Revelstoke mountain snowmobiling festival being planned for 2017

The Calling will be a major festival that will cement Revelstoke's reputation as mountain snowmobiling destination, organizer says.

Jeremy Hanke is a snowmobiling and avalanche professional

Jeremy Hanke is a snowmobiling and avalanche professional

Plans are underway for a major mountain snowmobiling festival in Revelstoke.

Jeremy Hanke is heading up the organization of The Calling, a four-day festival that will include avalanche awareness courses, a vintage ride, drag races, freestyle competition, photo competition and – most notably – a cross-country race through the mountains from Revelstoke to Eagle Pass.

“Kertis Broza from Infinite Powersports mentioned to me how mountain snowmobiling is different than the old style,” Hanke told me. “He said it would be good to have a competition to show the different skills mountain snowmobiling requires.”

The Calling, as the festival is named, is being put on by the Skadi Foundation, a non-profit established by Hanke. He is working with the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club and a long list of others to launching the festival next March.

Hanke is a professional snowmobiler who entered the avalanche industry after a burial in a slide near Revelstoke several years ago. He runs Soulrides, which provides avalanche education to snowmobilers. His goal is to turn The Calling into a major festival that can generate revenue for non-profit organizations.

As the festival’s mission statement states, the goal is: “To create an annual snowmobiling festival in Revelstoke, B.C., that generates funding for non-profit-groups, shifts the culture of safe backcountry mountain motorized use practices, and generates community revenue and exposure for Revelstoke was a world-class snowmobiling destination.”

The festival will be a mix of competitive and non-competitive events. On the non-competitive side there will be a vintage snowmobile ride, riding clinics and avalanche awareness clinics.

On the competitive side, there will be drag races, a freestyle competition, photo challenge and video challenge. There will be complementary events, like a vendor village, a chili cook-off, beer garden and more. The centre of the festival would be in Centennial Park, with events taking place on Boulder Mountain, Frisby Ridge and at Glacier House Resort.

The flagship event will be the cross-country race, which will pit teams of two in a race from Boulder Mountain to Eagle Pass and back in what the organizers are hyping as “the most exclusive, high-quality, big mountain, backcountry snowmobiling event in the world.”

“They’ll race in two-man teams with disciplinary measures for unsafe habits,” Hanke said. “We want to shift the culture of mountain snowmobiling.”

Hanke said they will be issuing invitations to some of the top riders in the snowmobiling world and will be offering up a cash purse for the top teams. “I’m looking to tickle the fancy of some of the top professionals in North America,” he said.

One of the big challenges of putting on the race will be organizing a safety plan. The organizers have brought in avalanche professional Scott Wikson as the backcountry safety coordinator.

The organizers have met with numerous local stakeholders and are working on issues like land-use agreements and securing financing. They are looking for $600,000 to get The Calling off the ground and support it through the first three years, at which point they believe it will be self-sufficient.

According to their targets, they’re hoping to attract 600 people in year one, 1,200 in year two, 3,500 by year five, and 4,700 by year 10. They say the event could have an economic impact of more than $10 million to the community within a decade.

While those numbers may seem ambitious, the Big Iron Shootout – the unsanctioned event that took over Boulder Mountain for a weekend in March for several years last decade – had a reported 4,000 people show up at its peak, and that was without any formal promotion or organization.

Hanke brought up the Jackson Hole Hill Climb World Championships, which brings in 10,000 people to that town when it takes place every year.

If all goes well, the first edition of The Calling would take place from March 30 to April 2, 2017.

“Snowmobiling and the culture and the community has been looking for an event like this,” said Hanke. “This can be a pivotal event and festival for the mountain snowmobiling community.”