Backcountry Ascender Performance Report: Sledding into the 17/18 Season

Backcountry Ascender, the snowmobile avalanche education program, completed its inaugural 16/17 season with many measures of success. In the Backcountry Ascender performance report published for sponsors BCA, Fly Racing, Marlon Recreational Products, Mountain Skillz, Frozen Pirate Snow Services, Ride Rasmussen Style, and Silber Turbos, developer Chris Mayer revealed that the program logged 9,830 users from 10 countries worldwide.

  • Number of users: 9,830
  • Number of individual sessions: 13,586
  • Average session duration: 03:38
  • Total time users spent on Backcountry Ascender during 16/17 season: 1,857 hours (111,420 minutes)!
  • Number of page views: 144,275
  • Number of completed sorties: 13,586

The most compelling trend among Backcountry Ascender users was that one a user signed up, they consistently returned to complete the ‘Sortie’ educational modules, spending over three and one-half minutes per session; significantly higher than the average of 18 seconds. Each educational Sortie included instructional pages designed to build avalanche safety and mountain riding skills for snowmobilers. Each individual earns points plus a new badge with each new mission level completed. Backcountry Ascender participants contributed points to their snowmobile club or organization of choice.

The largest user demographic was the 35-44 age cohort, who accounted for 29% of Backcountry Ascender users, followed by both the 45-53 age cohort and 25-34 age cohort at 27% of total users each group. Every age group was well represented, with snowmobilers ages 18-65+ engaged in the sled safety program. The U.S. claimed 64% (19,587 users) of Backcountry Ascender participants, Canada with 35%, (10,593 users, with the remaining 1% (280 users) from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Finland, United Kingdom and Japan. Calgary reported in as the top home town MSA, closely followed by Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago (are you city guys using your company VPN?), Post Falls, Vancouver, B.C., Edmonton A.B. and North Creek. Device usages followed typical trends, with 56% login in from iOS and 43% from Android.

Backcountry Ascender 16/17 Season Pros

Thanks to the snowmobile community and sponsors, Backcountry Ascender enjoyed good exposure in its first season as a snowmobile education app. The app design and educational program contributed to a solid, error-free Backcountry Ascender platform. Users went deep into the program and reported a good interactive experience.

Backcountry Ascender 16/17 Season Challenges

All new apps face the challenge of ‘user conversions.’ For Backcountry Ascender, a ‘conversion’ is a measure of total users to users who engage to a level completion. . Of the 9,830 first season users, 3,320, or about 34% of users completed a level to become Backcountry Ascender conversions. Another challenge in the 16/17 season was the high level of ‘hands-on’ marketing and cost of collateral for the grassroots effort. While there was consistent interaction, it wasn’t perpetual, as many of the Backcountry Ascender sled champions have their day jobs to attend to as well.

Backcountry Ascender 17/18 Season – Snowmobile Club Style Interaction 

Snowmobile club style interaction was a highlight of the 16/17 season for Backcountry Ascender developer Chris Mayer. His snowmobile club, the Cascade Drift Skippers snowmobile club was an early adopter and provides a great model to replicate to sled clubs worldwide. In the 16/17 season, 28%, or 100 of the Cascade Drift Skippers club’s 363 members participated in Backcountry Ascender. And Backcountry Ascender was a key contributing factor to Cascade Drift Skippers winning the 2017 International Snowmobile Club of the Year award.

For the upcoming 2017/18 winter snowmobile season, Backcountry Ascender plans to ramp up with snowmobile clubs, to expand usage and competitive interaction. After all, people join snowmobile clubs for learning and camaraderie, and club meetings are the perfect venue for knowledge-based seminars. Members can then transfer that to on-snow knowledge at the various levels, and improve together from beginner to intermediate to advanced. With over 3,000 snowmobile clubs worldwide, the snowmobile club provides the perfect environment for pairing riders of varying experience levels. Stronger riders benefit from teaching less experienced riders, while those newer to snowmobiling learn from more experienced riders. Snowmobile clubs are a great environment for riders challenge a buddy, and also to compete with other clubs for Backcountry Ascender badges and success metrics.

Mayer also plans to work with sponsors and new snowmobile industry and avalanche education partners to widen support and awareness of the Backcountry Ascender program for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

Backcountry Ascender is a free, fun and simple backcountry and avalanche education program for the snowmobiling community. The program was developed by Sled360, in partnership with BCA, Avalanche 1, Avalanche Canada, the American Avalanche Association, the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), and the four snowmobile manufacturers: Arctic Cat, Bombardier Recreational Products (Ski-Doo), Polaris Industries, and Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA.

To learn more and sign up, visit or email

Chris Mayer is the president of the Cascade Drift Skippers and founder of Sled360, creator of Backcountry Ascender and the 12-week Sledfit fitness program.