The West Kootenay is beginning to look a lot more like the winter wonderland cross-country skiers and snowshoers have come to know and love.
The recent heavy snowfall provided great ski conditions for Black Jack Cross Country Ski Club and Beaver Valley Ski Club.
Black Jack’s new president Dave Gibson says that with the recent snowfall, the trails above Rossland are in prime condition.
“Snow conditions have been exceptional so far this year. We have been very lucky to have had early snow that stayed on the ground and allowed us to be skiing since November.
“We are very happy to be providing the local area with a safe and enjoyable option to get outside this winter.”
Access to Champion Lakes had been cut off since September due to ongoing fuel management by BC Forestry, but the B.V. ski club announced that as of Dec. 18, its 14-km of trails are open, tracked, and ready to ski.
And of course, pandemic protocols are in place. At Champion, skiers are asked to bring masks and sanitizers, and ski with immediate family. The cabin at the Third Lake is open, as are the huts at Hudu and Huff and Puff Trails, however, with a limit of four people.
Black Jack ski club has a comprehensive COVID strategy in place, starting in the parking lot where physical distancing and masks are mandatory. Only staff or volunteers are allowed to enter the kiosk, and memberships must be purchased online.
“I would say it has been fairly challenging,” said Gibson. “We are striving to keep all of our skier development programs running. So much has been cancelled this past year, we are proud to still be open and offering programming that allows for participation as well as following the most current provincial guidelines.”
Fortunately, cross-county skiing is inherently a self-distancing sport, and like golf and other outdoor pursuits, interest in the sport is growing.
“We have had a huge increase in membership this year,” said Gibson. “I believe we are up to about 200 new members so far this season. We are pushing 1,000 members for the first time ever.”
Like most sports in B.C., Black Jack won’t be able to hold any events this season, and had to cancel its Teck Kootenay Cup race last week.
“It is unfortunate that we had to cancel our big race in December but given direction from CCBC and Viasport we realized it is the best option given the current situation both provincial and beyond,” said Gibson. “Our number-1 goal at this time is to keep the ski trails open and all programming running for the youth of our community.”
Black Jack offers more than 45 km of scenic groomed trails for classic and skate skiing, in addition to a 2.5 km lit night-skiing loop, just 5 km north of Rossland.
“Cross-country skiing is a great way to safely get outside this winter for both fun and exercise,” added Gibson. “We welcome new members and know that you will love our trails as much as we do!”
Residents can purchase memberships for the B.V. Ski Club at Gerick’s Sports in Trail, Country Roads in Fruitvale, or Outdoor Store in Salmo.
For Black Jack Ski Club membership, go online and visit skiblackjack.ca for more info.