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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Disclaimer: I am not much of a a car guy. I've read through a majority of the forums for the past couple months, but could use some more help for someone struggling a bit with the jargon of more experienced folks. I hope you'll all take pity on me and help with my specific questions even if I've read them in another forum and didn't understand :confused:



I grew up in Atlanta and live in Charlotte at about 675ft elevation, we get about an inch of ice every year, occasional light snow. Not why I ordered an Ascent (Limited trim).



This year we got ourselves a little cabin in the far western mountains of NC, at 5,000ft. Adjacent to a mountain bald protected by the Nature Conservancy, and from the top is a 2mi hike along the ridgeline to the AT. We love it, and I can't wait to do a little cold weather hiking up there. But obviously there's a big elevation change, and the last 1.5 miles of the drive is a huge portion of elevation gain up a steep gravel road, which sometimes doesn't have much gravel.



I've been driving an Accord V6 for the past 12 years in the piedmont, reasonably comfortable driving in icy conditions in the rare times they happen, but have never needed anything but stock tires.



What do I need for traveling from the city to the top of a mountain in winter?



I really don't know anything about tires. Are the stock tires adequate to get us there and back again? Do I need to buy a set of winter tires to swap out before a trip up there in winter? I've read that the Ascent doesn't work with snow chains, but am I missing an alternative option?



The woman we bought the cabin from says they average about 100in of snow/year up there, and I'm pretty sure the community does some level of snow maintenance for the road (we're a vacation home owner but there are plenty of year-rounders around the mountain). But still, 100 inches of snow is probably equal to my lifetime of snowfalls combined. Trying my best to keep my wife and daughter safe in my driving hands.



Thanks in advance from a newbie Subie owner (or will be in 2 weeks when my long nightmare of waiting for delivery is over).
 

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just my opinion....

I don't think you want snow tires for the trip. I think you want All-Terrains for the gravel. If your Ascent comes with the 18" option, and you can only afford to run one set of wheel/rubber combo, I would buy the Continental Terrain Contacts. If your Ascent is coming with 20s, I would buy a set of 17" Liquid Metal Shadows rims and wrap them with BFG KO2s, or Kumhos like Robert did. Not knowing about the rest of time you drive, I would just put the 17s on for trip and put the 20s back on when you get back.

While chains are discouraged, as long as they are low profile CLASS S rated, you can use them for the 15mph, 1.5 mile trip. Alternatively, you can use the more exotic snow socks. In general, the stock tires are horrible on gravel with a grade, and the ride is pretty rough on the 20s. Adding snow to the mix sounds even more undesirable. Can the Ascent do it? Feel free to be the first to try it!
 

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This year we got ourselves a little cabin in the far western mountains of NC, at 5,000ft. Adjacent to a mountain bald protected by the Nature Conservancy...

First, I'm so jealous. Congrats! :smile:



...and from the top is a 2mi hike along the ridgeline to the AT. We love it, and I can't wait to do a little cold weather hiking up there. But obviously there's a big elevation change, and the last 1.5 miles of the drive is a huge portion of elevation gain up a steep gravel road, which sometimes doesn't have much gravel.

I've been driving an Accord V6 for the past 12 years in the piedmont, reasonably comfortable driving in icy conditions in the rare times they happen, but have never needed anything but stock tires.

What do I need for traveling from the city to the top of a mountain in winter?

I really don't know anything about tires. Are the stock tires adequate to get us there and back again? Do I need to buy a set of winter tires to swap out before a trip up there in winter? I've read that the Ascent doesn't work with snow chains, but am I missing an alternative option?

The woman we bought the cabin from says they average about 100in of snow/year up there, and I'm pretty sure the community does some level of snow maintenance for the road (we're a vacation home owner but there are plenty of year-rounders around the mountain). But still, 100 inches of snow is probably equal to my lifetime of snowfalls combined. Trying my best to keep my wife and daughter safe in my driving hands.

I would ask for more details from locals in that area. Figure out exactly how well maintained the roads are leading up to that 1.5-mile gravel entry.


Why?


Because the first thing you need to make the decision about is whether you want more performance (aka "safety") for the 75% of your drive, or if you really need it for that more difficult 25%.


Unfortunately, current tire technology still means that tires are a compromise: there's simply no way you can have it all, and anyone who says you can more than likely either does not know better - or they have a vested interest one way or the other. :tango_face_wink:



I think the conditions you face and the choice you must make mirror well what the OP in this thread on SubaruForester.org described:


https://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f72/snow-tires-new-pacific-northwest-snow-257282/


And in that manner, my opinion is the same as FourMoBro's - go for an AT tire instead. Alternatively, if your roadway reports (from your scouting with locals) suggest that a lot of snowfall and ice/hardpack happen to be in your future, then I'd go for a traditional "studdable" winter tire and skip the studs unless you really must have ice traction (I checked, and it seems that NC does allow studded winters).


Why?


Because the way you have currently described things, it's that last 1.5 miles of "improved road" that's going to give you the most trouble, and the ATs will best fit that role not necessarily in the winter, but *definitely* for the rest of the year.



The equation would tilt for me, though, if those locals you interview report unfavorable winter road conditions: i.e. a lack of reasonable clearing and roadway treatments. In this case, I would look more towards a true winter tire. Towards this end, exactly how harsh the winter conditions you'll be facing would then be the determining factor between the studdable winter versus the "Performance Winter," both in SUV/LT fitment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the thoughts on this. That last stretch of road is particularly troublesome because it's a one-lane private road maintained by the community of owners on the mountain. I'll need to find out what level of clearing takes place during winter. In the meantime it sounds like I've got a set of all terrains in my future, and need to do some research on those low profile chains/covers.


Thanks again.
 

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^ No problem - best of luck! :)


Yup, get some information from the locals - including whether or not reliable help is available, too: maybe someone very nearby has a tractor and/or recovery equipment, and happens to be a friendly neighborhood helper who'll come out even late at night, if only for a word of thanks and a home-baked pie or 6-pack of beer a few times a year. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
^ No problem - best of luck! :)


Yup, get some information from the locals - including whether or not reliable help is available, too: maybe someone very nearby has a tractor and/or recovery equipment, and happens to be a friendly neighborhood helper who'll come out even late at night, if only for a word of thanks and a home-baked pie or 6-pack of beer a few times a year. ;)

Oh boy, I already owe a 6-pack to the neighbor who rescued my wife, who was driving our daughter and her mother up the cabin and got stuck on the road in her Odyssey. Got saved by a neighbor (coming up in an Outback) who moved the van far enough to the side of the road then drove them the rest of the way. She promised him that we'd already ordered our Ascent and were just waiting for delivery!
 

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^ Glad the neighbors seem nice! :)



Be sure to take a look at what tires are on his OB - and also, if it's a late-model OB, ask about what traction-control/VDC (i.e. X-Mode) he either activates or DE-activates during his most trying drives.
 
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