Update: Wrangler's Cabin at Fernie Riding Zone Nears Completion | Mountain Sledder
Nicole Matei
September 19th, 2019

Update: Wrangler’s Cabin at Fernie Riding Zone Nears Completion

Last summer, the Fernie Snowmobile Association began the enormous task of replacing the aging Wrangler’s Cabin in the Morrissey riding area with a new warming shelter.

The project timeline was stalled last summer as wildfires blazed 7 km north in the Coal Creek drainage, just one ridge away from the FSA’s Rolling Hills Cabin. With a full emergency bush shut down until September, the delays compressed work into late fall. Under the first heavy snowfall of the winter, volunteers reached a key benchmark, bringing the cabin to lockup in late October.

The cabin itself is a creative solution to the short sub-alpine building season in the South Rockies, where 9 m of annual snowfall is the norm. Concrete foundations for the structure were poured in town and, along with all other building supplies—including two large sea can shipping containers—trucked 16 km up the winding canyon road to the build site.

Wrangler's Cabin Update

The partially completed Wrangler’s Cabin survived its first Fernie winter in place.

On site, a fleet of cranes, zoom booms, and skid steers meticulously placed all the components together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The separating interior wall was removed and the entire structure insulated and welded into one 16 x 20 ft building under a timber-frame roof. It was no small task, requiring delicate coordination of heavy equipment and skilled personnel. The design provides for what is intrinsically a wildfire, wildlife and weatherproof structure that is engineered to last.

First Winter Season

The new cabin saw its inaugural winter season come and go, including 90 plus days of grooming in the valley, 12 km of new trails added around the cabin, several club events including the new Gumball Adventure Race, several thousand visitors and only a few SNAFUs along the way. The original beautiful soapstone fireplace, donated from a local renovation project, was taking too long to heat so a new Blaze King stove was added. Shortly after, during a dramatic warming event, the cabin had what was probably the biggest roof-alanche imaginable, subsequently damaging the chimney.


Wrangler's Cabin Roof-alanche

A massive roof-alanche damaged the new structure’s chimney.

Project Update

The project continued to move forward with renewed vigour through summer 2019 with the addition of site fill, soffit, fascia, the beginnings of new outhouses and a horse coral built by the Snow Valley Equestrian Club for their summer camp use.

Wrangler's Cabin Update 07
Volunteers install fascia on the new Wrangler's Cabin.
Wrangler's Cabin Update 06
Aluminum siding will help ensure the long lifespan of the new structure.
Wrangler's Cabin Update 05
Outhouse construction is underway.
Wrangler's Cabin Update 03
It was probably a sad day for some when the old Wrangler's Cabin was demolished.

The FSA is aiming to complete the remaining work during the last work-bee of the season September 21 & 22nd. The worklist includes installation of an expandable solar panel system, ready to incorporate a remote weather station and snowcam in the future, as well as chimney repairs, a new woodshed, completion of the outhouses, interpretive signage and interior trim and finishing.

The FSA would like to thank the Columbia Basin Trust in addition to our corporate partners for their financial contribution as well as the many outstanding volunteers who have generously donated their time towards this community project.


– Nicole


Wrangler's Cabin Partners