Wherever I May Roam
Tim Grey | On 03, Apr 2016
Instinct is the intangible force that has stopped us. This blood-compass that we’ve learned so many times to trust has altered our trajectory and forward movement has ceased.
It’s early afternoon and Rob Alford and I are sitting on the toe of a massive glacier that we’re trying to go up and over on. The sky is white, the ground is white and our danger senses are tingling. Ahead of us is a clear path through a large serac field but we’re not exactly sure where it is and we can’t see sh#t. We’re the only people in the valley and there’s no tracks anywhere, which means we’re exactly where we want to be, on our own, deep in the backcountry. But freedom within this wild expanse comes with a heavy dose of responsibility because the consequences of a wrong move are severe. We’ve been picking our way up this glacier for a while; waiting for breaks in the clouds to reveal the depressions and ramps that we want to avoid or take. The forecast for improving weather is why we’re still pushing, but up here the idea of reliable weather is a bit of a joke. Therefore we sit and wait.
The 174 is the perfect tool
for those deep days in Revy.
In fact, It’s almost like cheating.
The vibe is chill. As we wait, Rob and I catch up on old conversations and the shop talk flows to the new 174″ T3 that he’s riding. This particular one is a loaner from his contacts at BRP and it doesn’t have the ski tip caps that he likes. Without these caps the skis float less and dart more, which isn’t the way Rob likes it. Besides this, though, he raves about the machine. It’s the perfect tool for the deep days that Rob is used to in Revelstoke. This season however, has been a bit of let down on the snow front. ‘I ordered a 174 for next year too,’ says the veteran mountain rider. “I just hope it’s deep.” It’s a gamble that many riders are deciding on as the spring check orders close within the week.
Eventually we get tired of waiting and turn back to seek out another bowl. As we travel, the weather finally breaks and we start lapping up the spoils of our hard work. The valley we’re in isn’t exactly a gimme and it’s taken some effort to get to this moment so when we finally find some powder we get busy and roop it up. I hop on the 174 and put it through some motions. It turns on a dime but I can still feel the back end way behind me. To be honest, I don’t want to like it. I’m more interested in shorter tracks these days because they seem more fun. But I can’t deny that the machine is amazing. I lament that the challenge to get into a zone like we’re in is greatly reduced with a machine like this 174. It’s almost like cheating, which is of course the reason it’s such a good seller. It makes the average sledder better, and it improves the chances for days like this. I liken to the analogy of bow hunting vs that with a rifle. If the 174 is a tool to hunt snow then it’s a .50 caliber weapon. Chances are, if you use it, you will achieve your mission.
I ponder if the expansion of bigger machines has reached it’s peak. Snowmobiling has been riding a 30-year wave to build the perfect machine to make days like this a reality and now those days have arrived. Stock. Never before could you walk into a dealership, pay your money and walk out with such a finely-tuned machine that can take you wherever you may roam.
After the session our machines are hot again and our bodies have blood flowing. Thoughts again turn to our original objective that we can see in the distance and Rob’s instincts kick in. He spies a high traverse to the zone and he takes off in the lead. We roam over sprawling features and the big walls of the basin pass by us on the right.
Never before could you walk into
a dealership and get such a finely
tuned machine that can take you
wherever you may roam.
Sure enough, without much to cause us concern we find a route that leads to our objective that avoids the lower crevasse fields. This path is exponentially safer and before we know it we’re exactly where we were hoping to be hours earlier. The irony that Alford just pushed a new (and better) path to an area in my hometown zone is not lost on me. Some guys got that stuff you just can’t teach and when it comes to safe travel in the mountains, Alford’s got it.
Once we’re off the glacier the fun dials get turned up. Rob finds some features to jump off and I set up to take some pics. The relief that the day (and trip) have turned out as a success make it easier to enjoy. We’ve found powder, we’ve taken some shots and we’ve seen new territory, safely. All the boxes for the day are checked.