ARB Regional Sales Manager Scott Frary shares his account of a “Most Difficult” trail in the Cascade Mountains that put his preparedness to the test. It pays to be winter ready, even for the most well-equipped and experienced four wheelers.
“As with many mountain trails, we were climbing a couple thousand feet of elevation. The further we traveled, the more the snow packed trail looked untouched; it was quite clear that no one had made it up that far that year.
Winch controllers, snatch blocks, and tree trunk protectors in hand, we worked our way up and through the snow fields as if it were a production line. The first rig would winch through the snow, leave the recovery gear for the next vehicle, and then continue up the hill. After about an hour of winching, we finally reached a sunny area that was clear of snow.
Just when we thought we were out of the woods, we noticed that we had to drop down into a small gorge. Although snow free, the steep, down-hill section was far too slippery to navigate safely without help. We discussed and decided to lower each vehicle down with a winch line attached for support. Myself in the last vehicle, had to winch down the hill backwards. We respooled the winches and started moving in the right direction.
A quarter mile later, it was completely dark and snowing so heavily that we were unable to see the actual trail. Although everyone, including the kids maintained a great attitude throughout the trip, we decided it was time to call it a night and reach out to our base camp.
Up until this point we felt that we were incredibly prepared, the new challenge was to keep four young kids warm. We used flares and found wood to start a campfire, the kids used the adult’s coats as blankets, and even used seat covers as sleeping bags. The next morning came early as most had hardly slept. Moments later, the rest of our crew joined us with lots of fuel, food, and hot cocoa.
Although it seemed like it would never end, this trip has and will always be one of my most memorable off-road trips. It showed me things that I did right as well as things that I could’ve done better. Recovery equipment was crucial for this trip along with traction devices from airing down to Air Lockers. Many of us broke tire beads multiple times, our air compressors and jacks were used to reset those beads, and without it the trip would have been much longer. Since that day I make sure to keep tarps, tire repair kits, space blankets, and hand warmers in my 4WD at all times. Aside from the gear I carry for each trip; tools, spares, etc. I have put together a check list which I use before every winter wheeling trip.”
ARB Recovery Kit: At minimum you will need a recovery strap and shackles. We recommend carrying a tree saver, snatch block, and winch line dampener as well.
ARB Jack: A safer approach to the popular farm jack. This is needed when addressing tire issues.
Winch: An essential recovery device for every 4WD. Make sure you test it before your trip.
ARB Compressor: Great for setting tire beads along with inflating tires after wheeling.
ARB Deflator: Allows for quick and accurate tire deflation which is an easy way to gain traction.
Air Lockers: Completely selectable air actuated locker. Check the system and compressor.
TRED Pro Recovery Boards: Another easy way to gain additional traction. They can also be used to shovel snow or mud.
Four Wheel Drive: If you haven’t wheeled your rig in a while, make sure your 4WD is working.
Lighting: In the winter, daylight is scarce. A good set of off road lights will get you through the night.
Antifreeze: Ensure that your antifreeze is topped off and has the correct mixture.
Wiper blades: Check the rubber on your wipers, replace if needed.
Windshield Washer Fluid: Top off with a fluid that contains de-icer.
Heater: Check your heater at all settings.
Check out our latest 4x4 Culture magazine issue online
All the latest from ARB
View online or order a printed copy
Enter your email address to receive updates about our products and events as well as newsletters.