The trails at Sparwood Heights are groomed by volunteers of the Sunset Ridge Ski Society (SRSS). (Photo contributed by the SRSS)

Sparwood cross-country club reports record membership

The SRSS has 180 members signed up for the 2020-21 season

Outdoor recreation clubs are reaping the benefits of community interest in the outdoors, with clubs throughout the Elk Valley recording record memberships for the 2020-21 season.

The Sunset Ridge Ski Society (SRSS), which is Sparwood’s local cross-country ski club, has reported it has 180 members signed up for the season so far – the highest membership it has ever had.

Shelly Hume, who is one of the directors of the volunteer-run society said there was so much interest that they had rented out almost all of their adult and kids skis for the season.

“We’re getting calls every day for more and more … you just can’t find them, we can’t even buy any more because everywhere is sold out, and they tell you it’ll be by July by the time there’s any cross-country skis available,” she said.

“It’s like everything – people are spending more time outside with COVID, and anything that’s going to get you outside is gone.”

The society has 30 adult skis and 60 children’s skis available to rent for the season.

Volunteers from the SRSS groom 5-6 kms of trails at Sparwood Heights near and around the old ski hill, and a loop at the Sparwood Golf Course.

“We have an excellent groomer (Martin Dahlke) – he is just so meticulous, he spends his life up there doing grooming and making sure the trails are clear,” said Hume.

The society uses a bombardier groomer that was used in the 1988 Olympics, and was used to groom the old Sparwood ski hill before it was shut down in 1995.

The trails in the heights are groomed a few times a week for use by cross-country skiers, and Hume said the society would like to ask for trail users to use the SRSS-groomed trails for classic or skate skiing.

“We have problems with people wanting to use those nice, groomed trails for walking, and they post-hole the trail. For people that skate-ski, it ruins the trail. We would rather people use trails designated for multi-use.”

Hume explained that given the time it took to groom the trails, it was important the volunteer hours were not wasted. The SRSS has land-use agreements in place with the District of Sparwood and landowners for the maintenance and grooming of the trails.

Hume said she and the society were grateful and happy for the good working relationship they had with the Whiskey Jack Resort, the District of Sparwood and the Sparwood Golf Course (all of which it has land-use agreements or collaborations with), and for its hard-working and dedicated volunteers that keep the trails around Sparwood clear and good to use, and the society’s inventory of skis in good condition.

New members and volunteers are more than welcome to join the SRSS, and are encouraged to reach out for more information.

For more information on Sunset Ridge and how to buy a pass or join the society, head to their website at Grooming updates are available via their Facebook page.

Plans for logging in the Sparwood Heights area originally reported in December last year were confirmed to be going ahead in the new year. According to the SRSS, the trails could be closed for a period between Jan 18 and Feb. 20 while the logging activity is carried out.

READ MORE: Cross country skiers raise concern over road access, parking above Sparwood
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