FAQs

Where do I begin to learn about getting into the backcountry?
Getting into winter backcountry recreation can be daunting. You might be a skilled skier or snowboarder at the ski resort, and that is a good start. However, backcountry travel comes with a multitude of implications on your time, money and risk-tolerance.

If you wish to pursue the fruits of backcountry life, you must also be willing to be patient and put as much time and energy into getting prepared and equipped for the variables.

Before you do anything else, start going through the education process at: http://backcountryascender.com/. This is a great site that takes you through a progressive educational process, starting with the basics of avalanche awareness, having the proper gear and knowing how to use it.

Then, go to our AVALANCHE EDUCATORS page to find and get into an introductory or Level 1 Avalanche Training course. This is a good place to start, but you should never stop progressing your knowledge when it comes to safely travelling in the backcountry.

The backcountry is a magical experience, but it can also turn deadly quickly if you travel without proper knowledge, without experienced partners, and/or without the proper equipment and training. Start small, and work your way up. Learn as much as you can, whenever you can.

Make friends who have more experience than you.
The best place to make new backcountry friends, is by attending avalanche classes.

The journey is as rewarding as the destination.

What is the best way to get into snowmobiling?
If you have zero experience with snowmobiles—or maybe you have some snowmobiling experience, but you haven’t done it in the mountains—go back to the first question and apply that wisdom to snowmobiling.

Snowmobiles can be very dangerous to own and operate. Simple mistakes can be made loading and unloading the snowmobile that can cause serious injury or costly repairs. Snowmobiles are not intuitive in how they ride and operate, and so it is highly recommended that you start by making friends who have a lot of experience with snowmobiling, as you are getting into the sport.

Your new snowmobile and/or backcountry friends should possess the following things:

  1. A teacher’s sensibility (ie. leadership qualities, intelligence, little ego, patience.)
  2. Avalanche gear that is not older than a few years old (minimum–required gear is a transceiver (beacon), avalanche shovel and professional grade avalanche probe, and ideally an airbag backpack.)
  3. 100% confidence that they have significant experience travelling in the terrain that they are taking you into.
  4. 100% confidence that they have good knowledge of current weather and avalanche conditions, and they know how to travel safely in avalanche conditions.
  5. A newer or well-maintained snowmobile, and a backup plan for if and when the snowmobile becomes non-functional.

Ask alot of questions, and know that you are trusting your life in the hands of your new friends and the group’s snowmachines!

Consider hiring a guide! Go to our DESIGNATED RIDING AREAS page to discover guide outfitters, or email us if you have any specific questions that the website doesn’t answer.

How do I mount my new Tsaina Rack to my sled?
(Download PDF of instructions and warranty information.)

The easiest #TsainaRack installation is on all Polaris snowmobiles from 2007 and newer which have the built-in channel mounting system. (excluding “EDGE” chassis sleds)
Ski-Doo, Arctic Cat and Yamaha snowmobiles 2010-2016 require drilling 6 simple holes in the tunnel.

DO NOT DRILL HOLES IN YOUR TUNNEL WITHOUT FIRST CONFIRMING THE LOCATION OF YOUR HEAT-EXCHANGE / COOLING SYSTEM!

THE 2017 SKI-DOO 850 SUMMIT REQUIRES AN ADAPTER PLATE:
http://www.backcountryunited.com/product/ski-doo-linq-adapter/

The Tsaina Rack is intended for MODERN LONG-TRACK MOUNTAIN SNOWMOBILES 154” track-length or longer. (If you haven’t upgraded, it’s time. You will thank us later.)

Please call or email us with installation questions.

What snowmobiles do you suggest for ski and snowboard access?

Generally, we suggest modern mountain snowmobiles with a track length of 146” or longer for mountain snowmobiling. Ideally, a mountain-specific chassis with a track length of 153” or longer, with an 800cc motor will give you minimally-necessary floatation and climbing ability for confidently travelling in deep snow conditions in mountain terrain.

Longer track sleds of 163” or bigger will be more capable in deep snow and climbing scenarios, but are strongly cautioned for those who will put more than 35% of riding time on hard-packed trails. We say this for several reasons, such as increased wear on hifax (aka sliders), poor trail handling, and most importantly engine cooling. In fact, the more on-trail riding you expect to do, the shorter your track and more “bogey wheels” you should have.
Ice-scratchers are also a good feature to have for trail riding with mountain chassis (long track sleds).

Our preference for snowmobile access is the Polaris Assault. The Assault features a 155” long track with 800 cc motor. Because it’s designed for big mountain freestyle riders who hit jumps and drops, the chassis is reinforced. The front end is a little wider, which creates more stability for added weight of having two people on the sled, and the suspension is adjustable and designed to handle more weight. Lastly, the belt is driven by a chaincase, which is more durable for the added load of carrying the load of downhill equipment and extra rider(s).

Longer track sleds are great too, especially where there is 85%+ off-trail riding, and particularly in frequent deep snow and climbing situations.

We also suggest talking to your local snowmobile mechanic about gearing down your drive, and adjusting your clutching for a lower-end torque. More torque helps the snowmobile respond with the added weight of an extra rider and downhill equipment. (Keep in mind that snowmobile manufacturers have not designed a specific mountain sled which is purpose built for sled access, to date.)

How can I become a more confident snowmobiler?

The short answer is experience and time behind bars. Again, the people you ride with will have a huge influence on how quickly you learn what the snowmobile is capable of. It’s typically a good rule of thumb to ride with people who are much better than you, who are able to understand your ability and be able to expose you to the threshold right above your comfort zone.

Another great aspect of the snowmobile community, is that some of the biggest names of the sport are accessible and have built successful businesses with the goal of sharing their passion and expertise with others who want to benefit from it.

Check out some of their pages, here:
Dan Adams NXT LVL Riding Clinics
Mountain Skillz with Matt Entz
Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure
Joe Lefty Martinez Ascend Empowerment

Do you have any suggestions for tow ropes?

It is our personal recommendation to avoid using tow-ropes. Some might strongly disagree with our viewpoint on this, but our position is reflective of over two decades of snowmobile-accessed skiing and snowboarding.

Why? The quick answer is that ropes near snowmobile tracks can spell trouble.
Particularly for novice and intermediate snowmobile users. We have witnessed, and heard stories of some pretty serious accidents that have occurred with snowmobiles and tow-ropes.

Plus, we believe that having two riders on one sled allows a safer and more-comfortable and efficient experience, which can also save a ton of energy for the fun part of skiing or snowboarding (vs. spending energy on the towing.)

Some people still insist on using the tow rope, and to each his/her own.

There are many reasons to keep rope in the kit for emergency situations, and with the right crew and teamwork the tow rope can be an effective tool.

Some people have employed bicycle tubes to create a bungee “shock absorption” in the tow-rope, and also wake-board / water-ski handle can make it easier to hang on to.

If you insist on using a tow-rope, we suggest upgrading your bumper from stock, to have a stronger and more reliable connection from the sled to the person being towed. Take a look at the rear bumpers available from our friends at SKINZ PROTECTIVE GEAR for the best and strongest bumper upgrades available in the industry.

How do I get involved in public land stewardship?
The quick answer. Find a way to get involved.
This can be simple and minimal effort.

From educating yourself about the current issues that threaten public lands access, other users’ enjoyment of those lands, and most importantly, how we can protect the lands for future generations. Currently, for example, the United States Forest Service is in the middle of travel management planning across most of our National Forests. Part of this process gives everyone the opportunity to attend and voice concerns and solutions in committee and town hall hearings. If you enjoy your access to public lands, we encourage you to play a part in the process.
These are your public lands.

Volunteer with your local Ranger station, get involved in land conservation, attend trail-building or clean-up efforts, join your local snowmobile club. There are so many ways you can get involved.

Email us BackcountryUnited@gmail.com if you have any questions or ideas to share.

How do I get into splitboarding?
Splitboarding is the newest explosion to come from the snowboard industry. What was a D.I.Y. conversion for most of us 10-15 years ago, has now begun to gain market demand which has driven most major snowboard manufacturers to build splitboards. The increased demand allows for more efficiency of scale, which allows the industry to provide greater options and higher-quality splitboard equipment to the backcountry consumer.

Splitboarding is an efficient way to access the backcountry, particularly in non-motorized public land designations, ski area “sidecountry”, and access by public roadway mountain passes. The splitboard used in conjunction with a snowmobile is also a very awesome combination that creates even more opportunities for snowboarders who seek to get further out and have even more access.

One thing that’s important to us is that you shop around, and be willing to pay a little more for a quality splitboard from one of the smaller boutique manufacturers who have put everything on the line to pursue their passions. Check out our friends at Weston Snowboards
http://westonsnowboards.com/collections/splits, or Never Summer Snowboards
http://www.neversummer.com/snowboards/. There are many other smaller companies who are innovating and making some great splitboards these days, too.

What kind of avalanche safety equipment do you recommend?
Your avalanche kit should minimally include a quality beacon, shovel and probe. Quite a few companies are making great avalanche airbag backpacks, too. We suggest that you do your research when it comes to airbag packs, as there are several ways you can go which showcase different features and benefits, trigger mechanisms, compressed air cartridges, and logistics with traveling via airplanes, shipping, crossing borders, etc.

Check out our friends at Backcountry Access http://backcountryaccess.com/. They offer a variety of airbag packs at different price points, and we like how easy it is to refill cartridges and monitor the pressure. We also like their integrated design which accommodates our BC LINK communicators, shovel and probe.

Can you recommend where to get current weather and avalanche information?

Head over to our WEATHER & AVALANCHE FORECASTS page, for a complete list of local and national go-to resources.

Where is the best place to get avalanche education?

Check out our AVALANCHE EDUCATORS page here: