The little club that could

A fiercely loyal core group of volunteers has revitalized the Tumbler Ridge snowmobile club

by Marie Milner

Shane Kruse of Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
Shane Kruse is a member of the Tumbler Ridge Ridge Riders Snowmobile Association of Tumbler Ridge, B.C. Photo courtesy Northern B.C. Tourism

The Wolverine Trail in the Tumbler Ridge, B.C., snowmobiling area is a paradise for sledders seeking challenging terrain and deep powder. As of this season, the trail has a new warm-up shelter, thanks to Randy Cutler and a small group of volunteers who were willing to repeatedly navigate 50 kilometres of rough logging road to get to the site.

Cutler figures that there are about 500 sled riders in Tumbler Ridge and its immediate surroundings and that they are happy to have a functioning snowmobile club. Adam Court, club president, brought the Tumbler Ridge Ridge Riders Snowmobile Association back into operation a couple of years ago after it had shut down for a year or so. The replacement of a derelict shelter on Wolverine is proof that the club management has faith in its future.

Terrain to please everyone

If you’re looking for a demanding workout and an adrenaline rush, you’ll find it in the sledding areas at Tumbler Ridge. Looking for an area that will offer family riding and some tree riding as well? Tumbler Ridge has that, too.

“Wolverine is actually suitable for extreme riders,” Cutler said. “It’s the best area for variety—there’s deep powder, lots of tree riding, lots of bowls and some creeks and chutes. The best family areas are Babcock and Bullmoose, where there are lots of trails, bowls and lakes just about 30 kilometres down the trail. When we ride in groups, we usually have a point rider in the lead and a rear guard to keep track of everybody. It’s a good way to make sure we know if somebody runs into trouble.”

Cutler said there’s an old bus that has been converted into a shelter in the Bullmoose area—it’s been fitted with a woodstove and a table and chairs, so it’s cozy and unusual and popular with families. The club is also in the process of putting barbecues in at each shelter, adding to their attraction.

There are other popular shedding areas in the vicinity of Tumbler Ridge, and these have intriguing names: Windy Ridge, Summit Meadows and Back Meadows. The names convey a mental impression of remoteness, sun-filled open spaces and untouched blankets of snow just begging to be tracked. These areas are accessed from the Core Lodge trailhead and are suitable for riders with intermediate to advanced skills.

“Tumbler Ridge is a popular destination for people who like the steep and deep,” Cutler said. “I find there are more and more people who like to ride in the mountains—like me, they love the deep powder that you don’t get down on the flats. Up in the mountains, you’ll get five feet of fresh powder sometimes. With all the big sleds now, that’s what people are looking for, and we have it.”

Name: Randy Cutler

First sled: A 1972 Scorpion—I bought it when I was 16

Current ride: 2013 Ski-Doo Summitt

Favourite local riding area: Wolverine Trail for its variety and challenge

Favourite type of riding: Powder—it’s fun, and when you fall off or roll your sled, it doesn't hurt so much!

Dream sledding destination: There’s so much variety right here that I never get tired of it. I’ve heard great things about Revelstoke and Valemount, though, and I’d like to get there some day.

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