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  • Weir Boondocking - Photo by Matt Kuhn
  • Weir Boondocking - Photo by Matt Kuhn
  • Weir Boondocking - Photo by Matt Kuhn

Snowmobiling In Fernie

Saturday • March 29, 2014

Do you ride a sled? If the answer is yes then you should take the time to have a look at the services Weir Boondocking offer.

A new addition to Fernie, their sled skills clinics are a must for anyone who is interested in improving their riding abilities.

Riding clinics are available for beginners right though to the most advanced. The aim of a day with Weir Boondocking? To maximize your enjoyment whilst in the backcountry by teaching you the important techniques to make your sled feel light!

Shantelle and Andy Weir are the faces behind Weir Boondocking. Talking to them about their new company it was clear how passionate they are when it comes to teaching.

“One of the most common things our intermediate to advanced riders tell us after a day out is that they would have never thought they could have ridden there!” Says Andy when I ask him about what he likes the most about teaching.

Clinics can be tailored for every kind of rider, “We don’t just bulk riders together to maximize the people we can take. It is all about getting the most out of our clients, that is important to us! We often get couples who come to us for clinics so they can enjoy riding together.”

I am a complete novice when it comes to snowmobiling. In fact, before I spent a day with Weir Boondocking I had never even stood on a sled, let alone driven one. Intrigued to see what all the fuss was about, I signed up and let Andy and Shantelle go to work!

If I told you that I rolled up to the staging area, jumped on a sled and started riding like a pro I would be lying. After my first attempt of turns in fresh powder, it became apparent that I needed to let go of my ego and accept defeat, it was time to take in all of my instructors wisdom and start learning.

“You have to fight your instinct to turn where you want to go!” Says Andy, many times…

Counter steering, weight transfers, wrong foot forward, throttle control – this was no walk in the park. As the morning progressed my sled digging skills got better but with each submarine it felt like things were never going to get easier! One more loop up a gentle rolling powder field and I execute what could be described as a half successful attempt and fresh turns.

A lunch break was called, as the hamburgers started sizzling over an open fire I wondered if I would ever get it. How was I going to survive more digging and sled lifting?

“Don’t worry, it is looking like things are starting to click…” Says Andy, nervously. To be honest I wasn’t too fussed, apart from the physical exhaustion that comes with freeing a sled in waist deep snow, this had already been an epic experience.

With a full belly and the warmth of an open fire it was time for more practice and shortly after, some tree riding. I was concerned!

Riding a rented sled from Ghostrider Motorsports in trees, was this a good idea?  Surely they know what they are doing.

No, I wasn’t boondocking like a pro but I was having fun. Following the guys up one last steep pitch we crested the ridgeline, providing amazing views overlooking the Elk Valley and Fernie.

It was nice to relax and not feel like every tree narrowly missed was a lucky break. Soaking up some more afternoon sun and discussing our return journey my teachers for the day touch on more specifics that need work.  As we ride back to the valley bottom there are definitely moments when my sled feels like it is doing what it want it to be doing, even if for a brief moment.

As we load up the sleds in the afternoon I run the day though my head. This would be the hardest learning experience I have had for a long time, but don’t let this put you off. It was one of the best first time sporting experiences of my life.

Without the expert advice from Shantelle and Andy I wouldn’t have made it past my second submarine. Do yourself a favor and book a day riding with these guys, if your day of sledding ends with you spent from multiple recovery digs, aching bodies or feeling like your sled drives you then Weir Boondocking is the answer.

One thing that should be noted is that Weir Boondocking are not a guided tour company, they are here to teach riding skills. That being said, a day out with them is catered to your skills and designed to be a challenging and fun experience. For the more advanced riders, you will get a lot from a day riding with Andy and Shantelle! Focusing on technical skills but still riding challenging terrain, it is the perfect combination of training and fun!

A clinic with Weir Boondocking requires a sled! Being a new to sledding, my first stop was at Ghostrider Motorsports for a day rental. If you are in Fernie with your sled the team at Ghostrider Motorsports will look after you.

With 15 years experience servicing Fernie’s motorsport needs, their knowledgeable staff can take care of all your issues. Combing a fully stocked parts room and experienced technicians in the service department, Ghostrider are the people you need. 

Thanks must go to Andy and Shantelle for their patience and expertise!

Jack Viney- Tourism Fernie 

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