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Best way to descend snowy hill on offroad trail?

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Old 11-29-2010, 09:35 AM   #1
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Best way to descend snowy hill on offroad trail?

OK guys maybe you can make me a better driver.

About a week ago I was out wheeling in the snow on a trail. On one part of the trail, I was at the crest of a small hill about to start my descent. The trail turns to the left, with a dropoff on the right.
I was aired down, 4L, auto trans in 1st gear, dead stop.

Starting my descent (no gas), I found that the rear end wanted to slide passenger, but I could come to a complete stop again with a slight bit of slide diagonally to the right.
My solution was to creep a few inches until I got what I felt was too much momentum, and I would slowly brake to a dead stop, then repeat. It was slow going, but I made it fine.


1. Is there a better way to do this?

2. What about situations where you can't come to a dead stop? Do you just trust the 4L/1st gearing, stand on the brakes, pump brakes, etc? I've tried various but not sure what would be best.
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:41 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chickenmunga View Post
OK guys maybe you can make me a better driver.

About a week ago I was out wheeling in the snow on a trail. On one part of the trail, I was at the crest of a small hill about to start my descent. The trail turns to the left, with a dropoff on the right.
I was aired down, 4L, auto trans in 1st gear, dead stop.

Starting my descent (no gas), I found that the rear end wanted to slide passenger, but I could come to a complete stop again with a slight bit of slide diagonally to the right.
My solution was to creep a few inches until I got what I felt was too much momentum, and I would slowly brake to a dead stop, then repeat. It was slow going, but I made it fine.


1. Is there a better way to do this?

2. What about situations where you can't come to a dead stop? Do you just trust the 4L/1st gearing, stand on the brakes, pump brakes, etc? I've tried various but not sure what would be best.

Do you have downhill assist? I'd say light (but constant) usage of the brakes and/or downhill assist to keep it really slow.
When I drive in snow, stopping altogether worries me, as I never know just how much it will slide, or what the truck will do when you begin moving again (it may slide laterally if tire spin is required to get momentum up).

I drive a manual, so I'm guessing there are some slight differences in how the trucks handle.
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:43 AM   #3
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Without seeing what you're talking about, I'd keep the tires rolling instead of trying to stop the truck. Your braking power is in the front so you lock the front tires and the back wants to come around. Low gearing, use the brakes to slow your decent, not stop on the hill and trust that your front tires will pull you where you want to go. Like I said though, that's without seeing what you were going through, others may have a different approach, just my $0.02.
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:52 AM   #4
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I suggest not pumping the brakes on snow. Keeping the wheels locked should allow you to slow down faster on a hill. The idea is that you will buildup a wall of snow infront of the tires. This wedge-effect is what provides the stopping force.
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:52 AM   #5
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Are you auto or manual?

If you are auto, I would use the downhill assist..

if you're manual, what gear were you in? I have gone down some icy hills in 1st gear in 4lo without any issues but if I tapped the brakes even the slightest bit I would slide. When I'm offroading I rarely use my brakes decending hills...4LO in 1st gear is great.
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:55 AM   #6
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If someone has gone down before you, you can watch how their rigs acts and get a sense for how slippery it is. Because there's a big difference between snow, hard packed snow, and ice and each situation can be a pucker factor.

In my experiences with snow (I've had many scary ones) - in a situation like that, you're far better off putting your rig in 4lo 2nd gear and going down a bit faster than what you're comfortable with. #1) You don't want the ass-end to swing around you - stay ahead of it. #2) you don't want the wheels to slide down the hill, you want them to continue rolling. If you're going too slow, the truck will slide down faster than your gearing will go. #3) While going down faster and keeping your wheels 'turning' (not sliding), you will have better steering capability than you will if the truck is sliding.

Avoid using the brakes - that'll cause you to slide and reduce steering response.

Believe me.....it's uncomfortable as hell and can be scary..... THat's one of the main reasons why I stopped wheeling in the snow & ice. I've had many of frigin pucker ass moments.

Good Luck!
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:11 AM   #7
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In this case it was hardpack and wet, I was last vehicle. Not much chance of digging a wall.

I'm '08 auto, so no DAC.

I used to think fully locked brakes were the answer, but a guy told me you have less control - all you are doing is uncontrolled sliding, whereas a bit of gas can sometimes correct you, kind of like Janster says. Guess it may be situation-dependent.

Jan, I think 4L - 1st would have been fast enough. Can you swap to 2nd in the middle of things? I'm thinking that's better than starting 2nd off the bat.

Yep trying to stay off brakes. I came close to overheating them on a Honda once and I drive 5th wheels every now and then, I know all about that. I went with the way I did simply because I could come to a dead stop and just inch my way down. Since it was such a short distance at a time and negligible speed, overheating wasn't going to be an issue.

The rig in front of me took it real easy, but he was an FJC with a fresh set of MTs... I had my stock Rugged Trails with 5/32" tread (yes I'm looking to replace after some Christmas recovery). I wasn't trying to make this a tire quality threads... just getting a general "best practices" since even some really soupy mud on fresh tires can give you the same scenario.
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chickenmunga View Post
In this case it was hardpack and wet, I was last vehicle. Not much chance of digging a wall.

I'm '08 auto, so no DAC.

I used to think fully locked brakes were the answer, but a guy told me you have less control - all you are doing is uncontrolled sliding, whereas a bit of gas can sometimes correct you, kind of like Janster says. Guess it may be situation-dependent.

Jan, I think 4L - 1st would have been fast enough. Can you swap to 2nd in the middle of things? I'm thinking that's better than starting 2nd off the bat.

Yep trying to stay off brakes. I came close to overheating them on a Honda once and I drive 5th wheels every now and then, I know all about that. I went with the way I did simply because I could come to a dead stop and just inch my way down. Since it was such a short distance at a time and negligible speed, overheating wasn't going to be an issue.

The rig in front of me took it real easy, but he was an FJC with a fresh set of MTs... I had my stock Rugged Trails with 5/32" tread (yes I'm looking to replace after some Christmas recovery). I wasn't trying to make this a tire quality threads... just getting a general "best practices" since even some really soupy mud on fresh tires can give you the same scenario.
I think you hit the nail no the head here. Tires, Tires, Tires. 4x4 gets you going, tires make you stop. If there isn't enough snow to pack up a wall in front of the tires, you are better off rolling slowly.

FWIIW, I HATE the ABS in these trucks in slick conditions. My next mod is going to be an ABS kill switch for heavy snow/mud offroading. It is the worst ABS I have ever driven. It adds a huge amount to the stopping distance in certain conditions.

I find it is pretty hard to get the brakes that hot in winter between the cole air temps and snow getting into the wheels. Brake overheat is pretty low on my worry list for a winter drive.

I used to live in upstate NH at 3,000' with a 1/4 mile long STEEP driveway. I've tried every technique possible to go up and come down a steep, snow covered hill... and I've often ended up spinning it around or buried in a ditch. All part of the fun, right? If you do start skidding, you can give the throttle a little bump and accelerate down the hill to regain heading... However, you can compound matters and end up with MORE momentum and in the same situation again. I'd rather hit something at 5 mph instead of 10mph.

Practice makes perfect!
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:57 AM   #9
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I agree with janster. The last thing you want is to break or stay break. I suggest you go low 2nd and let the rpms guide you. No break just compression. If you keep consistent rpms in snow or ice you way more likely to get out or go where you want. The other thing is you usually want to make direct lines in snow that way you keep you ass in the right place. Geometry !
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sierrahsky View Post
I agree with janster. The last thing you want is to brake or stay brake. I suggest you go low 2nd and let the rpms guide you. No brake just compression. If you keep consistent rpms in snow or ice you way more likely to get out or go where you want. The other thing is you usually want to make direct lines in snow that way you keep you ass in the right place. Geometry !
fixed it for you sorta....
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viperstd View Post
I suggest not pumping the brakes on snow. Keeping the wheels locked should allow you to slow down faster on a hill. The idea is that you will buildup a wall of snow infront of the tires. This wedge-effect is what provides the stopping force.
ABSOLUTELY WRONG! If you keep the front tires locked you can't turn, so if you're heading towards any kind of obstacle you're screwed, plus when the the braking force is almost all in the front so the rear will try to pass the front so you will spin sideways (not a good thing going down hill). Also this "wall of snow" or "wedge effect" will only get you stuck.

EDIT: I meant to add, use the RPM's to keep the truck at a crawl. Depending on how steep the hill is use 1st or 2nd to keep it nice and slow and keep braking to a minimum.
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chickenmunga View Post
OK guys maybe you can make me a better driver.

About a week ago I was out wheeling in the snow on a trail. On one part of the trail, I was at the crest of a small hill about to start my descent. The trail turns to the left, with a dropoff on the right.
I was aired down, 4L, auto trans in 1st gear, dead stop.

Starting my descent (no gas), I found that the rear end wanted to slide passenger, but I could come to a complete stop again with a slight bit of slide diagonally to the right.
My solution was to creep a few inches until I got what I felt was too much momentum, and I would slowly brake to a dead stop, then repeat. It was slow going, but I made it fine.


1. Is there a better way to do this?

2. What about situations where you can't come to a dead stop? Do you just trust the 4L/1st gearing, stand on the brakes, pump brakes, etc? I've tried various but not sure what would be best.
I think what you did is pretty much what needs to be done with your truck/tires. you may need little more experience with applying the brakes with out loosing the traction but otherwise you did good.
so

1. Not really

2. If you can not stop then dont try it. Just plot in your head the route you want your truck to take and focus on that. Go with the flow.
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viperstd View Post

Practice makes perfect!
x1000

Its one of those things that if you do it often you simply know what to do.
I have the same kind of driveway with 180 degree turn in the middle to make it more fun. First winter I had my fingers imprinted in steering wheel and probably cracked my tooth.
Now I sorta space out going down since it takes some time to crawl it down.
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:28 PM   #14
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Old 11-29-2010, 03:44 PM   #15
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4 lo turn off lockers and A trac ect.

ease down and slightly apply the foot brake dont lock the wheels when the front comes up on anything lightly depress the brake a bit more then let off as the suspension recompresses.

change undies
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Old 11-29-2010, 04:24 PM   #16
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Old 11-29-2010, 04:36 PM   #17
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fixed it for you sorta....
lol, stupid iphone....
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:16 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macgyver View Post
When I'm offroading I rarely use my brakes decending hills...4LO in 1st gear is great.
^^^^ this is what I do , 4LO , in 1st or 2nd and drive the truck down . Trying to stop on a slick hill is when it can get sketchy , as was mentioned in a previous post make sure you look ahead to have a decent Plan B .
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