time after a busy day on the mountain.
“As soon as I get home from sledding, I jump on my computer and start editing the day’s ride into a video, which is usually finished Sunday morning and uploaded to my YouTube channel (KEEPER PINNED) to go live at 2:00 p.m.,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie spends much of his summer racking up as many hours of work as he can handle while doing maintenance on his truck and snowmobile, a 2017 Polaris Axys Turbo with a boondocker sidekick and 8" cut off the end of the tunnel.
“Having summer as a slower season is nice,” he said. “Because when the snow flies, it’s game on every weekend—and sometimes during the week—to get into the mountains.”
In 2020, McKenzie’s last day of sledding was May 24th and his first day back on the snow was October 31st. So, yes, he’s as determined as anyone to maximize his opportunities to play in the pow.
“The views from the peak of a mountain on a sunny day will never get old,” he said. “That, and the sounds my sled makes now that it has a turbo are pretty incredible too.”
McKenzie’s unyielding passion for snowmobiling originated during a family outing when he was 11 years old.
“My oldest brother bought a 1999 RMK 700 with a 136" track, so my dad decided to buy a 1996 Summit 670 with a 136" track too so they can go riding together,” McKenzie said. “I tagged along with them on the family's Yamaha Viking 540 for my first mountain snowmobile adventure. I remember at one point during that day, sitting in the ol' Viking, watching my brother and dad rip around, I stopped and thought to myself, ‘This is amazing! I need to get my own sled.’ From that point on, I was hooked, saving every dollar I could to buy my first snowmobile.”
Home, Home on the Range
McKenzie spends many of his snow days in his home riding area up in Hunters Range, near Enderby, B.C.
“Hunters Range is a really good riding area for having a relatively relaxing sled ride, which allows you to work on your technical skills at your own pace, rather than the possible trial-by-fire method of riding bigger zones which would have no room for error,” said McKenzie.
For anyone heading to Hunters Range, McKenzie recommends exploring Gordon Sydney, an intermediate riding area with big open hills and several chutes to pick from for hill climbing.
“The chutes are big enough to scare you a little and give you that rush that all snowmobilers chase after,” McKenzie said. “The biggest chute in the Gordon Sydney area is roughly 750 vertical feet from bottom to top.”
But the Gorden Sydney area doesn't just have chutes, it also has drainages hidden in the forests and along the edges of meadows that allow for some exceptional riding.
“Drainages require a certain level of focus and dedication to momentum,” McKenzie said. “If you're feeling brave, you can attempt to climb up one of the walls for an extra challenge and thrill.”
If you’re looking to see McKenzie in action, you can find him on YouTube, or he might be that sledder who has finally mastered re-entries.
“I’ve been working on them for a couple seasons now and I think I finally have them figured out,” he said. “When you land a clean re-entry, it is the coolest feeling!”