Bill Karas has been active in the sport of snowmobiling from an early age, when he rode with his father. Since then, sledding has become his therapy and his passion.
Karas is the current president of the Blue River Powder Packers Snowmobile Club. The club has been around for a quarter of a century and was loosely organized as a social and recreational club. When the demand and traffic for tourism and snowmobiling began to grow, the challenges put on the club forced it into an officially recognized non-profit society. Now, like many other clubs in the province of British Columbia, the group is saddled with diverse obligations that are primarily administrative; it deals with such conerns as environment, wildlife, safety and infrastructure.
The popularity of the Blue River area increased so much about eight years ago that grooming became necessary. The club leases a groomer and charges a small fee for all users to enter the variety of riding areas.
“We groom almost 60 kilometres of trail to access points,” said Karas.
A ride for every skill level
For families or those seeking an easy day outing, both the east and west peaks of Groundhog Mountain (one mountain, two peaks) and the ravine between are the most popular for sledders. From a single access point, snowmobilers can go either east or west; both directions offer nice-sized areas that are suitable for beginner riders and families. This area has a great mix of terrain for riders.
“This is one of our most popular areas and the oldest,” said Karas.
The largest area, Salmon Lakes, is best traversed by experienced sledders due to the extreme nature of the terrain. The trail is only groomed to an access point and beyond that it becomes advanced to expert riding just to enter the area.
Parberry is another original riding area with high alpine and good access for intermediate to advanced riding. Foam Creek is a nice small area with easy access; it is groomed within a kilometre of the alpine.
A demand for challenge
Karas describes what he means by intermediate to advanced riding heading into the alpine.
“Most of these areas are single ski tracks and you're making some huge climbs and tight turns and you’re riding up through trees,” Karas said. “You have to be very experienced to get in.”
An opportunity for the entrepreneur
With the growth of the snowmobiling industry and the increasing demand for a more challenging and satisfying riding experience, Karas and his brother saw an opportunity. Over 17 years ago, the brothers built Glacier Mountain Lodge. It caters specifically to the snowmobile industry and continues to be family owned and operated. Located in a valley between the Monashee and Cariboo mountains, the lodge is open year round and has all the amenities for a comfortable stay—along with breathtaking views.
Regardless of the hat that Karas is wearing at any given time, his focus and drive speak to his love for snowmobiling.
“I’ve been a rider most of my life," said Karas. "I love the community, the camaraderie. I love to explore, and I love the sport."