Winter Owner's Manual: An insider's guide to snow 

Congratulations on the purchase of your new Winter. The standard base-model Winter comes fully equipped with snow, ice, excuses for heavy meals and hot drinks, roaring fires and a shovel.* But being the discerning consumer you are, you have opted for the upgraded Winter package. This luxury add-on includes dazzling views, frosty solitude, thrills, excitement, exhilaration, adventure and the desire to explore.**

While you have likely had some experience with prior Winter purchases, upgrades require additional training. As part of our commitment to customer service, we have included this Winter Owner's Manual as part of your purchase. Please use it as a guide to optimal utilization of your Winter.

*Occasional bouts of inversion, frostbite and cabin fever may occur. Mother Nature will not be held accountable for the negative impacts of these occurrences.

**Mother Nature will not be held accountable for you getting yourself lost.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

Alpine Skiing

Getting the most out of your Descent Control System

One of the most popular features on the upgraded Winter model is the double-mounted, hillside Descent Control Mechanism, sometimes referred to in the vernacular as "Alpine skiing" or just "skiing."

While many less luxurious Winter models offer some version of this feature, our owners appreciate more exclusive offerings. To achieve our high standards, we turned to the experts, like Jaker Merlini, the Professional Ski Patrol director at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, and April Russell, communications director at Brundage Mountain in McCall, since those who activate the Descent Control System often range far and wide to use it.

To help you take full advantage of the DCS, we offer the following guidance.

• Entering his 35th season, Merlini and his crew prefer the beautifully groomed conditions of the runs off the Pine Creek Chair during the day, after conditions have had the entire night to set up. He especially favors the Wildcat and Lower Nugget runs.

• Of course, those working the night shift appreciate the fine grooming of Nighthawk during a run from the top to the bottom.

• Those looking for an escape on a powder day can often fine some much sought-after powder hiding between the Tiger and Liberty runs. Those willing to engage the manual transmission (also referred to as "hiking") can enjoy the freedom of the Emery Bowls.

• At Brundage, owners of the premium Winter package can find thrills on the Mexico run (just south of the 45th Parallel run). The area is for only the most exclusive owners, largely because the entrance to the run isn't obvious (and because it's not on the official trail map), with tight trees near the top. But once you're through, the trees open up, offering elusive powder shots.

• Those looking for more thrills can utilize the Winter upgrade GPS feature (ski instructors who serve as free guides on Saturday mornings) to find a run on the backside of the mountain called Naughty Girl. The unmarked run often offers fresh powder lines when everything else has been skied out, although it does require the use of the manual transmission to get back to the lift.*

*Warning: Excessive use of this feature can lead to shaking and withdrawals as snow begins to melt. Mother Nature assumes no responsibility.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND


How to use your off-road features

Many owners of our most exclusive Winter upgrade package appreciate the ability to roam and to reach areas inaccessible to owners of the base Winter model. Many find our off-road capabilities help them achieve their goals beyond their wildest dreams.

As with all aspects of our premium Winter package, we consulted the experts to fine-tune our offerings. Among those experts was Marty Rood, owner of Payette Powder Guides, and Joe St. Onge, owner and chief of guiding operations for Sun Valley Trekking. To achieve maximum output from your off-road feature, take the following steps.

• Test Winter's capabilities in the Lick Creek Summit area outside of McCall. The area is closed to motorized use in the winter and offers more than 30,000 acres of hike-in, ski-out terrain to explore. It's also where Rood operates a series of winter yurts.

• Push the limits of Winter at the area formerly known as Tamarack. While the lifts may not be running, those willing to use a snowmobile to get to the ridgeline can enjoy pristine skiing conditions.

• Try the Big Creek Summit area outside of Cascade for further exploration.

• For day touring, head to the Titus Ridge area at Galena Pass, where relatively easy access allows more time for testing your Winter abilities.

• When Winter calls you further off the beaten path, head to the Pioneer Mountains, which, although more challenging to access, offer dramatic vistas and an abundance of vertical relief with new mountaineering and adventure skiing options being discovered all the time.*

*Warning: due to the high level of user experience needed to fully utilize the off-road capabilities of Winter, owners should invest in the avalanche training course upgrade. Mother Nature accepts no responsibility for her occasional habit of tossing a wall of thundering snow, ice and rock downhill.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

Nordic Skiing

Using Manual Acceleration Mode

Many premium Winter owners appreciate the quiet, peaceful interior of Winter, and enjoy this feature most while utilizing the Manual Acceleration Mode (also known as Nordic skiing, cross country skiing or even snowshoeing).

Due to the exclusive partnerships created by Winter's outstanding reputation, owners of the upgraded model can access an abundance of opportunities for using the MAM at any of the 16 Park N' Ski locations maintained by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.* The department works hard to increase the value of Winter with offerings that include groomed trails for skate skiers, dog-friendly parks and solitude for classic touring skiers.

We consulted Leo Hennessy, Park N' Ski coordinator for the state and one of the leaders of the Idaho Outdoors online recreation group, and longtime Nordic skier Dave Fotsch to help hone Winter's Manual Acceleration Mode.

• Head to the Banner Ridge area north of Idaho City where 22 miles of trails lead to incredible views of the Sawtooths. The steep nature of the trail has led many to use the snowshoe feature, although more confident skiers can make the trip.

• The latest model of Winter has the additional feature of a new Park N' Ski area in the same vicinity. The Beaver Creek area will feature a new yurt, as well as open slopes and access to Stargazer Point. The feature is already popular with backcountry telemark skiers.

• More advanced Winter owners will also appreciate the Pilot Peak area near Mores Creek Summit. While the area is shared by snowmobiles (see later section) there are excellent opportunities for winter owners who know how to read a map.

• Experienced users can explore the Warm Lake area, where the snow is often steep and deep.

• For those owners who like to include their dogs in the enjoyment of their Winter purchase, Parks and Recreation has opened additional areas to dogs this winter. Now, more than half of the groomed trails in the Idaho City area will welcome canine companions. As before, all ungroomed trails will remain open to dogs. The Banner Ridge area will still be closed, though.

• Explore the lower loops at the Bogus Basin Nordic Center, which are rarely skied because the rolling terrain requires uphill climbs.

• Enjoy Ponderosa State Park, near McCall, where trails lead past alpine lakes and eventually lead uphill to end at a viewpoint overlooking Payette Lake.

• For those who prefer less-explored country, try Bear Basin, an area that opened several years ago near Little Ski Hill in McCall. The rolling terrain provides just enough challenge for intermediate level Winter owners.

• Test the capacities of Winter by skiing out of a small wayside pullout just before drivers reach Stanley. Trails here offer wonderful views of the Sawtooths.

*To utilize the Park N' Ski upgrade to Winter, owners must also purchase a Park N' Ski pass for $7.50 for three days, or $25 for the season. For more details and maps of locations, please refer all queries to Mother Nature assumes no responsibility for any tickets or towing of vehicles.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND


Utilizing the Single-Plane-Balance Feature

Some of our owners appreciate the thrill and challenge of activating the Single-Plane-Balance Feature (also widely known as "snowboarding"). The feature can be challenging at first, but for those who work to master it, it can open up new avenues to explore their Winter model.

The SPBF works far and wide, and while it was once viewed as incompatible with some other Winter features, it is now widely accepted.

Our Winter consultants, April Russell of Brundage, Newt and Harold's manager Ben Woodard, and Boise snowboarder George Medek, 76, helped to hone the following program to take full advantage of the SPBF.

• Test the limits of the season in the Hidden Valley area of Brundage, where natural terrain features, including boulders, create a plethora of jumping opportunities.

• Test Winter's capacity by heading to the Trinity Lakes area, where snowmobiles help to access challenging steep and deep terrain with relatively few other Winter users.

• Brundage cat skiing takes Winter users to a backcountry filled with north-facing slopes.

• Owners willing to hike the hills of the hibernating Tamarack Resort can ski the slopes on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

• For adventures closer to home, enjoy the back side of Bogus Basin, where there are fewer crowds, longer runs and hidden pockets of snow.*

• For those who want quantity of runs over length, stay on the front side of Bogus, where the runs are slightly shorter.*Some experts declined to disclose the full breadth of their knowledge to protect secret areas.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND


Understanding your engine's capabilities

Many Winter owners like to explore the raw power of their model, which is often done through a feature commonly referred to as "snowmobiling."

For Winter owners in Idaho, opportunities abound for testing the limits, due to another extension of Winter's partnership with the state Parks and Recreation Department,* which maintains numerous trails and organizes grooming and plowing.

Both Troy Elmore, Off Highway Vehicle Program manager, and Todd Wernex, trails specialist with the department, were consulted to help reach the full capabilities of Winter's power.

• Power testing is celebrated in numerous areas, including trails near Smith's Ferry, Cascade, Warm Lake, Garden Valley, Idaho City, Pine, Featherville, Twin Falls, Fairfield and Stanley.

• Many who like to include their families in their enjoyment of their Winter model are advised to explore the Garden Valley area, where trails off the Middle Fork of the Payette River Road lead to outstanding views and the occasional hot springs.

• Those looking for more open riding can head to the Mores Creek Summit area near Idaho City, where it's relatively easy to reach the backcountry and test Winter's capabilities in the deep powder.

• Those who are less experienced with Winter can head to McCall (recently named the No. 5 snowmobile destination in the country by Snow West magazine), where wide trails along Warren Wagon Road are easy riding and allow access to the Burgdorf hot springs.

• Near Brundage, more advanced Winter owners can access steeper, more challenging terrain from the Gordon E. Titus parking lot.**

*Grooming of trails and plowing of parking lots are paid for by yearly required registration of all snowmobiles in the state. Winter claims no responsibility for snow levels.

**Due to the inherent dangers of testing Winter in the backcountry, Parks and Recreation is hosting a series of avalanche awareness classes through mid-February. Boise classes will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 16, and Friday, Dec. 3. Visit for a full schedule. Mother Nature assumes no responsibility for those who don't use their heads to ride in safe areas.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

Snow Kiting

How to use your Turbo feature

Some premium Winter model owners seek out more unusual thrills, including hanging on to a massive kite while the wind pulls them across the snow-covered landscape.* While the Turbo feature (sometimes called "snowkiting") is not the most commonly used feature of Winter, it is one of the more attention grabbing.

To hone the feature, we sought the advice of Ryan Waite, owner of Idaho Kitesports.

• Head to the Fairfield area off Highway 20 (sometimes referred to as the Mecca of Idaho snowkiting), where the high elevation combined with a long, windy corridor of open prairie lined by mountain ranges creates the perfect conditions.

• Snowkiting is increasing in the McCall area at times when Payette Lake freezes over, although access is more challenging.

• Also growing in popularity is the Island Park area in Eastern Idaho. Since the feature is still relatively new, suitable locations are being mapped all the time.**

*Mother Nature claims no responsibility if you end up in another state.

**Because of the advanced nature of this feature, coaching with a professional is highly recommended.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND


When to come in for maintenance

Although your premium Winter model is largely self-sustaining, some regular maintenance is recommended in order to take full enjoyment in it. For those who prefer maintenance be done in season-sanctioned facilities, numerous garages (known in the industry as "yurts") can be found scattered across the state. To fit the lifestyle and expectations of discerning premium Winter owners, our garages are luxurious places filled with amenities like bunk beds, folding tables and wood-burning stoves.*

Parks and Recreation maintains a series of yurts near Park N' Ski sites, as well as in state parks, allowing Winter owners to recharge while enjoying their investment. The yurts--easily accessible via nearby trails--are a popular feature of the premium Winter owners plan. In fact, they are so popular that most weekends are booked up to a year in advance, although many holidays or mid-week dates remain open for a relatively low cost.

• The Elkhorn yurt near Idaho City is more isolated (requiring a three-mile trek) but offers outstanding views.

• Private yurts are also available through Payette Powder Guides and Sun Valley Trekking for those looking for some off-road experience.

Galena Lodge between Sun Valley and Stanley offers three yurts near the historic lodge, which offer the additional up-grade of a catered dinner delivery.

*Mother Nature assumes no responsibility for you or your guests becoming overly accustomed to the luxurious experience of sleeping on bunk beds in a common room, then demanding the same kind of high-end experience when you get home.

Again, thank you for your purchase of the premium Winter model. We're sure you'll be thrilled to be an owner of such an auspicious season. Remember, Mother Nature takes no responsibility for providing any set amount of snow, nor does she promise a quota of blue-bird days or white-knuckle drives. Still, enjoy making Winter your own with all the upgrades you can fit in.

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