Mountain Driving questions - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-29-2005   #1
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heliodorus04's Avatar
The Ranch, Colorado
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Join Date: May 2005
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Mountain Driving questions

Well, I wouldn't call myself a snowboarder yet. I'm fond of calling my self an "ass-stamper" actually. More lessons to come Friday and Sunday.

Sunday it's supposed to snow. Now I'll tell y'all how bad I am as a Colorado transplant - I came here by way of Texas, but I'm originally from California. It couldn't get much worse for me, could it

Because I have poor experience driving in snow, I'm trying to hone up on preparedness skills. My main question is about chains. I'm putting together an emergency kit in case I get snowbound out there somewhere, and I want to get GOOD chains. I know the theory of how to use them; I've just never used them.

Where do I go to get good chains, or more information about them? Do you have any recommendations?

I drive a Nissan X-Terra SUV with 1-year old tires (not officially "snow" tires) and someone recommended I just get them siped, for the hell of it. Is that necessary or even good advice?

Should I pack a snow shovel into the car and cat litter and such?

I'm not doing anything off the beaten track (Keystone, Breck, Copper - I-70 stuff) but I just believe in "being prepared" so I put food, water, sleeping bag, candles, that sort of stuff, into my "snowbound" kit.

Thanks in advance of your responses.
The mountainbuzz community has enriched my life so VERY VERY much through first kayaking and now snowboarding. I'm so glad I live in the internet era, and that you guys are so helpful of ignoramuses like me.

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Old 11-29-2005   #2
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Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
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texas eh? I appologize in advance for some of the stickers on my board.

I've heard mixed reviews about siping. Studded snow tires are great, snow tires are good, but any good pair of tires will be fine so long as you don't drive like a texan.

Your biggest worry on snowy roads is other drivers, so leave plenty of space, slow down before steep hills (hard to slow down once you are on an 8% grade). Engage 4x4 BEFORE you need it.

There's a killer how to drive on ice class in S.Boat worth attending. Otherwise, find an EMPTY snowy parking lot and learn what your vehicle feels like out of control. Be careful, those Xtrerras are tippy.

I throw a heavy shovel in my truck for shoveling out of drifts. Snow shovels just bend in hard road-side snow. Tow straps are a good thing to pack along. A bottle of whiskey would be a good call if you plan on getting stuck in your rig over night.

Have fun, be safe and consider claiming that you come from somewhere else than texas...France or Iran would probably get a better reception.

Starting out as a great season! Enjoy the new sport.

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Old 11-29-2005   #3
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Passing along some info from some folks that race cars in the winter, have attended that same recommended S.Spring course & overall know their stuff:

1. 'Snow' tires are not much better than all seasons...
2. Siping is a waste of money...
3. The best offense is a good defense...
4. There is a snow/ice tire called Blizzaks (there are others, this is just the best known one). They make a NOTEABLE difference (I can attest to it). But they are only good for about 25k miles. The difference is from the outer 1/2 of the tire compund. It 'works' better in cold temps & snow/ice road texture.

They will wear QUICKLY if you run them all year around. Sounds expensive to have 2 sets of tires. but think about it - you are only running each set for 6 months at a time so they do last longer. I suggest picking up some rims from the junk yard & mounting them up with the Blizzaks.

That shovel was a good recomendation as is w/w fluid & other items helpful if you have to hang tight for a bit.

Remember, 4 wheels can slide like 2...
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Old 11-29-2005   #4
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Thought-criminal, Colorado
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I'm not originally from the mountains, but I grew up near Buffalo and snow's snow, right?

1. The shovel is the best recommendation can get a kickass folding spade at an army surplus store and they are as tough and compact as you get. Blade is small, but it's light and wieldy. An avalanche shovel works great too (made for being compact and shovelling snow).

2. Keep a sleeping bag or at least some wool blankets and a good pair of warm socks and boots in your car. The whiskey is a great recommendation. Some water is good, too, although it might freeze and be worthless but maybe not. Some granola or other nonperishable food might be a good idea, too.

3. If your car is front wheel drive it should do ok. AWD is awesome. If you have a car or truck with rear wheel drive and no 4WD put some heavey shit in the back like sand bags, wood, bricks, whatever. I just re-read that you have an are SO extreme...but I think they're 4WD. Next time get a Subaru...AWD, cheap, low center of gravity, high ground clearance...can't beat em.

4. I agree that snow tires aren't great but CHAINS are bomber. I've only used mine twice but my honda accord was like a tank when I did. I use the Diamond chains from out of Pennsylvania where I'm from and they're pretty easy to put on.

5. Don't lock up your brakes. When you start to slide you're done being able to stear if you lay on the brakes.

6. Use a low gear, especially on grades, whether you have a stick or auto.

7. Use your hand's fun.

8. Wait until spring to do body might just wreck into something again.

9. Disregard #7 unless you want to use #8.

10. Definately lie about being from Texas or Cali.
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 11-29-2005   #5
Join Date: Aug 2004
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I took Drivers ed in the snow and feel really comfy in any condition. So here goes. I have never put on chains. If you get your 4x4 stuck chances are you need more than chains. Go to the hardwear store and get a bag of sand instead of kitty litter. Google AAA and find out what they recomend on their web site for winter kits.

Good rubber is a must. I perfer the Cooper all weather radial. Had them on my Jeep and now on my Honda. Not as good in mud as the goodyears but better on ice. They are also less expensive than most brands. Not sure if all the other stuff really matters.

When driving. Don't be afraid to use your gears on the automatic. 2nd and 3rd when desending hills will give you more control. Drive like a granny. When the road is icy and snow covered 35 to 45 in 3rd is sane even if suv's with jersey plates are passing you. And lastly next time it snows go to an empty parking lot and puposly skid about and find out how to straighten car back out whern it goes sideways. I you just hit the brakes your gonna get into trouble. Good luck sj
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Old 11-29-2005   #6
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Post your license plate so we can watch & make sure you are applying all this knowledge! If we see you off the side, we're gonna use your just-bought shovel on you
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Old 11-29-2005   #7
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Laramie, Wyoming
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Most newbies think snow driving is all about 4X4 action, it is honestly really hard to get stuck as long as you don't run off the road. That said, the real skill of winter driving is to be able to stop. Lighter front wheel drive cars are generally considered the best snow cars because they have less momentum (ie less mass to slow down) and decent traction. That said I think Subarus are the #^@#ing awesome in snow! The only time 4X4 truly has an advantage is when you have to start from a dead stop going up a steep grade, and super deep unplowed roads.

Go much slower than normal and allow much more room for error. Don't think you're invincible because you have a 4X4 and you can accelerate quickly. If the road is slick, and I'm in a straight strech without any traffic nearby I will pump the brakes and test where the tires start to lock up. That will give you an indication of how bad the conditions are and how quickly you can expect to stop. As far as chains, if it is so bad they require chains on passenger vehicles I just stay where I am. Tires with good tread are good enough 90% of the time. My 2 cents
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Old 11-29-2005   #8
Join Date: Nov 2003
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To add to what BSOE said about braking, when you go to the parking lot, practice stomping on your brakes. If they shudder and kick under your foot you have ABS brakes ( you may already know this). If you have ABS brakes it is ok to stomp on your brakes in a slide - which you will probably do because you will be scared shitless - the ABS will not let the wheels lock up and therefore make stopping much easier, just as if you were pumping your brakes. It's a good idea to get used to the ABS because it can be weird at first.

Whiskey's for drinkin' and waters for fightin'
- Mark Twain
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Old 11-29-2005   #9
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 207
Don't bother with chains, 99.9% of the time you'll have no need for them for your uses. Buy a set of Nokian WR's and you'll be set all year long. They're all-season, but rated for snow and rain (snowflake symbol), warrantied to 50k and they are quiet and handle well on dry highways. Do an internet search and you'll find nothing but praise for them.

I just got a pair a few months ago for my Outback and the handling in snow and rain is pretty amazing.
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Old 11-29-2005   #10
Durango, CO
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Join Date: Apr 2005
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Couple of things to think about on the road this winter

1.Shut off the cell phone. It's great to have it in case,but not when your driving.

2.Slow your ass down. That extra 10 minutes it takes you to get somewhere is well worth it.

3. Watch out for elk and deer. Typically they move early morning,early evening and after dark.Look for the light reflection off their eyes.If you encounter one don't swerve drastically.Take your foot off the gas and pump your brakes (ABS- steady slow pressure) and drift slowly towards the shoulder. If you don't have any choice,point it straight and hit the animal.This makes me want a F-350 with a big old game getter on it. I've seen way too many small cars with elk and deer go through the windshield.It's amazing how slowing down diminishes your chance of hitting an animal.

4. If you start getting squirrelly or fishtailing, take your foot off the gas. Taking the power away from the wheels will usually correct the vehicle pretty quickly.Don't overcorrect your steering.

5.Don't lock the up the breaks,then you're really out of control.Pump your breaks or with ABS apply steady slow pressure.

6.In the circle of things, be a good neighbor.Think about the about the other people on the road and people that need help out there.Shit happens and what comes around goes around, someday it may be you.

Enjoy the winter
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