Extreme off-road hill climbing is usually done with dune buggies or modified 4×4 vehicles. These vehicles are modified because standard production vehicles just aren’t built to fly up steep, bumpy hills at high speeds. Don’t try to tell that to this crazy Canadian, though. He has his mind made up to take his truck up a hill called the Widowmaker. As you can see, the truck is a standard stock model with no modifications. It is a 2015 GMC Sierra 1500, however, which is the most powerful light-duty pickup in its class. He’s smart enough to get a good running start on level ground, but will it be enough to get to the top of the Widowmaker?
A New Formula Off-Road Climbing Class?
This guy’s insane stunt may just lead to an offshoot of extreme off-road hill climbing. Trucks and other unmodified 4×4 vehicles could be awarded points for their climbs and champions could be crowned just as they are in the off-road hill climbing circuit called Formula Off Road. Started in Iceland in 1965, this unique sport involves driving heavily modified 4×4 vehicles up steep hills and extreme terrain. Vehicles are awarded points based on how far they go and are given penalties for stopping and backing up. Deductions are also given for based on how much slower the vehicle completes the climb compared to the fastest time.
Typical Modifications in Formula Off Road
As mentioned, this “new” class in Formula Off Road would be more dangerous than the current two classes: Modified and Unlimited. There are actually very few serious accidents in Formula Off Road because drivers are protected by roll cages and also have 5-point harnesses, flame-resistant clothing, and helmets, among other things. In addition to those safety precautions and modifications, these vehicles are typically heavily modified in the following ways to enhance performance:
• Lowered gear ratios with higher ratios up front to improve steering in extreme situations
• Sand drag tires for maximum protection
• Modified suspension to accommodate fast-changing surfaces
• Locked rear and front differentials and center transfer case so all tires turn at once
• Automatic transmission with torque converter and driveline that kicks in at about 5,000 rpm
• Eight-cylinder petrol engine with nitrous system
Of course, like any racing circuit, there are regulations that have to be followed with these and other typical modifications. No such regulations would be needed if Formula Off Road decided to add a production vehicle class that would include the GMC Sierra and other standard vehicles.
How Does the GMC Sierra Stack Up to These Modified Vehicles?
Many of the Formula Off Road vehicles have over 1,000 horsepower. Equipped with a 6.2L V8 engine, the 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 has 420 horsepower. The engine is paired with either a 6-speed or 8-speed automatic transmission. Here are some of the 1500’s other key specs:
• Up to 12,000 pounds maximum towing rating
• Fully independent coil-over-shock front suspension for improved handling
• Available Hill Descent Control for controlled descent in rough, steep terrain
• Stabilitrak with Traction Control for more precise steering
• Available automatic locking rear differential for improved traction
Ascending the Widowmaker
Looking at this hill and doing a comparison with the GMC Sierra, do you think your truck could make it to the top of the Widowmaker in Kamloops, British Columbia? There’s only one way to find out if you live in or close to BC, though you should be warned that there’s a risk of damaging your car—not to mention getting hurt. If you don’t live near Kamloops, you could always find a similarly sized hill to see how your vehicle performs compared to this Sierra 1500. If you do decide to do something crazy like this but end up getting stalled on the hill, here a few steps to follow:
• Switch off the stalled engine and put your foot firmly on the brake
• Push in the clutch and reverse gears in low range
• Slowly take your foot off the clutch, then slowly take your other foot off the brake
• Start the engine and keep your feet off all the pedals
• The vehicle will start to drive backwards as the engine fires
Considering the GMC Sierra’s specs and the size of the hill, do you think this guy is about to stall is vehicle, or will he make it to the top? Either way, descending the hill isn’t going to be easy either.