You wake up to a winter wonderland and want to be the first one on the lift to make fresh tracks down the run. Unfortunately, that epic snow on the mountain can mean tough winter driving conditions and slippery roads! Here are some tips to help you prepare and make it to the mountain and back safely.
The number one piece of advice that we give to people is to bring a AWD (All Wheel Drive) or 4WD (Four Wheel Drive) vehicle. Although many people drive successfully with chains it is much more difficult and the likelihood of getting stuck is dramatically increased without AWD/4WD. Remember that Winter driving conditions change as quickly as the weather and you can go from a nice sunny day on the mountain to a whiteout snow storm in a few hours.
For two-wheel drive vehicles:
If you are driving a two-wheel drive vehicle in the Winter, you should have chains in your vehicle at all times. Be sure to check that your chains or cable chains are in good condition and they properly fit your vehicle. Check your tires for adequate tread depth and tire pressure as well. In addition to chains plan on carrying a plastic tarp, and gloves to install and remove chains. (You will really appreciate the plastic when you have to chain up on a colt, slushy road and you have a nice dry tarp to kneel or lay down on).
For AWD/4WD vehicles:
Even though you have AWD/4WD that feels like it can climb a wall, you are still at the mercy of the road conditions. It is helpful to have at least one set of chains to increase your stopping and steering traction in icy/slushy conditions. Just remember that AWD/4WD does not mean All-Wheel stopping power.
Recommended Supplies to Carry:
A folding or collapsible snow shovel will help clear the area around your wheels and allow you to dig out in case you get into deeper snow. Make sure to fill up your gas tank and bring water, snacks, flashlight(s), towels and blankets in case your drive turns into a longer journey. A 12-Volt air compressor in your vehicle is highly recommend so that you can ensure proper air pressure in your tires. In snow driving it is often helpful to deflate your tires in order to increase the contact area for more traction. Once you get out of the snow you will need to inflate the tire to the recommended tire pressure.
Snow Driving - 10 Safety Rules to remember
- Bring an AWD/4WD Vehicle or two sets of chains with good M+S tires.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly - rapid changes in speed can cause your tires to break free.
- Drive slowly - Speed kills, drive slowly and according to road conditions.
- Avoid using cruise control - cruise control will continue to add speed when tires lose traction.
- Increase your following time to eight to ten seconds to give yourself more time to react and stop.
- Know your brakes - practice in a parking lot or side road to get a feel for how to car reacts and slides.
- Don't stop if you can avoid it - use steering instead of breaks and slow down with your transmission, not the brakes.
- Don't power up hills - take it slow and easy so that you don't have too much speed at the top of the hill.
- Don't stop going up a hill - stopping will cause you to lose traction, maintain momentum and keep going slowly.
- If you are not comfortable with conditions, Stay home!
If it is your first time driving in the snow we would recommend watching a few videos on Youtube. Search youtube for "Winter Driving Tips", "Ice Driving Tips", or "First Time Snow Driving". There are many fantastic videos that will demonstrate winter driving techniques, how to read the road conditions and other techniques to help you out.