Snowmobile club aims to finish emergency shelter on Eagle Pass

The construction of the chalet/emergency shelter represents a long-term goal that’s finally coming to fruition.

Diamond J Homes’ Jason Stutzke

Being among the best doesn’t make life any easier.

Such can be said for the folks whose work behind the scenes has helped to make the Eagle Valley and Sicamous a top snowmobiling destination in Western Canada.

In between doing trade shows with Shuswap Tourism, Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club general manager Gord Bushell has been busy preparing for the coming sledding season, with a goal of bringing more sledders to the area to enjoy one or all of the four groomed trail systems – Blue Lake, Eagle Pass, Owlhead and Queest – maintained by the Eagle Valley Grooming Society, as well as numerous businesses/services.

“Last year we had just a little over 12,000, and this year we’re shooting for 13,000 sledders,” says Bushell. “Over the past four years we’ve had a steady 12 to 15 per cent increase in the riders coming to Sicamous, so that’s very good growth.”

To help accommodate that growth, the club and grooming society have recently purchased a new Bombardier 350 groomer, and have completed the shell for a new emergency shelter on Eagle Pass.

The purchase of the groomer was made possible with support and donations from the Best Western and Joe Schmucks, as well as club members. He says the new/used groomer, purchased from Silver Star, will likely be dedicated to Eagle Pass.

“This year we will be able to leave groomers at the bottom of three hills,” says Bushell. “We’ll save money on trucking these groomers around every night.”

The construction of  the chalet/emergency shelter represents a long-term goal that’s finally coming to fruition.

“After eight years of waiting for approval (from the province) to build an Eagle Pass cabin and shelter, we were able to get the approvals to start the cabin this spring,” says Bushell, noting a requirement was that the shelter be built in the backcountry in a location accessible only by foot, snowmobile or air. This, says Bushell, created some challenges in getting the materials and labour to the construction site.

“We had to pay for helicopter time,” laughed Bushell. “It’s a lot easier to haul in 40,000 pounds of material.”

Even with air support, constructing the shelter was no easy task. A crew of six was required to bushwhack their way to the approved site earlier this summer, a four-hour hike through shoulder-high brush and black flies, to clear a landing area for the helicopter.  He says the end result will be a maintenance-free, metal-clad shelter that will be available for use by sledders in the winter and ambitious hikers in the summer.

The shelter is expected to cost $110,000, and already more than half has been put into the effort. For the remainder, the club and society are hoping to access $50,000 through the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Economic Opportunity Fund. The District of Sicamous and CSRD Area E (Rural Sicamous-Malakwa) director Rhona Martin are supporting the application.

Bushell says that even in its current state, the emergency shelter will provide some peace of mind for sledders who use the area.

“Eagle Pass is such a popular area, being so close to Revelstoke, it will be sure to take off and be a number-one hill this year…,” said Bushell. “Everybody wants to go Eagle Pass but it’s intimidating because it’s such a big area, and without a shelter in there, if there’s anything that goes wrong you have no place to stay, and you’re way in the backcountry.”

For the past several years, Sicamous and the Eagle Valley have consistently been recognized and awarded by SnoRiders West magazine readers as being a premier snowmobiling destination. The support of Shuswap businesses, volunteers – past and present – and local governments have been vital to the success of the local snowmobiling industry, says Bushell, who also gives a special nod of appreciation to his predecessor, Bruce Moores.


“Bruce, he worked at it for five years but he was only paid for two before he retired, and I’ve been in for two,” said Bushell. “What we’ve done in the last four years is unheard of in the industry. Most of our peers, like Revelstoke and Valemount, they’re amazed with what we’re doing in Sicamous.”



Just Posted

Okanagan weather watch: Snow on the way

Flurries have been predicted for most of the Okanagan Valley today

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

Complex-care facility adds 60 long-term care beds

Mount Ida Mews hosts grand opening of second phase in Salmon Arm

UPDATE: One dead after crash on Highway 97A near Armstrong

Police have confirmed that one person is dead following an accident on Highway 97A Friday

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Rescued Kelowna skier shares appreciation of COSAR team

A skier was found out of bounds near Big White by Central Okanagan Search and Rescue

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Most Read