Crystal Ride Develops Perfect Powderboarding for Access to Backcountry Snowboarding

Share this post TFUPM Posted October 02, 2012

Sweet backcountry riding is one of the primary draws for getting into snow sledding or powderboarding.  Mountain Sled magazine did a great feature on how to do that in style when they featured the Crystal Ridge development at Valemont.

Getting easy(er) access to great riding is a passion of mine so I was so excited to read about what the great folks at Valemont Area Recreation Development Association have done.  Building an access road to the top of amazing terrain is the holy grail of snowmobile snowboarding.  It's worth a trip to their page just for the amazing sled skiing photos.

Crystal Ridge snowmobile terrain

What they have done is built a road at the right pitch so that when you're using snowboard racks on your snowmobile and doubling up it's super easy, and then you get access to great terrain.  Honestly, when it's been dumping like crazy and you just wand those steep lines, it's the hardest to get there.  In the pure backcountry it always ends up being  a compromise where you shred the lines you can get to instead of the ones you really want to access.  It's days like these that Crystal Ridge will be perfect for!

Now at Valemont, there's at least a chance of getting where you want to go!  I can't wait, see you there soon.  Here is a picture of the road so far and the ways down for the sledder.

backcountry snowmobiling access terrain map



Deep Snow Riding Videos We Love

Share this post TFUPM Posted September 25, 2012

Gotta love the deep stuff... when there is snow out there in plentiful amounts, life make so much more sense...

Here is the first video we love...

Kootenay Influence Ep.5 January 17th from Dylan Siggers on Vimeo.

First off, this is a very simple video... one go pro, one song, 2 camera angles... so why does it work? Tougher still, even though there is tons of snow, the light isn't great... so how did a good video get created? I think it's the framing... even with the bad light, that is countered by the footage having the skier square in the frame. On shots back from his ski pole, he front and center with just a trail of powder flying off his face! Awesome.

The video also has a good pace, not to fast, but balanced by the song selected, almost peaceful, but always moving forward. Also, gotta love the mountain credit at the end... Fernie is sweet, and since he made no effort to disguise using a chairlift for the day, it's appropriate to credit great conditions.

Video 2

This video isn't 'epic' or 'insane' - it's a bunch of guys making the most of what they have... nice enough terrain, but flat... good enough light, but not epic views... these guys are pure though, just ripping around having fun and taking air off what ever they can.  Props for the music choice and shadow boxing sequence... also, good use of slow mo at times.

Video 3

This vid is just wicked... and subtly innovative.  Upbeat tunes bring non stop, deep powder action... most of which is downhill.  Most of the footage is fall line stuff and cliff jumps filmed by a proper camera not too far away.  I'm guessing these are former ski/board pros who have moved over to sleds... can't wait to see more!

Video 4

This vid is a skill showcase... there is more tree than snow here, and there is a lot of snow... mad skills to navigate these routes (almost) without incident;)

Video 5

We've got a 2 trick pony to finish off, but both are nicely done.  First trick is the really sharp slow mo shots.  What you may not notice is is the great camera placement, with snow blowing back and sun from behind really help these shots.  The second trick is the nicely mixed music complilation.  Nice attention to detail there!

No matter what you're doing on the mountains, head on over to our snowmobile accessories shop to set yourself up.  Bring up all the gear you want, camera gear, snowboards, skis or fuel, a Port Tack Rack can carry it all.



The 5 Long Distance Snowmobile Races Where Carrying Spare Fuel is a Must

Share this post TFUPM Posted September 24, 2012

Number 1: Our first featured snowmobile race is the Volga River based cross country world championship... yes, I know it won't be in Russia until 2015, but how cool would it be to race up the Volga river!  They're only doing snowcross right now, but cross country is on the way!

Russia will host the 2015 cross country world championships of snowmobiling

Number 2: The the Sault - what a place... paradise in the summer and winter, with beautiful countryside and fantastic lakes.  The International 500 is a great race, it gets the whole community out and the party is possibly the best part!  What's not to like about that! While I'd be more partial to this race if it was across the countryside instead of in an oval, I do see the draw!

Number 3: Anything in Northern Quebec!... and the reason, they call the races RAIDS!  How cool is that.  The most famous but now extinct Harricana has been somewhat replaced my more casual and smaller raids on a year by year basis... no seriously, they are organized, you can just roll up and do something legendary!

Long distance snowmobile raid routes in Northern Quebec

 Number 4: Cains Quest is probably my favorite long distance snowmobile race... and that's for one defining characteristic... you get to choose your own route.  It's one thing to be able to hurtle a snow machine at incredible speed.  The combination of going fast and choosing a smart route makes for a better adventure though, so that's why this epic race gets my vote... don't forget to carry some spare fuel if you end up doing some unplanned exploring!

Long distance snowmobile route map

Number 5: And the grand daddy of them all, the world famous Iron Dog.  This event is truly a cultural classic in Alaska.  For many who work in Alaska, the lure is the change to be isolated from the populous and at one in nature.  It's a place where if you want to ignore the rest of the world, it's not only possible, is encouraged.

In a world where organized sport is shunned for the great outdoors, and you can go weeks without hearing a thing about Baseball, Football, Hockey, or Basketball, anyone on the street can tell you who is leading the Iron Dog and whether they will be able to hang on for the win!

So, for those of us who just like to explore but are all fired up by these legends who race accross this land, don't forget to act like a pro and carry spare fuel on your sled.


Will the 2013 bring sledders the snow we crave?

Share this post TFUPM Posted September 21, 2012

2012 brought such a mixed bag to North America,  you can talk to snow machine riders coast to coast and it's like we weren't even on the same planet! Will 2013 be much better, lets hope so.

The farmers almanac doesn't suggest much help for the west predicting dry conditons. At least out East is says there should be good cold spells with systems dumping some of the fluffy stuff. Only problem in that the farmer almanac is total BS so we can't trust it.

Thankfully, other more scientific predictions state that a cold winter is expected... lets hope it's a cold WET winter. Apparently, the pacific ocean has cooled after last seasons La Nina conditions so all those days that were just above the freeze-thaw barrier last year should be below it this year. No more beautiful dumps of snow followed by melting, that should also help the base remain more stable from Avalanches.  Some of my worst rides last year were after awesome amounts of snow fell but then melted too soon to be useful.

Some Norwegian scientists are calling for yet another La Nina winter, which should mean in increase in precipitation on west coast... Snowmobilers all over can hop the temperatures stay down a bit and still have plenty of precipitation this coudld me a magic combination for backcountry activities.

In any case, we're bound for some fun, and it's only a few months away.  Every year we wonder what the conditions will bring, and every year that first ride of the season seems so sweet... lets just hope there are plenty of follow up days this year!  While there isn't yet snow now is the perfect time to be prepping your sled for the season and what better way to prep than getting a  snowmobile jerry can rack or a snowboard rack for your snowmobile!

Here is a forecast from the Pacific Northwest...

Chief Meteorologist Mike Matthias Gives The Nightly Forecast For His Ex-Wife Sara


How to build a pond hockey rink and top 8 lessons learned

Share this post TFUPM Posted January 07, 2012

Note - updated Dec 2019 with the perfect outcome at the bottom...

Original - With a whole crew coming up for new years we decided to put a hockey rink together - and wanted to go all out.  Some years the lake isn't all that solid by the end of December but we were in luck this year and had great conditions.  Here is the lake in early Nov and then again in Dec.  You can see the snow machine tracks running right where we wanted to put the rink, they needed to be dealt with.

Pressy Lake before clearing                          lake half frozen

We set out with an ambitious plan and weren't sure where it would end up.  It started with power.  Peter ordered a shovel for the ATV.  Let me say this, if you plan on making a big rink in winter, get some power behind you.  For one, clearing all that snow to start with can really sap playing enthusiasm.  For another, every time it snows it can be a bummer instead of a blessing, and you never want to be bummed about fresh snow!

What we learned!

1) Check the thickness of the ice before starting out!... and remember, if you ever do far in the ice climb out by going back the way you came from... at some point in the past you were fully supported... there may be no place in your forward path that can lay claim to that achievement.

ATV with shovel for clearning snow 

2) Get some power behind you if at all possible (Pic of ATV here).  By adding some extra weight to the front of the ATV were were able to scrape off some of the indents left on the ice by snowmobiles tracking over where we wanted to put our rink.

3) Location, Location, Location: Choose how close you want the rink to be to the edge of the lake.  Is the ice stable near the edge?  Have snowmobiles been using that area as an access point weakening the ice?  Do you want late night overtime games keeping the kids up?  Also, we put an outer ring for learners and those who didn't wanted to speed skate on the outside meaning we had to move the middle of the rink another 20 feet offshore.  There is a lot of questions to answer before centering your rink.

4) Size... it always matters:  Year one we wanted to be bold so we made a rink that was 100 feet long by 50 feet wide... great if you're in the nhl but as only 6 of us were ever playing we ended up playing side on a lot of the time!  I'd recommend 20 feet + 10 feet for every player... so if there are 4 of you then a 60 foot rink by 30 feet wide should be great.

5) Clearing the snow: It quickly became apparent that Zamboni drivers are no dummies!  By far the most effective method was to clear the middle lane and then go around in long ovals (with long straights) pushing everything to the outside.  An ATV isn't really designed to handle this much snow.  It did fine, but some of the piles required a fair bit of speed to impact as the relatively light weight ATV was no match for them at low speeds.

6) Flooding the ice.  After clearing the snow we wanted to make a good surface to really show off our skills.  That involves a flood, by far the most effective and tricky part of the operation.  First is the easy part, cutting a hole in the ice and getting the 2" pump throbbing.  We used a chainsaw to dig into the ice but an auger is really the tool of choice.  We were only digging into about 1 foot, had it been much deeper we could have been in trouble.

We tried many different techniques.  From spraying drops over the surface to flooding areas and waiting overnight.  The best method was to start at the far end of the ice and let as thin a layer as possible be flooded while backing the hose away from the edge and toward the water source.  Thickness of water is the enemy, as it takes longer to freeze, forms deeper cracks, and adds weight to the ice surface putting the integrity of your rink in danger.

7) Hockey Accessories - to play the game properly a few pieces of equipment help.  We brought nets, 2 by 6 for stopping pucks behind the nets, spray paint, red and blue for the blue lines and face off dots, and flood lights for some late night action.

8) Fire pit on edge: Well, in our case we lit a fire in the middle of the ice - fun was had by all!

fire beside and ice hockey rink

*** as this is our most popular post on the blog, here is an update.

Same story for 2019, except the lake conditions have been perfect. Very little snow fell while the lake was freezing, probably none, so the outcome of the hockey rink is the best we've ever had.

Check out this from just an ATV shovel push to get the bulk off and then a sweep! The ice is 18 inches thick and can be seen right through, so just beautiful. Happy hockey out there all you dedicated fans!

Worlds Best Pond Hockey Rink!


Snow Forecast 2012 and La Nina - What are we in for?

Share this post TFUPM Posted November 17, 2011

Deep powder snowmobile burrial 

The past 2 years have given us fantastic snow conditions in the Pacific Northwest! Deep snow and plenty of it have made for some great riding, and lots of digging out sleds!

My buddy has been flying up to Haida Gwai all summer and said that the crevasses on the Pemberton Glacier weren't even showing this summer. Hopefully that means the glaciers were receading a little bit less this year. That also means we should be in for a somewhat safer snowmobiling winter, at least in one respect.

Many credit La Nina ocean conditions for the increase in suitably snowy conditions.  So lets see what they predict we have in store for the 2012 winter season.  Now, as much as I hate weather maps that end at the Canadian border, we have a nice snowmobing forecast ahead!

With snow begining to fall and Cypress Mountain opening at a record early date of November 4th, the season is surely upon us!  Time to dust off and air out our mountain gear, it's almost time to ride!


Video of how to load skis on the snowmobile rack

Share this post TFUPM Posted November 11, 2011

Hey Riders,

Here's a quick video of how to load skis onto the snowmobile rack.  There is still room for boots or fuel inside the rack.


Demonstration of how to load a Snowboard on a Port Tack Snowmobile Rack

Share this post TFUPM Posted November 11, 2011

Hi there,

We've been getting some questions about how the snowboard holder portion of the snowmobile rack works.  If a picture is worth one thousand words then a video must be worth a billion.  Here is a quick vid of the rack in action.


Snowmobile Rental in Wyoming = Awesome Vacation Fun

Share this post TFUPM Posted August 31, 2011

Like to try to place and see now things, we do!  That's why we'd like to applaud the folks at Tigwetee Lodge.  It's so hard to get a real snowmobile for rental without it being some lame intro group tour.  The folks at Tigwetee have real snowmobiles and real terrain to ride!

Heck, it's the type of place you could take the family and still get your vacation fuel burning, now that's living!  Well done, we hope to come down for a visit some time.

Another lodge along the same lines but in Utal is the Beaver Creek Lodge.  They have new machines each year, which is great, but they are gear more toward the group trail rides.  Fun for sure but would depend on who was in your group.

A third great option is up in British Columbia at the Grizzly Lake Lodge.  They have real mountain sleds for rent and you can just fly in to the Kamloops airport for your trip.  There is huge terrain and snowfall in this area of the Kootenays/Caribou so be prepared to explore!


Snowmobiling in head high fresh snow.

Share this post TFUPM Posted February 16, 2011

What a difference few degrees makes. It was Monday and the week was forecast to dump from Wednesday to Friday, only problem is that it was supposed to rain, ruining the base and leave that awful crust for us. Let me tell you it was all cursing and disgust around the shop.

Well, turns out we got ahead of ourselves as it ended up coming in nice and fluffy instead of all wet. Almost 4 feet of fresh was waiting for us Saturday morning. The weather wasn’t quite finished with us but there was good local vis. We made it through to a nice pocket where we could see around so that worked!

We loaded the snowmobile racks with a full load of 10 gallons of extra fuel, yup that’s right, 2 full jerry cans each at 5 gallons! We were ready to blow through some powder.

Now of course all that snow is a blessing, but it’s also one that comes with a work ticket attached to it. A digging work ticket! Check out how it’s done! This is a shot of getting stuck going downhill!

Deep powder snowmobile burrial

Here’s another one. Mike here is heading down after a rip and had so much snow flying over the hood he couldn’t even see enough to avoid the wall of snow here. Now that’s getting yourself good and buried!

So much powder can't even see through it.
Anyways, nobody is complaining around here! A little digging is all part of a great day snow machining in the backcountry.

Buried snowmobile in flat area is tough to dig out