Three sleds. A couple of bad ideas. One plane. Our coastal cowboy goes to great heights to save his snowmo. This is the latest Coast Mountain Culture column by Rory Bushfield.
Three of us were snowmobiling on the Rutherford Glacier backcountry last winter. My sled broke down a long way from home, so we tried to tow it out. These things happen, after all. We arrived at the bottom of the steepest hill on the route home, knowing we had to tow the dead sled up a very large hill. That’s when we made the mistake.
We tied each sled together in a chain. I strongly suggested we tie them up like a chariot, with two sleds pulling the dead weight in the middle. That’s when I lost the argument.
Extreme athlete and Whistler, BC, local Rory Bushfield is always up to some crazy antic or two, as the above video proves. Top photo taken by Mason Mashon.
We pinned it up the hill. The first sled lost traction, of course. How could it not? These machines barely get me and my skis up most of these pitches in deep snow. How could one pull an extra 500 pounds of metal up? That’s when it got hilarious. The second snowmobile caught up to the first one. The lines got slack, and all three of us ended up tumbling down together. Jimmy got catapulted about 18 metres (60 feet) down the hill when the ropes went tight again.
Needless to say, we didn’t get the sled out of the backcountry that day. We doubled out, a technique that is annoying at best. In this case, it was so brutal I decided I wouldn’t double back in to fix my sled. I would skydive. With snowmobile parts. From my plane. That’s when it got dodgy.
The wind was angry the next day. My buddy on the ground texted me to say the wind was going north. Then he texted me again—it was going south. I overshot my sled by four kilometres (2.5 miles). That’s when it got terrifying.
I decided I wouldn’t double back in to fix my sled. I would skydive. With snowmobile parts. From my plane.
I attempted to land on a hillside to avoid a forest of giant old-growth trees. I got my parachute in my hands just in time for the wind to gust and pick me up 150 metres (500 feet) in the air. I didn’t have the toggles in my hands—which you need to steer—so I was just hanging onto the front risers for my life. I nosedived into the hill. Thank God I landed in nice snow.
I almost regained control of my parachute, but it caught the wind and pulled me down 90 metres (300 feet) to the bottom of the hill. I grabbed it in a panic and rushed to get it under control. Moments later, Jimmy came rolling over the hill with his snowmobile. “Oh, hey there” he said. “Did you have a good landing?”
We found the broken sled. I fixed it. We went shredding. That’s when it got exciting.