Banff – February – Snowmobiling

070204 – Snowmobiling

0600 – the alarm went off. I went up, put on a great dance-around tune on my laptop and stepped myself out to the kitchen to mix up my breakfast.

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I had to be at the Douglas Fir Resort at 0700 when the bus picked us up. 0650 I arrived at the bus stop in the dark and met up with two British guests and while chatting to them Adrianne and Steve arrived in Steve’s car. After freezing a few minutes in the wait for the bus we decided to go inside the Lobby to warm up. 0725 the bus arrived and it was the rafting bus I’ve seen before up at Panorama that we got a ride in. Before leaving Banff we picked up three other guys, British as well, at Inns of Banff.
After a cold and bumpy ride (no shock absorbers in vans in Canada???) we arrived two hours later only two minute drive from the Staff Accom at Panorama Mountain Village – Toby Creek Snowmobiling Adventures.

We followed the guests into the reception area and signed waivers, basically saying that if I injure or kill myself, I or anyone else cannot sue them for it. Fair enough I thought, so I signed and got asked who I was, and we had some issues there since we weren’t confirmed to come today according to her and it got kind of weird for a few seconds but then she said that’s was no problems, enough to go around any way. So we were directed to the next building over, where we were equipped with all sorts of gear.

We got warmer boots & jackets if we needed, helmet and an avalanche transceiver. The avalanche transceiver is a device that makes it possible to find a person buried under the snow masses of an avalanche by sending out radio waves that the transceivers can interpret and tell the person looking where the buried person is.

Equipped and ready we went off to the third station, the snowmobiles.

As we were doing a FAM-tour (Familiarization-tour) which basically means that the company is offering their services to us for free in exchange for us spreading the good word and try to sell their product. We were offered to go with the British group plus two others who dropped by. We got our own guide though, Keith. Keith is a paramedic from Canmore Fire department and worked extra with as a snowmobile guide a couple of days a week.

The trip started with us going through the machines, and then going to an obstacle course where we had the chance of testing the machines and their capabilities.

lkj lkjAfter we got the idea of what it was all about, Keith took us up this logging road and the first stop we did were at “Panorama Lookout” where we had a great view over Panorama Mountain Village (see pictures). The next stop was a bit further up where we could see so many peaks and if it had not been cloudy, it would have been a GREAT view!

When we finally go up to the bowl and the old remains from the silver mine cabin and the new cabin they built just next to it, we were served a cookie and a hot chocolate. After a short briefing me and Steve went off with Keith and left Adrianne behind though she was too scared to drive anywhere else. Keith took us through the bowl and showed us the perimeters and the do’s and don’ts of the area and after that it was all play!

lkj SnowMe and Steve drove around on the snowmobiles for about an hour before we broke up for lunch. Lunch was served up at the cabin and included newly BBQ’d hamburgers and chicken-burgers and for desert we could have a cookie or some crackers.

After we were back into the playing if we wanted, but we considered going down because of Adrienne and after a short discussion we concluded to break up for the day and head back down the mountain again.

Three other guys turned up at the cabin who wasn’t with Toby Creek one was on a motorbike! Just absolutely nuts driving up that road, and he was beating the two snowmobiles too!! After you viewed the movie of this guy driving the snowmobile, you can just imagine, how nuts the dirt-bike guy was!!

On the way back down, we stopped at a icefall (about 25m long ice route) which again got me hoping for Anders to pick-up my ice-climbing gear at my parents place.

lkj lkjAfter we got down we played around a bit on the obstacle course again, and in the deep fluffy powder. We discovered that the machines we were given was not made for powder. Too weak engines and too small lags (the small paddles on the rim that drives the snowmobile forward). So I ended up stuck twice in the knee to thigh deep powder so Keith came and helped me up got it all going again.

Overall, it was a really fun day, however, a word of advice! If you go, and I really encourage you to, make sure that you are going with people that actually loves speed and adrenaline. If not, then there is a great chance that the person that just tags along and end up scared, may put down the fun for all the rest.

My greatest and warmest thanks and regards to my two managers that made this trip possible, Jamie and Janette! Thank you!

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