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Snow Trip

Contributed By: Chris Medlicott

While our northern brethren are now enjoying the summer here in NZ the Land Rover Owners' Club inc just had to put off a trip to the Razorbacks and replace it with a SNOW TRIP.  25 vehicles, mostly Japanese but also a few Landrovers , a Rangeys, my GW, 1 98 Wrangler and 2 Mahindra build (indian) cj3Bs took off for the Lammerlaw range and the Lammermoors here in Otago.

We left in convoy at 9 am and arrived at Deep Stream where those with less technologically excellent machines got hands dirty putting in hubs and then we headed up the Dunstan trail.  Mostly a rocky and bumpy high road and then we turned off and started up towards the high and marshy tops.  Lunch we stopped at a musterers' hut after negotiating a fair bit of slush, tussocks and about 6 -10 inches of snow. At one point we had to negotiate a steep drop off of about 4 feet into a 2 foot deep water hole with a steep exit.  Everybody dragged their tow bars on it - even the CJ3Bs -  The nearest anyone came to getting stuck was the new wrangler but I suspect he was trying to look after his nice new Jeep. After lunch, when Jane (4) made a snowman, though it got interesting.  Looking for a loop we took a side track but soon found 5 vehicles severely bogged, freezing fog, wind and snow coming in horizontally.  Time to head back to the main track. 

The team turned around as best we could and yours truly, a relative newbie, was #2.  Deane in his Nissan Granroad (Safari/Patrol) lead the way.  We soon found ourselves on the main track pushing through snow 12-18 deep in places and crashing through ice 4" thick over the tops of water filled bogs and ruts.  Great fun playing icebreakers and giving the V8 the gun to get through it.  After an hour we ran into trouble while we stopped to get the crew back together.  A lot had got stuck after Deane and me so we had to wait while they were snatched out of their predicaments. 

While we waited I made the mistake of leaving the truck idling in a blizzard on a steep up slope.  Doesn't sound a bad thing to do?  Well I found out that carb icing can be a real bugger! (realised this was the problem later) I got into the truck, put my foot on the gas and it went from idle to a weak splutter and stopped. It restarted for a few seconds then died and refused to start.  It was behaving exactly as if the module had gone west.  The spark was weak (battery low from cranking at that stage) and she would not run so plan B was put into action to get us along a distance where we could carry out repairs without blocking the trail and to get off the exposed tops.  No spare module aboard but I did have a complete points dizzy (thanks to Rod and Brian in OZ for this) in the get-me-home box.  - we brought up Gareth's "Heavy" It doesn't sound such a big vehicle but consider this: 1985 Landcruiser swb with front and rear ARB diff locks, 33x12.5 BFG Muds, body and spring lift, and an Izuzu (GM) 5.9L I6 diesel truck engine.  (infinitely tougher than a Chevy V8 diesel) This thing has huge torque.

We threw on the snatch strop onto the custom bumper and heaved away.  No good.  It took the cruiser + Deane's Nissan to get us moving. So here we were in snow getting deeper, dead engine in the jeep and 3 tied in a train to keep going through ruts tussock and snow now 2 feet deep.  We did it though.  I tried the starter. No go. She turned but slowly. Then I hit on it.  If i could get the auto spinning the tow might get the motor running so i dropped her into 1 (already in lo) and cranked the starter and the torque converter engaged and the tow spun her over rreally fast and she fired up.  She ran. 

The guys in front stopped so I jumped out to yell "hey we are going".  Mistake #2.  Deane thought i said "get going" and didn't see I had jumped out (awful visibility, horizontal snow and wind) so he started towing again with no one in my driver's seat and Natalie and Jane in the  passenger seats. Gareth didn't twig to it either. I ran and dived throught that door and grabbed the wheel` and hung on got myself on the seat and hit the brakes.  Stopped at last.  Yelled through the window and finally got Gareth to pass on to Deane not to move.  Got the rope off. Whew.

Another kilometer along the tops and whoops, Gareth broke thru ice and was up to his axles in mud and ice.  As he walked over to my truck he went thru the crust of snow and ice into a bog filling his boots only 2 feet from my left front tyre. He grabbed my snatch strap and Deane snatched him out. The rest of us went round the impassable bog he so kindly pointed out for us

A kilometer on the track started downhill and it was smooth sailing from then until we got out of the snow.  Then the track turned to slick yellow saturated clay.  Some put on chains.  Most just went for it - we did a fair bit of crabwise progress.  Good fun.  Really sticky 'orrible goo but fortunately not deep just 6" or so on a firm slick clay base.  An interesting uphill climb in the clay - those who went first lined the route looking for the thrills and spills.  It was a gentle run up but with the camber of the track threatening to put us off to either side (really slippery) a steep left turn, up and over a hole then right turn.  Some got stuck.  I proved the V8's really got it to please a crowd.  I was in lo drive and doing well - but rather anticlimactically so I threw it into lo 1 and burried the pedal. Mud everywhere,  took the corner at speed at full revs proabably about 4500 -5000 in a beaut 4 wheel drift spraying the vultures on the roadside with clay.

The rest was a long drive through slippery clay roads and a descent onto the Taieri Plains and home at 5.30.  A big and exciting day out.


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