10 ways to make a difference when visiting snowmobile areas

Here are some practical ways to be a responsible rider and set a good example for others to follow

by Trish Drinkle

Riders gathered around a broken sled.
A responsible rider will lend a helping hand when someone is in distress. photo courtesy Trish Drinkle

1. Join a club. The local club where your playground resides is maintained and protected by hardworking individuals. The more numbers in a club, the louder the voice and the more impact it will have when it really counts. Club dollars are spent ensuring these areas are cared for and maintained, and quite often, as in the Association of British Columbia Snowmobile Clubs (ABCSC) Buck a Head program, club dollars go to support the Canadian Avalanche Centre.

2. Pack out what you pack in. Some cabins and staging areas have garbage receptacles but these are maintained by volunteers. If you bring it with you, take it out—this includes cans. 

3. Use firewood sparingly in cabins and contribute to club work bees dedicated to replenishing the firewood cache at local cabins. It is hard work to gather the wood, so appreciate it.

4. When filling your sled with oil or gas at the staging areas, pay particular attention to not overfilling and allowing the overage to contaminate the ground below you, posing a threat to the environment and the animals around the area. 

5. Epic crashes and yard sale wrecks can leave everything from windshields to bits and pieces of a suspension all over a mountain. While it is heartbreaking to see your beloved sled tumble down a mountain, take the time to clean it up. It is embarrassing to be a sledder come spring time when body parts litter mountainsides. Your sled comes out with you. All of it.

6. Don’t trespass. Not knowing it was off limits is not an excuse. It is your responsibility to know where you are at all times. Research the area, ride with a local or hire a guide so you know with absolute certainty you are in the appropriate areas. It only takes one to instigate a complete closure, especially when some areas only have corridor access. 

7. Share the areas. Share not only with sledders, but with all users. Tap ’er cool when riding beside backcountry skiers or snowshoers on the trail. No one needs to be roosted or deafened by the blast of a side dump exhaust. Share mountainsides. If backcountry boarders or skiers are in an area, be respectful and cruise to another face to play. We are all one, when you think about it. If we could unify the voices of all winter enthusiasts, what a loud, powerful voice it would be.

8. Cabins are for everyone to enjoy, so share and respect those around you. Many families enjoy spending a day in the areas around a cabin because they can keep their kids dry and prepare meals for everyone, while riders enjoy warming up, drying out their goggles and taking a breather from their adventures. There has to be a balance. Riders respect the families and families know that the cabin is there for everyone to enjoy, so be sure to not monopolize the entire warm-up cabin, preventing chilled riders from warming up. 

9. Save the wobbly pop for the after-celebration. More accidents in the backcountry could have been prevented had the operator not been impaired. Alcohol and drugs impair the mind and body from functioning at its optimum potential and can put you and others in harm’s way. Please, for the sake of everyone, stay sober when you ride. 

10. Education is the key to your survival in the mountains of B.C. Even if you only ride mountains once per season, take an avalanche class, know how to use your equipment and be fully prepared with the supplies needed to maintain your safety. There is no excuse for not knowing, for that is the difference between life and death. 

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