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Motor vs. Mortal

Words and Photos: Ben Gavelda

A wise man once said, “Use the right tool for the job.” Unless you have an AStar heli in your driveway and a pilot’s license in your wallet, then the most useful tool for exploring snowy mountains outside the lift lines is either a splitboard or a snowmobile.

Each means of transport has its advantages and disadvantages and it’s a tough call in the Tetons, where some of the best touring and snowmobiling access in the country is all right here.

Rather than discuss the detailed merits of each, we figured we’d put the pros and cons into a few rhymes.

Taking out an auto loan or walking to a new zone

Fresh air or two-stroke smoke, one starts by strapping-in, the other with a choke

Pristine quiet or a motor riot

60 mile an hour breeze or embracing the trees

A casual pace or a moose chase

Canadian shuttle or two-foot scuttle

Gripping handlebars or chowing Kate’s Bars

Sledneck wreck or proper time to inspect the trek

Skins don’t stick, engine overheating real quick

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Drained bank account or making a few turns count.

Stranded with a ripped pull cord or cruising home on a splitboard

Heavy lifting hernia or foot blisters burnin’ ya

Truck and trailer required or walking till your legs are expired

Snowboarding with poles or digging out of snow holes.

One long run or hot laps till the sun’s done

The learning curve for snowmobiling is like a steep, long hill climb. Splitboarding has its challenges, too, but unless walking is a foreign act then it’s pretty easy to pick up.

A proper split setup can put you back $1,500 bucks, where a decent mountain sled costs two to 10 times that amount.

The same can be said for maintenance costs, plus additional crap like insurance and broken parts. There’s no doubt a snowmobile is a hefty investment, but it can pay off in copious amounts of powder riding.

Human powered access might not deliver as many runs, but the simplicity and turns are always rewarding.

Our take? Combine the two and you’ll have the best of both.

@BenGavelda is JHSM’s photo editor and uses both his splitboard and snowmobile.

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