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Hybrid Skiing Guidelines

The use of snowmobiles to access remote terrain for backcountry skiing and snowboarding is known in some circles as “hybrid skiing.” Snowmobiles greatly increase areas of opportunity for finding untracked snow after a motorized approach along our area’s many unplowed roads. Hybrid skiing is especially attractive during this time of exponential growth in backcountry use as untracked snow becomes harder and harder to find in easily accessible areas.

However, more and more often, backcountry skiers report skinning all morning to reach a destination, only to watch haplessly as hybrid skiers buzz by on their snowmobiles and track up desired slopes before their eyes. Snowmobilers who ride their machines up desirable ski slopes often leave deep track trenches that can be a dangerous obstacle for skiers. Also disheartening to those looking for an escape from civilization are the intrusions of noise and exhaust fumes sullying an otherwise pristine scene, and untold impacts on wildlife. Hybrid skiing can exacerbate the overcrowding problem for human-powered skiers by deterring them from investing energy to explore alternative terrain.

Hybrid skiers have been exploring untracked snow and new places to ski for decades. However, hybrid skiing of the past followed a backcountry ethic that preserved the challenge, skill, and adventure of climbing mountains under one’s own power before skiing down. This ethic honored the sanctity of remote wild places and the wildlife residing there. It also respected the hard-earned efforts of other recreationists that might choose not to use snowmobiles for access.

We therefore offer the following guidelines to help re-establish a backcountry ethic for hybrid skiing to preserve our winter wild places for all to enjoy…

  • Drive and park snowmobiles along unplowed roads and as far as road’s end or remote unplowed trailheads. Climb the mountain under your own power. Avoid riding your snowmobiles up skin tracks, snowbound summer trails, or onto ski terrain.

  • Recognize and mitigate your impact on moose, elk, deer, wild cats, grouse, hare, and mustelids by making every effort of avoidance.

  • Obtain necessary licenses, permits, and National Forest winter travel maps.

  • If you encounter skiers traveling under their own power, you likely have selected an area that is traditionally accessed under human power. Stop and communicate. Ask the hikers where they are going and assure them that you will make every effort to protect their backcountry experience. In the future, explore somewhere else where human-powered skiers are less likely.

  • Preserve our dwindling wilderness by parking your snowmobiles outside the boundaries of designated Wilderness Areas and Wilderness Study Areas. Snowmobile trespass into designated Wilderness is a federal offense.

  • Upgrade to four strokes or electric snowmobiles to reduce noise and exhaust impacts.

  • On popular trails, slow or stop while pedestrians pass or are overcome. Tow skiers and attach your ski equipment to your sleds in a way that does not jeopardize pedestrian safety. Avoid driving snowmobiles on groomed nordic tracks.

  • After unloading your snowmobiles at the parking area, stow your snowmobile ramp onto your truck during your outing.

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