TRREASOIL RTAT LPERSOFILE
“We started grooming under contract with Washington State Parks that
fall (1973) and have focused on grooming and maintaining access
since then. Our focus has changed so, while still grooming, we are
spending much more time maintaining access to our riding area.”
– Jim Burts, Apple Country Snowmobile Club
“We are fortunate they can work on the machines,” said
Burts. “We do almost all maintenance and repair ourselves.
Signage and trail maintenance are usually done by vol-unteer
work parties. Our snow parks are usually plowed
by the county road crew under contract with the Winter
The club has a few qualified volunteer operators that
groom as needed and all its events are all run by volunteers.
Burts says the riding area gets lots of summer use. Unfortu-nately,
its map boards are frequently vandalized, so the club
has stopped maintaining them until after grooming begins.
All of the grooming is done over existing roads in rocky ter-rain.
Burts says this is because many of the roads are narrow-er
than the equipment and with the steep terrain, off-road
excursions would be “disastrous.”
The club’s machines
The club owns three Bombardier groomers: a BR180, BR275
Members purchased the BR180 new in 2003 and pulled a
10-foot drag when it was the club’s primary machine. How-ever,
the cat proved to be underpowered on steeper trails.
“We also experienced a lot of broken cleats because we
were pulling too hard, especially in rocky conditions,” said
Burts. “This machine now uses a packer bar out back and a
front blade. Because it is narrow, we use this exclusively on
two of our narrow loop trails. This machine is also used by
our volunteers to do main system grooming when the paid
staff is off. Because it is easier for riders to get around it, we
use it during high traffic days.”
The BR275 was purchased used with a 14-foot tiller and
front blade. The club cut the tracks down to 12 feet and with a
skilled operator this machine makes outstanding trails. Burts
notes that the machine has many hours logged and the club
is beginning to experience reliability issues.
The club purchased the BR350 with under 10,000 hours last
year and after some initial challenges, it has become a “won-derful”
“It is 30 percent more fuel efficient than the BR275 and
the ergonomics are great. The cab is quiet and has extra room
to keep some of our emergency gear and personal items in-side.
In a pinch, three people can ride inside without having
to perch on someone’s lap. This machine is also cut down to
12 feet wide, but maintains the 14-foot blade and tiller sys-tem.
It also creates wonderful trail.”
Since the club works on borrowed property, the operators
are always careful to avoid fuel and oil spills. The new ma-chine
burns significantly less fuel and runs cleaner to help
decrease its carbon footprint.
Under the club’s rules, all operators must have 75 hours
of on-the-snow training before they can run solo. New op-erators
must also pass the Guidelines For Snowmobile Trail
Groomer Operator Training program created by the Ameri-can
Council of Snowmobile Associations. Each groomer has
a reporting GPS unit that gives minute-by-minute position
reports via satellite. All operators have first aid/CPR training.
Inside each of Apple Country’s groomers is a first aid
kit, chain saw, hard hats and high-visibility vests. Opera-tors
also carry tool kits and traffic cones to warn riders of
Since the club is covered by the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration and the State Department of Labor
and Industries, it must follow all state and federal employee
safety requirements. Its primary operator is also a retired Al-coa
Search and rescue
The club is involved with search and rescue under the Chelan
and Kittitas counties and several members are International
Organization for Standardization-certified for emergency
“This was part of our initial charter,” said Burts. “We train
with the Chelan County Sheriff ’s Department. However, we
have been fortunate in our area to have very few call outs.
Sadly, our most recent search and rescue turned into a fatal-ity
when we were unable to locate an 87-year-old rider before
he succumbed to hypothermia. That experience led to signifi-cant
changes in the county’s response to lost riders and new
equipment, including airborne infrared systems that have
improved search results.”
6 January 2020 | snowopsmag.com