A New Mountain Education

As a mountain guide and alpinist, I pride myself on being able to travel through the mountains on all different types of terrain. The mountains demand a versatile wayfarer, one who is skilled in moving over rock, snow, ice, whatever obstacle presents itself. Enter the snowmobile...click the link for the full story.

For accessing the big mountains of the Chugach, the mountains you really want to ski, not just the mountains in reasonable proximity to a road, a snowmobile is essential. These machines allow you to use massive valley glaciers as highways, connecting and linking up the ice fields that encompass the Chugach Range.

And really, how hard could it be?  It's a machine, you push a button and the thing takes you where you want to go. Steer with the handlebars, brakes are there when you need them. Ride up as far as you can, then get off and ski. Easy, right?

As it turns out, riding a snowmobile actually takes some pretty specific skills and I did not have them (see the Pontoon Video where I "lost" my sled over a cornice deep in the mountains). Amongst many lessons learned regarding the proper techniques for riding a sled (lesson 1 - if you want to sound like you know what you are talking about do NOT call it a snowmobile) I learned that snow machines are very heavy and they get stuck. Like, a lot.

But like most skills and tools, riding takes practice. And with some time spent figuring out the body english to yet another mountain tool, we were able to easily access some awesome skiing. Check out this video that shows myself and friends enduring the learning curve of snowmobiling - the "Poor Man's Helicopter."