June 19, 2008
Randy Swenson – First Ascents
There is no doubt working at Yamaha is a very cool job and career choice, consequently we have attracted some very passionate, keen individuals over the years. I am dedicating this weeks post to one of them.
I first met Randy Swenson over 20 years ago when he was the Yamaha accessories rep for western Canada and I was working for the Yamaha Shop in Vernon BC. It wasn’t long after that I took a position with Yamaha, moved to Vancouver and hooked up with Randy on weekends as well as for business trips. He was heavily into motorcycle road racing at the time and I spent a few days at the track watching him lap along with some other young upstarts like Pacific Yamaha’s, Steve Crevier. That first winter I convinced him to come do some sleddin’ with me in Prince George, apparently he enjoyed himself!
We also dove headfirst into the relatively new sport of mountain biking and would hook up with some other Westwood throttle twisters to bomb the creek beds and trails at the base of Grouse and Seymour mountains in North Vancouver, the same areas which are now renowned by free-riders as mountain bikings mecca … the North Shore.
I soon learned to respect Randy’s natural athletic abilities, his quick eye-hand and fearless commitment to the ‘line’ which I credit a lot to his early years of down-hill ski competition. The other notable trait that I recognized in Randy is his calm but confident demeanor or more simply, his ‘walk softly and carry a big stick‘ approach to competition (and life in general).
The only time I ever saw fear on his face was during a shared vacation in Jamaica where we found ourselves well lubricated and perched atop the rocky bluffs at the famous Ricks Cafe. Our pal, Richard Irwin another Yamaha throttle twisting employee, had challenged us to dive into the briny, boiling surf at the base of the cliff. Richard dove gracefully into the 100 foot void leaving Randy and I to ponder our fate. He took one look over the edge and slowly sat down on the rock shaking his head, I had indulged in slightly more of the local spirit and proceeded to jump giving myself a refreshing Jamaican enema in the process…
Fast forward to the spring of 2002. I was in Calgary Alberta for a Star motorcycle event and got with Randy to discuss his latest sled project. He had been riding modified Mountain Max’s and SRX’s for the past few seasons and had the idea to take one of our new 4-stroke RX-1’s to build a hill climber. He called Project 101, ‘Got Boost’. Randy had been in contact with a Swedish motorcycle performance company, MC Xpress to discuss the feasibility of adding a turbo-charger to the new RX-1. The rest as they say, is history and I give Randy a lot of credit for being a pioneer of what has become the dominating force in snowmobile mountain climbing: four-stroke, turbo-charged Yamaha mod’s.
The ‘game’ now, for a select few, is the ‘first ascent’. Finding a slope that has never been scaled by a sled, nailing it in front of the camera and in recognition, naming the run, the honor of which, reserved for the conquerer. Randy has several first ascents to his title and the following report of his latest conquest recently came in from him (after a little prodding) as a segue to the next feature film in the Thunderstruck series to be released later this summer. Here’s what Randy has to say:
“After looking at this chute the entire year I finally decided it was go time. It is 3000 feet long and a vertical of around 2500′.
In comparison, “The “Monster”, which I think all of you know on Boulder, is under 1500 feet long and a vertical of just over 1,000’……….so that is why I named it this new one “Super Chute”!
I flew into it 2 weeks ago in helicopter just to check it out from bottom to top.
Three issues arose:
How do I get my sled into the bottom of it?
Will I fit through the rock wall ‘bottleneck’ near the top?
Will my sled blow a belt / overheat / blow the intercooler off…… or just fail??
D-day, I dropped into the drainage chute……..kinda like going down the Monster……..2 of the support crew that followed crashed going down with me……we flew one sled off the hill due to severe damage!!…….LOL.