Thread: So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies

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  1. #1 So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies 
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    In our efforts to attract new people to GSW we have started compiling a newbie guide of sorts to help people get a better idea of what the event is like and how they can best prepare themselves and their rig for the trip. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. My initial guide is a bit verbose, so I will be breaking it up in to different sections and posting them as we get closer to the actual event. And having spent the last hour or so adding to this and with GSW registration being open, I am seriously jonesing for some Moab!

    Reminder, the registration site can be accessed here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/grand-s...834964?aff=es2


    So you want to go to GSW?

    You've been building your rig, staying up late to finish mods, pouring over trail books, and you can't wait to get to get Moab and experience it all for yourself.

    Moab, and Grand Slam West, are both incredible experiences. As with most anything in life, the more prepared you are for a trip like this, the more you will enjoy it. Grand Slam West has been around for close to 20 years now, and many of us have been attending religiously for most of those years, and we want to share some of the things we've learned to help make your first experience the best it possibly can be. We can't promise sunny and 75 degree weather, we can't promise you won't break anything, we can't promise you won't get stuck, but we want you to be prepared when things go awry.

    Since this is a four wheeling event, the main component of preparedness is your rig itself. You don't need 40's and tons to have a good time in Moab. But there are a few basic minimum requirements that will allow you to enjoy a wide variety of trails, communicate with the group, and make any potential recoveries easier. Whether your rig is mostly stock, or you can't even tell what it started life as, some basics will help you have a good time and not hold up the group you are traveling with.

    Your Rig
    Over the years of experience gained from wheeling in Moab, many of us modified our Jeeps in a specific manner to better handle the trails out there. Whether you're doing Fins & Things or Pritchett, there's a few basics that can help. First and foremost, we must protect our vehicle's components. Skid plates and rocker protection (real protection, not nerf bars) will go a LONG way in Moab. There are many ledges, drop-offs, and rocks that you will traverse, and protecting vital components will help you have a good time. Sure you can go to Moab without sliders or skids, but your trail selections will be limited to prevent damage to your rig. I'll go into this more later, but your trail leader always has ultimate say in whether your rig can go on a trail with the group.

    Lift, tires, and lockers always help too. Each trail we offer will have a different level of difficulty and present its own unique challenges. Again, you don't need the biggest rig in the world to enjoy Moab. It is better to have a rig that is tested, works properly, and well maintained. Before heading out to Moab, it is always a good idea to check fluid levels, and also check tightness of all the bolts in your steering and suspension. Another good thing to look at for the ZJ's and WJ's on short arms is to make the sure the unibody side suspension mounts are still in good shape. They are prone to cracking, and that can lead to a major failure on the trail. It's always a good idea to bring some spare fluids and a tool kit for your rig. You know your rig best, but if you have any questions on what to bring, never to hesitate to ask in the forums or email the planners group. There is a good list here on our info site as well: http://gsw.mallcrawlin.com/html/recomendations.html

    While most of the rigs you will see at GSW are ZJ's and WJ's, WK's and WK2's are also welcome as well. These present a slightly different set of challenges as Jeep moves to more street friendly setups. The biggest obvious difference is the move to independent suspension in the front on the WK, and both front and rear on the WK2. This will keep those rigs off some of the more difficult trails, as the articulation from a solid axle really helps in a lot of places in Moab. Another change in the WK/WK2 is that some of the rigs do not come with 4Lo from the factory. This presents an interesting situation for us, and the planners have decided that having 4Lo is a requirement for GSW. With the terrain in Moab it really is necessary to have 4Lo on the trails we will be doing. The "Moab Bump" simply isn't possible without 4Lo, and your transmission will thank you for having 4Lo.

    It also highly recommended to bring enough food, water, and medical supplies for everyone in your vehicle to last at least 24 hours.


    In the next installment I'll go over some more specific items that are required for your rig and what to expect when we're out on the trail.
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  2. #2 Re: So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies 
    Junior Member Toy50's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. Curious to know the max # of rigs on a trial run? I've been to Moab several times and seen trails closed for special groups w/permits only. Are we getting reserved trails?
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  3. #3 Re: So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies 
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    We won't have the trails reserved for us like RR4W do for Easter Jeep Safari, and the cap on the number of rigs really depends on the trail. Easier trails we're not worried so much about a cap, but the harder trails are usually limited to 8 to 10. If there is more demand than that for a trail we might offer it a 2nd day.
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  4. #4 Re: So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies 
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    Hoping to make it...first time at moab so little nervous. Hopefully rig gets done in time...[IMG]content://media/external/file/20801[/IMG]
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  5. #5 Re: So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies 
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuffnutz70 View Post
    Hoping to make it...first time at moab so little nervous. Hopefully rig gets done in time...[IMG]content://media/external/file/20801[/IMG]
    I can pretty much guarantee you that your first time to Moab will not be your last!! There will be plenty of trails for all levels of rigs, with experienced trail leaders to help make sure you have a great time!
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  6. #6 Re: So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies 
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    What is this "Moab" stuff?
    "I will offend a bunch of you. I do not know what your moral boundaries are, so I'm probably going to cross them at some point. I sometimes even go beyond my own moral boundaries -- that's how I know I still have them."

    Tosh.0 (Loosely translated by Fuego)(slightly modified to fit my needs!)
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  7. #7 Re: So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies 
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    As we're getting closer to the event and we're all spending time working on our rigs, I wanted to go over a couple quick things that your rig is required to have, as well as what to expect on the trails.

    Tow Points
    These are crucial on even the easiest of trails. They need to be secure, and strong. The most common that you see in our group are trailer hitch receivers in the rear, and factory tow points or custom/aftermarket bumpers up front. If a vehicle becomes stuck, disabled, or inclement weather shows up, even the easiest of trails and the biggest of rigs will rely heavily on their tow points. It could be either to get your own rig out or to help someone else on the trail. Winches and such can help, but are not required as most of the trail leaders will have winches on their vehicles. And you never know which direction you will need to pull or be pulled, so having tow points both front AND rear is important.

    4-Low Transfer Case
    This one is pretty self-explanatory, and I covered it in the previous post, but it's importance makes it worth mentioning again. If you have a single speed t-case, there may be options to swap it out for one that has low range, and that might be worth exploring as low range is required at GSW.

    CB Radio
    While cell phone technology has come a LONG way since the first GSW in 1998, it's very rare that they actually work while we're on the trails. We can't text our trail leader and tell him that we're stopping for a moment to take a pee break or check something on our rig that might be broken. Communication is key to everyone having a good time on the trail, and the preferred method at GSW is by CB Radio. You don't need a fancy amped up unit that can talk to Mars, we just need to be able to communicate within a mile or so. Personally, my total CB setup cost me less than $100. I wouldn't recommend relying on a hand held unit, although those can be helpful for spotters to talk to drivers on obstacles. Using an SWR meter to tune your CB for proper performance can also be a big help. Your trail leaders will rely on CB communication to share information about upcoming obstacles, items of note on the trail, and any other pertinent info to the group. They are also your life line to ask for a spotter or help from the group. Yelling back and forth or honking horns to get attention isn't enjoyable, and everything is just easier when the whole group has a CB.

    Spare Tire
    Rocks in Moab can be sharp. I've seen tires blow under a variety of different situations and having a spare is crucial and required. A blown tire can make your rig effectively dead in the water, and is such a simple thing to carry and replace.

    Seat Belts
    Wear them whenever your vehicle is in motion. End of story!

    Rocker Protection and Skid Plates
    While not technically "required" to attend the event, skid plates will be required on all but the easiest trails and rocker protection is HIGHLY recommended on just about every trail. Many of our sponsors provide great options for skids and rockers, I would certainly look into those if your rig doesn't already have them.


    So now that your rig is ready for Moab, what actually happens out there? The event itinerary is posted on our information site http://gsw.mallcrawlin.com/html/events.htm and is a great resource to figure out when and where all of the official events are going on. We do our best to stick to the schedules, but cannot guarantee that we can keep them. Things happen, rigs break, a flash flood washes away a trail and the group doesn't get back until 2:30AM. We will make every attempt possible to stick to the planned itinerary, but it is always subject to change. Unless something catastrophic happens, we will offer a variety of trails each day of the event.

    Driver's Meetings
    Each morning there will be a Mandatory Driver's Meetings where we will review the trails we are running that day, as well as desired equipment for each trail. This is a great time to ask questions of the Trail Leaders and determine which trail is going to be the best for you. The Trail Leaders are all very experienced wheelers, and will be a great resource in determining which trail is best for you and your rig. After we break off into groups for each trail, the Trail Leader will talk to the group a little more in depth about what each trail entails and the plan for the day. At this point the Trail Leader will also talk to members of the group that he/she may not be familiar with, and make sure that each driver is on an appropriate trail for their rig and skill level. If the Trail Leader determines that a vehicle or driver is ill equipped for the trail they are leading, it is the Trail Leader's sole discretion as to whether or not that driver will be able to go on that trail. This is an extremely rare occurrence, and if it does happen, that Trail Leader will work with the other Trail Leaders to make sure that the driver is able to go on a more suitable trail that day. I would also highly recommend getting to the drivers' meetings early, as it is a great time to walk around, check out the other rigs, and get to know the other people at GSW.

    After each trail group has their breakout meeting, they will depart to their trail. Your Trail Leader will advise you before you depart if you should air down your tires and disconnect your swaybars now, or wait until you arrive at the trailhead.

    On the Trail
    The most important part of being on the trail is to respect the trail, and the other users of the trail. Moab is an extremely popular destination for all sorts of outdoor activities. You could encounter cyclists, hikers, horses, unicycles, UTV's, and more. It is our responsibility to set a proper example of good trail etiquette. ALWAYS stay on the designated route. Pick up any trash that you may see. Stay off the cryptobiotic soil (if you are unfamiliar with this, ask your Trail Leader). I always like to offer water to any cyclists or hikers that we encounter, and more than once we have encountered folks who were in desperate need of water. I always carry an extra case of water on top of what I personally need in case we run into someone on the trail who needs it. We have the capability to carry way more than those on foot or on a bike, and with the physical exertion required for hiking and biking, hydration is key. Temps in Moab can go well above 100 degrees, making proper hydration that much more important. This also applies to you and your passengers.

    Everyone in the group will line up on the trail, with the Leader out front. The Leader will usually designate someone he is familiar with to be the "Tail Gunner" who brings up the rear and can help out with spotting and other things with the back of the group. Keeping the group together is very important. Always keep an eye in your rear view for the vehicle behind you. If you lose sight of them, stop and reach out on the CB to make sure they're okay. On obstacles or steep climbs/descents, always wait for the vehicle in front of you to clear it before you proceed. Always leave enough room between the vehicle in front of you and yourself in case they need to back up and take another line on something.

    When the group arrives at a major obstacle, usually the Trail Leader will get out and spot everyone up the obstacle. If you would prefer to use someone else as your spotter, your Trail Leader will not be insulted and might even enjoy the break! Also, never be afraid to ask for a spotter in ANY situation. We'd rather be safe than sorry.

    The Trail Leader will also usually have a spot picked out for lunch, and will work with the group to determine the best place and time to stop. Many of the trails we offer have unofficial lunch spots (Little Arch on Poison Spider, the River Overlook/Hell's Gate on Hell's Revenge, etc) that our Trail Leaders like to use.

    At some point, sooner or later, somebody's rig is going to break. When a rig breaks, the Trail Leader and other members of the group will usually do everything in their power to help get the broken rig going again and at least off the trail and back to town. Sometimes it's a quick and easy repair, sometimes it could be more involved. Ultimately, if it's your rig, you are responsible for it. Anybody that offers help is doing so voluntarily. There are several parts stores in Moab, as well as a couple shops that can help you get your rig going again. If you're going to break a Grand Cherokee, this really is the place to do it. The combined knowledge of our rigs in this group is astounding, and I'm still baffled by some of the trail repairs and recoveries this group has pulled off. There is very much a "no man left behind" mentality on the trail. I can only recall one rig ever being left on a trail overnight, and it was primarily because it was already dark when he broke and we determined it would be much safer to recover during the daylight. We will do everything we can to get your rig off the trail and back to town, but there are some instances where it is better for a professional shop to handle the needed repairs.

    We try our best to make sure we get off the trail at a reasonable time, but that can't always be guaranteed. The Trail Leader will make sure everybody gets back to pavement safely and headed back towards town. We will usually head back to our hotels/campsites to clean up, and then split off into different groups for dinner at one of the restaurants in town or fire up the grill at the Redstone.

    Back In Town
    Once we're off the trail, we usually hang out and socialize while those that broke their rig during the day get them back up and running. Most of the group will stay at the Redstone Inn or Canyonlands Campground just south of the Redstone. The primary hangout spot is the parking lot at the Redstone. There is a grill there if you want to BBQ, or several restaurants within walking distance. The hotel is EXTREMELY accommodating to our group, and we need to continue to respect that. We have completed all sorts of vehicle repairs in their parking lot, and each year they continue to ask us back. This is because we are mindful of the hotel and the other guests. If you need to drop a diff cover for example, use a drain pan to catch all the fluid, clean up any that you may have missed. Essentially the same guidelines as on the trail, clean up any mess you may have made and leave it in better condition than it was when you arrived.
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  8. #8 Re: So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies 
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    Curious to know how many Grands/people will be attending this year? Hope it's a good turn out this year.
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  9. #9 Re: So you want to go to GSW? aka a guide to GSW for newbies 
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    Currently we're sitting at around 30 registered vehicles, there's always a few last minute registrations so I'm anticipating 35-40!
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