Winter conditions have returned to the Okanagan Valley bottom which finally put bikes into storage, brought out skis and snowshoes, and made for busy ski and snowboard shops.
It also meant more snow falling on the valley’s downhill resorts and cross-country ski areas which are gearing up for a radically different winter season.
On Tuesday, Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre announced its official
opening on Friday the 13th, despite the superstitious nature of that date.
“With a good snowstorm overnight, we have been able to pack a substantial amount of trails to open for Friday morning at 9 a.m. for season passholders,” said general manager Troy Hudson earlier this week.
“We are anticipating opening with upwards of
30 centimetres of snow predicted throughout the week. Stay tuned (sovereignlake.com) for anticipated trails open. Expect early-season conditions throughout. As we continue to receive more precipitation, we will be able to open more trails so please be patient.”
Day tickets will be available starting Monday (Nov. 16) and must be booked online this season. Night skiing will start on Tuesday (Nov. 17). Snowshoe season pass and ticket holders can hit their trails starting Nov. 27.
Nickel Plate Nordic Centre in the South Okanagan has announced an opening day of Nov. 28. “It’s almost here, another few short weeks and we will be gliding through those oh-so-familiar trails. I had hoped to open sooner — that last snowfall got me excited — but Mother Nature cannot be rushed. See you soon!” said general manager Tricia Wilson.
The series on Okanagan ski hills and cross-country ski/snowshoe areas continues today with Telemark Nordic Club in West Kelowna which could have “unofficial skiing” within days.
On Tuesday, general manager Mike Edwards posted: “Fresh snow! We received about 11 centimetres of new snow overnight (16 cm in the stadium). It’s not enough to groom right now, but there may be some unofficial skiing by the end of the week if we get more snow.”
Telemark is off to an good season start with the Okanagan’s only cross-country ski swap on Nov. 1 and its annual work party that weekend.
“By all accounts, both were successful. More than 50 volunteers were at Telemark for the work party on Saturday to help us get ready for the coming winter. Lots of great projects got done: splitting firewood, painting, trail maintenance and a few other odd jobs,” Edwards said.
“As always, Telemark will open as soon as conditions allow. We are normally open in early December, but this may be a colder, snowier year so we anticipate opening a little earlier. We will get word out … when we confirm our opening.”
In a first for Telemark, there was unofficial skiing in October after a dump of 35 centimetres on Oct. 23. A few trails were groomed “for fun” and a few club members skied “just to say that they skied in October at Telemark.”
Telemark has a new RFID season-pass-tracking system, said Edwards. “No scanning necessary. Just ski past the lodge with a season pass and the system will track it.” Also new are online sales of day passes, rentals and lessons.
During the summer, several trails — mainly Panorama Ridge and K9 — were widened. The electrical grid power was extended to the biathlon range eliminating the need for “stinky, noisy, environmentally-unfriendly generators.”
Telemark received its new groomer in March “and did not get much of a chance to show it off before we had to close,” said Edwards. “So we are looking forward to a full season with our new PB400 grooming machine.”
He is working on COVID plans and will post them on the website, telemarknordic.com, before the official opening. Programs are already running under safety plans adopted from the provincial sport body, Cross Country BC, he said.
“Overall, we are encouraging people to get season passes and their own equipment. It will be easier and safer for all. Then skiers/snowshoers can just come to ski without the need to contact anybody inside.
“For those who do need to come into the day lodge for any reason, we will be limiting the number of people in the lodge … and installing signage to facilitate physical distancing. We will welcome people into the lodge to purchase day passes, but we are encouraging people to buy online.”
Telemark will still offer rentals, but only rent each set of equipment once per day to provide time for cleaning, he said.
“We have enough equipment that we will not run out except on the busiest days,” said Edwards. “We will ask that all people who come inside the day lodge or need to rent equipment to wear a mask.” Contact tracing will be in effect.
J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: email@example.com