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the roots issue
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TABLE OF CONTENTS The Roots Issue
15 EDITORS’ MESSAGE
26 ODE TO THE SKI TRAVERSE
Our Roots are Showing
The Beauty in Suffering
16 BEHIND THE PHOTO
48 THE LAST WISH OF A CULTURAL GIANT
Bridge Building in the Bow Valley
19 KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOUR
55 PHANTOM PURSUIT
The Unicorn of Banff
On the Trail of the Wolverine
22 PERSPECTIVES Risking it All
DEPARTMENTS 35 ARTS & CULTURE
60 Seconds + Finding the Mother Tree
66 MOUNTAIN HOME
Movin’ On Up
Ghosts and Gambling at the Halfway Hut
42 MOUNTAIN LIFER
Winter Wall Candy
61 UP AND COMER
82 BACK PAGE
Rob Heule – Alberta Made
Bird is the Word
ON THIS PAGE Mount Rundle, AB.
ON THE COVER Kevin Marr and critter tracks at Selkirk Snowcat Skiing, Meadow Creek, B.C.
In the spirit of respect and truth, we honour and acknowledge that Mountain Life Rocky Mountains is published in the traditional Treaty 7 Territory which includes the ancestral lands of the Stoney Nakoda First Nations of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley, the Tsuut’ina First Nation, the Blackfoot Confederacy First Nations of Siksika, Kainai, and Piikani, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3. We acknowledge these Nations to honour, raise awareness, and express gratitude for the Indigenous peoples who have cared for these lands for generations.
PUBLISHERS KRISTY DAVISON JON BURAK TODD LAWSON GLEN HARRIS
We launched a freakin’ podcast!
EDITOR KRISTY DAVISON
of conversations about life in the wilderness with the people who do it best.
MANAGING EDITOR ERIN MOROZ
CREATIVE & PRODUCTION DIRECTOR, DESIGNER AMÉLIE LÉGARÉ
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CONTRIBUTORS Benji Andringa @lowclassart, Tim Banfield, Jason Leo Bantle, Agathe Bernard, Evan Buhler, Ryan Creary, Alison Criscitiello, Joanna Croston, Corrie DiManno, Andrew Findlay, Nicole Fougère, Will Gadd, John Gibson, Kyle Gibson, Nikki Heim, Kevin Hjertaas, Andréa L-Esteves, Bruno Long, Leonard Maglalang, Andrew McNab, Steve Ogle, Christian Pondella, John Porter, John Price, Dan Rafla, Mary Sanseverino and the Mountain Legacy Project, Steve Shannon, Georgi Silckerodt, AV Wakefield, Meghan Ward, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. SALES & MARKETING
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Published by Mountain Life Media, Copyright ©2021. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. Publications Mail Agreement Number 40026703. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Mountain Life Magazine, PO Box 2433 Garibaldi Highlands B.C., V0N 1T0. Tel: 604 815 1900. To send feedback or for contributors guidelines email email@example.com. Mountain Life Rocky Mountains is published every October and May by Mountain Life Media Inc. and circulated throughout the Rockies from Revelstoke to Calgary and Jasper to Fernie. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. Views expressed herein are those of the author exclusively. To learn more about Mountain Life, visit mountainlifemedia.ca. To distribute Mountain Life in your store please email Kristy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUR COMMITMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT Mountain Life is printed on paper that is Forest Stewardship Council ® (FSC ®) certified. FSC ® is an international, membership-based, non-profit organization that supports environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. Mountain Life is also PrintReleaf certified. PrintReleaf measures our paper consumption over time and calculates the forest impact. Our paper footprint is automatically reforested at planting sites in Canada.
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Our Roots Are Showing At Mountain Life, we believe strong communities make a place extraordinary. We’re stoked to bring the Rocky Mountains into our award-winning regional magazine model and to share the stories of this spectacular part of the country. Our mission is to connect all people to the magic of the mountains. We couldn’t be happier to call the Rockies home. – Team Mountain Life Standing on a mountain top, contemplating the valley below, A walk in crisp, fall air to ponder this inaugural issue things look familiar: the unbelievably flat quilt of the prairie of Mountain Life Rocky Mountains magazine, The Roots Issue, led to the popular Fenland Trail in Banff. The woods bulges into golden foothills; navy blue rivers snake away from there are a mix of standing and downed trees, the bones of the continental divide, and uniform grey rock gives way to windstorms past. That marshy, fenland forest is a metaphor lush green forest. But, it’s not the same is it? What changed? for society’s pandemic experience: like trees blown down What remains? What happened to us these past 20 months? by the wind, our roots now lie exposed; our foundations For many, in the absence of a workplace to physically report revealed: family, community, love, compassion—and also to and the loss of schedules packed with extracurriculars— genocide, colonialism, racism, and lack of understanding. For time slowed almost to a standstill. We longed to see family, generations, we’ve been too distracted to consider where and we mourned the deaths of elderly loved ones, from a we’ve come from or our path forward, and the events of the distance. During the endless, slow-motion blur of lockdowns pandemic laid this truth bare. and virtual meetings, our social interactions were reduced to Transformation is not only possible; it’s necessary. The “bubbles” and TikTok trends. Whether we’d opt for revolution process of building this magazine, something meaningful or de-evolution was a matter of a like or a thumbs down. Yet, amid the unrelenting wash of digital noise, we managed to where those roots have been exposed, where the richest dirt in surface long enough that… somehow, we found ourselves. the forest can be found, is changing us, and we hope you’ll find People flocked in unprecedented numbers to mountain the stories we’ve chosen to tell will inspire you to grow too. playgrounds, rediscovering the simple joy of wandering among We’ll aim to be a breath of fresh mountain air in a digital wild things, pushing pedals on a bicycle and fishing for dinner. world; an opportunity to learn and reflect on the best things in Through this challenge, we rediscovered our people, our souls— life, while deepening our sense of belonging and care for this our roots. And when we did, we found some of our roots had special place: the Rockies. The Stoney say: wazin îeichninabi— we are all one, interconnected like the roots below. Thank you flourished, reaching deep to our foundations and holding firm. for joining us. –Kristy Davison & Erin Moroz But, we also discovered some of our roots had rotted and collapsed under the weight of centuries of ease and neglect. 15
BEHIND THE PHOTO
It’s magical on a peak at sunrise. The alpenglow turns from hues of reds and pinks then orange, indicating the prime sunrise is over. Typically, I’m in the valley bottom gazing up. Sitting atop Miner’s Gully looking at Ha Ling Peak, Canmore twinkles below; I know I’ll be home soon. First light kisses the summit. Miner’s Gully would be a fantastic ski no matter where it was located but remarkably, it’s right above town. With day jobs to report to, we clip in, and after a quick game of rock-paper-scissors, drop into the gully and its 40 centimetres of fresh snow. Almost as enjoyable as the steep powder turns, we rip down the berms of the Highline West Connector trail in a ski cross party lap, exiting into the dog park, greeted by wagging tails. – Tim Banfield Miner's Gully is visible from most of Canmore. It is east of Ha Ling Peak and part of the Ehagay Nakoda massif.
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KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOUR Banff’s resident unicorn: Masaki Yokota
words :: Corrie DiManno While he could be described as mild-mannered, Masaki “Saki” Yokota keeps a wild card or two up his sleeve. Born and raised in Banff, he’s what they call a unicorn, meaning he’s a rare sort to come by in a mountain resort town. And, with almost three feet of hair, he sports an equine-esque flow. Is it true he doesn’t own a car or a cellphone and bikes year-round in shorts, including in minus 30 degrees Celsius? Short answer: yes. “You don’t really need a cellphone to get hold of me,” says Masaki. “I’m either working, golfing, or in Vegas playing poker.” Known for being generous with his time, talent, and treasure, Masaki puts folks at ease with his laid-back and welcoming disposition. As a bartender in the service industry, he’s always meeting people new to town and a rite of passage is guiding them up Cascade or Rundle Mountain— dealer’s choice. To date, he’s made the trek 25 times on each. Basically, Masaki goes all in for his community. He coaches volleyball at the high school, he stoically shovels snow off the basketball court in winter, and he participates in the annual 24 Hours for Bipolar hikeathon with his friends. And then there’s that one time he cut off all his hair to raise $17,000 to support youth sports in the Bow Valley. “When I was in high school it was hard to find coaches for certain sports and that void stuck with me. I don’t want that feeling for these kids coming up and I’m hoping they’d return the favour down the road in the community they end up in,” he says. “Plus, most of them call me ‘Dad,’ which is hilarious on road trips.” GEORGI SILCKERODT, SILCKERODT.COM
PHOTO SUPPLIED BY MASAKI
When he’s not teaching sports, he can be found reaching for the sky in his classic “high jumping” photos taken at summits. It all started back in 2006, when a friend took an action shot of him on Castle Mountain with a point-and-shoot camera. He entered it into a contest and won a trip to, that’s right, Las Vegas. He’s kept this tradition going ever since and yet can’t quite put his finger on the trick to landing the perfect snap.
Is it true he doesn’t own a car or a cellphone and bikes yearround in shorts, including in minus 30 degrees Celsius? Short answer: yes. If pressed to recount his most epic day in the mountains, Masaki simply describes a windless, bluebird day on top of Mount Temple with his hiking buddies. “A bluebird without wind is like a dream. You’re just baking in the sun at the top with nothing in mind. It’s pure bliss and serenity.”
Do you know someone impressive and out of the ordinary that deserves to be featured in Know Your Neighbour? Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
GEORGI SILCKERODT, SILCKERODT.COM
Photos Nick Fitzhardinge
Earth day, every day Every day is earth day when you take public transit. Help keep our mountain air clean in the Bow Valley by using Roam’s local and regional routes year-round. Did you know Canmore-Banff Regional (Route 3) operates from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, with dedicated space for skis, snowboards, and fat-tire bikes? It’s a great, sustainable way to go. To get your paperless Roam passes today, download one of these apps: Transit
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Will Gadd on Temple of Silence, AB.
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RISKING IT ALL Are the mountains worth dying for? One of the Rockies' best-known adventurers riffs on life and death in the mountains
words :: Will Gadd We go into the mountains to find meaning. Deep, all-absorbing meaning, the kind where you don’t think about anything but the here and now, and the world makes sense in a way it doesn’t in normal life. The mountain air is a ZEISS lens for what often seems like an out-of-focus, out-of-sense existence. That clarity is gorgeous. Some call the mountains their temple, the divine in rock, snow and ice. Up high the light is brighter, skies bluer, emotions and friendships stronger. Then someone dies, and in the cold, sterile, fluorescent light of the aftermath we look into the void and have a different problem: the lack of meaning. Why did they die, and what does it mean? Why did I live, and they died? What does death mean? Was that climb worth it? Of course not. Each death is a tragedy. But is it a tragedy when it’s a reasonably expected outcome of going to dangerous places? And if it is a reasonably expected outcome, that must mean it will happen again. And, most of us at the trailhead aren’t comfortable with that and don’t want to believe it will happen to us, so we call each new death an anomalous “tragedy” and move on, comforted by the belief it probably won’t happen to us. Hope is not a plausible risk-management strategy. To admit life hinges on hope is to admit we don’t control the outcome. And that reality won’t do in our, risk-managed, twenty-first-century minds; we like to think we’re behind the wheel. In Europe, the Himalaya, South America, Asia, death is expected both in life and in the mountains—shit sometimes just happens. People don’t seem to have the same North American belief that we control our own destinies. Every year dozens die in avalanches, but when someone close to us dies in a slide it’s a “freak accident.” If it’s possible to die either through human error or galactic happenstance at any given time, it means we are out of control, and that notion is unacceptable to the modern mind. But they are all freak accidents. And it is a tragedy to those left behind, especially the kids, whether the person was “doing what they loved” or not.
Will Gadd climbing a first ascent on a mixed route at Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Provincial Park, B.C.
© CHRISTIAN PONDELLA / RED BULL CONTENT POOL
The instant and final razor of death doesn’t split mountain odds neatly into the heads and tails of a spinning coin. A beating, warm pulse and cold, flat skin cooling with every minute of CPR were both always there, the same odds, spinning in the air. Are you a Buddhist or a Christian or an atheist or an agnostic? Reincarnation, heaven, nothing, no idea, respectively. You’ll get your answers on death when you die. What is clear to me is those who believe humans are fallible and the divine is infallible deal more gracefully with death. They have a ready-made explanation for it. Yet, most mountain people are atheists, experientialists, and don’t have a plan for being “taken too soon.” I’m not saying turn to God, but if you believe, then belief might make random seem organized, and “everything happens for a reason,” a comfort.
I try to find the calm places where death’s razor can’t reach me while I race across the halls of the mountain kings.
I don’t have that comfort, but I envy those who do. I think shit happens. I’ve seen so many wrecks and smart people die I don’t believe I’m superior. That means I can die out there too. And that is a very cold and pointy truth to hold in a warm, soft mind. Hello, dissonance, my old friend. Why this matters, beyond perhaps encouraging examination of our high-risk mountain pursuits, is that how we treat mountain death depends on our perspective on all of the above. I don’t think many of us are truly honest about our relationship with, or closeness to, death in the mountains. Me, I’m with Reinhold Messner, who doesn’t get the credit he deserves for saying: “Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous.”
Mountains are chaos. Messner, who lost his brother and multiple partners to the mountains, is right—they are just dangerous. I try to find the calm places where death’s razor can’t reach me while I race across the halls of the mountain kings. I dance between safe spots in the mountains and find meaning in moving well amongst the ambiguity. I welcome it all: bluer skiers, crisper air, a fuller heart, a stronger bond with my friends, family, and friends that become family. My kids are better outside. Trail rage isn’t a thing. Fragile specks blowing in the wind shouldn’t expect fair or unfair in chaos. Humans resist anarchy. Religion and politics are both a quest for order. Tame the untameable. Buy insurance. Wear your seatbelt. Vote. Invest. Control. Before heading out, when I check the weather forecast on my screen at home, I see a list of 25 dead friends hanging on the wall next to my computer. Not one died in a car wreck. They died in the mountains. But here I am, bag packed, again. Poetic skies and relationships are one thing. Is this lifestyle… are these moments worth losing it all? Is everything enough to counterbalance nothing? Is it danger that provides meaning for us mountain folk? We could play Russian roulette if all we wanted was adrenaline. No, for me it’s facing and avoiding the danger, seeing it for what it is, and dancing for all I’m worth in the most intense places in the world. Now that is meaning, and that’s what it fucking means to be alive. For me. It also means I may die, no, will die, either in the mountains or not. No one gets out alive. I’m not okay with that, and that’s where I find my meaning, the spaces where I can live while death sits over there sharpening its razor with the click of rockfall, the buzz of lightning and the silent accumulation of plaque in my veins. But that’s me. What’s your answer?
Vasu Sojitra Mount Moran, Wyoming
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Leah Evans, Madeleine Martin-Preney and Marie-France Roy in the Icefield Range, B.C. Rockies.
O d e t o t h e S k i T r a v e r s e words by Andrew Findlay photos by steve ogle
ABOVE Andrew Findlay and Jeff Wynnychuk in front of Pigeon Spire, Bugaboos to Rogers Pass RIGHT, TOP Chad Sayers at Snowfall Lodge, RIGHT, BOTTOM Surface hoar.
kins sliding across hard snow make a quiet rustling sound, like dry leaves swept across pavement. The weight of a heavy pack makes the shoulder straps squeak and groan. Deep, metronomic breathing punctuates the profound silence of a windless dawn in the mountains, when light shifts ambiguously from grey to cobalt. You pause. A slope rises upwards, relentless, toward a notch between two sentinels of black rock; a trackless, white plain tilted at 40 degrees. A bead of sweat trickles from your forehead into your right eyeball; it stings for a moment. At times like these, when the body is consumed by repetitive, steady actions, one’s mind can wander. Neuroscientists say when we drift into daydream mode, our prefrontal cortex experiences increased alpha waves, giving rise to random, freely spontaneous thoughts. Indeed, I have experienced crystalline moments of clarity in the mountains, breaking through intellectual or emotional barriers that had seemed impenetrable. At other times, I came crashing back to the present, and the selfinduced suffering of the traverse. The question “why” flickers into my consciousness, then fades as the rising sun spills over the eastern horizon.
The ultimate grind? Traverse: to travel across or through, that's the basic definition— then add “ski” in front of the word. For some people, it’s shorthand for the ultimate form of drudgery—hauling heavy sleds or crushingly huge packs across frozen deserts of snow and ice, or up endless climbs with the only reward being survival downhill skiing on thigh muscles smashed from the ascent. For others, it is the purest form of backcountry skiing: travelling from point A to B through the mountains with everything required to survive on your back. Perhaps the golden age of ski traversing has already come and gone, the era of Chic Scott and company who pioneered grand epics like the Jasper to Lake Louise traverse in 1967. But, the mountains remain—and where there are mountains, there are traverses. Options and variations are limited only by imagination and tolerance for “Type II” fun (punishing while it’s happening, but a good time in retrospect); success is never guaranteed, and creature comforts are left on the shelf at home. It’s not nearly as grim as a job description for Ernest Shackleton’s South Pole expedition, but you get the picture. Sometimes ski traverses can feel like 98 per cent work and two per cent fun; a dotted line on a map distilled from weather, snow conditions, fitness, and ambition.
The classic Bugs to Rogers One of the more iconic lines on the map is the Bugaboos to Rogers Pass traverse, a North American classic that is a bucket list trip for any self-respecting ski mountaineer. The route has a poetic beauty to it, cutting north-south through the Columbia Mountains and bookended by two iconic mountain playgrounds: the Bugaboos and Rogers Pass. It was pioneered in 1958 by Americans Bill Briggs, Bob French, Sterling Neale and Barry Corbet. They made a tough, stoic quartet. For its time, it was a monumental nine-day tour de force involving more than 11,000 metres of ascending and weaving for 135 kilometres through an avalanche alley in the Purcell and Selkirk mountains. And, they did it long before Canadian Mountain Holidays built their Bugaboo Lodge and could provide helicopter food-drop support. Considering the heavy gear of the era and intricate route-finding required, it remains an impressive achievement that, for the average backcountry skier, is still hard to match. One of the Americans scrawled a matterof-fact record of their passage on the wall of Glacier Circle Cabin, where they spent their last night: “10 June 1958—Ski Traverse from Bugaboo Creek to Glacier. Started June 2. – Alpine Ski Club of America.” The next day, they skied up and over the Illecillewaet Névé and down to Rogers Pass, four years before the all-weather Trans-Canada Highway opened over the pass. I tried it once, a few years back. Warm weather, feet rendered into hamburger-meat blisters, and some interpersonal tension in the team thwarted our effort, so regretfully, we bailed out at McMurdo Cabin. It’s a half-finished project that still nags at me.
RADICAL PRO BOOT
Travel is dictated by the rules of the mountains, weather, and snow conditions. Follow them, and success is within reach; flout them and risk courting defeat, or worse.
Brodie Smith in the heat on the Conrad Icefield, Bugaboos to Rogers Pass, B.C.
Greg Hill’s Pandemic Project With hundreds of first ski descents and a smattering of world records under his belt, Greg Hill doesn’t need to be sold on the ski traverse. Even though he’s renowned for his stamina and ability to crush vertical on skis, he’s also a big fan of the horizontal. He first did the Bugs to Rogers in 2006 with some buddies. It took them 11 days. For the first half, they travelled inside a virtual golf ball unable to see a single mountaintop. After crossing the Duncan River, the skies mercifully cleared. “When we hit the Selkirks, we summitted everything in sight,” Hill says. Last winter, like a lot of us who had trips cancelled and ski adventures thwarted by COVID-19, Hill took to dreaming. As winter progressed, he started obsessively watching weather and snow conditions. Then he started thinking about the Bugs to Rogers again, doing it light and fast. “I wanted to see how I would do at age 45,” he explains. “It was a bit of a COVID-19 project, to see if I still had the juice.” For partners, he recruited two other aerobic crushers: Adam Campbell and Andrew McNab. Hill calls ski traversing “the best,” explaining everything is simplified to the point that you carry just what you need for survival and a modicum of comfort. Travel is dictated by the rules of the mountains, weather, and snow conditions. Follow them, and success is withing reach; flout them and risk courting defeat, or worse. “But, it is kind of about suffering,” Hill says, bluntly. “That pack is heavy when you put it on your knee and haul it onto your back.” In April 2021, the stars aligned. “Freezing levels were low, weather was perfect, and we hoped we had the stamina,” Hill said in an Instagram post.
A cold, high-pressure system settled over the Columbia Mountains and stability was bomber. Hill, Campbell and McNab made a strategic decision to swim against the current and travel from Rogers Pass to the Bugaboos rather than the standard route in the opposite direction. That way, they’d be ascending cold north faces and descending the sunny aspects, minimizing their exposure to sun-affected snow. Travel was fast, with at most boot-top trail breaking in light snow. Early on their first day, as they climbed one of the route’s cruxes, the Deville Chimney, boot packing was perfect—solid and secure. Even when they crossed the Duncan River valley, a low point, the freezing level held, and they were spared wallowing through isothermal snow. After 18 hours of continuous effort, they glided up to Kingsbury Hut in International Basin to find it full of ski tourers. Due to concerns about COVID-19, they opted to sleep outside, each on a small foam pad under the cover of a single tarp. “It was a miserable five hours,” Hill says. The trio was back at it at 4:00 a.m. after a virtually sleepless night, contouring around the head of International Basin before crossing over into the glacial headwaters of Vermont Creek. The air was cold, clear, and full of promise. Day two was a 5,000-vertical-metre and 50-kilometre blitz through the Columbia Mountains. Rather than dropping in and climbing out of valleys, they took the highline wherever possible. At 8:00 p.m., 16 hours after leaving the Kingsbury Hut, the three needed to rest. A brief side trip to the hoped-for comfort of the Malloy Igloo near Osprey Peak proved to be wasted additional effort. It’s a shelter only in form, not in function. “That was a terrible mistake, Hill recalls. “It’s a grimy, windy hut that’s cold.”
Photo © Dan Raﬂa
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It isn't over 'til it's over Hill recounts these details with a sort of sadomasochistic relish. Who needs sleep? But without sleep there is no reawakening. I recall rousing from an uncomfortable slumber on the shoulder of Jubilee Mountain—a different mountain range, a different time. Three friends and I were nearing the end of a traverse between Bute and Knight inlets and had skied Mount Waddington’s sublime Angel Glacier along the way. It was our last morning in the alpine, on snow. The sun was glorious, and warm. The Klinaklini Glacier snaked northward in the distance. We were reluctant to pack up, lulled into complacency by the description found in John Baldwin’s guidebook Exploring the Coast Mountains on Skis of the exit from the mountains into the valley of the Klinaklini River; he describes an easy glacier descent leading into old growth forest and then to fresh logging roads. A virtual stroll to the valley bottom awaited us. We failed to read the date of the route description—it was a decade old. Alder quickly colonizes logging roads. Later that morning, skis strapped to heavy packs, we fought through a jungle of demoralizing, face-slapping alders that obscured the road beneath our feet. Ahh, the ski traverse; it truly isn’t over till it’s over.
Last spring, 53 hours and 12 minutes after leaving the Illecillewaet parking lot in Rogers Pass, it was over for Hill, Campbell and McNab when they skied to a stop at Bugaboo Provincial Park trailhead. They had set a new record for completing the traverse. The previous record of 80 hours was established in 2005 by Troy Jungen, Doug Sproul and Jon Walsh. Admittedly, it’s a contest that, well, really doesn’t matter if you relish the art of the traverse. Hill agrees, “It’s more than just about going from point A to point B. There’s something about being in the mountains for sunrise and sunset.”
INSET Andrew’s feet, McMurdo Hut. STEVE OGLE. BELOW Adam Campbell and Greg Hill catch the early morning light as they climb up onto the Illecillewaet Névé with the historical Rogers Pass, the usual end of the Bugs to Rogers traverse, disappearing behind them. ANDREW MCNAB
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Artists Kerry Langlois, Kayla Eykelboom, and Emily Beaudoin with their original works at Lake McArthur.
ROCKIES REFRAMED Artists explore climate, culture and our shifting landscape words :: Meghan J. Ward It was a blisteringly hot week in late June 2021 when a group of artists set out for plein air painting on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. Their mission was to paint scenes captured a century before by Banffbased artist, Catharine Robb Whyte. By revisiting locations frequented by Catharine, these artists could bear witness to the changing mountain landscape and offer their own interpretations. Their experience will be chronicled as part of Rockies Repeat, a documentary, exhibit, and digital storytelling capsule—and brainchild of Canmore filmmaker, Caroline Hedin. At Bow Lake, the temperature reached 37 degrees Celsius—something unheard of at this location 1,920 metres above sea level. Cheyenne Ozînjâ θîhâ (Bearspaw), a Stoney artist, sat on the lakeshore, sweltering in the sun, and thought back to Catharine. “She probably had very peaceful moments here. I sat there wanting to recapture her work, but I couldn’t take the heat.”
It turned out to be the town of Banff’s hottest day in recorded history, smashing the previous record for that day by nearly four degrees. Caroline didn’t set out to create a film about the climate crisis. Instead, she thought her project would explore cultural themes and look at the landscape through a different lens. The perspectives of women and Indigenous Peoples have been largely left out of history-keeping. So, Caroline assembled an all-woman group comprised of three Indigenous and three non-Indigenous artists. It quickly became apparent that bearing witness to a changing landscape also meant staring the climate crisis in the face. It meant coming to terms with the gravity of disappearing glaciers and looking at once vibrant scenes through the haze of summer wildfires. On location, the group of artists held up a print of one of Catharine’s paintings and spent time discerning where exactly she would have stood to paint it. Once they oriented themselves, they could compare the print with the current scene. The differences were startling, particularly the shrinking glaciers.
ABOVE Athabasca Glacier.
MOUNTAIN LEGACY. BELOW Artist Cheyenne Ozînjâ θîhâ from the Stoney Nakoda Nation painting plein air across from Snow Dome.
“There’s an expiry date on these places that have become so formative to who we are, and they are not timeless; they are going to disappear,” Caroline says. This is a concept that may not have seemed so immediate or dire to early Rockies artists like Catharine. Born in Massachusetts in 1906, Catharine Robb was raised in an affluent household but, in 1925, she left high society to pursue studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. That’s where she met fellow artist, Banff-born Peter Whyte. The pair married, moved to Banff and, for the next three decades, painted scenes throughout the Rockies. In 1968, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies was opened, with Peter and Catharine’s work as the centrepiece. Their paintings of familiar Rockies scenes used vibrant colours to depict blue sky, healthy glaciers and lakes tinted turquoise and teal. The plein air painting project demonstrates the enormity of the changes over more than a century. For Emily Beaudoin, a water-colourist and pen and ink artist based in Canmore, Alberta, and Revelstoke, British Columbia, the experience of standing in the landscape itself was an emotional one. At the Athabasca Glacier, now half the volume it was 130 years ago, the changes were impossible to ignore. She describes her experience in the film, Rockies Repeat, which debuts in fall 2021. The group of artists hiked from where Catharine would have stood, and up to the toe of the glacier. From their place on the moraine, the wind picked up and blew past them. “We were all standing there with our art supplies facing the glacier, just taking the wind,” Emily says, “and it felt like the dying breath of a beast, just so powerful and so… vulnerable.” 36
The group of artists hiked from where Catharine would have stood, and up to the toe of the glacier. From their place on the moraine, the wind picked up and blew past them.
Catharine Robb Whyte, Bow Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, 1940-1950, oil on canvas.
In that moment, Emily questioned how the disappearing glaciers— how climate change—would impact the mountain environment and people. It’s for this reason that Cheyenne chose to include people in her painting at Bow Lake. “For the painting to speak on climate change, you have to put a little bit of truth in there,” she says. Catharine’s paintings of the landscapes never had people in them. For Cheyenne, however, the inclusion of people added witnesses right into the painting itself. “That shows me that they see it,” she says. “That they see the glaciers melting. And it’s up to the viewer to decide what those people are thinking.” For Cheyenne and other Indigenous artists, it’s also a way to document the Indigenous perspective—one that is receding as Elders pass away. Like the disappearing glaciers, Indigenous knowledge is lost. Rockies Repeat’s three Indigenous members—Cheyenne, Ariel Hill and two-spirited artist Sikapinakii Low Horn—come from different backgrounds and strive to incorporate their ancestry into their art. “I’m definitely a part of history, as an Indigenous woman, recreating Catharine Robb Whyte’s paintings,” says Cheyenne. She explains how Catharine was an admirer of Stoney culture, as well as other Indigenous cultures in the Treaty 7 area. “It felt like an honour for me, as a Stoney Nakoda person, to be recreating this for her… I think she would be very proud.” Beyond the pleasure of walking in Catharine’s footsteps, Emily appreciated the opportunity to work alongside Indigenous artists.
WHYTE MUSEUM OF THE CANADIAN ROCKIES
“It was a very safe space to ask questions, and all three of them were just amazingly generous. I feel like I have a very strong connection to the land, but their connection is ancient. I felt very privileged to have experienced it.” Rockies Repeat is also demonstrating the role that art can play in not only the ecological crisis, but also the preservation of culture. Changes are captured in the art itself—like a snapshot in time. Yet the process of creating that art has a profound impact on the artists themselves. The resulting projects—a documentary film and a public exhibit of the final pieces at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in 2022—will provide an opportunity for the greater public to explore what it means to bear witness to these changing landscapes. “The real take home, for me,” says Caroline, “is that not only are we facing a climate crisis, ecologically, but there is also a cultural crisis. We risk losing a big part of our sense of place and our own identities—things that are important to us, on a personal level.” Caroline feels that the cultural impacts on mountain lovers is something that has also been left out of the conversation to date. Is this the end of the Rockies postcard? Is mountain culture, as we know it, shifting around these new seasons of wildfire smoke, record-breaking temperatures, and a changing alpine environment? Will it ever be the same again? If the art in Rockies Repeat is any indication, it won’t be. There is hope, however. With greater public awareness, perhaps we can slow the timeline.
Visit rockiesrepeat.ca to view updates about the project, documentary film and the public exhibit. 37
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K8 visiting the toe of the Glacier in Wapta Icefield near ACC Bow Hut.
MOVIN’ ON UP The K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta is creating opportunities for FilipinoCanadians to build community and experience what it means to be a mountaineer
words and photography :: Leonard Maglalang Nearly 3,000 individuals that permanently settled in Canada between 2011 and 2016 did so in the mountain towns of the Rockies. Eight-hundred and fifteen Filipinos came to call the Rockies home and Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, has become one of the most commonly spoken languages in Banff (behind only English and Japanese). Leonard Maglalang arrived in Calgary with his family in 2014, from the Filipino city of San Pedro, exchanging beaches and humidity for mountains and snow. ~ML Most Filipinos left the Philippines with their families—both immediate and extended—seeking the Canadian standards of access to health care, free education and respect for civil liberties, in hopes their children’s quality of life would surpass their own.
The first time seeing the Canadian Rockies was an incredible feeling, and I wondered early on what it would feel like to stand on top of a peak. But with the costs of providing day-to-day support to family back in the Philippines, the idea of spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on mountaineering gear is a distant dream for many of us. Filipino-Canadian Levi Ramos, the founder and chairman of K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta can empathize. Ramos immigrated to Canada in 2014 when he was 30. That same year, he hiked Banff’s popular Tunnel Mountain trail with his friend Archer Tinambacan and the idea to form the K8 club was born. “We saw a gap between Filipino immigrant mountaineers and the Canadian climbing community concerning the skills, knowledge, experience, and equipment needed to perform climbing safely and comfortably,” says Ramos. “We envisioned filling that gap so Filipino immigrants can continue their passion for climbing and achieve their dream to climb the Canadian Rockies.”
LEFT Prabhat Bhatt climbing Johnston Canyon Frozen Waterfalls. TOP RIGHT Levi Ramos providing information about mountaineering equipment to K8 next generation, Sophia Ramos, Louise Ramos and KC Francisco. BOTTOM RIGHT Levi Ramos and Adrian Andoy maneuvering in Athabasca Glacier during the First Crevasse Rescue Training of the K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta.
Hailing from such a distinctly different landscape, Filipino-Canadians must undergo a metamorphosis to arrive at a place of comfort and control high in the Canadian alpine.
K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta is now a non-profit organization and second home to many Filipino-Canadian mountaineers. The club organizes hikes, scrambles and climbing (sport, alpine and ice) for its 40 members and goes beyond that to provide camaraderie, kinship, and community. The club’s vision is to help its members access the mountains and become selfreliant in their pursuits. It is a support system for Filipinos wrestling with the emotional and psychological toll of resettling through the healing power of the mountains. Hailing from such a distinctly different landscape, Filipino-Canadians must undergo a metamorphosis to arrive at a place of comfort and control high in the Canadian alpine. The K8 club continually proves through mountaineering, it is possible to transcend the perceived limits of our cultures and ourselves. To find out more, check out the K8 Mountaineering Club of Alberta on Facebook.
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Scientist, mountaineer, mom: Alison Criscitiello blazes a trail in the world's coldest places
words :: Andrew Findlay
up completing a winter ski traverse of Tajikistan’s eastern Pamir Mountains despite the close call with suspicious gun-toting locals. In 2015, Alison Criscitiello, Kate Harris and Rebecca Haspel were Criscitiello’s path to the pinnacle of science and alpinism skiing in the remote Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan hoping to trace has been a parallel journey. After earning an undergraduate the country’s border with China, when they were confronted by degree from Wesleyan University in her twenties, she felt the call a group of men. They were armed, agitated, and wary of the trio of the mountains. She trained to become a climbing ranger for of foreign women who had appeared, seemingly, out of nowhere. the U.S. National Park Service, responsible for conducting alpine “They very much did not want to be questioned on exactly rescues and assessing route conditions. After a three-year tenure where the Tajik-Chinese border really is,” Criscitiello says, recalling at Olympic National Park and North Cascades National Park, she the sudden feeling of powerlessness in a volatile situation. “We left was ready to move on. the area immediately and skied a different route than planned.” “A lot of people told me that I had a dream job and in a lot The experience is another of ways it was. But I’m also a bookish footnote in a life that has seen no person and after awhile I wanted to use shortage of adventure and adrenaline. my analytical mind,” Criscitiello says, “I Criscitiello loves adventure as much as wanted to study the places I love.” she loves the cold. As a kid growing So, she hit the books again, studying up in Boston, her happy place was for a master's degree in geophysics exploring the frigid corners of a New from Columbia University. This was an England winter with her twin sister, Ra. important time in her life. Following So, it’s fitting this world-renowned her MA, she shopped around for glaciologist celebrated her fortieth a doctoral advisor and ended up birthday this past May swaddled head choosing Sarah Das at Massachusetts to foot in down-filled extreme weather Institute of Technology (MIT). It was a gear on Mount Logan, where she spent fortuitous decision, as her second pick six weeks launching a two-year ice advisor wound up losing his job for core study. Logan is one of the few accusations of repeated harassment of non-polar regions of the planet where female students and colleagues. you can walk on ice that’s up to 200 "I could have been one of those metres deep. women," she says. “We summitted for fun just to She went on to earn a PhD in take an altitude reading,” Criscitiello glaciology, the first ever conferred told me from her home in Edmonton, to a man or women by MIT. Her where she heads up the University of formal education reinforced some life “I’m a bookish person and Alberta’s Canadian Ice Core Lab (CICL). lessons for Criscitiello. Despite being after awhile I wanted to Scientist, mountaineer, mother, young and coming of age in an era and mentor to young women— of awareness around gender equality, use my analytical mind,” this pioneering alpinist and glacier there were still barriers. When she Criscitiello says, “I wanted specialist wears many hats. looked around, she didn’t see a lot For Criscitiello, science and fun of contemporary role models and to study the places I love.” intersect at the coldest places on Earth. mentors in her realm of the physical She studies ice cores for clues about sciences. Instead, ironically, she was both ancient history and how climate change will impact glaciers inspired by women of the past—people like Mary Vaux, who was and life on Earth. When she’s not in the lab or drilling ice cores, born into a wealthy Philadelphia Quaker family. Criscitiello climbs mountains, and her resumé is impressive. She’s On numerous trips to Western Canada in the late 1800s guided expeditions in the Andes, Alaska, and the Himalayas, and and early 1900s, Vaux conducted pioneering studies of iconic led the first all-female ascent of 6,955-metre Lingsarmo in the glaciers like the Illecillewaet in Glacier National Park. However, Indian Himalaya. In 2015, she, along with Harris and Haspel, ended her contributions to science were overshadowed by those of her
TOP LEFT Alison Criscitiello and Kate Harris (and an unlucky Marco Polo sheep) skiing into a headwind on the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border. When the snow ran out, the team traveled on frozen rivers. Rebecca Haspel. BOTTOM LEFT The -40C archive freezer at the Canadian Ice Core Lab (CICL), which currently contains 1.5km of ice mostly from the Canadian high Arctic. John Ulan. ABOVE Self-portrait while ice core drilling on northern Ellesmere Island, Canadian high Arctic in 2017.
Alison's wife and 2-year-old daughter catching a supply heli flight up to Snow Dome, Columbia Icefield, in April 2021. They were able to visit Alison in the field during this recent ice coring season. Rebecca Haspel.
famous husband, paleontologist and geologist Charles Doolittle Walcott. Like Vaux, Criscitiello’s scientific curiosity led her to Canada, specifically to do a post-doc with University of Calgary’s Shawn Marshall. She moved from Boston to Canmore, knowing nothing about the town and with no intention of staying in Canada long term. But her timing was good; the newly established CICL was well funded, and of course she could climb and ski in Canmore’s backyard. On a trip to the Yukon, she met her future wife, Amy. “I was offered the job here at CICL upon finishing my postdoc. Accepting the job, marrying Amy, and falling in love with the mountains here, all have kept me here, permanently,” Criscitiello says. As her scientific career flourished in Canada, so too did an understanding of her own personal circumstances and the advantages it has afforded her. “I grew up in an upper middle-class family,” she says candidly. This realization led her to start volunteering with Girls on Ice, an American non-profit dedicated to giving teenage girls mountaineering experience and opportunities to explore art and science in a wilderness setting. At first, her involvement was minimal, mostly helping to select candidates. When she started seeing more and more applications from Canadian girls, she spotted a need and an opportunity. So, in 2018, she co-founded Girls on Ice Canada. The program accepts ten candidates each year and is held in Rogers
Pass. The Canadian version has been so successful that two new chapters are being launched—Girls on Ice Kootenays and Girls on Ice Yukon. “I don’t get paid for any of this, but I think it’s the most important work that I do,” Criscitiello says. When it comes to her paid work—examining ice cores drilled from the coldest locations on the planet—she’s forced to face a stark reality: the very frozen places she loves to explore are melting beneath her feet. Though at altitude on Mount Logan, climate change can seem like a distant reality, not so in the Canadian Rockies where even a non-scientist would be alarmed by the rate at which glaciers like the Athabasca are retreating year after year. “People ask me if my work is depressing. I’m a field-based scientist and I write papers. Ultimately, I hope that the work I do informs policy,” she says. “The policy world is not my world.” Now, with a two-year-old daughter named Winter at home, Criscitiello has a new challenge: balancing risk and research in the mountains with motherhood. “It’s always hard to tear myself away, and it’s simultaneously so good when I’m out doing what I love. I’ve needed help finding that balance. I think bigger, riskier objectives, which I used to love might not be something I’m comfortable with anymore. But I’m okay with that,” she says. “I truly think, for me, the biggest risk since becoming a mother is not being myself.”
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The Golden Life To the west, the Selkirk Mountains let out a stampede of glaciers and rock. To the south, the Purcells line up like a row of siblings, their soft backs draped in snowcaked evergreen. To the east, the Rockies stand guard cold, crisp and clear. In the centre of them all, a small town howls at the inevitable cascade of winter, and the waltz begins. When the snow ﬁnally falls, Golden gets its dance shoes on, and there’s no better dance ﬂoor out there. For Brenna Donaldson, it’s easy to take the lead. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort bends and sways at her command; she knows its 1,314 vertical metres (4,314 feet) of nooks and crannies intimately. Moving in perfect time with them, she traces a long ridgetop across a series of north- and south-facing runs. CPR Ridge points her into the Marley Chutes, and instinct takes over. She moves between cliffs and rows of spruce seamlessly, from top to bottom. Having snagged ﬁrst tracks, she’ll fan out farther in each direction now, chasing each new bowl as it opens throughout the day—ﬁve of them in total. Farther to the north, Ty Mills and his group click their splitboards together in anticipation of a similar run, but longer, earned in sweat, and with nary a soul to compete with. As an ACMG snowboard guide, the entire Dogtooth Range is Ty’s domain—and beyond. Be it the summits of Rogers Pass, or the home pull of his native Purcells, Ty, like many these days, ﬁnds his ﬂow in the backcountry. He’s spent his life learning these mountains so he can wander freely in them, and bring others. Steeped in the tradition of the Swiss mountain guides that founded
Golden, Ty is part of a new generation that gets as much satisfaction going up as coming down—walking calmly through postcard scenes, and then gliding effortlessly down blank mountainsides in long drawn-out swoops, like calligraphy. Another few bowls over, Aaron Bernasconi is in search of the same thing, only with a lot more power. Roaring through billows of powder on his snowmobile gives him a feeling he hasn’t found anywhere else. The groomed trail into the bowl at Gorman Lake provides access to just one of 13 zones the Golden Snowmobile Club maintains. It’s in this sea of terrain that Aaron learned to work his throttle and throw his body weight; now there’s no Golden zone he can’t ride. From the valley bottom to the savagely steep mountainside, he’s still ﬁnding new corners all the time. Farther aﬁeld, someone hangs from ice with axes and crampons, a family walks with snowshoes through the calm forest, and Nordic skiers lope in long strides over 33 kilometres of trails. At the end of each of their days, they’ll take their dance shoes off, put them by the ﬁre to dry, and then wake to do it all over again.
Spring Margaret Atwood once wrote, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” In Golden, it’s impossible not to. From the wash of winter snowpack swelling creeks and rivers, to the laces of forest throughway coming alive again, dirt offers the access to every wonder the mountains hold, and this place was made for getting down in it. On the ﬂanks of Mount 7, Sophie-Anne Blanchette’s tires bank with practiced grip into corners packed with premium soil. The moisture in the ground is perfect, and the traction is the best it will be all season. Not a speck of dust ﬂies behind her mountain bike, kept at bay by the same water she was skiing in frozen form only weeks earlier. Sophie-Anne is part of a vanguard of new riders: hammering up to 1,200 vertical metres (4,000 feet) from town on purpose-built climbing trails to descend revitalized downhill tracks remade into sprawling enduro works, all under her own human power. For Sophie-Anne, who’s as strong on the way up as she is down, these trails are tailor-made. Golden offers a seemingly endless all-mountain buffet of modern ﬂow and tech that she can spend two or 10 hours on. She can climb as high or as low as she wants, punching her lungs on the way up, and her forearms on the way down—all in an ecstatic blitz of roots, rollers and jumps that will stay prime until late October or early November. Below her the whole time is the emerald green braid of the Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers, and their pumping ﬂows. Spring is when rivers froth with waves and whitewater rafting is at its best. Ryan Johannesen and Carmen Narancsik know this well; they’ve been guiding people down the convulsing Kicking Horse River for over a decade with their company Glacier Rafting. Each spring, they tap the water cycle from glacier to ground to bring guests down the gravity-fed roller coaster that is one of the world’s greatest churners of H20. Rafters start in the calm upper reaches of the Rockies, and are delivered over 25 kilometres (15 miles) back to Golden. The bold will ﬁnish the journey by running the lower canyon, accessed only by helicopter, and only by Glacier Rafting.
While high water brings with it an adrenaline punch that’ll attract ambitious rafters and kayakers alike, it’s not mandatory to run the Kicking Horse’s lower canyon—which frames the river’s wildest waters. More gentle passage ﬂows from its headwaters, in places only marginally more turbulent than the mellow Columbia— the Kicking Horse’s sister river. One of the largest waterways in North America, the Columbia is a gentler ﬂow where you’re just as likely to ﬁnd swimmers and sun bathers as canoeists and SUPers on any sunny day. Not to mention trail runners and golfers, who also chase its shores, their playground equally nourished by its waters. Set in dirt delivered to the valley ﬂoor by eons of spring ﬂows, Golden lives in yearly celebration of these spring months, and the ever-widening smile they bring of the sun across the sky.
The Last Wish of a Cultural Giant
T h e B o w Va l l e y l o s t o n e o f i t s f o r e m o s t Tr i b a l H i s t o r i a n s in 2021. Now the community is coming together to continue the work of building cultural bridges, fuelled by a shared belief in wazin îeichninabi—the spirit of connectedness between us all.
words :: Nicole Fougère His shoulders curved like ancient mountain slopes and the creases on his wise face slid away from his eyes like tiny avalanches. Lloyd "Buddy" Wesley leaned over the table with a sad grace as he sorted through his papers in preparation for his weekly Stoney language and culture class at Canmore’s artsPlace. I stood in the doorway on that warm evening in early June 2021, and watched him for a moment, taking him in. I could tell something was bothering him; he was carrying the weight of the world on his back. Buddy didn’t like to be called an Elder. Dressed in his favourite black leather jacket with his silver hair combed back, his appearance displayed a sense of pride in his style. Perhaps he didn’t want to be called out for being old enough to be an Elder, or perhaps he understood the traditional significance of being an Elder in the Stoney culture and, as a humble man, he didn’t want to take on that role prematurely. Tribal Historian was the title he preferred for himself; Buddy saw himself as someone who carried the language and stories of his community forward from one generation to the next. More than that, he believed in being a bridge-builder, someone who could help foster respect and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. He loved teaching the Stoney language to non-Stoney people. Every Tuesday, he would come into artsPlace, greet the staff with smiles and hugs, then retreat to the theatre for the evening’s class. But on that evening in June, in the quiet of that big theatre space, Buddy seemed unusually sad. “Buddy, good to see you!” I called out brightly, hoping to lift his spirits, as I stepped from the doorway into the light of the artsPlace theatre. “How are you?” I asked. “Oh, I’m good,” he said, unconvincingly. Then, his eyes darkened, “You heard about that family in London, Ontario?” he asked. “The Muslim family that was murdered?” “We have more work to do,” he said, “to help people come together, to understand each other. This is the work of wazin îeichninabi.” Wazin îeichninabi is a Stoney language phrase Buddy used often in his classes. He would say it means, “I’m one with you. I’ll eat, I’ll laugh, I’ll cry with you.”
“Will you help me?” he asked quietly, his eyes darting up to meet mine just for an instant. “Will you help me do the work of wazin îeichninabi?” At the time, I didn’t understand the immensity of Buddy Wesley. SUPPLIED BY ARTSPLACE this agreement. “Absolutely!” I answered and rambled into a pitch for a project without taking a breath. “I was just talking with Travis Rider the other day and he had this great idea.” Travis is the Indigenous Liaison to artsPlace. He helped initiate the Cultural Learning Circle series, and is Buddy’s nephew. Like Buddy, Travis is a natural bridge-builder. “Travis thought we could have a conversation between Indigenous people and people who were born in other countries but who call the Bow Valley home.” I continued, “We could talk about stories and teachings that we all have in common and consider ways to live together on this land.” Buddy nodded and smiled, and said the project sounded good and that he’d like to be a part of it. A few weeks later, Buddy died. Grief ripped through the Stoney community and the Bow Valley. Everyone who met Buddy loved him and respected the knowledge he carried. When he passed, it was as though a library had burned down. I knew I would honour my agreement with Buddy, and I felt intuitively that he would honour his too. I believed he would still guide me, gently, in spirit. In alignment with that last conversation with Buddy, Travis and I worked to gather a group of diverse panellists. We hoped to talk deeply about what wazin îeichninabi means, and to foster mutual understanding and strengthen community bonds. On August 23rd, the panel was to meet by the firepit in my backyard, but I woke that morning to the sound of heavy rain. A white veil of snow draped over the mountains. While the rain and cool wind were a welcome respite to the heat and dangerous dryness of the 2021 summer, it would be too wet to hold our conversation outside.
Banff Centre is open for inspiration.
CLOCKWISE STARTING TOP LEFT Javan Mukhtarov. Margaret Rider, Jyn San Miguel and Travis Rider. John Rice. EVAN BUHLER
Tribal Historian was the title he preferred for himself; Buddy saw himself as someone who carried the language and stories of his community forward from one generation to the next.
All that day, I felt Buddy’s spirit with me, lovingly cheering me on. I could feel his playful nature work through me as I ran around my home gathering sacred objects: a seashell from the Atlantic Ocean filled with handpicked sage, the jawbone of a beaver, the soft fur of a white rabbit, my drum, my rattle—all gifts from different Indigenous Elders and knowledge keepers. In the theatre space, we wouldn’t be able to sit around a fire, but I still felt the centre of our circle must be sacred. I laid my treasures on a swatch of rainbow-coloured fabric and waited for the sharing circle to begin. Javan Mukhtarov arrived first. An emigrant from Azerbaijan, Javan works with Settlement Services in the Bow Valley and his passion is helping other immigrants thrive in their new life in Canada. Next to arrive was Jyn San Miguel, a local musician and painter born in the Philippines. Next came John Rice and Erin Dixon, both respected Indigenous knowledge keepers—John from the Anishinaabe traditions and Erin from the Métis traditions. Travis arrived with his mother, Margaret Rider, a respected Stoney Elder, and good friend and relative of Buddy. She wore a ribbon skirt, a traditional piece of clothing, to honour the sacred nature of our gathering. Rounding out our circle was María Elisa Sánchez, a water scientist originally from Ecuador. Her ancestors were Indigenous to Ecuador, but much of their story had been wiped from her family’s memories due to Spanish colonialism. Travis opened the circle with a prayer, then shared his thoughts about wazin îeichninabi. “Buddy was a very kind person, and he was always talking about building bridges,” Travis said. “As Indigenous people, we need to learn to coexist, not only with white people, but also with all the other cultures that are coming to our ancestral homelands.” When John spoke, his wisdom as an Elder permeated the room. He taught us that in his culture, whenever someone tells a story, they must begin with acknowledging the Golden Time—a time when we lived in peace with each other and in harmony with the land. When everything we needed came from our Mother the Earth. “When you talk about the Golden Time,” he said, “it will return again.” I listened as other members of the circle talked about their belief in a higher power and their faith in better times to come; I also heard people place enormous value on connection. “I hear a lot of talk tonight about relationships,” I said. “Relationships to each other, relationships to the land, relationships to the sky. I think about the many ways that people show their divinity or relationship to the land, whether from prayer or through action.” Hailing from the Andes, María spoke of how the presence of mountains and glacial water make her feel at home—connected to the community and nature. Javan spoke about growing up under the rule of the Soviet Union in Azerbaijan, when times were hard, and he needed to walk five kilometres to get a bucket of water. “The other day, there was snow in the mountains, and it made me cry,” said Javan. “It was so beautiful! That reminded me of my childhood, and how blessed we are that we have so much water here.” We shared many stories and found our core values were similar.
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He understood learning the Stoney language was much more than just memorizing words, it must include the cultural teachings of the people.
L-R Maria, Javan, Nicole and Erin.
We all believed in practicing gratitude and kindness. Although we came at it from different directions—from religion, from tradition or from science, we all agreed that faith is an important part of wazin îeichninabi. We need to believe in the spirit of connectedness between peoples of the world. Each person present in the circle was changed, however humbly, by our conversation and I knew the work of wazin îeichninabi would ripple into the community like water. The members of the circle stayed late into the evening. I knew Buddy would be proud to see his legacy in action. But, I wondered whether artsPlace would ever again be able to offer Stoney language and culture to the community, the kind of wazin îeichninabi work Buddy loved. Travis had been attending Buddy’s language class, not only to better his own understanding of the Stoney language, but also to learn how to be a good teacher. Travis had also been talking to Stoney
Elders and gathering their stories. He understood learning the Stoney language was much more than just memorizing words, it must include the cultural teachings of the people. Late in the evening, long after we had closed the circle, I caught Travis for a quiet conversation. “Travis,” I started slowly, not wanting to put him on the spot, “do you think one day, you might be willing to teach Stoney language and culture classes here, just like Buddy did?” Travis’ eyes glinted playfully. “That depends,” he said and took a deep breath. He looked up for just a second, up and out beyond the latticed metal beams of the artsPlace theatre, then he looked at me and smiled, “It depends on what Buddy’s spirit asks of me.” Nicole Fougère is the Programs Director at artsPlace Canmore.
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Photo: Lucas James
Following the footsteps of the wolverine words :: Nikki Heim The elusive, enigmatic wolverine—few have seen one, many fear them. An unscientific Google search for “wolverines are…” returns “dangerous” and “fearless”—a sampling of the general population’s thoughts on the large weasel. A study encompassing the area of Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks found a population density of three wolverines per 1,000 square kilometres, that means in an area the size of Banff National Park there are likely only about 18 wolverines. Bow Valley ecologist, Nikki Heim, has studied the furry mesocarnivore for more than ten years, but, she has never seen one in the flesh. As with all the creatures that inhabit our wilderness, Heim says the magic is in knowing they’re out there. ~ML Read the expanded story at www.mountainlifemedia.ca/phantom-pursuit On the move.
JASON LEO BANTLE
Nikki on the lookout.
t’s March in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The air is crisp, just cold enough to sting the tips of my ears with the slightest breeze. I’m joined by two friends, Alex Taylor and Dan Rafla, and we’re searching for wolverines. Alex is a professional drone pilot with a long history working as a human-wildlife conflict officer in Lake Louise, and Dan is a senior wildlife coexistence specialist in Banff National Park and avid backcountry skier. In fall 2019, I approached Alex with a proposition to combine my knowledge of wolverine ecology with his drone expertise to conduct a trial search for a wolverine den in the Rockies. This ambitious idea was inspired by two fellow wolverine biologists. With great success, Andrea Kortello and Doris Hausleitner are using drones to locate wolverine dens in the Columbia Mountains of southwest British Columbia. Wolverines are listed as a species of special concern in Canada: some eastern populations have been extirpated, while more westerly populations have experienced significant declines. Predicting suitable denning habitat is a significant gap in wolverine ecology, limiting the ability to identify critical habitat needed for effective species conservation. Our first step was to figure out where to search. Over dog walks and coffee shop chats, Alex and I brainstormed. Our discussions soon led us to contact Talus Lodge to see if they might support a wolverine den-drone search within their operating areas. These areas are situated along the continental divide, close to nationally and provincially protected parks with many attributes considered to be suitable for a mama wolverine, such as: northfacing talus slopes; deep, persistent spring snow packs; presence of prey such as marmot, and low road density. Our brainstorming sessions proved fruitful when the lodge’s owners, and former Olympians, Sara Renner and Thomas Grandi enthusiastically agreed. We promptly set up a meeting in our collective home base of Canmore. When we sat down together, Sara asked, “How many wolverines have you seen?” With a hint of embarrassment, I replied, as usual: “Not a one.”
Nikki and Alex.
A needle in a haystack As a five-foot, small-in-stature aspiring ecologist with a love affair for the mountains and an obliging tolerance for hauling heavy packs scented with rotten bait, I’ve gained a reputation: small but mighty. In 2010, I assisted in a large-scale survey of wolverine in Banff National Park which led me to research the factors that influence where we find, or rather do not find, wolverine persisting in the central region of the Canadian Rockies. It was through this research I earned a master of science degree. Since then, I’ve held various roles in conservation and management. Yet, for more than a decade playing and working in prime wolverine habitat, my only witness to their presence has been tracks in the snow, hair samples and remotely detected images. Indeed, after years of attentive scanning, I have yet to witness the unbounding ease only a wolverine displays when navigating a glaciated plateau or speedily scrambling to the top of a peak. One might assume that my lack of wolverine sightings underscores the true elusive nature of this furry mountain dweller. Or perhaps, the fortune in a wolverine sighting is no different from that of a game of cards, and I’m still waiting to draw a lucky hand.
The anatomy of an enigma Wolverines naturally spark imagination and intrigue, especially for mountain people. Often thought to resemble a small bear, wolverines are actually the largest member of the weasel family. While this apex weasel has a reputation that rivals the grizzly bear, wolverines are considered a medium-sized carnivore weighing no more than about 18 kilograms. To quote Douglas Chadwick from his novel, The Wolverine Way, the wolverine survival strategy can be summarized in a few broad strokes: “Go hard, and high, and steep and never back down, not even from the biggest grizzly, and least of all a mountain; Climb everything; Eat everybody.”
Their fearsome reputation can be reflected in their names. In Latin, wolverine is called gulo gulo, meaning “glutton glutton.” The French adopted the name, carcajou from eastern First Nations, describing them as “evil spirit” or “mountain devil.” However, names can be misinterpreted; for some Indigenous peoples, the wolverine is neither glutton nor devil. Having recently taken a position with the Ktunaxa Nation Council, I’ve come to learn of wolverines as ʔaȼ̓pu, said to be “notoriously solitary and fierce” when referenced in their 2021 calendar. Given the Latin and French descriptors for wolverine, fierceness is easily attributed to aggression. But for the Ktunaxa, this ferocity may be less associated with teeth and claws and more closely related to a heart forward intensity and power of mind. Adapted to the climatic hardships of the Northern Hemisphere, this weasel has earned the admiration of any mountaineer that knows them. Wolverines have large feet with long claws—built-in snowshoes with an added crampon feature. They have a long coat and run on a supercharged metabolic battery. Like grizzly bears, wolverines’ reproductive rate is low, and they require vast intact landscapes. Combine their need for large spaces with having as few as one or two offspring every couple of years, and it’s no surprise that wolverine sightings are rare. Seeing a wolverine might just be compared to drawing three lucky cards out of a stack of a million. And given these odds, finding a den is likened to finding a needle in a haystack. Even observing wolverine tracks in the snow might be considered a winning hand—it is for me.
Without mystery, there are no hypotheses On Ptarmigan Plateau, we glassed for tracks—a prerequisite when attempting to locate a wolverine den with a drone. Following protocols originally developed in Norway, the drone is a non-invasive eye in the sky. Aerial imagery is examined for a centroid of tracks that lead to and from a den, typically tucked under a large boulder insulated underneath a wintery blanket. 57
Nikki and Alex testing the drone.
Though I have surveyed for wolverine presence in the past, this time something was different. As we paused, binoculars in hand, I felt a magic, a comfort in the air. With the sun warming my cheeks, I felt at peace, connected, as if I was returning home.
Their fearsome reputation can be reflected in their names. In Latin, wolverine is called gulo gulo, meaning “glutton glutton.” The French adopted the name, carcajou from eastern First Nations, describing them as “evil spirit” or “mountain devil.” It is not a stretch to say the inherent mystery of the natural world leads wildlife ecologists down a life-long path of curiosity. Without mystery, there are no hypotheses, no exhausting days in the field looking for clues in the form of scat, hair or tracks nor countless hours hunched behind a screen analyzing data to make sense of those clues. And, without our ability to extrapolate answers from these clues that inform land management, it is increasingly difficult to protect the magic still felt in our remaining, untamed corners. Alas, the wolverine eluded us the first round. A month later, I returned with my husband, Mike. We were alerted to tracks spotted during an early morning ski by Talus Lodge. We headed out, and there they were: a beautiful snowy line of loping three-by-three fresh wolverine tracks. The tracks veered into a patch of trees. To my delight, there were two tracks laid by kits. 58
In elated disbelief, I called back to Mike, “Baby wolverine tracks!” My heart was full to the point of bursting. A wolverine family was in our midst. Realizing a den was most certainly in the vicinity, we skied back to the lodge, and waited for Alex to join us. Alex arrived the next day, drone in hand, and we set off to conduct an aerial survey used to inform a spring den site investigation. If we’re lucky, we’ll discover signs of denning, hair and boney prey remains concentrated under a large boulder. Our first try was unsuccessful, but as you read this, we will probably be out, up high, peeking under suspect boulders.
The myth, magic and mystery of nature The excitement, discovery and glee experienced when first detecting this family’s group of tracks is at the core of wildlife research. No sighting is needed, just the simple knowledge that our wild friends are roaming and raising young in these rugged hills. Wolverines, though fierce and resilient, have their own vulnerabilities. In these high slopes, they find refuge from competitors, adversarial human encroachment, and resource exploitation. Wolverines show us where wild hearts still exist—perhaps even thrive. Wildness has many definitions but, however you view it, nature’s unspoiled spaces have long nurtured, challenged, and mystified us.
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UP AND COMER
words :: Kevin Hjertaas photography :: Kyle Gibson
EAST OF THE GREAT DIVIDE
On a clear spring morning, Rob Heule takes in the sunrise atop the Great Divide; British Columbia to one side, Alberta to the other. He studies a dozen different ski objectives in the golden light. The obvious descents would take him west to “Beautiful British Columbia” but, Rob has a different plan. After a cup of cowboy coffee at the Neil Colgan Hut, he wipes his moustache on his sleeve and buckles his ski boots. Dropping into the steep 3/4 Couloir, Rob leads us back into Alberta. He skis the imposing chute with a composed, playful style down towards Moraine Lake and on to Lake Louise. Then we jump into his grey 1991 Toyota pickup and, with Canadian country music icon Ian Tyson playing on the tape deck, follow the Bow River east out of the mountains and into the foothills. It’s a handy metaphor for a professional skier who didn’t follow the standard route west laid out by his predecessors. Growing up in Calgary, Rob developed a love for the outdoors through adventures with his parents. Fernie was the family’s favourite winter getaway, and Rob soon joined a Fernie youth ski program. As he developed, his father drove him all over North America for halfpipe contests, where Rob eventually earned his first professional contracts with Line Skis and The North Face. For a pro skier, it’s a pretty standard origin story to that point. However, Whistler is the centre of the Canadian ski scene—every successful pro from the Rockies has moved there (or to Revelstoke) to solidify their career. But, even when he worked summers on the Blackcomb Glacier, Rob always returned to Alberta. “I think leaving this sense of home and belonging, family and friends, and a connection to this place is hard to do,” he says. “I just never felt a need to leave.” Instead, Rob strengthened his roots. He filmed urban skiing segments in Calgary while developing a workshop and business of his own. RAD Packs is Rob’s oneman brand where he makes limited runs of “radical outdoor gear.” It was up-cycled backpacks in the early days, but in recent years, he’s made stylish all-leather ski mitts, fleece and GORE-TEX powder hats, and rugged, durable work pants.
When the day came to move out of Calgary, Rob and his girlfriend, Allie Riediger, didn’t go far. They bought what Rob calls their “little house in the woods” on a five-acre lot near Bragg Creek. Nestled on the edge of the foothills, it’s cowboy country, and it suits Rob fine. Still curious about Rob’s loyalty to the eastern Rockies, I met up with him a few months later in the Canoe Meadows parking lot in Kananaskis Country. Kayakers are milling about; tourists stop to look around. In one corner of the lot, a couple are waxing surfboards and appear to be doing complicated calisthenics as they wiggle into wetsuits. The snow Rob skied all winter is now water, and Rob’s here to river surf. On this sleepy Tuesday morning, ten other surfers are already lined up in the Kananaskis River. They are taking turns jumping into the rapids and paddling hard in hopes of getting caught by one central standing wave. If they do, the surfers can float stationary while torrents of water rush past. Once on their feet, they dance back and forth, simulating the glide, balance, and carved turns of ocean surfing. Any misstep, and the raging water spits them 50 metres downriver where they must battle their way to shore. River surfing is a strange—even ridiculous—sport at first, but when a talented surfer dives in, you begin to understand its draw. With little visible effort, Rob hops off a rock and directly onto his feet. Standing casually amid the river’s roar, he guides his board across the wave, searching for the power point which propels him down and across, setting up a powerful slash that fans spray into the sunlight. With delicate footwork he recovers his balance while the river tries to topple him. Could the surfing be better in the ocean? Could a ski career be better in Whistler? “The Rockies just feel like home. I feel connected to the mountains, the landscape, even the weather and the environment here,” Rob says. “I just can’t imagine watching the sunset over anything other than the Rockies.” Radpacks.ca, Rob Heule on YouTube
“I think leaving this sense of home and belonging, family and friends, and a connection to this place is hard to do. I just never felt a need to leave.” – Rob Heule
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ARTS AND CULTURE
A FILM BY LARA SHEA
skydiving instructor and airborne photographer in his adopted home of Victoria, B.C. The last thing the accomplished athlete and adventurer remembers from that moment, is deploying the pilot chute; four days later he woke from a coma in ICU with one leg amputated and a team of doctors scrambling to save the other. Raised in Calgary, Turner spent his twenties adventuring in the Rockies and living an envious #vanlife, pursuing his many interests as only an unencumbered, twenty-something can: surfing, rock climbing, snowboarding, raft guiding. However, Sixty Seconds, the short film by Revelstoke’s Lara Shea, isn’t about that Turner or
In sixty seconds, Tyler Turner’s life was cleaved into two segments: life before and life after he hit the ground from 3,000 metres up. On September 4th, 2017, at age 29, Turner was hurtling above terra firma, enjoying his day as a
FINDING THE MOTHER TREE; DISCOVERING THE WISDOM OF THE FOREST A BOOK BY SUZANNE SIMARD 2021, Allen Lane – A Division of Penguin Random House Canada reviewed by :: Joanna Croston
the adrenaline sports he pursued in the decade prior to his accident; it’s about the human body and mind and how we deal with the hole left when the things we love most are suddenly and violently ripped away. About a year after his accident, doctors were forced to amputate Turner’s remaining
Forest scientist and ecologist, Suzanne Simard, grew up eating dirt in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia. Literally, she did, despite best efforts by her parents to get her to stop. There was something about the rich, earthy loam underneath the trees that subconsciously tasted like sustenance to her and, there and then, she committed herself to discovering the relationship between soil and plants. Indigenous wisdom holds that all life is interconnected. All living beings talk to one another, share energy and, more importantly, share love and wisdom to encourage growth. Convinced it was true, Simard was determined to find the scientific basis of this concept. Simard’s ancestral roots are heavily steeped in logging as her family pioneered many early techniques for remote harvesting and log transportation, however, she was certain modern tree harvesting and replanting was missing the mark. She believed current techniques were too focused on single-species regrowth often in clear cuts sprayed heavily with chemical herbicide to ensure the survival of the most lucrative tree crop. What she discovered in these clear cuts was stunted growth and death among young saplings. She went on to prove her theories of plant co-operation and communication, and has attempted to share her knowledge with the
lower leg, making him a bilateral amputee, and surprisingly, his world reopened; the chronic pain became more manageable and he moved forward in search of his previous life’s rhythm buttressed by friends, family and counsellors. Turner has since returned to surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding, he also works as a full-time skydive instructor in Campbell River where he lives on a sailboat with his partner, Kayleen Vanderree. He is also, amazingly, the only bilateral-amputee, wing-suit athlete in the world. This winter, Canadians will be able to watch him compete in boardercross and banked slalom in Beijing as he is a shoo-in for the 2022 Canadian Paralympic team. Sixty Seconds, Shea’s award-winning, 17-minute, short-form documentary will be released this November. You can check out the trailer at www.larashea.com/sixty-seconds
not-always-receptive forestry industry. Finding balance between the rough and tumble logging industry (which employed her and was rampant with sexism at the time) and scientific evidence that trees are more complex than they appear, is the sentiment of her new book, Finding the Mother Tree. Simard stresses trees are not simply a natural resource, but rather they are the foundation of a mind-boggling highway of communication and interconnectivity for an array of life forms. World renowned for her profound theories on plant communication and co-operation, Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree—although rife with science and technical information—is an accessible book for the average reader. By studying the principles of the sophisticated network of pathways that lurk beneath the loam Simard once eagerly thrust into her mouth as a child, the author not only reveals a new way of thinking, but also that humanity could take a lesson from the interconnectivity of plants and maybe even improve our own societies. Memory, nurturing, and education are not restricted to the world of fauna. Perhaps there is more to the forests than we have ever imagined. Finding the Mother Tree will not only open your eyes to possibility, it will forever change how you view the intricate web of forest life.
S U N D A N C E LO D G E Photo: A.V. Wakefield northbirchgrove.com
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AUTUMN SKY PHOTOGRAPHY
GHOSTS AND GAMBLING ON THE TRAIL TO SKOKI LODGE Do you dare ski in by the light of the moon? (Holler if you do) According to local legend, the living mingle in the spirit realm along the trail to world-famous Skoki Lodge. The ghosts of long-dead mountain enthusiasts who met their untimely end in the vicinity of the Parks Canada Halfway Hut are said to linger in and around the shelter. Insisting it is not necessary to fear the ghostly encounters, Samantha Welanc of Banff Canmore Ghost Walks says, “Happiness is a strong tethering point for spirits.” By day, the hut is an unassuming, solitary, log structure; visitors’ names are carved into its interior walls and cool, mountain breezes slip through the strip-wood chinking. But, when darkness descends on the valley, the otherworldly encounters begin: the clink of glasses once full of rum, the snap of playing cards, the smell of a woman’s perfume, and smoke from long-extinguished fires billows from its chimney.
The Legend of Halfway Hut By John Porter
A tale I must tell, though it’s known full well to the men of the high country, to the intrepid skiers, and bold mountaineers who roam the Ptarmigan Valley. It’s the tale of a shack which lies far back in that country rugged and wild where no man can stay beyond light of day when the snow lies thickly piled.
If you’re skiing by day past the old Halfway, you may think it an ordinary sight, for deserted it lies; but you’ll rub your eyes if you travel that trail by night! Down from Ptarmigan Peak with a terrible shriek and trailing vermilion flames on his fluorescent skis, Gadner roars through the trees leading Paley and both the Daems.
On a wintry night if you see light from the Halfway Cabin gleam, oh, pay no heed, but put on speed for it’s not what it might seem. Or at other times when the blue smoke climbs from the rusty chimney stack, don’t play with fate! for you’ll find too late, that the stove is cold and black!
The wind from their schuss bends the tops of the spruce and startles the snows from the height, and their yodels resound with a fantastic sound as they hurtle along through the night. To the Halfway they come, with their packs filled with rum, at the doorway they kick off their skis. Soon the fire is lit, and round the table they sit and there they relax at their ease.
For this is the den of four strong men, (do I see your faces blanch?) four mountaineers who met with jeers the threat of the avalanche. Two perished, alas, on the Duchesnay Pass, the third in Richardson Bowl, the fourth, Mt. Fossil retained, and all that remained on the snow was a bent ski pole.
All the night long, there are snatches of song and the clinking of glass upon glass while the poker chips click and the playing cards flick and phantasmal fortunes amass. But the first light of dawn sees the four spectres gone; in a great whirl of snow they streak to the daytime repose in the sharp corniced snows on the summit of Ptarmigan Peak.
Yes, this was their fate, and as each reached the gate and Gabriel wound on his horn Old Peter cried out, with a mighty shout, “Friend, don’t look so forlorn! As a good mountaineer, you don’t belong here; there isn’t one hill to ski. So we’re sending you back to the Halfway Shack for the rest of eternity!”
Oh, yes, there’s a shack which lies far back in that country rugged and wild where no man can stay beyond light of day when the snow lies thickly piled, which offers no rest to the skier hard pressed, no shelter against the storm, for this is the den of four strong men who now have no human form.
So back Gadner went, and Paley was sent soon after to join him there; then after a spell, the two Daem boys as well moved into the mountain lair. When these two appeared, Herman Gadner cheered as he poured them a nebulous rum, “Now, the number is right, we play poker tonight, by God, lads, I’m glad that you’ve come . . .”
Now the tale has been told and I charge you to hold the words that I’ve told you as true, and though you may doubt what I’ve written about There’s one way to prove it to you— just sleep there one night. If your hair is not white when the sun tops the mountains next day, I’ll agree to take back all I’ve told of the shack that is known as the old Halfway.
From the anthology Timberline Tales, published in 1977 by The Peter Whyte Foundation, Banff, Canada. Special thanks to Banff Canmore Ghost Walks: banffcanmoreghostwalks.ca 67
LET’S KEEP THESE PLACES
RECREATE RESPONSIBLY IN THE BACKCOUNTRY
PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE
RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT
LEAVE NO TRACE
DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY
Whitecap Skiers in Bowl | Paul Wright
BE AWARE OF WILDLIFE
A message from Backcountry Lodges of BC Association www.blbca.com
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7. Be bold in the cold in the MONS ROYALE CASCADE MERINO FLEX ¼ ZIP. Combining the soft warmth and breathability of merino with a new 4-way stretch. The Cascade is made to move with you, no matter the conditions or contortions. Featuring thumb loops, 4-way stretch and made-to-move Merino Flex. www.ca.monsroyale.com // 8. From seasoned pros to first-time riders, BURTON’S STEP ON system provides a seamless experience for every style of boarding. Three secure locking points connect foot to binding for maximum comfort, responsiveness and convenience. Just Step On and rip. Pictured: Women’s Step On Escapade Bindings and Felix Step On Boots. www.burton.com // 9. The PATAGONIA TRIOLET JACKET leverages waterproof/breathable three-layer GORE-TEX fabric with a recycled face in a shell packed with features guaranteeing versatile, durable performance in heavy snow, driving wind and rain. It’s the jack-of-all-things alpine and it’s Fair Trade Certified sewn. www.patagoniaelements.ca // 10. Designed for all-day-touring missions, DYNAFIT’S RADICAL PRO BOOT is the latest in their award-winning Hoji boot line; featuring 60 degrees of cuff rotation, a progressive 120 flex, and micro-adjust buckles for precise fit. Lightweight and built-to-last, these handmade-in-the-Dolomites boots now carry a lifetime guarantee — which, for the way you shred, means five years. www.dynafit.com // 11. The KHROMA VOLITION JACKET FROM RAB is a waterproof, lightly insulated, ski mountaineering jacket constructed with a 2-Layer GORE-TEX outer and lined with PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation made from 100% post-consumer recycled bottle chips; stylie, guilt-free comfort for your next objective. www.rab.equipment/ca // 12. The PULSE PROFIT LINER customizes your boot fit by replacing your stock liner with one manufactured with passion in the heart of Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. The liner perfectly fills the gaps between the skier’s foot and the shell providing unparalleled performance, control and comfort. The fitters at Pulse work with each skier to find the perfect balance of comfort and performance, all backed by the industry’s best guarantee. To find out more, visit www.pulsebootlab.com or drop by their Revelstoke or Banff Springs Hotel shops.
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15 13. BIKEPACKERS FOUNDRY’S HANDCRAFTED XL-STRADDLEBAG shares many attributes of the local company’s smaller StraddleBag – in a slightly larger 23-cm-by-23-cm size. Waterproof interior and exterior combined with water resistant seams and closure will make this your new best friend no matter what nature throws your way. Developed and tested in the Rockies. www.bikepackersfoundry.com // 14. Is there a better feeling than slipping your hands into a pair of handmade mittens before heading out on a brisk winter day? Maybe, but it’s up there. Local Bow Valley artist, Fonda Sparks, creates one-of-a-kind, CUSTOM-MADE-TO-ORDER WOOL PIECES to keep you toasty all winter long. Softness, comfort, and joy. @fondaknits on Instagram. // 15. Suffer from cold-feet syndrome? Pull on these puppies and say goodbye to cold feet forever. DAHLGREN'S LEGACY MID-WEIGHT SOCK with patented Dri-Stride® technology blends Alpaca fibre, Merino wool, and synthetic fibres to create an incredibly durable and effective wicking sock for ultimate comfort, warmth and blister-resistance. www.altitudesports.com // 16. Built for alpine conditions and extended, ambitious tours, the RUSH SK BACKPACK FROM ARC'TERYX keeps avalanche tools right at hand, is intuitively organized, and includes a spacious roll-top main compartment for storing your day’s kit. Available in 32L (shown) or 42L sizes, you can find these at the Arc’teryx Calgary and Chinook stores and online at www.arcteryx.com // 17. Strap ‘em in and let ‘em ride. INTUITION WRAP STRAPS improve ergonomics and comfort by pulling from both sides in a cinching motion, causing the strap to cradle and evenly disperse compression, eliminating pressure points and improving fit and control. www.intuitionliners.com // 18. A beautiful collection of photographs and reflections on the life of professional skier, surfer, climber, and adventurer, Chad Sayers. OVEREXPOSURE: A STORY ABOUT A SKIER describes with vulnerability how “living the dream” eventually became a tiring treadmill of daily risk that eventually set Sayers adrift from family, friends, lovers—even himself. This book is a Mountain Life family fave, designed by Amélie Légare (whose design work you’re currently enjoying in this magazine) and co-edited by a couple of our go-to Mountain Life writers: Leslie Anthony and Taylor Godber. www.rmbooks.com
I t ’s
in o ur
n at u r e.
WE RIDE TOGETHER
Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow When Agathe Bernard submitted this stunner of a photo we sent word to friends in places both high and low, searching for the identity of the frosty fowl. So far, eight out of ten ornithologists (both amateur and professional) believe it’s most likely a dusky grouse. Got other ideas? Send your best guess to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next issue drops Spring 2022
for your backcountry adventures
MTN-X SPIRE 3L SHELL JACKET
+ DERMIZAX® FABRIC, FULLY SEAM SEALED, 3D HOOD FOG FREE PLACKET, 2-WAY ZIPPER VENTS, MEDIA POCKET
FIELD TESTED IN THE BACKCOUNTRY OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND BRITISH COLUMBIA, THE SPIRE OFFERS AN ERGONOMICALLY ENGINEERED JACKET THAT WILL KEEP YOU WARM AND DRY ON THE DAYS WHERE YOU NEED TO TAKE A RAINY LIFT RIDE AT LOWER ELEVATIONS TO ACCESS THE FRESH NEW SNOW AT THE PEAK. AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL RETAILER
THE KHROMA VOLITION JACKET Inspired by deep powder days when temperatures are stuck in minus figures, the Khroma Volition jacket is warm, waterproof, and highly protective. Combining a robust 2-Layer GORE-TEX® outer with PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation, this jacket is built for the white room. WWW.RAB.EQUIPMENT