On a good snowmobile these days it less than 30 minutes to get to the cabin on Boulder Mountain. When Dusty Veideman first ventured up there with his brother Arnie and friend Bill Rogers more than 40 years ago the trip was a bit more arduous.
“It was bushwhacking all the way through,” he said. “It would take us three days in powder.”
Veideman told me that story at the start of the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club’s first annual Vintage Ride. There was about a dozen old snowmobiles, mostly from the ‘70s lined up, ready to make the trip up the trail to the Boulder Mountain Cabin Saturday morning.
As we spoke, many more people set out on their modern rides. The old machines looked tiny in comparison – half the size and a fraction the horsepower.
“The technology has advanced so rapidly and so far,” Herb Shaede, another long-time local snowmobiler told me. “These are true antiques. Now you just get on and ride. You don’t have to do anything anymore.”
Veideman didn’t have his old snowmobiles out – he said they were no longer in working condition. Shaede brought out his Skiroule SX 400 from the early ‘70s and his son Mark’s 1979 Skidoo Elan SS.
“That was one of the hot rod machines in its day,” Shaede said, referring to Mark’s old snowmobile.
Herb and Mark Shaede – with Mark sporting a 1975 leather Ski-doo suit. Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review
According to Veideman, several snowmobile design features may have been derived in Revelstoke.
According to legend, Revelstokians were possibly the first to put paddles on their tracks to help push through the snow.He added that locals were the first to use plastic skis – the snow had a habit of sticking to the old metal skis.
He said Ski-doo came here one year and saw both those improvements and ended up using them on their snowmobiles.
Shaede was living in Mica when he bought his snowmobile in Revelstoke. He once rode it from Mica to Valemount, along logging roads, he said. The last time he rode it was three years ago, but he said it should get to the Boulder Mountain Cabin without problem.
That’s a far cry from days before there were logging roads and groomed trails up the mountain. Back then, Veideman said, they would each take turns busting through the snow. They would gun their engine and drive it as far forward as possible.
They would take turns doing that until they got through – hence why it could take as long as three days to get to the emergency cabin.
“It was fun in those days,” said Veideman. “The ride was terrible but it was still good once you get up there.”
Calvin Robinson on his rebuilt 1972 Polaris 500 Limited. Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review