GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — “The mountain is a pretty inhospitable place in the wintertime.”

Swaths of people love to ski, snowboard, and snowmobile.  Mesa county is a great place to take to the snow, thanks to the grand mesa and several different lodges and trails.

Playing in the snow can be fun, but it’s also seriously dangerous, especially the further up the mountain you go.

“The biggest thing in the back country that is dangerous is avalanches.”

Spencer Christensen is the co-owner of the grand mesa lodge, he’s also a highly trained snowmobile guide.  With his experience in snowmobiling, he wants to pass along his knowledge to keep folks safe on the mountain.

“If you get buried by snow you will not be able to get out on your own.”  

Snow, much like water, seems harmless.  It’s powdery, soft, and light, but one wrong step and you could end up completely submerged and suffocating under thousands of pounds of dense, freezing ice or machine.

“My biggest tip if you’re going to be doing any backcountry travel, whether it’s snowmobiling in the back country or whether you’re on skis in the back country is get training.”

Resorts like Powderhorn try to control accidents involving avalanches and deep snow bowls using teams of trained ski patrol members.  The back country doesn’t offer the same luxury.  and out here there’s another danger.

The grand mesa is notorious for poor cell service and harsh winter weather, so it’s critical to go prepared. 

“What happens a lot of time is somebody will go out, and they get in too deep or they get in over their heads.”

“If there’s any sort of a slope there’s a potential for that entire slab to slide.  And if it slides and you’re in it, it will likely bury you.”

Spencer tells me new high powered snow machines can be deadly in the wrong hands.

“You can get on YouTube and you can look at them racing snowmobiles against high performance cars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis.”

At those speeds even experienced riders can wind up upside down, pinned under their machine in a flash.

“You’re completely buried, if there’s not somebody there to dig you out you will suffocate and you will die.”

Spencer’s advice? 

“If you’re really not familiar with the grand mesa at all, even if you’re experienced as a snowmobiler, I would highly recommend either hiring a guide or going out with somebody who knows the area.”

That’s Spencer’s biggest piece of advice.  learn and get help from professionals before venturing out into dangerous territory of the grand mesa.