If the names Calazon, Beaver Creek and Silver Sands aren’t familiar, there is a fair chance you haven’t experienced the wondrous snowmobiling available in the Chetwynd area. There is a vibrant sledding culture in this mountain town, reflected by last year’s re-establishment of the local snowmobile club.
The stuff of sledders’ dreams
Tyria Plamondon has been sledding for approximately 15 years. Her husband, a lifelong snowmobiler, introduced her to the sport and her children have now picked it up as well. Plamondon enjoys snowmobiling with friends and rides a BRP Ski-Doo 800, a sled she appreciates for its manoeuvrability. She likes a variety of styles of riding, from hillclimbing to meadow chasing.
“We’re more of powder bashers, the deeper the better,” she said. “The hills are still challenging though—it’s like riding in a cloud.”
Plamondon said that around Chetwynd there are areas that cater to all levels of sledding experience, from the neophyte to the extreme rider. Chetwynd is close to the Hassler Snowmobile Trail Network, a popular
riding zone with routes like Bear Den and Sunshine Bowl. Chetwynd’s sledding season usually begins by December and can go until April.
Plamondon described the top of the Sunshine Bowl as an endless expanse of mountain peaks.
“It’s like you are at the top of the world,” she said. “It’s things like this that are etched in your mind forever. You think that people who don’t ride never get to see something as beautiful as this.”
Plamondon, who enjoys staying active throughout the year, reminds people not to underestimate the physical effort required to sled.
“People think you just sit and ride, but when you ride hard and do all the things that we do, it’s hard work,” she said.
Always staying positive
Plamondon said that getting out with friends is one of her favourite aspects of sledding. She’s noticed an increase in the number of women riders since she first took up snowmobiling.
“It has been such a male-dominated sport, so fitting in was tough years ago,” she said. “There’s times where I would have picked up more of an attitude, thinking, ‘I just need to keep up—I can do this,’ and
I think that helped me out a lot.”
Plamondon has turned any negative riding experiences into learning opportunities—not that she had any bad sledding stories to tell—she
couldn’t recall any terrible days of sledding.
“You learn to read your terrain much better and the ‘oopses’ become learning lessons,” she said.