(From left) Kari Schmuland, Jessica Marchuk, Trisha Hoff, Max Stewart and Jodi Miller during a snowshoe tour at Manning Park last week. Submitted photo

Prime conditions for winter sport at Manning

Ski clubs, affordable beginner days and nordic races the lineup for January

Snow levels were pretty average at the start of Manning Park Resort’s winter season but that changed dramatically, just before the holiday crowds arrived.

“We got an insane amount of snow in the week leading up to Christmas, about a metre and a half in three days. It was a nice early Christmas present and people got some good days of powder in,” marketing manager Robyn Barker said Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to some more in the forecast this week. When it’s raining in Hope, we are that further bit inland and higher elevation, so it’s usually falling as snow.”

The resort has plugged into a program started by the Canadian Ski Council called the Never Ever Days, which is offered at ski hills from Quebec to B.C.

The program is aimed at people 10 and older who have never skied before, though Barker said that stipulation is not extremely strict.

“The intent of the program is to get newbies into the sport. We had some participate last year who had skied in their youth, but hadn’t tried it since and were scared to try without some assistance. It is a gentle introduction, with an aim to try to show the whole ski experience,” she said.

Snow hosts welcome participants, get them suited up and into their first lesson on the Bunny Hill. The total cost of a beginner lift ticket, gear rental and the bunny hill lesson is $25. Manning’s Never Ever dates are Jan. 14, Feb. 23 and March 19. Participants need to pre-register at nevereverdays.com.

Snowshoeing is an even less daunting way to get out in the snow and Manning has trails and rentals to accommodate the web-footed crowd.

Chilliwack resident Kari Schmuland and four friends were at the resort last week for a snowshoeing day trip. For three of them it was their first time in snowshoes.

“The trail we took was the Lightning Lake Loop, which is approximately nine kilometres,” Schmuland said.

“It took us about three hours to hike it, taking short breaks. It was pretty flat, which is nice for beginners and the trail was already made.”

Also running Sunday is the annual Blackwall Bash, a grueling Nordic ski hill climb that starts across the highway from the Pinewoods Restaurant.

“If you’ve been up to Manning in the summer and have driven up the 16 km road to the sub-alpine meadows,” Barker said. “Well, in the winter, we have the Blackwall Bash for some hardcore racers that race up it.”

The “easier” route is 8 km and approximately 500 metres of elevation gain. The other is 16 km and about 760 metres of elevation gain.

As a reference, the hill to Sunshine Valley on Highway #3 is about 8 km, but only rises by about 380 metres, according to the online mapping tool at MapMyRun.com. Do the Sunshine Hill twice and you’ve done the long route of the Blackwall Bash.

For the younger skiers, kids clubs started last weekend. The KinderSki Club for children aged four to six is a four-week beginner program. Space is still available for February.

A new club, the TimberCruisers Ski Club for children aged six to 12, is all about getting out on the slopes and making friends.

For families or groups overnighting at Manning Park Resort, there are now five new cabins built by Hope contractor Barclay Fletcher that sleep eleven people. The new cabins are a short walk from the outdoor skating rink, Nordic Centre and the Loon Lagoon fitness and leisure centre.

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