Lack of snow causes trouble for snowmobile riders


Payton Parke, Staff Reporter

This year in the northwest is not what it is normally like for those of us who enjoy snowmobiling on the weekend. The pacific northwest has seen a lot of warmer weather this year and that means higher altitudes for snow.

According to WSDOT, Snoqualmie Pass last year on Jan. 24 had 234 inches of total snow accumulation, compared to this year, where on Jan. 24, we had 156 inches, which is 78 less

For some, that is a break for their commute over Snoqualmie pass, but for snowmobile riders it is a big issue.

Not just because of not having enough snow to go snowmobiling, but because in the areas of Washington state that do get a good amount of snow there is the risk of avalanches. According to the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC), as of Jan. 24, there is a category three avalanche warning in effect on the Washington cascades’ eastern and central slopes. This is very risky and possibly deadly for riders. That’s why I personally always ride with an avalanche pack, which is a backpack device that deploys like an airbag to keep you on top of the snow.

Riding over the central slopes, you run the risk of getting caught in an avalanche, which is the biggest fear all snowmobilers have. That is why I ride in a fairly large group of people because everyone can be aware and communicate via walkie-talkie.

Although the snow might not be the best this year, us riders have new technology and new sleds to make things a little better.

Personally, I ride a Arctic Cat M8000, but there are many other brands. Ski-doo, Polaris, Yamaha, and even snow bikes now with the Timbersled. To me, it is like a Ford or Dodge thing. People either ride one or the other and they stay with the brand. This can make it a little easier to ride in this weather.

Every year, these sleds are getting better and making it a more thrilling experience for the rider. Now all we need is some snow.

I have been riding snowmobiles for about 10 years now. I started when i was 11 years old, and in my opinion there is no better winter sport. Nothing beats being miles deep in the woods and backcountry on a sled, enjoying nature.

The eastern and central slopes need a lot more snow, like 78 inches more. Otherwise, I am going to have to just buy a dirt bike, because of global warming.