BCSF and our Member Clubs continue to work to secure access to public land for all. see more
The BC Snowmobile Federation received information on August 2020 about a new proposed project in the Elk Valley area called the Elk Valley Cumulative Effects Management Framework. (EVCEMF) This project intends to restore industrial roads in the Elk Valley that will restrict public access to areas for the protection of habitat for Grizzly Bears, Big Horn Sheep, and Westslope Cutthroat Trout.
Road restoration is not the same as road deactivation and includes the pulling down of the banks to re-slope the road and new trees are then planted to completely restore the area. This type of restoration has the potential to completely remove snowmobile access and it was clear that access to several snowmobile areas in the Elk Valley could be lost due to this project. In fact, almost all of our snowmobile areas are listed as priority watersheds for their work going forward.
Therefore, the BCSF quickly created a project team with the Fernie Snowmobile Association and the Elkford Snowmobile Association to ensure that the snowmobile sector would have a voice on this project. We requested an immediate stop work and asked for the opportunity to participate in the road selection process for this year. This resulted in us being provided two weeks to review their proposed work and submit a written letter with our concerns. At the same time we were also successful in setting up a virtual meeting with the Provincial Project Lead to ensure that our concerns were heard. The BCSF and our member clubs attended the meeting and we were successful in having the Ptolemy trail and the Heartbreak trail removed from this year's work plan.
As a result of this work, we also have been successful in obtaining a snowmobile sector seat on the EVCEMF Working Group going forward so that we can better support their work while also representing the interests of the snowmobiling public. We anticipate this work will be ongoing over the next five years and that the Fernie Snowmobile Association and the Elkford Snowmobile Association will continue to provide strong representation for snowmobilers on this project locally.
This is a prime example of why you should join a snowmobile club. It is not just about groomed trails. The BCSF and our member clubs are dedicated to safety, the growth of the sport, protection of the environment, and securing access to public lands for all. Trails that are groomed are legally established and rarely challenged. It is snowmobile access trails that are not legally established that often are threatened and where the BCSF spends the bulk of our time and resources.
The BCSF will continue to support the clubs in the Elk Valley on this project while also working with the Cumulative Effects Management Framework Provincially. We need to better understand the implications to snowmobile access across BC, projects they have planned and ensure we have a voice. We have expanded our Provincial Team on this file to include our partners at ATV BC and BC Off Road Motorcycles Association (BCORMA) to provide a unified voice for all motorized recreation. Please support your local club!
The off season isn't the time off for snowmobile clubs that people think! see more
While the most exciting time of the year for snowmobilers is in the winter months, the off season isn't the time off for snowmobile clubs that people think. There are so many administrative and infrastructure obligations to address along with meetings especially in relation to land access issues during the summer months. Once the riders have parked their sleds for the season the clubs kick it into high gear!
Trail Maintenance and Brushing
Spring, Summer and Fall are all busy times on the trails for the clubs. In the spring before the final thaw many clubs have to go out and remove temporary snow bridges, clean out culverts, pick up pallets, pull up stakes, and remove any trees from creeks that have the potential to dam up water above our trails. They may have to close gates or install signs informing summer users that the area is closed. Through the summer many clubs run brushing programs to remove willow trees and widen trails for the groomer to get though. They also clean out ditches to stop erosion, re-slope trail surface if needed, and remove deadfall or danger trees near our trails and shelters.
Warm up shelter Construction and Maintenance
If you see a project happening on the ground this year you can be sure that new shelter or parking lot has been at least three years in the planning. Clubs must complete full project proposals with budgets, create engineered drawings, complete environmental and/or archeological assessments, submit applications to Government for permission and finally work to secure the necessary funds to complete the project. Of course when you build something new it comes with ongoing responsibility for the Club to properly maintain this asset long term. That is why the process is long and only strong clubs that can demonstrate long term stewardship are successful. Part of that ongoing commitment is ensuring that all shelters, new or old, have routine maintenance completed each season. This work can include painting, replacing stairs, clearing away fire hazards, repairing chimneys, fixing solar power, stocking firewood, and rodent proofing to prevent pack rats, porcupines, pine martins, and squirrels from calling the club’s shelter their home. Outhouses may have to be addressed, repaired and maintained, along with basic upkeep for existing structures. With many of these projects being volunteer driven, recruiting multiple hands to help is necessary to complete work in the short window of time the summer lends.
Groomer and Equipment Maintenance
Each season, each club goes over their equipment and completes routine maintenance or sends their groomer out for necessary repairs. Many sledders may not know that the average cost of a groomer is over $100,000 and that repair bills can be in the ten's of thousands of dollars especially if equipment is not properly maintained. In the spring most groomers are moved down to a members shop for storage where most maintenance is done to the groomers or drags with a final once over in the fall before being moved back up into position. Clubs can often get in the vicious circle where they are spending so much to maintain old equipment that they cannot save enough to replace the equipment. Then if the equipment is broke down riders get frustrated and further reduce the clubs budgets by not buying memberships. So help your club break the cycle by helping where you can or supporting them through memberships. Someone who is mechanically inclined is always appreciated and nothing depletes a clubs bank account quicker then their groomer.
Grant Sourcing and Writing
Several funding initiatives surface during the spring and summer months, including many tourism and government funding opportunities. If your club has someone proficient in grant writing consider yourself fortunate, for there are a lot of dollars out there that could greatly improve your club’s operations. But the application processes require detailed planning, execution and followup. There are few grants out there that will completely fund a project so often in conjunction with grants the clubs will need to coordinate fundraising campaigns or apply to several grants at once. If you are a technical person that is good at writing proposals and planning projects please consider helping your club with grant applications. Nothing feels better than helping your local club pull all the pieces together and complete a new shelter that will be there for all sledders to enjoy for generations to come.
Fundraising Events and Membership Drives
No snow, no problem, sometimes the off season, is the perfect time for a fundraising event or membership drive...especially in the fall. Riders are so eager to get back out on the snow that attendance can be high. All sledders are eager to get started and are looking for ways to reconnect with their riding group or meet new people. The BCSF also runs their annual #BCSFEarlyRenewalContest each season so that all members that support their BCSF Club before November 30th get entered for a chance at some great prizes.
Often during the summer months there seems to be a focus on the sport of snowmobiling for consultation processes. There are often meetings with Government around wildlife, new government policies and often written submissions required on each of these. Clubs are attending the BCSF Annual General Meeting, the BCSF Annual Club Congress, actively recruiting volunteers for their work bees, recruiting new Board Members, updating websites, filing annual reports with Societies BC, creating operation plans for the coming season and reports on last season for Government, plus reviewing industrial plans for the coming season to try to mitigate impacts to our trails..
By the time snow flies Clubs have booked and attended most of the Western Canada Snowmobile Shows and worked with their local tourism partners to create new maps, advertising packages, and to secure great snowmobile offers for their riders for the coming season. The BCSF is no exception as we work hard each summer to ensure that our #memberbenefit program is bigger and better each year. Many clubs set the meeting schedule and plan all their events with dates at the first meeting of the season. Many members want events but when they are actually planned fail to attend. It is disheartening to volunteers to spend time planning something and have no one show up. So attend your club meetings and help them plan events on dates that work for many of the members.
So as you can see the business of snowmobiling never stops. It is not all just work though, each of these club activities is also a great opportunity to get outside, meet new friends and an opportunity to invest your time into a sport you love. Supporting your local club ensures that when your track touches snow this winter that the trails will be open, the trail is groomed, the shelters are warm, and that your snowmobile club will still be there to ensure it all happens again next year!
Volunteers getting it done with the Fernie Snowmobile Association
Your child could win themselves a $100 Visa Gift Card! see more
Contest closed! Have a look at the great entries we received and our winner!
Here is a fun activity to keep the kids busy during social distancing and give them a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card from the BCSF. All you need to do is download one of the great colouring pages from our partners at the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association website, get your child to colour it, and take a clear picture of your child’s artwork.
Then to enter the contest:
- Post a picture of your entry to Facebook by tagging @British Columbia Snowmobile Federation – BCSF and include your child’s name, community and age in your post.
- Or, Post a picture of your entry to Instagram by tagging @BCSnowmobileFederation and include your child’s name, community and age
- Or, Send us your entry via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your child’s name, community and age
By participating in this contest the person or child’s legal parent/guardian is agreeing to the contest rules as outlined below.
- By entering the contest, you agree to let British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF) post your child’s artwork on social media and/or the (BCSF) website (personal information will not be displayed).
- The contest is open to Canadian residents only.
- The contest is open to Canadian children aged 12 and under.
- One entry per child.
The colouring contest begins April 1, 2020 and closes at midnight (PST) on April 30th, 2020. The winner will be chosen at random by the BCSF.
The BC Snowmobile Federation photo contest is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook or Instagram.
Summer is coming...time to think about storing your gear! see more
Along with summerizing your snowmobile for storage, it is a good idea to prepare your equipment and gear as well. This can save you from future headaches and keep your gear in pristine condition. Here are some suggestions:
Avalanche Transceiver: Remove your batteries in preparation for storage. Over the summer months, batteries can leak inside your device corroding vital components. When removing the batteries, be sure to inspect the unit for signs of damage or wear. This is also a great time to update the firmware on your device, if applicable, keeping you up to speed with the latest features and technology.
Avalanche Bag: Remove all contents and inspect zippers and other components for integrity. Pay close attention to all the nooks and crannies inside your bag along with that ½ eaten stick of beef jerky can get rather rank throughout the heat of the summer months. You can deploy the bag at this time in preparation for storage, or do a preseason blow off before next season commences early in the fall. It is important to test the functionality of your avalanche airbag before each season by blowing off the bag.
Shovels and Probes: This doesn’t take a lot of time, but do take the time to inspect your shovel and probe for signs of wear, damage or malfunctioning parts. Fully extend your probe to ensure the internal cord is still at optimum function, and do a feel test on your shovel blade to see if there are any burs that may need a gentle sanding. These jagged burs can damage your avalanche bag over time by catching on the fabric of the bag potentially ripping and tearing it reducing it’s life-span.
Radios: Remove batteries from the compartments to prevent corrosion of internal components over the summer. Inspect for any broken or damaged components.
Outerwear: This is an excellent time to wash your gear so it’s ready to roll for next winter. Tech type washes such as Nixwax are great for reviving your gear’s waterproofing, where traditional laundry detergents do not offer the same bonus feature. Inspect zippers and arrange for repair now rather than later when you want to use it.
Boots and Gloves: Inspect for signs of deterioration and wear. If you’ve had issues with water penetrating your boots, be sure to thoroughly dry the inside of the boots, and if they smell musty they may be in need of a good odor-absorbing puck or antibacterial spray to remove the stink. To reactivate waterproofing, many opt for a silicon-based spray such as this one offered from FXR Racing. Hydrx Silicone Water Guard
Helmet: Inspect helmet for signs of wear, particularly in the inside foam and adhesives. If you are seeing internal deterioration, it’s a good time to invest in a new lid or if your helmet is over 4 years of age. Summer is the perfect time to save for a new snowmobile helmet, and you will find some smoking deals on non-current products.
Tunnel Bag: Again, inspect and remove contents especially food products. Rodents will try to gain access by chewing through the bag if it is composed of fabric. Make sure all of your zippers are functioning properly and give your tunnel bag a good cleaning.
If you are in the need of an upgrade, the summer months tend to be an excellent time to find great deals on noncurrent gear and equipment. Check out your local dealership for your next gear upgrade. This is a great way to support those who support the sport and to keep your local economy alive.
Here is a deeper look into the sport of snowmobiling, with a little history lesson along the way. see more
They say knowledge is power. How about horsepower? Here is a deeper look into the sport of snowmobiling, with a little history lesson along the way. Be prepared to see these trivia facts on our next BCSF Quiz. Enjoy!
- Snowmobiling generates over $8 billion in annual spending across Canada and is responsible for over 100,000 full time jobs in North America
- Early in the winter of 1922, fifteen year old J. Armand Bombardier designed a wind driven sleigh with a Model T engine. This was to be the first of many snowmobiles designed by Bombardier.
- One of the most amazing snowmobiles was hand built in 1924 in Sayner, Wisconsin by Carl Eliason. It was called a "motor toboggan".
- In the 1940s, J. Armand Bombardier opened his snowmobile manufacturing company, the aptly named Bombardier. It was a success, acting as one of the leader’s in snowmobile innovation throughout the 20th century.
- The 1950s saw the creation of the first Canadian single-track snowmobile. Designed by Allister and George Ingham, it would spur on the establishment of Saskatchewan’s Ingham Motor Toboggan, a company which would last from 1950 to 1963.
- Polaris was founded in 1954 in Roseau, Minn. Edgar Heteen, David Johnson and Edgar’s brother Allan were the original partners in Polaris.
- After a controversial promotional tour across Alaska, Ed Heteen left Polaris in 1960 and founded Arctic Enterprises, which would eventually become one of Polaris' major rivals, Arctic Cat.
- Yamaha first bought a snowmobile made by the Canadian company Bombardier as a sample and initiated development after thoroughly disassembling and studying it. The company completed a prototype of the YX15 in the summer of 1965.
- In 1972, Arctic Cat released the first kids’ snowmobile, the Kitty Cat.
- A Wyoming study (Ward 1980) fitted elk with heart rate monitors and determined that ‘elk responded most strongly to sonic booms, gunshots, and people on foot. Elk seldom reacted when approached by an OSV.’
- The BC Snowmobile Federation was formed in 1965 by a small group of snowmobile racers. The original purposes as set out in the BCSF constitution was to develop an organization that was dedicated to safety, the growth of the sport, protection of the environment and securing access to public lands for all.
- Although Snowbike popularity went though the roof in 2010, you could say that the first snow-bike was created in 2001, with the SnowHawk
We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into snowmobile history! Thank you to the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations, and our fabulous four manufacturers for this great lesson in history. To learn more about snowmobile history you can visit the links below.
So what is it that we will miss the most? Sometimes it’s the little things. see more
Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic has been eye opening, especially for those who enjoy backcountry recreation. Initially, many thought that getting out for a good snowmobile ride during self-isolation would be a good thing, but it became painfully clear quickly that was not always the case. There was still risk of exposure to riders in parking lots, collection huts, and in our backcountry shelters. It also became apparent that in order to get to the hill we still had to purchase fuel at gas stations, travel through communities and interact with the public. According to BC's top Dr. self-isolation means staying home if we want to flatten the curve. Not only does staying home prevent the possibility of infecting you or others with the virus but it also ensures that snowmobilers are not adding any pressure to the medical system.
So what is it that we will miss the most? Sometimes it’s the little things.
Disconnection from society
For many snowmobiling is our downtime and we use riding our snowmobiles to decompress after a stressful work week. That feeling of being unplugged from obligations and plugged into nature, in all its glory, really does feed our souls.
Camaraderie and friendship.
There really is something special about the bond formed with your riding crew. Your life is in their hands and theirs in yours. This creates a bond through a level of trust most will never experience in their life. It also leads to many coveted awards and ride titles like “bent rim”, “creek diver”, “where’s Waldo” or “the fearless leader”. Sled friends are best friends.
The secret world of winter wildlife
On your snowmobile you may get to enjoy some unique winter wildlife. We likely all have seen a ptarmigan along an alpine slope and have it pop under the snow. We often see rabbits, lynx, flying squirrels or pine martins that are always interested in the visitors to their backyard. Most mountains have a following of stellar jays or whiskey jacks that are sure to come check out what you have for lunch.
Many people don’t know this, but snowmobilers often get more sunshine in the winter than other people. Even though the valley may be socked in with low cloud or dense fog, due to temperature inversions it is usually blue bird on the hill. This creates an opportunity for snowmobilers to get above the gloom and soak up some much needed vitamin D.
Snowmobiling absolutely does a body good!
Snowmobiling is excellent exercise for your body, helping to build muscles and especially core strength. Contrary to those who believe snowmobilers just sit and cruise around all day, snowmobiling is a wonderful way to keep your body healthy and strong. Here is a great write up from SnoRiders West Magazine. Snowmobiling is good for you
The excitement and challenge
The sport of snowmobiling can really boost your battery box. It’s impossible to think of work, duties, bills and everyday stressors, when you’re trying to nail down that re-entry, picking your line, digging yourself out or getting your sled on edge for the first time. That excitement you feel when nailing down a new move is ridiculously intoxicating and flat out exciting no matter what level of skill you possess.
There is something special about the meals we eat on the mountain. Many hours go into planning our Muff Pot recipes and the smell of sweet and sour meatballs, chicken wings, potstickers and casseroles are common. Or we all know that Subway sandwich artist that really is an artist because they know how to keep the mayo from making your sandwich soggy and packs it perfect with the tomatoes on the outside. Fresh air, great views and a great meal, does it get any better than that?
After Sledding Bevy time
We will all miss our time spent after the ride enjoying a beverage together and replaying the day. It usually is filled with laughs, encouragement, exaggerations and sometimes includes a silly prize. We have seen hats, pins, and ribbons given out for the best stuck, the best dangle, or the “that guy award”.
Sometimes snowmobiling is the only social interaction we have during our busy winter months filled with work, hockey practice, and dance lessons for the kids. It’s ok to feel down that it ended early, in fact, it’s healthy to acknowledge those emotions. It’s ok to not feel ok, and it’s ok to miss the world of snowmobiling. Thankfully the mountains are not going anywhere and next season it will be on like Donkey Kong.
Some suggestions to help get your snowmobile-fix during self-isolation
Watch for online podcasts such as Living Large with John Ferrian, or Driven with Scott Spero. These guys interview other interesting people in the snowmobile industry and bring forth current events or issues the sport of snowmobiling face such as land access concerns. They’re wildly entertaining and the passion they share for the sport is absolutely contagious.
Check out the videos of other riders like you. Do a quick search of snowmobiling, mountain snowmobiling, or snowmobiling in BC. There are many little-known riders that have great videos showcasing mind blowing talent. How have these riders not been discovered? There are so many videos that is hard to get noticed. So if you find a good one give them a follow and a share to help them get to the top!
If you’re going to be confined to your home, how about feed your brain with online educational resources from Avalanche Canada? They offer a wide assortment of resources and online instruction to help keep your skills sharp and ready to roll.
Together, we will get through this Pandemic, and although this season may have ended early, next year promises even more greatness. It’s important to keep in mind your local dealerships and clubs will be feeling the financial effects of COVID-19. When you are able to please be sure to spend your dollars locally where they count the most.
Your support will become more important than ever!
Multiple access points put pressure on groomed trails and increase fees see more
Sitting by the fire speaking with fellow riders can really give you a deeper understanding of who we truly are as a user group. Thousands of riders come from out of province and out of country each year, to experience the incredible snowmobiling, snowbiking and sled-skiing we have in British Columbia. Snowmobiling injects a staggering amount of prosperity to our province every year, to the tune of 299 million dollars, so why are our clubs struggling for memberships and funding to perform basic club operations?
It’s tough out there for our snowmobile clubs, especially when some of their trails have multiple entrance points which are separate from the main staging areas where fees are collected. These multiple access points put pressure on groomed trails and leave the costs to operate the trails on the users that are supporting. This gate avoidance equates to a huge loss in revenue for the clubs, raise rates for people that are paying, and sets a very bad example for other riders who may decide to save a few bucks the next time they head out riding. But by trying to save a few bucks you are:
- Harming the club and the BCSF that is fighting to preserve your access to snowmobile areas
- Limiting the clubs ability to create new or improved trails and snowmobile infrastructure for you to enjoy
- Burning out volunteers that are trying to keep it all going with not enough resources
- Limiting funding available for grooming and operations.
If you truly value the snowmobiling in British Columbia you wouldn’t hesitate to buy a membership and/or trail pass every time you ride.
We recently heard from one of our clubs that their groomer is temporarily out of service, not due to mechanical issues, but because they do not have enough funds to put fuel in the groomer. That is the reality when people consciously choose to not support their local club.
While some may think it’s no big deal, the fact remains that your membership and trail pass are absolutely vital for your riding areas existence. Snowmobile Clubs have many expenses to operate each season such as:
- Funding, repairing and maintaining a groomer
- Insurance both liability and structural insurance for warm up shelters cabins and equipment
- Trail preparation and maintenance
- Administrative costs for club operations
- Event funding
- Travel costs associated with meetings and lobbying
It is important to note that many of these costs occur every year no matter how much snow we get!
We want to thank all of our hard-working volunteers and club members for supporting the sport. There is hope on the horizon, for we are now seeing very high-profile riders urging everyone to buy their memberships and trail passes. To purchase a membership in a BCSF Member Club you can visit www.bcsf.org/clubs .
Your support through membership and day passes truly does matter.
We are looking for passionate skilled people to step up and assist the Federation see more
The BCSF is a non-profit organization led by a volunteer Board of Directors. The Board is elected from the Membership, by the Membership, to provide governance, oversight and leadership to the Federation overall. We are looking for passionate skilled people to step up and assist the Federation in achieving our strategic objectives and add to the strength of the Federations voice.
Elections will be held on April 4th in Fernie, BC at the BCSF Annual General Meeting. We have six positions up for election this year:
BCSF positions up for election at the 2020 Annual General Meeting will be:
- President (2 year term)
- Secretary (2 year term)
- Provincial Director #2 (2 year term)
- Provincial Director #4 (2 year term)
- Provincial Director #5 (1 year term)
- Provincial Director #6 (2 year term)
Nomination packages can be found attached below. Deadline for nominations is March 15th, 2020. If you would like to ask questions about the positions or the duties required you are welcome to contact the Board President, Peter Doyle, or the Nominations Committee Chair, Pamela Cole.
The usual rush of excitement isn’t what it used to be...What changed? see more
There comes a point in every snowmobilers life where they find themselves questioning their love for the sport of snowmobiling. The usual rush of excitement isn’t as it used to be, which can be incredibly perplexing for die-hard shredders. What’s wrong? Is there some sort of human equivalent to an ECU reflash we can do to our grey matter that will bring back the same passion and excitement as was felt seasons before?
Don’t worry! You are not broken. It’s all good, in fact this is a natural transition that can be prompted by many factors:
- Age- As we start to get older our bodies change. Things like throwing your neck out because you shampooed your hair wrong can become a reality, so the thought of hucking it hard off a cornice, may not be as appealing. You may look down that creek draw that you used to ride and remember the afternoon you spent standing in water digging Frank out. With age comes the knowledge of where you can go for fun, the strengths and weaknesses of your riding crew, and where there is lots of great terrain to explore without spending a day digging. We also garner a new appreciation for a freshly groomed snowmobile trail.
- Family- This is a big one, our risk tolerance changes once we start to bring little humans into the world. We know there are people relying on us waiting at home, so pushing boundaries to the point of danger is really not an option This can be a doozy for women riders out there, because of the wonderful little internal gremlins called hormones, that heighten a woman’s sense of awareness after giving birth. These mommy hormones can create a heck of a lot of stress when away from baby. So finding opportunities to enjoy snowmobiling as a family will become more important to you.
- Marriage- There is a huge movement happening in the sport, with men introducing their significant others to the sport of snowmobiling. On the flip side, more women than ever before are passionate about the sport of snowmobiling introducing their significant others to the backcountry riding. There really is something special when you are out in the backcountry riding with your significant other. You may ride differently, and have to adjust to the more inexperienced rider’s skill set allowing them to grow with confidence. You also may want to simply head out with your loved one as a date like experience. Sure some of your past ride crew may not get it, but some say there is no greater experience than being in the backcountry shredding it up with your partner.
- Risk Tolerance- If you have been in a close call, broke a bone, witnessed a devastating situation, or if you have lost a loved one you will look at all risky activities differently. As you get older and have more responsibilities your ability to go to work on Monday becomes essential to keeping a roof over your head. This influences your decision making and may make you assess your current ride crew. The “Ride or Die” types that you used to ride with may now make you uncomfortable because of the level of risk they are willing to take or the situations they have put you in. It is important to find people to ride with that have similar risk tolerances and may require a change of ride crew to include other people that want to have fun but still need to go to work on Monday.
Snowmobilers do experience many mindset transitions through their riding lifetime that prompt a different focus to the sport for them. As riders mature, the backcountry experience does seem to get a little more meaningful, and a deeper appreciation for such wild adventures is realized. As we are bombarded with technology and the stresses of life getting out on your snowmobile to enjoy the snow with friends becomes part of your personal selfcare plan. Seeing the world through a different mindset allows for overwhelming feelings of gratitude...there is still excitement, but it is different than before. Introducing family and friends to the sport of snowmobiling becomes far more exciting than climbing chutes, or hucking cliffs.
So all in all, it’s all good, you are NOT broken. This is a wonderful natural shift that occurs in most every riders life, which explains why the average age of today’s snowmobiler is 45. Not just a young bucks sport, snowmobiling is a sport that every rider, no matter their gender or age can enjoy well into their senior years.
Shred on people!
The Fernie Snowmobile Association will be hosting the 2nd annual Fernie Gumball Adventure Challenge! see more
The Fernie Snowmobile Association will be hosting the second annual Fernie Gumball Adventure Challenge on March 21, 2020. What started as a little competition between friends is now Fernie’s biggest sled event! Teams (4 riders per team) have six hours to find checkpoints and complete a variety of skills challenges to earn points. The event involves navigation, strategy, skill, great costumes, and a bit of luck to win. Riders can expect the Gumball course to be set over several hundreds of acres of varying backcountry terrain accessible via the groomed trail network. $100 entry per team. Winner takes all.
“The event was created and designed to really just be a great day out on the snow with friends. Of course, nothing is better than a little rivalry and heated competition to spur you on” says Event Organizer Nicole Matei. Last year’s inaugural event was won by Team Sasquatch who generously donated their winnings to Avalanche Canada. Four of the ten checkpoints spread across the Coal Creek, Morrissey, and Corbin riding areas included points challenges such as avalanche rescue, survival, first aid, and problem solving. “It really has nothing to do with speed or your technical riding ability” continues Nicole, “If you can function well as a team and employ some creative strategy you can totally win”. Second place last year went to Team Dirt Squirrel who earned major points for sportsmanship when they tandem rode a competing team to the next checkpoint after members blew both a track and engine during the event.
The Fernie Snowmobile Association has been the organized voice for snowmobiling in the Elk Valley since 1990. As a backdrop for world class outdoor opportunities, Fernie, BC attracts recreationalists from around the globe who contribute to our eclectic Rocky Mountain culture. Sledders, snowshoers, fat bikers, skiers and snowboarders all utilize over 160 kilometers of FSA maintained trails and three-day use cabins as gateways to their mountain adventures. Snowmobiling’s growing popularity creates vibrant recreational experiences for residents and tourists alike, jobs in support sectors, and revenue to local businesses. According to the recent Economic Impact study released by the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation, Snowmobiling contributed 62.9 million dollars in economic output within the Kootenay Rockies region last year alone.
There are a few zones in British Columbia that are experiencing outstanding riding conditions. see more
While most Southern parts of the province are just beginning to get enough snow to enjoy some conservative off trail riding, there are a few zones in British Columbia are experiencing outstanding riding conditions.
Grab your snorkel folks!! It’s that deep in Sicamous right now. What some explain as a 100 year cycle snow storm, Sicamous BC was absolutely hammered with over 70 cm of coastal snow in the valley in one night over the Christmas holidays. How much snow is too much snow? If you have to ask yourself that question, chances are you were riding in Sicamous over the holidays. There has been a significant amount of volunteer work on the trail systems around the Sicamous area, for the storm that dumped a tremendous amount of snow also downed several trees along the trails. Be sure to support the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club when you are in the area. www.sledsicamous.com for more information.
Sea to Sky
The Sea to Sky and inland coastal areas are continuing to experience heavy dense snowfall, with some tricky layers to consider. Conservative terrain choices, and continual snowpack observation throughout the day are recommended, for some areas have seen drastic warming and cooling temperatures throughout the holidays with each storm creating instability. In some areas, especially in the northern most parts the South Coast Inland forecast zone, a touchy weak layer is buried near the bottom of the snowpack and has been responsible for many large, destructive avalanches. Be very aware of the snowpack conditions, and your surroundings when out on your adventure.
Valemount continues to shape up, with the recent storms that graced the area with fresh dry snow. There is a significant amount of this storm snow (50cm to 70cm) over the surface hoar layer buried on Dec 27th according Avalanche Canada. There are a pair of potential weak layers in the middle of the snowpack, a surface hoar layer and a layer of facets above a relatively thin crust. Both these layers appear to be gaining strength. The lower snowpack contains several crust layers, which could be a concern in shallow areas along the eastern slopes of the region. Again, there is some great riding to be had, but terrain choices and effective group management are a necessity. Conservative terrain choices are recommended. For up to date information on riding conditions and grooming for the Valemount area please visit Ride Valemount Riding and Grooming Updates
We continue to keep our fingers crossed for our friends in the Kootenays. The southern most areas along the Kootenay pass, and around the Cranbrook area are finally starting to see some significant snowfall. Riders in the Creston Area have reported upwards of 170cm in some areas around the Terry Watt club cabin, but the depth is not consistent throughout the region. Very selective and careful off trail riding is out there to be enjoyed but be aware of the reactive layers buried within the snowpack.
According to Avalanche Canada several persistent weak layers are buried in the middle and lower half of the snowpack in the Kootenay Boundary region. Although these layers become harder to trigger as they get deeper, the destructive potential of a triggered avalanche increases.
There are special management agreements in place for Legislated closure areas in the south Selkirk and Purcell ranges. Please abide by these closures, and know where you are at all times. More information can be obtained directly from the clubs in the area.
Fernie and other areas within the Flathead/Lizard ranges are experiencing the same frustration as other areas of the Kootenays with low snowfall weak layers, mild temperatures. Two noteworthy crusts exist below 1700 m : A thin lens crust from freezing rain 50cm below, then a thick hard melt-freeze crust formed by warm temperatures around Christmas. Be sure to continually observe snow conditions throughout your ride and adjust your plans based upon the information you observe.
Get the Picture Please!
Some are unaware of one of the most incredible resources winter enthusiasts have literally at their fingertips 24 hours a day. The Mountain Information Network (MIN) is a user driven reporting system that lends deeper insight to the areas you love to enjoy. Please review Avalanche Canada MIN reports in depth before riding in areas, and “Get the Picture” when you are out there so you too can submit a MIN report. Knowledge is power, and the more we know the safer we shall go!
A new adaptive land management strategy for caribou has been implemented in the Selkirk Region see more
In a joint effort between the BC Snowmobile Federation (BCSF), the Ministry of Forest Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLNROD), the Arrow Lake Ridge Riders (ALRR) and the Trout Lake Recreation Club (TLRC) a new adaptive land management strategy being referred to as the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area (CSSMA) has been implemented. The CSSMA has been implemented to preserve and protect the remaining Selkirk Mountain Caribou and habitat in the Trout Lake and Nakusp areas.
With only 24 animals remaining in the Selkirk herd, the herd has been listed as being under imminent threat of extirpation. It is apparent that decisive action is going to be required if the herd is going to continue to exist. There are many factors contributing to the decline of the herd and Government is working to address each of them including predators, habitat, calf recruitment and recreational disturbance from snowmobile or the heli-ski sector.
To minimize disturbance from snowmobiles, MFLNROD recommended a full winter motorized recreational closure in the herd area. Which sounds scary, but this closure is unique in that a new adaptive management strategy was created and is being tested in this area. Rather than a full winter backcountry closure for motorized recreation, this initiative will see zones open and closed on a rotating basis based on telemetry locations provided by collared Mountain Caribou. This allows winter recreation to continue in areas where caribou are not present and protect the habitat they are using.
This initiative will include a permit that has been issued only to the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders and the Trout Lake Recreational Club. The terms of the permit for access to ride this area will be that you must be a member in good standing of either the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders or the Trout Lake Recreational Club and you must check the maps daily to obtain the zones that are open to snowmobiling/snowbiking for that day. The closed zones will be monitored by the Conservation Service and local riders will be providing education or outreach. Anyone who is found to be in a closed zone or not meeting the terms of the permit including membership will face fines.
To learn more about this initiative, view the map or to join one the local snowmobile clubs please go to www.snowmobileselkirks.ca. To see the Provincial Government’s press release supporting this project please go to https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019FLNR0283-002345
The British Columbia Snowmobile Federation commends the Arrow Lake Ridge Riders, Trout Lake Recreational Club, the Arrow Lakes Caribou Society and the MFLNROD for their efforts to create this adaptive management strategy. The BCSF has been advocating for this type of adaptive management strategy for many years and this rotating closure project has the potential to create positive outcomes both for Mountain Caribou and the continued economic benefit of snowmobiling. It is imperative that all riders comply with this rotating closure and educate other users on the importance of compliance. Working together to build trust, will facilitate future collaboration for adaptive land management initiatives in Mountain Caribou Habitat.
Here are some great tips to avoid being stranded this season from our friends at Never Lost Trail Ap see more
Here are some great tips to avoid being stranded this season from our friends at Never Lost Trail App.
Do Not Ride Alone
Do not ever ride alone. Anything can happen out there including mechanical failure, dropping into terrain without an out, even a simple stuck can be a catastrophe without an extra pair of hands to help you out. Riding alone has severe consequences especially in relation to avalanche safety. We’ve lost seasoned riders who chose to ride alone and succumbed to an avalanche being only inches from the surface.
Know Where You Are
Riding in unfamiliar terrain it can be common to end up somewhere unexpected. Just because you see tracks, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to follow them. Many communities see their fair share of rescue call outs because riders follow tracks that leads them down into a basin they cannot get out of. In addition to the trail mapping offered by Never Lost Trails App, reaching out to those who are skilled and knowledgeable is a solid choice. Hiring a guide is money well spent, for not only will they help you ride within your skillset, they’ll be privy to secret honey holes with fresh powder when many riders are navigating tracked out terrain. If you choose not to hire a guide when navigating new terrain ride with a local who has the same value for safe backcountry practice as you.
Know your Riding Partners
It is important to know if your riding companions suffer from illness that could compromise their safety or yours when out in the backcountry. Do your riding companions carry an epi-pen? Do you know how to use one? Are they on medications? This is all need to know information that must be shared with the group. Injury can happen, and it is imperative that you have a group that treats safety as the number one concern. Many a rider has been left to fend for himself/herself with devastating consequences.
Keeping the Group Together
This is where communication and the buddy system comes into play. It is very easy to lose a rider without communication and eyes on your fellow rider. Stick together and keep each other in view at all times. The lines of communication should be open to prevent a rider from being separated or lost in the backcountry.
Blizzards and other extreme weather conditions can and will occur throughout the winter months. When you’re deep in the backcountry extreme weather can creep up on you in an instant if you’re not prepared. This has left many a rider stranded, for during severe blizzard like conditions it can be near impossible to follow your existing tracks, and very easy to become disoriented. Be sure to check not only the avalanche forecast before you head out, but also include the local weather forecast. For a list of items that should be in your pack please check out this article from SnoRiders Magazine.
Never Lost Trail App
The Never Lost app is a great resource. It was created when founder Allan Bouchard realized too many snowmobilers succumb to exposure being only 100 meters from a lifesaving shelter, or the main trail. Realizing this tragedy could be avoidable he started creating a user-friendly trail navigation app which turns your cell phone into a valuable trail navigation tool that works even where cell service is unavailable and in airplane mode. Features include ATES ratings where available, skill recommendations, key points of interest and common danger zones to avoid. You can find Never Lost Trails on both the iTune and Google Play platforms. Allan not only supports the sport with his multiple club membership purchases throughout the season, but also giving back to the hard-working clubs sponsoring signage and being a sponsor for the BC Snowmobile Federation.
Everyone makes mistakes, so here are some common sense suggestions to help us all see more
Common sense can sometimes be a subjective phrase. What some feel should be common sense, clearly alludes others. Everyone makes mistakes, so here are some common sense suggestions to help us all preserve and protect the sport of snowmobiling in British Columbia creating a safer experience for all.
Trail Preservation: The volunteers who groom and maintain your trail systems will be ever so thankful if you can help them preserve the integrity of the trails by riding respectfully. Try to keep a smooth throttle on the trails and avoid goosing your throttle when you go over moguls starting to develop. Every time one of those budding bumps is hit with an accelerated throttle it creates more of a mogul. Avoid doing donuts, and carving on the actual trails, and please, if you have found yourself stuck on the trail, repair it as best you can for safety reasons. This one shouldn’t have to be said, but please do not build a fire in the middle of an active trail system, for it will leave a crater that could be dangerous.
Warm Up Shelters: Cabins and warm up shelters are constructed, insured and maintained by our hard-working clubs. These shelters are for public use, so please be aware that many individuals including families will be sharing these spaces. They provide a vital safety component should a rider become stranded, and they offer respite from the cold giving riders a chance to warm up mid day. Volunteers man these cabins, so please pack out what you pack in including cans, bottles and garbage. Please do not smoke or drink in the cabins. Please respect these shelters and use firewood sparingly or better yet take the time to add some wood to the pile if you can.
Parking Lots: Step one, park responsibly allowing room for others to access their trailers or utilize their ramps. Avoid excessive speed and showboating in the parking lots. It isn’t cool, and you’ll soon be called out for being a “parking lot poser” should you be trying to impress the crowd. Always be respectful of the lot attendants and be patient when purchasing your trail passes if there is a line up.
Shredded Belts and Yard Sale Shrapnel: Pack it in, you pack it out right? This also includes remnants of a blown belt, or if you were unfortunate enough to yard sale your sled, all of the plastics and pieces of your snowmobile must leave off the mountain with you.
Tap er Cool on the Trail: Trail access into cabins, and fun zones will see a wide variety of riders with varying skill sets. There will be seasoned riders determined to travel at Mach Chicken speed while there will be riders that are brand new to the sport traveling at the speed of snail. The trail belongs to everyone, so please have patience and be courteous. Watch for traffic behind you if you do have a timid rider, and wave them through to avoid creating frustration and a bottleneck of traffic on the trail.
Please support your sport with your membership purchase. To find a BCSF member club please visit www.bcsf.org/clubs and purchase your membership today.
Nothing brings us greater joy than to share our amazing backcountry with others! see more
Nothing brings us greater joy than to share our amazing backcountry with others from around the world. There are a few things to know before you head out on your snowmobile or snowbike adventure. Preparation truly is key.
Many parts of British Columbia have the potential for Avalanche hazards. It is important to prepare by ensuring you have the appropriate equipment and training. Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 is recommended as a minimum level of education for riding in the mountains of BC. Many educators are circulating through the prairie provinces and states offering classroom portions of AST 1 and avalanche awareness seminars with several dealerships hosting free events. This is a great way to prepare for riding in BC while meeting other like-minded riders. To help familiarize yourself with avalanche safety Avalanche Canada offers an online tutorial to walk you through the basics.
The basic necessities for backcountry riding in BC are an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe worn on your person. Your backpack will have what you need to survive overnight, including hydration, food rations, extra gloves, a saw, and multiple ways to start a fire. Here’s an excellent article from our friends at Zacs Tracs What to pack in your snowmobile backpack
Equipment can be rented from several locations the province, and hiring a guide is always a great idea when traveling in unfamiliar terrain. Certified guides will keep you safe and sound, and probably take you into some secret honey holes where you’ll find fresh untouched white gold.
Plan a Successful Adventure
Trip Planning is also a key component to adventuring in BC. Avalanche Canada is a wonderful resource for not only checking the avalanche forecast before you head out for the day, it also has numerous resources including an interactive trip planning app to guide you through the process. It’s imperative that you notify someone not in your riding group of your plans, when to expect you home, the area you are riding, and who is in your party. Should you be delayed it will give Search and Rescue volunteers a better chance of finding you in a timely manner. In addition to checking the avalanche forecast, check the weather forecast which will also provide vital information for planning your ride. The Never Lost Trails app is a wonderful resource for planning your trip and backcountry navigation. This app will turn your cellular device into a trail navigation tool even where cell service is unavailable.
What to Wear
Layering is incredibly important, for certain parts of our province like the Kootenays, Vancouver Island, Vancouver Coast and Mountains, and the Thompson Okanagan areas can have mild temperatures year-round, while our northern areas can experience colder temperatures with beautiful blower powder to enjoy. Cotton is a huge no-no, for it will absorb sweat like a sponge leaving you cold and damp for your day’s adventure. Here is a great article on layering. Dressed for Success
Crossing the Border into Canada
For those of you visiting from out of country it’s important to have your passport, and proper documentation for your truck, snowmobile and trailer. You’ll need snowmobile registration, trailer registration showing proof of ownership. Keep all the documents together in your vehicle making it easy to access upon border crossing. If you have any criminal history including DUI’s, you’ll need a pardon before entering the province. Don’t even try to sneak on through, for you’ll be red flagged and denied entry if the officers find you untruthful. Here is a great resource with more information on crossing the border into Canada ezbordercrossing.com
Snowmobile Registration and Insurance
While BC is known as the wild west we do have some laws that everyone must abide. You must wear a helmet while operating your snowmobile. There are requirements for third party liability insurance in some cases and your snowmobile must be registered in your home province or state. If you cannot register at home than you must be able to provide proof of ownership of your snowmobile. Finally, you must have picture ID on you at all times while snowmobiling. More information can be found in this FAQ Document.
Wildlife of British Columbia
We have an abundance of wildlife in our backcountry. It’s important to not only enjoy the beauty of these animals, it’s also equally as important to stay safe in their vicinity. Here is an article to help you and our wildlife stay safe during your adventures. Wild Adventures. It is your responsibility to what areas are closed to snowmobiling in BC. Many parks do not allow snowmobiling and we do have several areas closed to protect Mountain Caribou Habitat. Please research the area or reach out to the local snowmobile club for background if you are not using a guide.
Support Organized Snowmobiling
Support the sport and one of our hard working clubs with either your membership purchase, or a trail pass. These British Columbia Snowmobile Federation Clubs (BCSF) are the backbone of organized snowmobiling in BC. They groom and maintain trail systems and cabins, and they are the driving force to prevent land closures. Your dollars are vital for their success. Online memberships are available on the BCSF website. www.bcsf.org/clubs
Here are some additional links to help you plan your British Columbia Adventure! Thank you for staying and playing in BC.
Riders in their trip planning meeting before heading out for a ride in Valemount, BC