Ridge Riders live on

Tumbler Ridge’s snowmobile club was in decline until a group of riders decided the sledding was worth fighting for

by Kristen Mitchell

A man dressed in a blue snowsuit and helmet looks at the camera while, behind him, two other riders observe the snowy backdrop.
From left: Trevor Cutler, Randy Cutler (groomer manager) and Turbo Steve take a break at the Hot Dog shack in the Core Lodge area. Photo courtesy Adam Court

Despite Tumbler Ridge’s busy snowmobiling scene, the Ridge Riders snowmobile club has faced its own set of challenges over recent years. Running any club requires a lot of time and dedication. Early in the 2012-2013 season it was decided that the Tumbler Ridge club would cease being active.

Cue a community-minded group out riding the trails when the topic of a snowmobile club came up. Adam Court had recently moved to the Tumbler Ridge area, bringing with him a passion for the sport. He agreed to step up as president. And a fresh group of people dedicated to sledding now comprise a new board.

An initial club meeting had about 40 attendees and has generated a lot of interest in the renewed Tumbler Ridge Ridge Riders Snowmobile Association. There is already a well-established group of sledders in the area.

“Almost everyone in town has a sled,” said Court. “There’s a group of us that goes out every weekend or every second weekend. Everybody has a good code of ethics on the trail around here, so we meet up with other groups and everybody basically leapfrogs and waits for the last man out.”

The trail ahead

As the club moves forward, its volunteers are taking on a lot for the benefit of the sport. One of the primary goals is to ensure that riding areas will continue to be available in the future. Throughout the early season there wasn’t an initiative in place to ensure that sledders would be able to access the areas they love to ride.

“Apparently the trails were registered back in the day, but the ministry of recreation (has changed), so we have no rights to the trails,” said Court. “Now, with the mountain caribou coming up, there’s been lots of debate on that. Also, industry (is a growing complication). There have been lots of mines opening up in the area, so basically the trails are disappearing. Luckily for us, the Chetwynd snowmobile club registered two of the main riding areas because they could see what was happening and that there was no action from the Tumbler Ridge riders. Wolverine and Bull Moose (riding areas) are in the process of being registered.”

Surveying companies will be helping the Ridge Riders map out their trails as they work to reclaim the areas. Other goals include doing some needed groomer repairs as well as hopefully purchasing an additional groomer in the future. Keeping trails groomed is one of the big needs a renewed club will fill. The club is securing a temporary agreement that will allow it to maintain the trails. There has also been talk about building another cabin. One of the simple but important initiatives that will be in place immediately is cleaning up the outdoors.

“We’ll be getting people to pick up garbage, loose parts that fall off, belts, beer cans—it gets pretty ugly,” said Court. “It’s just become a really popular area, so there needs to be some management—you get lots of riders back there. We’re basically trying to get a good name for all the snowmobilers—whether they’re club members or not—so that other people that use the areas aren’t disturbed by it.”

Riding with the club

The areas are clearly worth maintaining. Court said he has ridden snowmobiles in many different places and finds that both the terrain and conditions in Tumbler Ridge are excellent. He enjoys mountain riding and, although there are plenty of bowls and tree riding, there is something for everyone. Wolverine is a challenging riding area with lots of undiscovered corners and plenty of deep powder. Core Lodge is a popular trail that stretches a long way, offering technical hillclimbs and easy meadows for the less experienced.

Anyone interested in the Ridge Riders Snowmobile Association can visit its website; here, they can either join online or find contact information. Memberships for this season are available at reduced rates due to the late start. It’s exciting to see a club that is taking a fresh new start towards a positive impact on sledding and Court said he’s happy to lead the charge.

“I’d like to thank the previous executive members, because if it wasn’t for them the club would’ve been in real trouble,” he said. “Even though it died out, when I got all the paperwork I found out they had registered as a society and had really done a lot of work. Luckily, somebody picked it up in time. If it wasn’t for them, it would be one heck of a process—we wouldn’t be going as fast as we are.” 

At-a-glance >> Ridge Riders Snowmobile Association

Formed in: 1982
President: Adam Court
Members: Approx. 40 people attended first club meeting.
Main trails: Wolverine, Bull Moose, Core Lodge.
More info: Tumbler Ridge Ridge Riders website

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