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Check yo self before you wreck yo self.

Posted by Colin Wallace on

Alright listen up, winter is almost here.  Time to pull your sled out of storage and unpack the neatly stored gear that accompanies it.  Or, if you’re anything like me, go across the street to the empty lot where you abandoned your trusty steed last spring, chop down the tree that’s growing through the left control arms, and yard your sled out of the weeds. 

Next, go upstairs to the spare room and sift through the mountain of gear that lives on the floor and extract the relevant pieces.  Let’s see, I have one glove……….there’s another one over there, doesn’t match but whatever.  OK-  I see some goggles, looks like I’ve been using 120 grit sandpaper to clean the lenses but whatever.   Oh look Tupperware!  Whoa.  That’s going straight to the garbage.  Wow!  I have golf clubs?  Incredible!  Boots, check!  Look there’s still socks in them!  That’s handy!  Anyways, enough of my train-wreck organizational skills, let’s talk turkey.  Or whatever’s still in season right now.   Let’s talk mule deer.

Days like this in Lang Creek (access through Gorman Lake) are on their way…but not yet.

So you’re in Golden, BC and want to do some sledding but don’t have all the necessary equipment and want to rent it? Not an issue.  Check into Golden Snowmobile Rentals.  They have whole packages available: probe, beacon, shovel, and airbag. Avalanche Safety Solutions is also located right in Golden  and offers the same package as well as a retail outlet.  Now you’re all geared up and have the latest issue of Mountain Sledder, let’s get out there!

For the time being though, this is the state of things. A perfect time of year to get your gear in order.

Wait a minute, where are we going?  Golden has three maintained areas: Quartz Creek, Gorman Lake, and Silent Pass.  All three areas offer perfectly groomed trails, plowed parking lots, and riding for all abilities.  New for this year is the West Bench Trail.  A groomed trail from the Gorman Lake parking lot to the Quartz Creek parking lot, perfect for anyone from 9 to 99.  There are trail maps available at Golden Snowmobile Rentals, Avalanche Safety Solutions, and Motortech.  It is also available at Tourism Golden.  Visit Sled Golden for current sled conditions, grooming schedule and rates.  Ok.  All set! You’re in the Gorman Lake parking lot.  Let’s unload and enjoy some perfect powder and breathtaking views!  Wait a second.  Something isn’t right here.  Oh shoot.  We don’t have snowmobiles.  Well dip me in butter and wrap me in a blanket!  Turn around.  Head back into town.  Golden Snowmobile RentalsSnowpeak Rentals and Rocky Mountain Riders all offer late model snowmobile rentals with a drop off and pick up service.  If you’re still unsure of where to ride, only have a few days and want the best bang for your buck, hiring a guide or going on a guided tour is the answer.  All three rental locations as well as White & Wild offer experienced and certified guide services.  From easy trail rides to challenging boondocking in the trees, we’ve got you covered.

CDub gets geared up in a serious manner. He even gives his gear the bedroom and sleeps in the garage.


If you own your own gear, it’s a good idea to check it all before the season gets rolling.

Most important pieces of equipment to check:

  • Beacon
  • Probe
  • Shovel
  • Airbag

First piece of gear on your list to check: beacon.  What I like to do with the batteries that are still in it from last season is take them out, have a good look at them,  I mean really inspect them, give them a quarter turn and throw them in the garbage.  Start the season off with a fresh pair.  Inspect the waterproof seal around the battery compartment for tears and ensure it hasn’t come out of place.  Have a close look at the battery contacts too; any corrosion will create resistance in the circuit and affect the performance of your transceiver.  If there is any corrosion, take a piece of emery cloth or fine sandpaper and clean them up so they are shiny again.  Doing the next step with a pal that you ride with frequently ensures piece of mind that both of your beacons are working properly.  Switch one to send and the other to receive, refer to the owner’s manual for range specifications, and walk away from each other monitoring the readout in meters on the display and that it correlates with the actual distance between the two beacons.   Repeat with the other beacon on receive.  (Assuming they are both digital).  This is the way to check range calibration manually if your beacon doesn’t have a range checking function.  This procedure should also be done at the trailhead before you start your day.  If there are discrepancies between your test and manufacturers specifications, contact the manufacturer for further instructions.  Or replace as necessary.

Next piece of equipment: probe.  Take your probe out of your pack after every ride and spread it out to dry.  This will ensure that it goes together properly in the event that it is needed in an emergency.  If it is held together by steel cable, inspect the cable for kinks in between the joints and replace as necessary  (they tend to develop a bit of a memory after being stored folded up for long periods of time).  If it is synthetic cord, inspect for frays and replace as necessary.

Next piece of equipment: shovel.  Same as the probe, break your shovel down after every ride and allow it to dry out.  This ensures it stays corrosion free and assembles quickly and easily.  Inspect the blade of the shovel for cracks, bends and dull edges.  Replace as necessary.

Last on our list: airbag.  Before you do anything, deploy the airbag and inspect the bag for leaks or any other abnormalities.  Find the cylinder in the bag and inspect the gauge.  It reads like a fire extinguisher; go or no go.   Once you’ve done that, drop it off at your local authorized dealer for full inspection, calibration, and burst disc replacement.


I solemnly swear not to be so serious in future posts but safety is the real deal.  Make yourself a little checklist before you head out into the backcountry and stick to it.  Make it your routine.  Make it so you don’t even have to think about it.  Education is the key a  t Hangfire Training. Taking an avalanche course is becoming part of the routine before heading to the mountains for a sledding trip, if you don’t already have one or someone in your riding group doesn’t, get one.. Sled Golden  has current sledding and grooming conditions in all three of our maintained areas as well as links to weather and avalanche conditions.

The bare bones basics.

Pre-Ride Checklist

  • Check the Weather. This one’s a no-brainer.
  • Avalanche conditions. Also a no-brainer.
  • Check you safety gear. You know what?  These are all no-brainers.  See above paragraphs.

If anything on this simple checklist isn’t looking charlie potatoes make sure they are or reschedule your plans.  If it’s all good in the hood the next obvious step is  Tourism Golden  to plan your accommodations and other activities in the Golden area.

It’s coming, I promise.

I’m not going to give you an in depth snowpack analysis or go or no go scenarios because that could lead to liability issues and lots of paperwork and drinking bad coffee at the RCMP station which would be a real inconvenience to me.  I am going to tell you to head over to and get your own information.  There are a lot of useful tools on that site so spend some time on it.  I will also tell you that in the Golden area we have accumulated 80 to 120 cm with no base since the first snowfall, and between you and me (and the potentially millions of other internet users), a few folks have been out to Quartz Creek for some early season fun.

Keep the shiny side up

– Colin Wallace (CDub)

Colin Wallace's picture

Colin Wallace

Elementary school prodigy, university failure, community college underachiever, country music slinging, dog loving, rubber boot wearing, Golden transplant, Saskatchewan born son of a gun.  I will never stop laughing or adventuring.

Colin Wallace's picture

Colin Wallace

Elementary school prodigy, university failure, community college underachiever, country music slinging, dog loving, rubber boot wearing, Golden transplant, Saskatchewan born son of a gun.  I will never stop laughing or adventuring.