Resorts Branch reps Cassandra Enns, Gwenn Heatherington, Laurie Hirtle joined Ski Society members Sherri Malone and Joseph Nusse at the site of the first tree to fall on the ski runs. /SUBMITTED

By Laura Keil

Logging of ski runs in the Valemount Glacier Destinations Master Plan was scheduled to start last week, despite the project not yet having funding.

The logging will bring the Valemount Ski Society one step closer to installing a small community ski hill in the footprint of the larger multi-million dollar project while the larger project awaits financing.

Valemount Community Forest Manager Craig Pryor said they have all the approvals now to start logging.

“We are opening up the Westridge Mainline to provide access to the runs for harvest,” he told the Goat Jan. 17th. “We expect equipment to be hauled in to the runs early next week.”

Pryor previously confirmed that they are running a week behind due to an avalanche caused by the warm weather.
He said the logging and short section of logging road should take approximately 1.5 months. The ski runs—covering 44ha in the community forest tenure—will be clearcut logging. The trees are a mix of douglas fir, spruce, pine, balsam, cedar and hemlock.

“They’ll do as much as they can before the ground gets too steep and probably finish the steeper part of the runs in the summertime,” says Ski Society President Joseph Nusse.

The Ski Society is completing the layout of the runs, which will be very visual from the area around Abernathy’s restaurant. The runs will be mainly blue runs, with a few green ones, Nusse says.

Ski Society board member Sherri Malone says what happens next winter all depends on whether VGD goes ahead or not this spring.

“Right now we’re seeing if VGD (Valemount Glacier Destinations) is a go. If VGD isn’t, then we’re most likely doing an ice bridge, but that could change in a heartbeat if we were to get some grants (to build a permanent bridge).”

The community ski hill would be accessed from the airport, and a bridge is required to cross the McLennan River.
Malone says they will likely launch a fundraiser soon for funding the next steps.

This past summer, the Valemount Ski Society and Simpcw First Nation completed a cultural heritage assessment study to allow the construction of the 280-metre-long handle tow lift in traditional Simpcw Territory. The report noted two concerns—a grizzly den and a western yew tree. The yew will require a 5m buffer and the den will require a Wildlife Management Plan.

Nusse said the capital is mostly raised to install the handle tow lift, which was permanently loaned to the community by proponents of Valemount Glacier Destinations Resort until the VGD resort is built. The lift could be installed as early as this summer. A second longer lift would be required to reach the upper portion of the runs that are currently slated for logging, Nusse added.

Joseph Nusse, President of the Valemount Ski Society, cuts down the first tree in the upcoming logging of ski runs west of Valemount. Carved into the stump of the first tree felled along the VGD ski runs is the date it was felled: 1-17-22. The Ski Society wants to keep the stump as a permanent monument./SUBMITTED
The handle tow ski lift is located at the bottom of the runs, at the top of the map. /SUBMITTED