If there’s one thing Radium is known for, it’s the hot springs. It is, after all, part of the village’s name. As nice as it is to take a dip in the warm pools—and it truly is wonderful—most visitors to the area are missing out on an even bigger draw: epic sledding.
“You couldn’t have a better place to be than where I live,” said Dean Ingram, Windermere Valley Snowmobile Society club member. “I live in one of Canada’s most beautiful places. I like to be out in the mountains as much as possible.”
Hot water, cold powder
Sure, you could take in your surroundings while soaking in the mineral-rich hot water of the natural springs, or you could plunge into the pools after a romp in the powder. Radium’s picturesque setting isn’t just meant to be admired, it’s there to explore as well. For those who take the time to delve into the lush landscape, they’ll be rewarded with otherworldly vistas.
“I like to access areas that nobody has been in before,” Ingram said. “Some of the areas are a little difficult to get into. I take my wife out hiking in the backcountry in the summertime to check new areas out and then try to access them in the wintertime. We go on Google Earth and explore the valleys and go from there.”
And there certainly are a lot of areas to go explore. The most popular destination is Forster Basin. To access the open space, you’ll need to get to the staging area first, which is located west of Radium past a sawmill at the 19 kilometre mark on the Forster Access Road. Once unloaded, cruise through 50 kilometres of trails maintained by the club’s recently acquired 2011 Prinoth Bison Snow Cat groomer. Trails lead to the Forster Cabin warm-up shelter and open up into the Forster Meadows.
“The area is fairly big,” Ingram said. “There’s hillclimbing to do and some nice meadows. The Catamount Glacier opens up February 15th, then it becomes a really big area. It used to be a heli ski area. The snowmobile club here fought to get us access to it from the 15th on.
“Once you’re up on the glacier, there are bigger mountains to climb. It’s vast and wide-open terrain. You can summit a mountain right to the peak. The ability to get your sled to the top is a challenge because of the lack of snow and the wind scour. Once you get up to the top, there isn’t a snow line. Sometimes you gotta do a little gravel riding to get to the top.”
Working for the weekend
The thrill of outdoor adventure beckons Ingram every winter, consuming the majority of his winter. “I ride pretty much every weekend,” he said. “I put 3,000 to 5,000 kilometres on every year.”
Ingram is such a dedicated sledder that even drastic accidents don’t keep him away from his favourite sport.
“I tore my shoulder apart two years ago,” he said. “I hit a rock with my carbide tip and it ripped the handlebars out of my hands. It tore my shoulder apart. I had to have surgery. All the tendons in there. It felt like I separated it at first. When I went to the doctor, he said all the tendons were ripped apart. They had to cut it open and stitch them back together. It took a fair bit of rehab. It’s still not quite there yet. Even after I tore it, I still rode the whole year. I just tried to not be so radical out there, you know? Ha ha.”
If you happen to take a bump in your adventures or just need to unwind after a day of playing in the pow, there’s always the hot springs. After all, soaking in the springs soothes muscles, accelerates healing and relaxes both body and mind. Where else are you going to find world-class snowmobiling to coincide with natural hot springs?