Location: Ruby Mountains, Nevada
Shredders: Ralph Backstrom, Greg Lindsey, George Hjelte, Mat Jackson, Niel Kasper, & Jason Abraham aka: “Abro”
Cameramen: Jason Abraham, Nik David, & Ralph Backstrom
Edit: Nik David
Words: Jason Abraham & George Hjelte
After the “West Slope Session”, the 91 Octane Crew was excited to get back at it, and do work on the next episode. During a cookie break at Squaw Valley’s Legendary “Wildflour Bakery”, the crew decided that our next mission would be to hit the open road to sled & shred the mystical Ruby Mountain Range located in Nevada.
The Ruby Mountains are located 35 miles southwest of Elko, NV. A scenic 8-mile snowmobile ride through Lamoille Canyon is all it takes to access some of the best snowmobiling & skiing terrain in the lower 48. The terrain is unique to Nevada & the peaks surrounding the canyon are truly magnificent.
We arrived late in the day chasing a warmer storm that had passed through Tahoe the night before. Our intentions were to get out that afternoon to put in sled tracks and assess conditions at the zones we planned to ski. Turns out we had actually caught up to the storm. The mountains were socked in & snow was falling heavily at upper elevations. So, instead of laying the groundwork for the next day, we headed over to Ruby Mountain Heli Skiing and spoke with Joe Royer about conditions and the current snowpack. Joe informed us that the snowpack was relatively safe & deep snow would await us the following morning. Fired up on this news we retreated back to Elko to meet up with the rest of the crew & celebrate over dinner at the infamous Star Hotel (if your ever passing through Elko stop here!).
We awoke the next morning at 5am to mostly cloudy skies. This was a bit discouraging but spirits were still high and the calling of The Ruby Mountain Range awaited us. We arrived at the sled put in & attempted to access “the belly rider zone”. This is a zone JT, Kyle, and Abro had been to a few years back, but never got to shred, due to a little mishap JT ran into with his sled arm & a buried rock treasure, hence the name “Bellyrider Zone”. The snow pack was thin at low elevation, and the aspens thick, which made it virtually impossible to access this particular zone. So we went with plan B & headed out to Liberty Lake. The snowmobiling through the Canyon was all-time. High quality, sugary snow provided for regular facials and the ability to go full throttle up the canyon to higher elevations.
Upon our arrival to Liberty Lake we came to the realization that today would be a day of window shopping for light & filming. It was cold and clouds were plentiful, but we were still psyched because there was an abundance of quality snow to play in. We managed to film a couple lines in a window of light before the storm moved back in and the visibility went to sh#t.
Using some 91 Octane from our sleds, and some dead branches cut from trees, we managed to build ourselves a great little fire. The fire provided warmth and the ability to cook cheese steaks using leftover ribeye from our dinner at the Star the night before.
With our hopes of light returning beginning to fade & the afternoon dwindling, sled necking around the canyon became the activity of the day. Hill climbing, side hilling, and powder turning are all necessary skills to become a proficient snowmobiler. Lamoille Canyon provides excellent terrain to practice and master these techniques. Sled skiing isn’t always as easy as it looks. Like anything in life, mastering techniques and activities takes time. All the variables that go along with sled skiing can occasionally make the backcountry experience challenging. It’s important to be aware of this so when challenges arise you are prepared to deal with them. We soon learned that Ralph’s Sled had seized & would need to be towed out of the canyon. After a day of challenging light and a wounded snowmobile the decision was made to call it a day. We retired back to Elko to plan out the next day. We went to bed with our fingers crossed that the morning would provide better light and a more productive ski day.
We awoke again at 5am to large pockets of clear sky, and high expectations. We headed back to the zones from the day before, where we knew we could Canadian double easily, and get some fun shredding in. Once we made it back to our zone we only had a limited window of early morning light before high clouds moved in and left us with a milky sky. Unfortunately, this is not ideal for filming, but it’s still somewhat manageable. We built a jump, skied some lines, and had a blast celebrating international G.N.A.R day. One of the highlights from the day was Greg Lindsey skiing a line in his birthday suit and hitting our jump throwing a naked backscratcher spread eagle. Classic Greg providing laughs all around.
In the afternoon we decided to ski Liberty peak, which tops out at 11,032ft. It was a great wide-open 1000ft descent with several air opportunities towards the bottom. Down a sled and the afternoon quickly fading, we lit some fireworks, had some bottle rocket/roman candle fights, and headed back out the canyon.
We only experienced a small portion of what this awesome range has to offer. We dealt with some adverse weather conditions, mechanical problems and less then perfect snow, but had a blast! We will definitely be going back to the Ruby’s again. Looks like snow is in the forecast here in Tahoe, so look for Episode 4 to drop in the near future.
Jason Abraham Owner/Photographer
Elevated Image Photography