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…
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