As an avid skier I often find myself travelling through snow and ice to pursue my passion. On a recent return trip from Revelstoke, BC the last leg of our drive was a nail-biter.  Living in Edmonton makes for a long drive anywhere to hit the slopes.  Revy is one of the more protracted drives at around 8 hrs and as it is one we make frequently I track my fuel consumption and times to travel between milestones.  A fast run is around 7hr20min; the recent trip was a marathon at 9.5 hrs.  We passed dozens of vehicles in the ditch with tow trucks flashing everywhere as they tried to save the stranded.  Limited visibility made any sort of pace impossible and patience was the key to a successful trek home.

The first and foremost hazard you will face is other drivers!  Regardless of your skill there will always be someone’s mom on the way home from church who has no business on a freeway in a storm.  If your that person: make friends and rely on them; if you know of people who have “learning” still in front of them when it comes to driving do everything in your power to keep them off the road.  Here are a few easy tips:

  • When travelling always keep your distance.   People may not be able to see you; professional drivers with larger reefer vans kick up loads of snow and have limited visibility.  
  • Travel at a safe speed.  Everyone on the road wants to arrive at their destination safely and my experience is that traffic will set a reasonable pace.
  • Travel in the appropriate lane.  No one should be in the passing lane unless they are passing.  Faster vehicles will stay left. 
  •  If you are unable to go with the existing flow of traffic you may need to pull over and take a break.  This is vital.  Storms stress everyone out and a quick regroup or a pause to let the worst of it pass will bear fruit.

The next hazard is completely in your control: be sure your vehicle is ready for the conditions

  • Snow tires, snow tires , snow tires!  If you do not have them you cannot drive in a snow storm!  Rent or borrow a car, even better a large truck
  • Clean the snow and ice off of your vehicle regularly.  This is an easy one and the last thing you need is the windows fogging up and the wipers not functioning
  • Check all your fluids before you leave.  You may have enough washer fluid for 50 km, but can you make it 500?  Hitting the ditch can be a quick and easy recovery, needing to tow your vehicle out will cost large dollars and time.
  • Make sure you have emergency supplies in your car.  If you are not sure here is a link.  Should the worst case become reality these items could save your life.  Most of the items can be picked up at any truck stop along the way so if you get caught with your pants down stop and outfit properly.

Finally be sure your are of solid body and mind

  • If you are on the return trip and you skied that day stretch before, during and after.  I always find my legs cramp up after a few hours and a quick stretch is an easy fix.
  • When you have been up late partaking in any of the finer things of life make sure you recover prior to leaving.  If you need to delay an hour to hug or hover porcelain take that time.
  • Give your body fuel.  Just like your vehicle you will perform better if your fluids are topped up.  If your cramping up you may be dehydrated.
  • Every time you feel you are starting to lose your mind take a rest stop.  Arriving safely an hour later is well worth it.

If you have read this to the bottom my only hope is that you retain all of it.  If you feel I have missed something then your brain is right where I hoped it would be.  Most of the above text could be construed as common sense but maybe you are hitching a ride and your partner in crime is not Ricky Bobbie. I hope some of this post will help you to fill it the gaps and be proactive.  Driving through a storm still gets me excited as the fresh turns that result are the most important part of the journey. As an avid skier I often find myself travelling through snow and ice to pursue my passion.

Sven Davey
Sven Davey

I'd take fresh cord over powder every day of the week! ;)