Are Snowmobiles Ruining or Improving Backcountry Skiing?

Are Snowmobiles Ruining or Improving Backcountry Skiing?

From Pemberton to Mazama to Revelstoke, when skins and sweat are not enough to outrun the crowd, some ski tourers are heading for the sled. Are snowmobiles an inevitable mode of adventure for those yearning to go deeper and farther faster? By Ryan Stuart.

KC Deane perches on the edge of a mountain face he’s been dreaming about skiing for years. The fluted off-camber line is guarded by fear. If Deane makes a bad turn, falls, gets hit with avalanche slough, or just goes a little too far left, he’ll go over a 45-metre (150-foot) cliff, accelerate rapidly, and land flat. It’s the kind of aesthetic and challenging line that inspires him. Being the first to lay tracks here makes it even more special. He’s moments away from the highlight of his winter.

But first he had to find it. Deane spent many hours exploring the Coast Range north of Whistler, British Columbia, before he stumbled on this remote zone. “Seeing what’s around the next ridge or up that logging road spur is a big part of why I love the mountains,” says Deane, a professional skier. “I love exploring and finding new places to ski. It’s what keeps it interesting.” Then he attempted the line several times, always aborting because of conditions. But today everything is perfect: the snow, the stability, and the morning light. When he finally drops in, the run is glorious — ski-porn dreams. When I ask him what piece of equipment made that run possible, Deane doesn’t credit his skis or waterproof jacket. Deane’s moneymaker is his dirty, loud, stinky, fossil fuel-burning snowmobile. And he loves it... read on

By Ryan Stuart and Mountain Culture online magazine

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