TIP-TOP TRACKS  Cross-country skiers can expect the Panorama Nordic Centre trail to be groomed bi-weekly and after heavy snowfall. Photo submitted

TIP-TOP TRACKS Cross-country skiers can expect the Panorama Nordic Centre trail to be groomed bi-weekly and after heavy snowfall. Photo submitted

By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

Cross-country snow seekers will be happy to learn that a popular Nordic Trail at Panorama Mountain Resort that was previously washed out has been repaired.

The Toby Trail was severely damaged by heavy rainfall a couple of years ago but an effort to repair the erosion has now been completed and the area has been re-opened for the 2015-2016 season.

We rebuilt that this summer so it gives a more direct route out to the Hale Hut with less elevation gain so its less distance and elevation to get out to the Hale Hut, said Ryan Stimming, Panorama Mountain Resort risk manager and spokesperson. Its a smoother, easier way.

The Hale Hut is located on the Delphine Loop of Panoramas Nordic trails and was built during the fall of 2000 in memory of the late Dennis Hale, who was an avid local skier with a passion for cross country routes.

Its our marquee destination on the Nordic network, explained Mr. Stimming. Rebuilding that trail is an important improvement because it allows people who maybe dont have the stamina to get out there a quicker and easier way to travel there with less hills.

In addition, the team at Panorama spent time clearing off autumn foliage and alder (undergrowth in mountainous areas) to create a smooth surface for the Nordic trail network.

We spent a lot of time this summer brushing alder away from various trails, Mr. Stimming explained. Were also going to re-open the Nordic Practice Grid near Hole 5 on Greywolf its for Nordic skiers. Anybody who wants to take a lesson or practice in a flat area has access to a running track for Nordic skis with about 10 or so lanes that go in a straight line to go back and forth, to get used to Nordic skiing.

Mr. Stimming added there were roughly three kilometres of an additional trail that will be open for skiers this season.

That area was previously overgrown and not groomable, he explained. We went through, cut down the alders and removed the fallen trees so that we were able to reclaim that area again.

He is eager to see spectators and participants alike visiting the nine-kilometre 2nd Annual Dragon Trail Loppet taking place at the Panorama Nordic Centre on Saturday, January 9th.

The Nordic Centre was scheduled to open on December 18th, but early heavy snowfall allowed Panorama to open it for business nearly a month earlier than planned with a soft opening on November 19th.

Moving forward, there will be regular grooming done in the area bi-weekly, as well as when its needed due to heavy snowfall.

We were open seven days a week prior to that, but the Nordic Centre itself wasnt open. We were basically just selling trail passes and people could go out to ski and we were grooming the trails, Mr. Stimming said. But as of Friday (December 11th), the Nordic Centre is open with rentals for both snowshoes and Nordic skis.

Equipment rentals and ticket sales will be ongoing at the Panorama Nordic Centre.

We continue to turn over our Nordic rental fleet, he said. Every year, we sell off a bunch of old equipment and purchase some new equipment so I would say 100 per cent of the Nordic rental equipment is two years old or newer. People can feel confident that theyre going to get the newest technology and equipment thats in good condition.

He added there are many snowshoeing trails that are linked to the Nordic trails at Panorama.

Some of them are one of the same for certain periods as you meander through the trail network, said Mr. Stimming. Weve made changes to two of our snowshoe trails and opened up two additional snowshoe trails. We have also completely turned over our snowshoe rental fleet so weve got brand new snowshoes if you want to come up here and rent a pair of snowshoes. Every pair of snowshoes in our fleet is brand new.

Alpine Season Pass holders are eligible to use the Nordic Trails for no additional charge, but Mr. Stimming encourages users to stop at the Nordic Centre to scan their pass so that Nordic visits can be tracked for future improvements.

The Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club members receive a 25 per cent discount off trail fees for either a Nordic-specific seasons pass or a Nordic day pass.

There is more information available about the resort at www.panoramaresort.com/cross-country-skiing.