Skiing Adventureby Michael M
December 1, 2007 saw 7 of us head up to the approach roads to the Kludahk to do some skiing. We managed to get up the hills ok and everyone was let out when the snow started to get deep enough to ski. Since it was snowing hard we decided to take the vehicles lower down to help avoid getting stuck when we left.
After doing so we started out ski. It was a great ski with very good snow conditions. We tried one side road that petered out after several hundred meters. It was back to the main road, after a nice lunch break. We skied on to another junction. At this point I decided we'd explore the one direction I'd never skied. We did so, picking the side roads that looked best. We managed to get a fair ways in before we decided to turn around. We skied back to the cars, taking off our skis when the snow cover was too thin to ski (due to prior plowing by the logging company). We walked the rest of the way, slipping occasionally on ice, getting back to the vehicles a little after 3pm.
We piled into the vehicles and I started out first. There were some vehicles on the side of the road below us but that had never been a problem before. I crept the jeep to the top of the slope and down we started, sliding, with the anti-lock brakes full on. I managed to keep the vehicle under control and we stopped before hitting anything but it gave me quite a start. I would definitely put on the chains.
Meanwhile Elaine's group started down the first hill. They went sideways and were able to stop in the middle of the road but on a slope. They then then decided to put on the chains. They got them out and as they were going to put them on the vehicle, of its own accord, started to roll down the hill. Fortunately it went into a small ditch on the side after about 25 feet. It was a good thing that no one was trying to put the chains on at the time.
Below us, other vehicles were sliding all over the road, some were in the ditches, some across the road facing the wrong way. To top it off there were adults with small children walking up and down the hill. We walked down to evaluate the situation, it was far too dangerous to try to come down, and we simply had to wait for them. We were still close to 3 miles in.
Finally it was clear enough to try going down, Eric had more winter driving experience than I had so he took the wheel. He made it down the next hill but it was a close thing. Others came behind us and spun out blocking the way for Mark who was now driving Elaine's car.
It took a long, long time to get down. Finally, a little after 8pm, we reached the highway. We drove to Sooke and had dinner and then home reaching town at right about 11pm.
- Keep your gas tank full in winter (we had stopped for fuel on the way up).
- Carry a shovel (we had 3 amongst the 2 vehicles).
- Have spare clothes available to change into (encouraged all participants to bring a change of clothes).
- Carry a flashlight (most of our group had flashlights or headlamps).
- Carry a couple of blankets in the car in case you get stuck at the trailhead. They will add greatly to the comfort of you and your passengers. (We had two or three).
- Carry some spare food in case you are delayed in getting out. (Elaine had some spare food in her vehicle).
- If conditions are too bad, stay put, don't be daring.
- If the road is icy and the snow is falling, wait while some snow accumulates, you will have far more control in the snow.
- If you have a 4WD put it into 4WD Low and put the transmission into 1st gear for going down hills (we were driving at 1 kph on some of the hills).
- If you have to walk the road in icy conditions use ski poles for stability. (We didn't do this soon enough, several of our party fell, some more than once).
- Put your 4 way flashers on if you are blocking the road. If you do get stuck send someone to the top of the hill to warn other drivers.
- Carry chains and put them on at the top of any hills.
- Make sure you brace your wheels before putting on chains.
- Have a set of tools in the car.
- If a vehicle is coming down the road toward you be prepared to get well off the road.
- If you are going on logging roads cell phone coverage may be very spotty, carry 2 way radios if you have them. This will allow you to communicate with others in your party.
- Let the most experienced winter driver drive down the hills.
- Ensure someone knows where you are going (due to a mix up the person who we thought knew had us at another location).
- If you decide not to try to drive out then:
- Remain inside the vehicle.
- Check the exhaust frequently to ensure it's not becoming blocked with snow.
- Keep fresh air inside the car by slightly opening the lee-side window.
- Use a candle for light and heat if the motor fails.
For additional information on this topic see:
- Environment Canada's Guide to Winter Travel