Volunteer Safety Hosts Program

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Larch Hills offers over 50 km of track-set trails, 90 km of nontrack-set trails and snowshoe trails spread out over a 3000 hectare area for all levels of fitness and adventure.

The onus for safety and survival falls on you the user. Be prepared!

  • Our Volunteer service time while skiing is NOT scheduled. We do NOT systematically patrol 50K of track set trails.
  • WE DO COME PREPARED  to respond to an emergency if called upon by cell phone or in person.
  • 16 LHNS Safety Host Volunteers offer LHNS members a service: we aim to quickly and appropriately respond to the needs of an injured skier or snowshoer – primarily but not exclusively on Larch Hills track set trails.
  • We are trained in the use of the Club’s snowmobiles, rescue toboggans and SKED.
  • Many of us have current WorkSafe B.C. Occupational First Aid Level 1 or higher level first aid and Transportation Endorsement training and certification.
  • Safety Hosts wear a Hi-Vis Yellow Arm Band with a white cross on a red background while skiing to identify ourselves. 
  • We use the Safety Host Sign In – Sign Out board beside the front door of the Chalet to indicate to fellow skiers that we are on the trails skiing with our cell phones turned on – ready to respond.   


Are you prepared for a Winter Emergency? 


Do you understand how LHN Safety Host Volunteers may be able to help you in an emergency?  


  • A fully charged cell phone.
  • A waterproof copy of the 2016 cell phone hot zones map posted at 5 on-trail locations and at the Chalet (printable below).
  • A 2016/17 LHNS Emergency Responders Contact list (printable below).
  • For backcountry trails be equipped with such things as a space blanket, extra clothing, first aid supplies, matches and fire starter, a flashlight, snacks, maybe even an emergency locator device .



  • Go with a group.
  • If you must go alone tell someone what trails you are taking and when you will return.
  • STICK to the trails and time frame you committed to.
  • Become familiar with the location of the three manual rescue toboggans on the hill. Locations are marked on our Dec. 2015 Larch Hills Trail Maps. Each rescue toboggan containd sleeping bags and first aid supplies. They are slow and awkward moving an injured skier but provide some protection from the cold and damp snow until help arrives.
  • There are also three locations of Larch Hills Safety Supply Caches: on the Summit Trail near Summit Shortcut, on Far East Trail at Moonwalk junction and at Sentinel – Lakeview junction. Locations are shown on the current Dec. 2015 Larch Hills Trails map. (See Safety Supplies Cache photo below.) 
  • Note the five on-trail locations where 2016 cell hot zone maps are posted: Cec’s Cabin, South Hub, top of Metford Rd. hill – Bilbo’s Bog junction, Sentinel – Lakeview junction and Tom’s Shelter.                                                     


                                                                             Emergency Preparation Dec 2016 – Printable Doc. 



 Emergency Response For Skiers and Snowshoers – February 2017

Larch Hills Nordics 


Emergency Response

  • Assess the injury and apply first aid if you are qualified.
  • Keep the injured person warm – use a space blanket, extra clothing, hot pads, or the sleeping bag in the nearest rescue toboggan. There are also “safety buckets” with emergency supplies in three key locations. Lakeview/Sentinel, Moonwalk/Far East, and the Summit Trail below Summit Shortcut.
  • If you have a cell phone and there is service:  See Reporting below. TEXTING MAY BE POSSIBLE OUTSIDE CELL PHONE SERVICE AREAS
  • If there is no cell service: send someone in your group to the nearest cell service area to call. Carry a 2016 cell service areas map with you – a paper copy or a Geo referenced digital copy on your smart phone. Also see cell service area maps posted at 5 on-trail locations: Cec’s Cabin, South Hub, Metford Road – Bilbo’s Bg junction. Skyview – Lakeview junction, Tom’s Shelter and at the Chalet. There is cell service at the chalet, plus the list of Safety Hosts currently on the trails, first aid supplies and there will usually be others there who can help.  If possible, send two people so one can return with information while you are waiting.
  • If you don’t have a cell: send someone to the chalet or to find the nearest skier who has a cell. 
  • Manual Rescue Toboggans – located at South Hub, Metford/Bilbo’s and Cec’s Cabin. They contain sleeping bags and limited first aid supplies.  They are a good place to protect an injured person.  If using one it is recommended that you remove your skis, both for pulling and braking.  They are slow and awkward to use. 


Depending on the nature of the incident, call the available Safety Hosts (sign-out board at the chalet front door) or 911Some situations may require both. The Safety Hosts are only able to respond on the trackset trails and a limited portion of the non-trackset trails.

Provide the following information:

  • Location of incident, and whether the location is known or approximate
  • Person calling
  • Nature and time of injury
  • Condition of injured person and other relevant information: age, medical issues…
  • Assistance given to injured person
  • Stay within cell service or at the chalet to provide more information as needed. Ensure you have enough battery to be called. 

    Skier emergency response draft Dec 13, 2016 – Printable Doc. 



Safety Host Arm Band – we wear an arm band when we’re skiing to be visible to fellow Larch Hills Skiers 



 Wickett Business Services / Salmon Arm Stationery will laser print the 2016 Cell Zones Map and the Dec. 15, 2017 Emergency Contacts list on waterproof durable bib paper at 8.5″ X 11″ for $1.25 or for less than $1.00 on regular paper. Wickett Business Services / Salmon Arm Stationery have these files.  


Larch Hills Cell Phone Hot Zones Map – Dec. 2016  – Printable Doc.

Laminated copies of the 2016 cell zone maps are posted at five on-trail locations: Cec’s Cabin, South Hub, top of Metford Rd. hill at Bilbo’s Bog gate junction, Skyview – Lake view junction, Tom’s Shelter and at the Chalet.

LHNS Emergency Responders Contact List – Dec. 15, 2017 LHNS MEMBERS copy – Printable Doc.



How to UNLOCK & LOCK the Chalet Basement’s First Aid Cabinet – Dec. 24/15 – click on to view


March 16, 2017 SKED and Rescue Toboggans Safety Hosts Training Session 




Snow Depth Measurements: 2007 – 2017

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snow depth

Have a look at the data and graphs below. What patterns appear to be emerging? 

Will accelerating climate change affect the snow pack at Larch Hills Ski Area?

Check out this Power Point Report by LHNS Member Bill Grainger for LHNS – dated Nov. 14, 2006.

Snow Trends in the Thompson River Basin (November 2006)


BC River Forecast Centre Automated Snow Pillow Real-Time Data: Park Mtn 1800M elevation (est. 1984)
 – located between Sugar Lake and Mable Lake
–  Note: Snow Water Equivalent sensor malfunctioning as of December 5, 2016 and awaiting repair

“Snow Rangers”, Jim & Marcia and Keith skied, hiked and “water skied” to the Summit on April 2, 2015 to measure snow depths. A sunny 5 hour expedition!

By Elevations Larch Hills Snow Depths and 11-Yr. Averages 2007 to 2017

The minimum early March snow depth measured at the Chalet was in 2010: 4 cm

The maximum early March snow depth measured at the Chalet was in 2007: 87 cm. 

11-year average early March snow depth measured at the Chalet (1000M elevation) is 57 cm.

  • Between 1000M (Chalet) and 1400M (The Summit) based on 2007 – 2017 early March Total snow depth measurements it appears snow depths increase by 2.2 times – more than double.
  • Between 1000M (Chalet) and 1200M (Cec’s Cabin) based on 2007 – 2017 early March Total snow depth measurements it appears snow depths increase by 1.89 times – a little less than double.
  • Between 1000M (Chalet) and 1057M (South Hub) based on 2007 – 2017 early March 10 Year Total snow depth measurements it appears snow depths increase by 1.58 times.
  • Next Report in early March 2018 – the 12th consecutive year of these Larch Hills paired, 4 elevations, snow depth measurements.
  • Contact Keith Cox (832-7768) or George Zorn (832-9335) if you have questions.
Moose, Dec 2012

High Branch Pruners, Clippers, Sawyers

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Work started for a sixth season on Oct. 10, 2017 and wrapped up on Nov. 1, 2017 due to heavy snow falls Nov. 2 and Nov. 9 and -10C. THANKS TO LARCH HILLS VOLUNTEERS WHO HELPED prune & brush track set trails.


WE PRUNE HIGH TREE BRANCHES using the Club’s five amazing, very effective 21 foot extendable Silky Pole Saws.      “Why Silky Pole Saws are so great” – 2min 50sec You Tube video.

We prune lower branches and tree whips with long handled loppers and folding saws. We clear the cut branches and stems off the trail. Safety-trained, experienced Volunteer chain saw operators cut small diameter trail–side trees which are removed from the trail. The Volunteer Trail Crew’s work wraps up with a Pot Luck Dinner as the first big snowfall settles in on the trails, as the bears go to sleep and as we start skiing at Larch Hills! SINCE 2012 we’ve invested over 104 days and 1423 volunteer hours to high branch prune and brush about 27K of Larch Hill’s track set trails (approx. 5K per year). 27K represents over 75% of the estimated 36K of track set Larch Hills trails that would benefit from high branch pruning & brushing.

In January 2014, 2015, 2016 and Jan. 2017 a total of 230 hours were devoted to pre-Loppet “flash pruning” and brush sawing whips on the 17K and 30K Loppet routes. These hours are included in the 1423 hours total. See the map below showing trail work completed on Larch Hills’ track set trails: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and to Nov. 1, 2017.

Larch Hills Jr. Racing Team – Midgets, parents and coaches clear pruned branches and stems off Ermine Frolic Loop – Oct. 28, 2017 “Take Back the Hills”  

JOIN US for a day or more:

As of November 1, 2017 high branch pruning trail work for the 2017 pre-ski season wrapped up. Twelve work parties were held on consecutive Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. We car pooled from Salmon Arm at 8:30 a.m. or met at 9 a.m. at the Chalet Parking lot. We worked ’til about 1 p.m. or as our time allowed. For more info. and to confirm work day changes due to weather contact George Zorn at 250-832-9335 or Jim Nadler at 778-489-2273 to car pool from Salmon Arm.

Note: 2016/17 registered LHNS members who volunteer are covered by CCBC Insurance only until October 15, 2017. Please renew your LHNS membership for the coming season before October 15, 2017 to maintain CCBC Volunteer’s insurance coverage.

Thanks to Tom Hansen, Mark Corbett, the RAP Base Crew, Certification Course Fallers, John Thielman and Larch Hills HB Pruners for “Umbrella Tree” removal on lower Stig’s Loop and Chalet Loop in October 2015. Thanks to Mark Corbett’s RAP Base Crew for “Umbrella Tree” removal on Skytrail’s hills in June 2016 along with track set trails ‘speed junctions’ sight line improvements (e.g.: Hotshot – Ermine Frolic junction, bottom of Jay Walk Hill sharp corner on Ermine Frolic Loop).    


 Total 2.5K of high branch pruning & brusing trail work completed to Nov. 1, 2017

  • Ermine Frolic Loop (excluding no treatment zone for comparison)

  • Sight line improvements: bottom west side of Metford Rd. hill across from Shortcut junction and Bilbo’s Bog – Metford Rd junction   


October 10 – November 1, 2017 Volunteers: Jim Cadden, Dave Evensen, Bent Kristensen, Craig McBride, Jim Nadler, Doug Noakes, Kerry & Leona Orchard, LHNS Ski Team Midgets, Parents and Coaches, Pat Smith, George Zorn

2012 – 2016 Volunteers (alphabetical order): Roger Beardmore, Frank Bristol, Jim Cadden, Ian Clay, Lynne Collins, Mark Corbett and RAP Crew, Keith Cox, Pat Danforth, Ken Earl, Kristen Earl, Mark Elamatha, Dave Evensen, Jim Hoskins, Pat Hutchins, Bent Kristensen, LHNS Ski Team with Parents and Coaches, Craig McBride, Mitch Milgram, Duncan Moore, Jim Nadler, Peter Navratil, Ron Neden, Blake Noble, Kerry Orchard, Leona Orchard, Birtie Ostby, Ray Ostby, Alois Schonenberger, Pat Shea, Shuswap Trail Alliance’s JCP Winter Trails Crew 2012, Gerda Sieg, Rob Taylor, Pauline Waelti, George Zorn 

Map of track set trails treated to November 1, 2017:


Click to enlarge


What are we accomplishing? Some benefits of this work:

  1. Safer, slightly wider trails for skiers
  2. Increased light and snow interception on trails
  3. Fewer frozen “snow bombs” in the tracks and on the combed trail width from overhanging branches during freeze-thaw conditions (emphasis on the hills) – safer for skiers on the hills
  4. Improved sight lines for 2-way skier traffic on sharp corners and at junctions (e.g. Hot Shot – Ermine Frolic, sharp corner at the bottom of Jay Walk hill and north of there on Ermine Frolic Loop,… )
  5. In the fall of 2014, early January 2015 and 2016, just before the RK-S Loppet, 192 volunteer hours were also invested “dressing up” the 17K and 30K Recreational Loppet routes.
  6. Fewer branches obstructing the PB track setter
  7. Our work focus has been on track set trail hill sections to make these safer for skiers (eg. Baby Moonwalk hills, Sky Trail hills, Hot Shot, Stig’s Loop hill, upper Larch Hills Rd. hills to Cec’s Cabin plateau)
  8. We are currently (fall 2017) working on the “Core Area” trails (Chalet to South Hub plateau) where most skiers enjoy skiing most of the time (eg. Cottonwood Cutoff, East Dales, Ermine Frolic Loop…)


Work done and still to do:

27K pruned and brushed (2012 to Nov. 1, 2017) 75%.    9K still to do 25%.

Elementary Schools Ski Host Program

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Prior to the Friday, February 2, 2018 Larch Hills Elementary Schools Pirate Loppet, Larch Hills Nordics Society (LHNS) volunteers are keen to provide an opportunity for School District #83 elementary school students and their teachers to gain familiarity with the Larch Hills trails through the LHNS School Ski Host Program.

Up to three (3) skis sessions are available to each participating school class, usually one session per week.  We aim for about 10 students per Ski Host Volunteer

There is no charge for these sessions, but donations to the LHNS towards the maintenance of the Larch Hills trails and facilities are gratefully accepted. Donations may be sent to LHNS, Box 218 Salmon Arm, BC, V1E 4N3 or deposited in the donation box at the top of the stairs by the Chalet. 

The School Ski Host Program began in January 2009. Students, Teachers and Larch Hills Volunteers have participated each January since 2009. In January 2017, 326 students from 8 local schools were hosted by 44 Larch Hills Nordics Volunteers for 914 student visits.

Larch Hills Nordics Volunteer Ski Hosts for the January 2017 School visits were:

  • Laurie Ankemann
  • Lena Armstrong
  • Petra Bader
  • Peter Barss
  • Jim Beckner
  • Marcia Beckner
  • Suzy Beckner
  • Ilona Berbekar
  • Antje Breugem
  • Eline den Boer
  • Elizabeth Eso
  • Steve Fabro
  • Dale Fennell
  • Ravonne Foulger
  • Chris Guiver
  • Mary Hamilton
  • Gullan Hansen
  • Lorne Hunter
  • Pat Hutchins
  • Kim Johnston
  • Gary Landers
  • Diane Mayes
  • Chris McMahen
  • Peter Molnar
  • Jim Nadler
  • Sonia
  • Caroline Desbiens
  • Ann Nikmo
  • Estelle Noakes
  • Doug Noakes
  • Beth Savage
  • Alois Schoenenberger
  • Brian Smith
  • Eva Smith
  • Pauline Waelti
  • Susan Wells
  • Karin Huster
  • Keith Wilkie
  • Marianne Wolters
  • Derek Woodhurst
  • Phil Wright
  • Jeanetta Zorn
  • George Zorn
  • Brian David


Bookings for ski host sessions will close on December 1st 2017 for the January 2018 LHNS Schools Ski Host Program.

If you have questions or to sign up for Ski Host sessions please contact Karin Huster at 250-832-9959 or karin@huster.ca


Elementary Schools “Pirate Loppet”

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Ian Clay photos – Click to Open


Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 
Registration start time: 9:30 a.m.
Loppet start time: 10:30 a.m.

5K, 2K and 1K routes 





“PIRATES” – Participants, teachers, chaperones are encouraged to dress in Pirate theme in ski-friendly clothes.

Many draw prizes are awarded!! A school superintendent’s TROPHY is awarded to the school with the largest representation, based proportionately on the total student enrolment in the school. 

Hot Dogs and Hot Beverages will be served to young skiers and event volunteers – hosted by an awesome group of Shuswap Lady Striders at the chalet. Hot Dogs and Hot Beverages will be available to others by donation. Your donation goes to “Skis for Schools” grants to SD#83 elementary school classes to purchase X-C ski equipment.

Class Photos:
An area will be identified for classes to gather for photos before and after the 10:30 a.m start time. Photos will be distributed digitally to Teachers through the SD83 Office after the Pirate Loppet.       

Rental Equipment:
There’s limited inventory of rental equipment available at local ski stores. Book rentals early!

“Skis for Schools”:
Over the past six years since 2011 proceeds from the School Pirate Loppet have been presented to eleven School District #83 Elementary Schools: Bastion, Carlin, Grindrod, Highland Park, Hillcrest, North Canoe, Parkview, Ranchero, Salmon Arm West, Sorrento and South Broadview. Each School has purchased X-C Ski equipment. In 2017 Armstrong Elementary and Silver Creek will be presented with cheques. A total of $21,700 has been distributed to local schools by the Pirate Loppet host committee based on the $5 per student registration fee and generous donations from:

  • Shuswap Community Foundation
  • Askew’s Foods
  • School District #83
  • Shuswap Tourism
  • event sponsors (see poster below).

Some School PAC Groups have matched “Skis for Schools” grants.

The Larch Hills Nordics School Pirate Loppet Host Committee plans to continue with this “Skis for Schools” initiative since local X-C ski rental equipment is limited.


Registration Details:
This event is officially for grade 3 to 7.  Grades 1 and 2 students can register if accompanied by, and under the care of their parents.  Registration fee is $5.00 per student. Parents are welcome to participate (unregistered) with their children at no added cost.


2017 Pirate Loppet Sponsors:
Askew’s Foods, Boston Pizza, B.C. Ambulance Volunteers, Hub International Insurance, Hudson Dental Clinic, North Okanagan – Shuswap School District #83, Shuswap Tourism, Shuswap Community Foundation, Skookum Cycle & Ski, Stella-Jones Canada, Tim Hortons, Toliver Advertising & Desing Inc. – Thank You!  


Each School is Responsible for:

  • Promoting the event,
    • Registering the students on the registration log, collecting the nominal registration fee of $5.00 from each student
    • Processing the registration per instructions in the registration package which is sent to the schools on the first week of school in January.
  • Completing the school board waiver forms in accordance with school policy
  • Assigning chaperones in accordance with school board activities policies
    • Arranging student transportation to and from the event for students to arrive at Larch Hills Parking Lot February 2, 2018 by 9:30 am and depart by 1:30 pm.
  • It is the responsibility of the teachers accompanying school groups to monitor and keep track of the students from their schools and ensure that they are brought back to the school at the conclusion of the event.  


Ski Ability:
Participants MUST be able to control their speed on the occasional down hill sections with a strong snow plough or wedge. 

There is one 450 meter long down hill section with average 6.5% grade on Larch Hills Road between Gullan’s Gulley and Stig’s Loop on the 5K route.  

Snow Plough Technique (2 min. 45 sec.)

Herring Bone Technique (36 sec. and 24 sec.)


A reminder: for the Jan. 2017 Pirate Loppet a new 2K and a 1K route for younger and less experienced skiers was introduced – mostly flat & rolling. This will continue for the Feb. 2, 2018 Pirate Loppet.  

Schools Ski Host Program:  
Bookings will close for the January 2018 Ski Host Program on December 1st 2017.    Last January 416 students and over 40 LHNS Volunteers registered for fun on skis! 
During the four weeks of January, prior to the February 2, 2018 Pirate Loppet, Larch Hills Nordic Society member volunteers provide an opportunity for students and teachers to gain familiarity with the trails through a Ski Host program. The ratio has normally been about 7 – 10 students per Ski Host.  There’s no charge. We like to see kids enjoy the Larch Hills trails and X-C skiing!  Read more about the School Ski Host program here.

Download to print Key Information for the 2018 Pirate Loppet – Info. will be posted in November

Do You Have Any Questions? Please Call or Email:

Larch Hills Elementary School Pirate Loppet:
“Captain” Chris McMahen,    chrismcmahen@gmail.com

Elementary Schools – Larch Hills Nordics Ski Host Program Coordinator:
Karin Huster, 250-832-9959,   karin@huster.ca


2017 Pirate Loppet Event Host Committee: ‘Captain’ Chris McMahen, Susan Rothlisberger & the Shuswap Lady Striders, Eileen MacDonald, George Zorn, Jeremy Ayotte, Karin Huster, Megan Moore, Pat Danforth, Pat and Christine Hutchins, Tom Peasgood – Thank You!

The first Larch Hills Pirate Loppet was held January 21, 2005 with 125 students participating.
Thanks to ‘Captain’ Brian Smith for leading the event 2005 – 2015!  

Event Photos:

Wendy Clay’s 2017 Pirate Loppet Photos here.

Ian Clay’s 2017 Pirate Loppet Photos here.   

Jim Hoskins’ 2017 Pirate Loppet Photos here

Ian James’ 2012 Pirate Loppet Photos here.