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  • Brett

Driving downhill is harder than it looks

I had been watching the King of the Hammers all day on Friday when they pointed out how much harder it is to drive down a trail than up. It seems kind of counter intuitive but its true, and weather conditions can amplify the difficulties. They pointed out that if the drivers chose the wrong line then they couldn't easily back up or winch up. This holds true for all of us, not just professional drivers. When we are on trails with loose traction, whether rocks, snow, or ice, gravity will work against us to pull us down the "fall line". The fall line is what we use when teaching skiing or snowboarding, it means the direction that the mountain is sloping, but not just one way, sometimes there can be a "double fall line" because the terrain often slopes downhill in a vertical and horizontal direction for a lack of better descriptor. When we are driving down a trail, we can encounter those same double fall lines, which in slick conditions, and especially if we have a full time locker can cause us to slide off trail. Considering that most of us have more weight in our engine bay than in our trunks, gravity will definitely be working against us if we try to back up onto that trail. Combine that with trees (if we are lucky or unlucky depending on where you are) and forward progress downhill can often become a no-go. As luck had it, the next day I experienced exactly this predicament. I pulled myself out and then realized it would make a good tutorial, so I put it back in almost the same spot (gravity actually put it back in almost the same spot), and I put up a little video showing how to winch yourself out of a predicament like this, using tension and a rear strap or rope and your front mounted winch. Remember to always use caution when winching as there is always tremendous tension on the equipment. And remember when you are on the trail to consider what the double fall line will want to do with your vehicle, and just like on the slopes, plan your turns ahead of time to compensate.


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