Leave No Trace-Canada

Belongs in the backcountry

Fresh snow is a gift in many ways. As a skier, the one I like the best is how it wipes the slate clean. With a snap of Jack Frost’s fingers, the slopes can go from tracked up to pristine.

The one downside: I think these resets change our perception of our impact on the environment. When there’s no snow our footprint is often, literally, obvious. We leave tracks and break branches. When we drop something, it sits there waiting to be picked up. But in the winter, our tracks will disappear with the next snowfall and, later, melt away. Vegetation is safely cushioned below the snow. And drop a wrapper or an orange peel in the snow and it can quickly disappear.

I think that’s why many people don’t think of Leave No Trace (LNT) during the winter. LNT’s seven principles outline guidelines for minimizing impact while recreating, camping and travelling responsibly. The concepts were developed by federal land managers in the United States in response to increased use of backcountry areas during the 1960s and ‘70s and formalized by the Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics in 1999. The U.S.-based non-profit now works to educate the public, conduct research and promote the message. There are LNT chapters in countries around the world, including the volunteer-run Leave No Trace/Sans Trace Canada (LNTC).

LNTC is increasingly promoting the principles beyond the backcountry to everywhere and all seasons. They have always guided operations at backcountry lodges. LNT principles are integral to creating an atmosphere of immersion in the mountain environment. They’re why remote lodges minimize their garbage and switch to renewable power or invest in wildlife stewardship. And LNT is a core ethic to any wilderness guiding, including in winter.

A few years ago, the grassroots non-profit Winter Wildlands Alliance worked with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to tweak the seven principles into a winter-specific code of ethics. The result goes beyond minimizing impact to a general guideline for approaching any day in the winter backcountry.

1. Plan and prepare
It’s number one because proper planning prevents poor performance. The first principle helps with all the following ones. It starts with who you’re going with, where you’re going and what to expect, including reading guidebooks and trip reports, bringing a map and navigation aids, checking forecasts, knowing rules and access restrictions, and packing for the weather, conditions and emergencies. Winter adds avalanche knowledge, including bringing and knowing how to use safety gear. With a busier backcountry, it’s also about dispersing: travelling in small groups and at less crowded destinations.

2. Travel on durable surfaces
More important in the summer is usually about avoiding walking and camping on sensitive vegetation. When there are more than 15 centimetres of snow, which is enough to protect the most sensitive vegetation, the principle shifts to picking safe routes away from dangers like avalanche paths, cornices and open creeks. It’s still worth considering vegetation, particularly in shallow snowpacks.

3. Dispose of waste properly
The only thing you should leave in your wake is ski tracks. Pack out any trash, including wax shaving and fruit peels and cores. It takes years for them to break down, especially in mountain environments. When it comes to human waste, bury it at least 20 big steps from regular travel routes and at least 70 steps from creek beds and lake shores. Avoid peeing on lakes and in gullies.

4. Leave what you find
This one speaks to the whole idea of LNT: to allow the next person to have the same experience as you. Don’t collect plants, rocks, or historical or cultural artifacts so the next person can enjoy them as well.

5. Minimize campfire impacts
In the summer this is about campfire scars and forest fires. In the winter, think of it as a nudge to use stoves, lanterns and headlamps. If you are going to have a winter campfire, only use dead and downed wood that’s smaller than your wrist. Burn it to ash and spread the ash around. This is also a good point to add to cabin etiquette. Always leave huts and cabins better than you found them and don’t leave food or trash behind.

6. Respect wildlife
Winter is one of the hardest times for wildlife. Disturbing them forces them to burn more calories and can move them away from their prime habitat. Observe from a distance and never feed them. Dogs are man’s best friend, but the same can’t always be said for wildlife. It’s best to leave dogs at home.

7. Be considerate of others
As the backcountry gets busier, the final principle is becoming increasingly important. It starts with how you park and step aside when taking a break. It extends to holding back on the yodelling and wearing earbuds. Some people like the music on the track, but crazy as it may seem, not everybody wants to hear the Barbie soundtrack. This respect extends to landowners, both public and private. Ask permission and obtain the right permits before entering.

With these principles in mind, I find myself better prepared and having more fun on my ski days. Especially those special fresh snow days.

Written by Ryan Stuart – @Ryan_Adventures

4 Bad Ass Women

Conquering Mountains and Barriers

On March 8, Christina Lustenberger and her frequent expedition partner Andrew McNab, climbed and skied a technical 45-degree couloir on the southwest face of Mount Niflheim in the Monashee Mountains.

Lustenberger is an ex-World Cup alpine racer from Invermere-turned-ski guide and bad ass big mountain skier. For the past several years Lusti, as she is known, has been ticking off a list of striking first ski descents, from the mountains of Western Canada to the remote granite spires of Baffin Island.

She is one of the women carrying on a tradition of female badassery in the mountains of Canada that is worth noting. And she’s doing it with, what you might call, typical Canadian understatement. Of her recent foray with McNab, she posted simply on social media, “Niflheim. Where the bad people go.”

Bad, as in “good” bad.

Georgia Engelhard belonged to a vanguard of affluent Americans who found their mountain bliss in Canada. She was also a pioneering alpinist who helped blaze a path for women on the sharp end of the rope.

The Manhattan-born adventurer visited the European Alps as a teen with her family and climbed Mount Rainier with her dad in 1926. On a trip to the Canadian Rockies that same year, she ascended Pinnacle Mountain above Larch Valley with guide Edward Feuz Jr. The Rockies was her summer home away from home for 15 of the following 25 summers. In 1929 she climbed nine classic peaks, including a traverse of Hado Peak and Mount Aberdeen. In 1931 she summitted 38 peaks, a tour de force summer that included nine trips up Mount Victoria for a 1932 Parks Canada-sponsored film called She Climbs to Conquer.

In addition to mountains, Engelhard conquered gender-defined rules. She thumbed her nose at the Victorian-era conventions of the day demanding women wear ankle-length skirts in the mountains and became one of the first female alpinists to wear wool pants like her male rope mates. A century later, it seems like a ridiculous notion, but at the time it would have taken some courage on behalf of Engelhard to withstand the withering looks of her stuffy critics.

She is but one of many women to break barriers in the mountains. Diny Harrison is among them. She broke a barrier without giving it too much thought when in 1992 she became the first internationally certified female mountain guide in Canada.

At the time Harrison was too immersed in the rigour of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides examination regime to ponder the significance of a woman dancing onto the stage of a then very male dominated show. To her it was simply the pursuit of a passion for mountains that was kindled in her teens. When she was 14, Harrison traveled west from her native Toronto for a 10-day adventure at High Horizons, a mountaineering skills camp started by legendary guide Bernie Schiesser. This experience prompted a move west.

Prior to diving into the mountain guiding life, she worked on the ski patrol at Lake Louise and was an avid backcountry skier. The idea of choosing her lines and “always skiing first” appealed to her. Friends encouraged her to knuckle down and focus on becoming a ski guide. She was used to hanging with the boys, comfortable in an outdoor locker room environment overflowing with testosterone. An energetic, engaging and assertive-as-needed personality  served her well.

After earning her guide stripes in ’92 she embarked on a 17-year career with Canadian Mountain Holidays, eventually becoming assistant manager at CMH Revelstoke. She also guided summers with CMH, Yamnuska Mountain School, Banff National Army Cadet School as well as internationally with a number of guiding outfits, while also honing her linguistic chops becoming fluent in French, German and Italian.   

Alison Criscitiello, who heads up the University of Alberta’s Ice Core Lab, is another pioneer. Not only is she a world leading scientist in the traditionally male-dominated field of glaciology, she‘s also a bad ass mountaineer whose career blends her profession with a passion for adventure.

There are so many women who have smashed gender stereotypes in the mountains and inspired others to do the same, that it seems unfair to single out just a few for mention. Climbing mountains can strip life down to its simple essentials. Assess the conditions, weigh the risk against the reward, make decisions, and move – or not. Why shouldn’t mountains also strip life of its artificial barriers?

Written by Andrew Findlay – @afindlayjournalist

BC Rivers Day; Just Around The Bend

Celebrating The Province’s Naturally Flowing Waterways on September 26th

For more than four decades, British Columbians have celebrated BC Rivers Day on the fourth Sunday in September, making it the largest river appreciation event throughout Canada. The day serves to both celebrate and build awareness of our natural waterways through independently hosted events from local government, conservation organizations, recreation clubs, community groups, schools, and more. Events have included film screenings, group paddling trips, river clean-ups, and community gatherings and ceremonies.

The theme for this year’s celebration on Sunday, September 26th echoes the theme of last year: Waterways in our Community, with subthemes such as the need to maintain and restore stream connectivity as well as highlighting the link between rivers and oceans.

Our waterways are incredibly important and yet rivers and freshwater ecosystems are among the most at risk ecosystems on the planet, threatened by pollution, urbanization, industrial development, invasive species, damming, and climate change. BC Rivers Day aims to increase community awareness about our local waterways through celebration and making a difference for clean and healthy water, rivers, and communities across the province.

To learn more about BC Rivers Day, join an official event, or host your own, visit the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC.

Want more BLBCA in your life? You’ve got it!

The BLBCA is excited to announce Mountain Escapes | A Backcountry Podcast! Our host and Executive Director, Brad Harrison, connects backcountry enthusiasts with the stewards and caretakers of lodges throughout British Columbia. Mountain Escapes | A Backcountry Podcast also includes a segment aptly titled My Backcountry Story where we hear from members of the community who share their backcountry experiences.

Listen to our inaugural episode featuring a conversation with lodge owner, Jasmin Caton of Valhalla Mountain Touring located near New Denver, BC. To listen, click here to tune in on your favourite podcast platform and hit subscribe so that you never miss an episode!

BLBCA Photo Contest, Our Judge

Introducing Our Guest Photo Judge, Jamie Out

We’ve all had to sacrifice this past year: less travel, fewer visits with friends, perhaps more time spent indoors than we would have liked. One thing that has remained constant throughout this pandemic is the beautiful nature that surrounds us.  

For those of us that crave the outdoors, this year has been more of a respite than any before it. We know the healing properties of nature and the ways it can make our stress and worries disappear without challenge. Whether it’s a simple walk on a forested path, or a multi-day traverse through the mountains, we’ve adapted and pursued those things that are important to our health and well-being. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to get outside to photograph some incredible landscapes this year and have explored deeper in the areas closer to my home that may have gone unnoticed had I been travelling as I typically do.  

For those that don’t know me, my name is Jamie Out and I have been given the great honour of being a guest photography judge for the Backcountry Lodges of BC Association’s upcoming #myBCbackcountry Through Your Lens photo contest this year. I am a travel and adventure enthusiast and freelance photographer based in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. My primary focus is telling stories and capturing the spirit of adventure in beautiful landscapes. I am a Canon Canada Ambassador and have worked with many of the top International and Canadian brands in the outdoor industry. 

My hope is that through this past year you were able to overcome the challenges faced and got out into nature to capture some incredible images.  

We are looking for a broad range of outdoor images and have some incredible prizes to be won so stay tuned for the official contest launch on March 30th to learn more on how to participate, along with the great prizing available from the BLBCA’s member lodges.

A beautiful mountain sunrise, your friend skiing that deep fresh powder, or a quaint cabin under the stars, whatever shows #myBCbackcountry through your lens is what we are looking to see and share on our channels.  

Show us what excited you and helped get you through this past year of unknowns for your chance to win one of three mountain lodge getaways. 

BLBCA at the BMFF

The BLBCA is proud to sponsor the best “Mountain Short Film” award at this year’s virtual Banff Mountain Film Festival. We hope you get a chance to watch some of the films.

Don’t forget to enter, 3 groups of prizes that are perfect to set you up for the winter. Tickets are limited, you have an excellent chance to win and includes a free BLBCA Affiliate Membership.

The BLBCA is a member-directed group of independantly-owned lodge operations, located throughout the major mountain ranges of British Columbia, Canada. Due to their remoteness, lodge access is mechanized in the winter (mostly by helicopter). In the summer several lodges are accessible by hiking. Once at the lodge, all activities are non-mechanized, falling in line with our commitment to leave as small a footprint as possible. All lodges are located in mountainous regions of British Columbia, usually situated at or above treeline in what is generally referred to as the “alpine”.

Your British Columbia backcountry adventure begins with us. Visit a BLBCA lodge, #unpluginBC, revel in your adventure tourism experience. Enjoy your chance to explore some of the world’s most remote, pristine locations feeling safe and comfortable.

Assiniboine Lodge – Jewel – Video

Built in 1928, Assiniboine Lodge is North America’s first backcountry ski lodge. It is located in Mt. Assiniboine Park. In 2010 BC Parks, working with the current lodge operators Andre Renner and Claude Duchesne, initiated an extensive restoration and stabilization project on Assiniboine Lodge. Achieving the project goal of maintaining the lodge’s historical significance and character, it remains a jewel in this magnificent part of the Canadian Rockies.

ATC Highlights Importance of Adventure Tourism

Pique Magazine
Coalition highlights importance of adventure tourism to rural B.C. as it heads into 2019
ATC highlights land tenure issues as obstacles to industry growth
By Joel Barde

Though still in its infancy, the Adventure Tourism Coalition (ATC) is already recognized as a major stakeholder in B.C.’s robust tourism industry.

BMFF 2018, Hope to see you there!

We’re at the Banff Mountain Film Festival from Friday, Nov. 2nd to Sunday, Nov. 4th.

Stop by our booth in the Mountain Marketplace to learn more about our backcountry network, ask a question about avalanche awareness or just to say hi!

We also have a sweet contest running for your chance to win great prizes from G3 (Genuine Guide Gear)  & True Outdoors!

New Tourism Engagement Council

Growth is in the Forecast – Tourism Engagement Council

The Backcountry Lodges of BC Association (BLBCA) has one of the most extensive backcountry accommodation networks in North America. Its membership includes thirty-one (31) backcountry lodges located in some of the most pristine wilderness locations in BC with headquarters in Kamloops. BLBCA lodge owners pride themselves in offering incredible multi-season opportunities to explore some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery, from the comfort and safety of a cozy mountain lodge.

BLBCA just hosted its fifteenth Annual General Meeting at Thompson Rivers University. Our team of backcountry operators boasts many years of combined experience hosting tourists in BC’s natural environment. A number of lodges are in fact celebrating over 30 years in operation this season.

“The popularity of people wanting to #unpluginbc and indulge in remote mountain locations has resulted in increased visitation and the association members have responded by offering quality backcountry experiences,” says Brad Harrison, BLBCA Executive Director.

As a result of this combined experience and growth in the adventure tourism sector, the Adventure Tourism Coalition of which the BLBCA is a member, was one of five prestigious tourism organizations invited to the Legislature in celebration and support of Tourism Week in BC.

A notable announcement during Tourism Week was the formation of The Honourable Lisa Beare’s new Tourism Engagement Council formed to “help guide government’s tourism policy, strategy and program implementation”.  BLBCA’s Executive Director Brad Harrison was honoured to be named to the Council.

BLBCA Vision:

To enable Association lodges to touch the lives of guests with awe-inspiring adventures throughout British Columbia’s inimitable backcountry

 

Snowfest a Success

The BLBCA participated at this year’s MEC Snowfest in Vancouver on Nov. 18th. Executive Director, Brad Harrison attended the event and presented a well-attended Avalanche Awareness 101 clinic.

The clinic provided an intro on avalanche awareness and safety basics. Attendees learned how to recognize avalanche terrain and avoid hazards, test essential survival equipment used in companion rescue, and received tips on prepping for a backcountry trip.

Harrison, a Canadian Avalanche Association Professional Member, regularly delivers AST, MAT & CRS courses for Avalanche Canada.

Past Event Details:

What is MEC Snowfest:

  • It’s a way to welcome winter and help people get excited about snow. There are MEC Snowfest events across Canada and each one features activities that are popular in that region—everything from winter running to ice climbing. Snowfest brings together experts and beginners, families and individuals, and all those curious about where and how to fun in winter

MEC Snowfest Facts & Features:

  • In Vancouver, festival attendance averages 3,500-4,500 members
  • Snow Swap has been a fixture in Vancouver for 30+ years
  • Dozens of brands & community groups are represented in-store at Snowfest each year 

The BLBCA and our 30 member-lodges are active in our local communities, attending industry events, devoting time to notable advocacy work in the community, and participating in local government planning and strategy sessions.

More from the BLBCA:

Back to the BMFF

It’s almost that time of year, the Banff Mountain Film Festival is right around the corner, and the BLBCA will be there!

Look for our booth in the Mountain Marketplace from Friday, Nov. 3rd to Sunday, Nov. 5th. Learn about our backcountry lodge network, ask about avalanche awareness, or come for a free sticker!

We’ll also have a gnarly contest running, swing by our booth for your chance to win great backcountry prizing from True Outdoors!

BLBCA Holds AGM

The BLBCA held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) this past week on June 7th – 8th, in Kamloops, BC. Members of the Association gathered for two days packed with industry-related information, updates from both the staff and BOD.

BLBCA at Plaid Goat

The BLBCA is excited to be participating in the Plaid Goat Mountain Bike Fest this June 23 -25 in Canmore, AB!

Plaid Goat Mountain Bike Fest is a three-day festival with a buffet of for-fun activities.

Bike to Work & School

2017 Bike to Work & School Week is May 29 to June 4!

Bike to Work Week started 23 years ago in Victoria! From humble beginnings it has grown to include more than 52 communities and 37,000 participants BC-wide in 2016 and it continues to grow. In 2016, more than 52 regions/communities across BC participated with the following stats:

Join Us: Backcountry 101

Join BLBCA and True Outdoors for a FREE Backcountry 101 clinic!

Whether you’ve already spent long days carving turns in backcountry powder, or you’re just considering venturing out for the first time, Backcountry 101 will have something for everyone.

See You at the BMFF

We’re at the Banff Mountain Film Festival from Friday, Nov. 4th to Sunday, Nov. 6th.

Stop by our booth in the Mountain Marketplace to learn more about our backcountry network, ask a question about avalanche awareness or just to say hi!

We’ll also have a sweet contest running for your chance to win great backcountry prizing from True Outdoors!

Backcountry Wedding

Golden rules for destination weddings and Purcell Mountain Lodge offers year-round elopement packages to intimate private backcountry weekend weddings for up to thirty guests.