The Road may be Paved from Top to Bottom...
dont Let A Lack of Road Safety Common Sense Ruin Your Ski
Okay, so you have everything ready for your holiday. Youve got warm clothing, the correct equipment (including that all important helmet), food and all your friends packed into the car. Youre ready to zoom up the mountain for a weekend of fun and frolic, right? Maybe not
That early December evening in Courtenay had been unseasonably warm. Constant drizzle slapped against the window as the family made their way back up the mountain after enjoying a quick trip to town. They were enjoying the journey by singing along with the Disney CD that was always handy in the Blazer. There was nothing like Jungle Books, The Elephant March to entertain the kids.
Half way to the top the rain changed into slushy snow and the truck slowed in cautious response to the slick road surface. The Elephant March gave way to silence. It was important to concentrate on the road.
In another few miles the slush turned to thick snow that clung to the wipers and trailed along behind every swipe. The glass in front of the driver was a coagulation of melting snow framed by a thick, white arch.
Time to switch to four-wheel-drive.
At the dip before Ramparts Creek, a lone vehicle sat nestled in the parallel, uphill grooves of snow. The small pickups engine was running and the headlights were on, but it wasnt moving. Inside, a young woman sat alone, frustrated and afraid. Too far from the mountain village to walk up for help, too far from town to head down and unable to turn around in the deep, slippery ruts she couldnt have telephoned for help even if shed had a portable phone, because cellular coverage at Ramparts Creek is non-existent.
Are you okay? The family called from their Blazer as they pulled up beside her.
Yes! Came her clipped, response. She was frustrated. But something didnt seem right, Are you sure? They persisted. The woman nodded and then sighed, No, her voice was a plea, I need help. Im stuck.
The mother hopped out of the passenger side of the Blazer and into the drivers seat of the young womans truck. With perserverance, skill and an hour worth of words not worth printing, she managed to maneauver the truck up the steep hill to the mouth of the Sunrise Quad parking lot. There she parked it safely and left it. Then the family transported the young woman to her destination.
You might ask what that young woman was doing on a mountain road, in the dark of night, in a small pickup truck with no ballast in the back and half bald tires? Well, her boyfriend had asked her to bring his truck up the mountain. He was snowboarding with his buddies and she planned to meet him. If it hadnt been for the family that chanced upon her, she might not have arrived alive at her destination.
The moral of this story is that it is wise to check your vehicle for winter readiness before you leave home. Here are some simple tips that could make all the difference:
If your car needs a tune-up or will be due for one soon, get
it done now! The last thing you want to hear is, Clink, clunk,
hisssss as the engine dies in the middle of a single-lane, mountain
road while 47 cars filled with oversized and overeager snowboarders
are lined up behind you.
sure your battery and charging system are up to snuff. Otherwise
your CD player wont work if you get stuck. Of course,
your car might not start at all after your excellent ski weekend
and youd be forced to stay an extra day or two while waiting
for the new battery to be delivered.
your cooling system. If there are any leaks, get them fixed
now. That little shot of steam you saw in town could turn into
a dangerous icy, jousting spike by the time you hit the snow-zone.
Also, the mountain does not keep spare radiators in stock for
those that split due to lack of proper coolant. Come to think
of it, it could take a few days for a new one to be delivered.
A few more gloriously, sunny, excellent ski days
sure your windshield wipers are in good shape. You could always
forgo this one if you dont mind hanging out the side window
in order to see while you drive. Its great fun in the
rain! There is nothing so attractive as a face, pock marked
by stinging hail.
your gas tank close to full. Unless you plan to invent a new
sport called Coasting All The Way Down the Mountain on
Did you know that condensation in your gas tank, can freeze? It causes rust too!
sure your windshield wiper reservoir is full. Snow is not like
rain, it does not act like a car wash. Muck from the road collects
in snow and can build up on your windshield like the Great Wall
of China. Unless youre Superman and have X-ray vision,
youll have to rely on good old-fashioned window-wash in
order to see.
your vehicle has rear wheel drive, carry ballast. Sandbags,
bricks, logs, kitty litter, rolled up carpets, mother-in-law,
daughters nasty boyfriend, (theyd have to be inside
the rolled up carpet), anything that adds weight to your rear
end is food, I mean, good.
sure your rear window defroster works. Unless you dont
care who might be pulling out to pass you. If youre very
unlucky, it will be the snowplow and youll be buried until
your car. Not just its first name. Get to know what sounds
right when its working well and what little noises are
new and suspicious. Like most women, cars make funny noises
when something is amiss.
sure you have basic supplies in your truck in case you get stuck.
Blankets, candles, crackers, brie, anything that will turn a
disaster into a cozy romantic interlude.
carry kitty litter. It acts as ballast and scattered in front
of your tires, works well for traction. Obviously I am not referring
to the clumping kind.
sure your cellular phone is fully charged. Your friends in town
might appreciate being apprised of blizzard conditions so they
can postpone their departure for a few hours. Not to mention
how happy you will be to connect with BCAA when you need a tow
out of a snow bank.
chains for your tires in your trunk. Not whips, chains. Trust
me, theres a big difference.
your car is covered with snow, clean off the ENTIRE vehicle
before driving. A little peephole in the windshield is not good
enough. Have you ever driven behind some yahoo who didnt
clean off his car and been blasted with the mini blizzard that
whips off his roof? Thats an accident waiting for a place
you are going to be parked for a few days, mark your vehicle
with something tall that you will be able to locate after an
eight-foot dump of snow. There is nothing quite so heartwarming
as spending three hours digging out your vehicle only to discover
that youve dug out the wrong car!
- When driving in the snow, do everything slowly. That includes swearing at the guy in front of you who just might be going slow enough to save your life.