After close to five years of planning and development, the Larch Hills Nordic Society’s chalet expansion is just weeks away from an official opening – just in time for the start of a new ski season.
During the Dec. 8 new member open house event at the Larch Hills Ski Area, club veterans got some new skiers up to speed on what Larch Hills has to offer, and showed a glimpse into the soon-to-be-complete chalet expansion during a short tour.
The Larch Hills Nordic Ski Society has been active in the community for nearly 40 years, with vice-president Ed Bouma saying the club has a membership of more than 1,000 as of 2017. Its soaring membership prompted an expansion to the chalet to make it more suitable for large events and offer more to members who use it – such as a new full-service kitchen, ease-of-access improvements for disabled members and an extremely spacious common area.
“A lot of people have worked on this for a lot of years,” said Blaine Carson, a longtime club member and volunteer track-setter.
Fundraising for the expansion of the chalet began three years ago and the construction was helped along by donations from individuals, businesses and a $100,000 B.C. Gaming grant in the spring of 2017. The popular Dancing With the Shuswap Stars event has been one of the main fundraisers, bringing in $90,000 for the expansion project.
The Salmar Community Association, SASCU, North Okanagan Regional District, CSRD, Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, Shuswap Community Foundation and Rotary all contributed funds as well. To date, the cost of the expansion has totalled around $450,000.
During the new member open house, future developments on the trails and helpful tips for new members were also discussed.
The club hopes to set up a fully lighted trail in the future, to improve safety for those whose schedules don’t allow them to ski during the day – or for high-level skiers who need the extra hours to train at night. There is also hope of adding an additional dog-friendly trail to the area for skiers who like taking their furry friends out for exercise on the mountainside.
A helpful safety tip stressed during the open house – especially for those unfamiliar with the area or skiing alone – is that Larch Hills Ski Area maps are available both online through the Avenza Maps app and in paper copy at the chalet. These maps should be a staple piece of ever skier’s gear and include marked-out areas indicating where there is no cell reception, where first-aid supplies and shelters are located, as well as where trails get steeper and more difficult.
The grand opening of the new-and-improved Larch Hills chalet will be held on Jan. 3 at 2 p.m., and the public is welcome to drop in and take a tour of the expanded chalet.