Sometimes, even with the best plan in place, a rider can get himself stranded. Your crew may be stranded or an individual rider could be accidentally left behind.

If you do get stranded, remain calm. A calm person in control of their emotions is much more likely to be able to look around, assess the situation and most importantly, attend to any injuries. If you are not able to walk for help, you must prepare to conserve energy and seek shelter. Use your emergency kit to assist you during the emergency. “Assess Your Situation.”

In any emergency, you need to determine your best options. Your decisions should include all factors such as where you are, how far away help is, where you are in relation to the trail, if you are alone, and whether you or someone else is injured. This is where that pre-plan you did back at the truck comes in handy. The right amount/type of food, water, clothing, etc., can save your life.


Although it might be obvious, try any means of communication you have to get assistance. Radios, cell phones and satellite phones can get you some help now that you need it. Remember that others will not be able to hear the radios or cell phones until they shut their snowmachines off.


You will have at a minimum your personal survival kit. The crew survival kit is much more robust; you have food and something to make a fire with. Warmth is incredibly important for you to be able to think clearly and to help determine your next move. When hungry, cold, shivering and shaking, no one’s thought processes are at their clearest. Make sure to ration the food in case rescue is delayed.

Shelter & Warmth

If bad weather dictates it, make yourself a shelter of some sort. You can make a snow cave by digging into a snowdrift. Building a snow shelter either in a drift or from cutting blocks of hard-pack snow serves two purposes. First, you’re building someplace to get out of the wind and that your body heat can warm up, and second, while you’re working you are moving and creating warmth.

If possible line the cave or shelter with whatever insulating material you have. There are no trees up here and the bushes are few and far between, but even dried grasses will help. If a fire is needed, use the matches from your emergency kit to help start a fire. In serious emergencies, burn the snowmachine. It’s a lot better to stay warm and burn the snowmachine than to have a good-looking snowmachine next to you when the searchers find your body!

Where are you?

Now that you’ve assessed the situation and found or built some shelter, ask yourself where am I? Exactly. Before your emergency, did you notice any snowmachine tracks, any rivers or anything else that might help? Are there any geological features that may point you back onto the trail? You should use your map, GPS unit, and/or compass to help you determine where you are and how to get back to the trail. Don’t forget that trying to use your compass too close to the snowmachine will foul up your reading. Move 25’ or so away from the snowmachine to eliminate the steel in your snowmachine from affecting the compass.

How far is help?

Once you have figured out your location, you can guess/estimate how far help is. This guess will also help you decide on whether you start walking or stay where you are. If it is close to nightfall or at night, the best choice is to stay by your snowmachine and build a shelter until daylight. Conserve your energy as much as possible to keep warm during the night. In nearly all instances, especially if you’ve made a plan, there will be others out looking for you. Your best bet is to stay with your snowmachine and the various supplies and materials you’ve carried with you.

Remember that by following normal protocol, getting stranded shouldn’t happen, but being prepared for anything can be the most important key to survival.

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