Valemount Crystal Ridge Update
The final hurdle in the Crystal Ridge Sled Ski area construction has been crossed and the area will be open for the 2012/13 season. The costly building and installation of a 4m x 30m long aluminum bridge over the Canoe River has been completed with the help of countless hours of volunteer and staff time. It took two weeks of work to assemble the bridge on site, which was then lifted into place by a 90 tonne crane.
In addition to finishing the new bridge, the Valemount Area Recreation Development Association (VARDA) worked with a local company to clear all non-merchantable timber from three additional runs, which took a team of two individuals over a month and a half to complete. This brings the total number of runs to four, all of while offer roughly 600m vertical descents.
The trail system starts from the large Westridge parking area located 2km south of Valemount. For the first season, VARDA, a non-profit group will try to maintain the uptrack as best it can, although regular grooming is not set to take place until the 2013/14 season. The area will not have any fees for the first season, although a donation box will be attached to the kiosk in the staging area from which the funds will go toward sporadic grooming of the access trail.
From the staging area, the facility is accessed via a 14km long trail based on old Forest Service roads. The uptrack, which is similar to any groomed snowmobile trail, has more than enough width for safety and two-way traffic. Once riders crest the ridge, there will be signed drop-off at the beginning of each of the runs, along with corresponding signage below for easy pickups. The number of runs any person can do in a day is simply limited by their endurance and skill level. Take note, as the area is still in the very early stages of growth, there are currently no outhouses nor warm-up facilities located on site.