BLBCA – A Brief History

Association of Problem Solvers

The people who own and run BC’s backcountry lodges are, by necessity, tinkerers. Far from town, operating at the whims of Mother Nature, and with infinite variables at play, they get good at coming up with creative solutions.

But even after nearly 20 years of helping with the problem solving at Golden Alpine Holidays (GAH), a trio of backcountry lodges north of Golden, B.C., Brad Harrison wasn’t ready for the doozy that landed on the industry’s plate in 2003. Following a challenging avalanche season, the insurance industry decided either not to renew, or to charge exorbitant rates, for affected insurance policies. A commercial general liability policy is a BC Government requirement needed to operate on crown(public) land. As a result, GAH and every other commercial backcountry lodge were all left wondering how they move forward.

But as is often the case, a crisis created a chance to improve.

At the time the 25 odd commercial lodges in B.C. often looked at each other as competitors. In the insurance issue Tannis Dakin, then owner/operator of Sorcerer Lodge saw an opportunity. She believed in old adages like “a rising tide lifts all boats” and “don’t waste a good crisis”.

Dakin teamed up with two Calgary insurance agents, Bill Dunlop and Angela Dunlop McKenzie, to sort out a way to recapture the much-needed liability insurance policies. Standard operating protocols were researched, created and readied to be implemented or recommended. Protocols included waiver administration, human resource procedures, risk mitigation, information sharing processes and other business practices. Insurance underwriters agreed to make liability insurance available if an association was created and members of the association agreed to follow the aforementioned and other standard operating procedures. Hence the Backcountry Lodges of B.C. Association was created in 2004. Margie Jamieson, owner/operator of Ptarmigan Tours was the association’s first president.

Six years later, Harrison and his partners sold Golden Alpine Holidays and he became the Executive Director of the BLBCA, a position he still holds. His past experience helped, given the trials and tribulations of operating GAH. And by not owning a lodge anymore, he was in an impartial position, both in actuality and perceptively.

“I was well situated to help operators use the backcountry in an appropriate and responsible way,” he says. It’s a mission he continues to pursue.

The BLBCA gradually matured, members saw more value in working together. At annual meetings they would share their experiences and learn from each other. Learnings like effective solar panels, the best composting toilet, preferred water treatment systems were routinely shared. We realized if we help each other, everybody gains, says Harrison. 

Soon, the BLBCA started working with the BC Provincial Government in earnest and introduced an association-wide marketing program, with the integral help of Destination BC. Although themes of the marketing program have varied over the years, the overarching tenets to Regenerate, Reconnect and Recreate Responsibly have remained.

Harrison and the BLBCA are very focused on informing listeners on the value of wild places. The Wilderness Tourism Association of B.C. estimates the economic impact of B.C.’s adventure tourism industry at $2-billion, Value of Adventure Tourism. Although difficult to quantify, the socio-economic value to Rural BC is significant. Health benefits of time spent in nature are well-documented, Canadian doctors can even prescribe it, Announcing a New Collaboration between PaRx and Parks Canada.

Now with outdoor recreation booming and government budgets stretched thin, Harrison thinks the BLBCA can play a role in enhancing and expanding a culture of stewardship. The lodges are perfectly positioned to support the BC Gov’t with citizen science data on species-at-risk, like Whitebark Pine, Wolverine, amongst others. And they hope to help new outdoor users learn the art of treading lightly, Backcountry Trail use is Booming.

The BLBCA hopes to help inform backcountry users with blog posts like these, Whitebark Pine – Save the Ents, The Ultimate Winter Specialist and Responsible Recreation in the Backcountry.

“A lot of new backcountry users aren’t yet sure how to treat Mother Nature with respect,” he says. “Lodge owners interact with a lot of backcountry users. It’s a perfect interface and opportunity for them to inform and influence backcountry users.”

And solve one more problem.

Written by Ryan Stuart

The Rewind

Welcome to our series, “The Rewind”, where we share some of our older, most-loved community content–because great stories deserve a second telling! In our latest edition of The Rewind, we’re kicking it back to the importance of recreating responsibly, a blog originally posted in April, 2021. We hope this is helpful as you head out into BC’s amazing backcountry.

5 Tips for Your Safety and Well-Being – Along with the Environment’s

Those of us who have had the good fortune to enjoy adventures in the backcountry know what it’s like to take in the unspoiled environment and scenery. It’s important to recognize and understand the impact that our recreation can have on the backcountry environment and be mindful of how to recreate responsibly, so we can minimize the effects of our use. 

It’s on all of us to ensure that the backcountry remains as unspoiled as possible, and so we’ve rounded up five tips to help you recreate responsibly in the backcountry.

Prepare and Trip Plan

Aside from having and sharing your trip plan with a responsible family member or friend, it’s also integral to have the necessary equipment required for the type of trip you’re embarking upon: adequate clothing, food and water, and a first aid kit, along with rescue equipment, such as a shovel, beacon, and probe if you’re recreating in the winter. Safety trainings, such as First Aid and Avalanche Training, are invaluable and chances are the more time you spend in the backcountry, the more likely you will be required to implement what you’ve learned in these trainings in a real-life scenario. For more tips on preparing for your next outdoor activity, head over to AdventureSmart.

Pack It In, Pack It Out

Help keep the backcountry clean and litter-free, by bringing anything that you brought into the backcountry, back out with you as you go and dispose of all waste properly. And yes, that does include human waste – especially in the winter-time. We like to go one-step beyond that to collect garbage along the way, so we can leave the land better than we found it.

Minimize The Impact

Where you trek, camp, and light campfires is certainly something to be mindful of when recreating in the backcountry. Trek and set up camp on durable surfaces, like gravel, deep snow, trails, dry grass, bare soil. Build and maintain low impact campfires by managing the size of the fire and impact on the surrounding area. Be sure to check for fire bans in the area before setting out – you can check BC Wildfire Service for more information – and have an understanding of fire safety measures.

Respect Wildlife

If you’re heading into the backcountry, it’s likely you’ll encounter wildlife; perhaps wildlife viewing is even the reason you’re out there. Always give proper distance to animals in the area and don’t approach or follow. Ensure your food and garbage is stored properly and do not feed them. Finally, if you’re hiking with a dog, ensure that you have the dog under your control at all times, to avoid it chasing or harassing the wildlife.   

Leave Behind Whatever You Find

Nature is full of beauty and intrigue and it can be tempting to want to take a piece of it home with you, but it’s important to leave shells, rocks, flowers, plants, and other natural objects where you find them. When it comes to flora and fauna, avoid introducing or transporting non-native species, which can have a negative impact on the local environment.

How do you recreate responsibly in the backcountry?

Tell us in 100 words and/or share your photos with us be entered to win one of three backcountry getaways to a BLBCA lodge. Enter the #myBCbackcountry Through Your Lens Photo Contest now through April 19th.

A Prescription for Nature

News flash: Getting outside is good for our health and ultimately good for the planet.

British Columbia doctors can now prescribe a national park pass to patients facing physical or mental health issues. The program is being spearhead by PaRx, a nature prescription program led by Vancouver family physician Dr. Melissa Lem. Through a partnership with Parks Canada, health-care professionals registered with PaRx can provide a free annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass to patients.

“We have a standard recommendation, based on the latest research, that patients spend at least two hours a week in nature and at least 20 minutes each time,” said Dr Lem in a recent Global News story. “So, this is all about breaking down those barriers to access to nature.”

You’d think in a country like Canada outdoor activity would be a fact of life for everybody. But it’s not. For some people, there’s a financial barrier. Others might have been raised in a family that considered a trip to the shopping mall a form of recreation. It could also be a function of too much time in front of a gaming console or other electronic device. Many patients would rather walk out of the doctor’s office with a prescription for drugs rather than make any substantive lifestyle changes. And more than a few physicians have been happy to oblige this dependence on pharmaceuticals like, for example, Ritalin, widely prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD.)

That’s why this program is a positive step forward in terms of how we view health care and value time in the outdoors. Despite the fact that it applies to only national parks, seven of which are in BC, it sends an important message. 

There’s a growing body of research showing how time in nature can reduce the onset of ailments like diabetes and heart disease, as well as benefits for people suffering form depression and ADHD. For example, a 2008 ADHD study conducted by the University of Illinois found that a 20-minute walk in a park can improve concentration scores in kids suffering from this condition. A regular stroll in the woods can also reduce levels of anxiety. 

This is old news in Japan where doctors have been prescribing time outdoors for decades. In 1982 the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries coined the term shinrin-yoku, which means literally “forest bathing.” It has since spawned a global forest bathing movement. There are even shinrin-yoku guides. Forest bathing, despite how it sounds, is far from a flakey, new age fad. There’s real science behind it. Trees – especially evergreens like pine, cedar and spruce – release phytoncides, natural oils with anti-fungal and anti-bacteria properties. Phytoncides linger in the air. When we breath them in, we can receive a host of health benefits. A study of forest bathing published in a 2016 edition of the journal, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, showed that a walk in the woods can result in reduced pulse rates, anxiety, depression, and fatigue, among other benefits. 

Research into the other health benefits of getting outside, such as greater creativity and sharper cognition, is still not well understood. But if you’re like me, you’ve experienced ah ha moments of clarity while doing something outside. That’s no accident. 

 It’s not exactly a revelation that exercising in the outdoors is good for you. Who doesn’t experience an overall sense of well being after a hike, ski tour, or rambling ascent up an alpine ridge?

There are considerable social benefits as well. Children and adults who spend time outdoors are more likely to become champions for conservation and environmental stewardship, according to a recent study from the University of Plymouth. The planet needs people like that more than ever. 

So, bravo to the National Park prescription program – it’s a small but significant step.

The Rewind: Importance of Shopping Local

Welcome to our series, “The Rewind”, where we share some of our older, most-loved community content–because great stories deserve a second telling! In our latest edition of The Rewind, we’re kicking it back to Importance of Shopping Local, a blog originally posted in March 2021. We hope you enjoy!

Masked customer waits to be helped at Callaghan Country front desk

“Shop Local” Is No Longer Just a Slogan; It Represents Solidarity

As we approach the one-year mark of the global pandemic, it’s not a secret that the impact has been felt greatly across Canada – especially within the retail industry. Nowhere is that more apparent than the higher levels of economic damage encountered by small businesses affected by the crisis. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 60% of small businesses have experienced a decline in revenue of 20% or greater.

There are a number of ways to support your local businesses. Many have pivoted to offer e-commerce options so that you can shop from the comfort of your own home, having your purchases shipped directly to you – or some cases, even delivered right to your door from shop owners and staff. Curbside pick-up has also become a popular offering, with stores encouraging customers to place orders by phone or online, then pick up their goods with speed and ease – without needing to even step foot inside the store. 

Another note of consideration when shopping local, especially in terms of accommodation and take-out food, is to purchase directly from the business, rather than buying through a third-party website or application – which always take a cut of the sale. When you purchase direct from the source, all of the funds are staying within your own community, which is integral for the sustainability of your local economy.

You’ll notice in our recent BLBCA-BMFF Raffle, we supported as many local manufacturers as we could – including Arc’teryx and G3 Genuine Gear Guide – while also supporting a local retailer – True Outdoors – by purchasing these prizes directly from the owner. 

We know the big giants are likely to be around long after things have settled, but the chances of your local cafe, sporting goods, or hardware store being open are, unfortunately, much smaller. If you want to see your favourite local businesses continue to not only survive, but thrive, be intentional with your shopping.  The phrase “shop local” is no longer just a catchy marketing slogan in the consumer marketplace; it now represents solidarity with those in our community who we wish to support with action – and our dollars. 

Have You Heard Mountain Escapes?

Mountain Escapes | A Backcountry Podcast

Did you know we recently launched a podcast? We’ve got six binge-worthy episodes so far and will be launching one every month for your listening pleasure!

What It’s All About

Mountain Escapes is a podcast that aims to connect backcountry enthusiasts with the owners and operators of BLBCA member lodges throughout BC, Canada. In each episode we highlight a unique lodge through conversation with an owner. We will also feature guest appearances by other influential backcountry enthusiasts and industry experts.

Already a fan of the podcast, want to help us continue to grow? Our quick how-to video takes you through the easy steps of engaging with our pod.

Find us on your favourite podcast provider, subscribe to get new episodes when they drop and then let us know what you think by rating and reviewing!

Rate, Review & Subscribe!

Our Latest Episode

The Mountain Escapes Podcast is back! In this episode, Brad talks to the owners/operators/guides of Mt. Assiniboine Lodge, Andre Renner and Claude Duchesne.

To say that Mt. Assiniboine is both iconic and historic would be a major understatement. In many ways Mt. Assiniboine is the cradle of mountaineering, skiing and backcountry travel in the Canadian Rockies. Andre and Claude will provide us with a glimpse into Mt. Assiniboine Lodge both now and back then, way back then. We will hear stories about legendary characters such as Lizzie Rommel, Erling Strom and Andre’s father, Sepp Renner. Thanks for tuning in!

Episode List

Where to Listen

The podcast is on all major platforms, search and find us on whatever platform you listen to podcasts. See a full list of Where to Listen.

Listen to Mountain Escapes on YouTube

Prefer to listen via YouTube while at home or on the go? We’ve got you covered! Each episode of the podcast is also added to our BLBCA YouTube channel.

The Ultimate Winter Specialist

Inside the Secret, Solitary Lives of Wolverines

If I could choose a spirit animal, it would be the wolverine. This solitary animal moves through deep snow and the mountains with breathtaking ease. Though it avoids conflict, the wolverine can be fierce when backed into a corner.

I once sat with a handful of other climbers in a remote camp near Moby Dick Mountain south of Rogers Pass and watched through binoculars as a wolverine skillfully navigated a technical glacier, mired in crevasses and seracs. For more than 10 minutes, we observed the wolverine’s lonely ascent before it disappeared over a high pass and descended into the valley beyond. The wolverine – always restless, always moving, always searching.

Wolverines are mustelids, otherwise known as the weasel family. Next to sea otters, they are the largest of this group in North America, which also includes fishers and pine martens. With compact, powerful bodies, large heads and strong jaws, an adult male can measure one metre from nose to tail and weigh between 12 and 16 kilograms. Broad feet and strong limbs allow them to travel quickly in deep snow and track down a range of prey from moose, mountain caribou and mountain goat to beavers, porcupines and squirrels. Beyond a few weeks in the year when adults pair to mate, they are solitary creatures with vast ranges. People often mistake wolverines for bear cubs. That’s why in indigenous North American lore they are referred to as the fourth grizzly club.

By some estimates wolverine habitat has contracted by as much as 37 per cent in North America. The animal, listed both federally and provincially as a species of special concern, has been extirpated from much of its previous range, including Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. BC still relies on decades old radio telemetry data and remote camera evidence that pegs the provincial population at roughly 3,500 animals. It science’s attempt to extrapolate certainty from uncertainty. In other words, there’s still much to learn, including how climate change, diminishing snowpacks, and habitat fragmentation will impact wolverine populations.

The wolverine, glutton, carcajou, skunk bear, or quickhatch
The wolverine, glutton, carcajou, skunk bear, or quickhatch

Wolverine Watch is an informal group of scientists collaborating to better understand wolverine habitat and the impacts of human disturbance. For example, Nelson researchers Andrea Kortello and Doris Hausleitner – Team Wolverine – have been using a mix of drone surveys, citizen science, and habitat modeling to identify denning sites in the West Kootenay region. The hope is that by knowing where the slowly reproducing female wolverines have their kits, we can make better land use and access decisions.

They are slippery subjects of scientific inquiry, often evading the biologist’s most tenacious efforts to locate, track and understand them. Ask any wildlife biologist, and they’ll tell you that’s part of their appeal. It’s also likely why wolverines are enveloped in myth and cursed with an undeserved reputation for cruelty that’s as large as the wilderness in which they thrive. This popular demonization might start with the wolverine’s unsavory Latin scientific name, Gulo gulo, which translates as “glutton, glutton.”

“Nobody moves through the mountains like a wolverine,” says Montana-based writer and biologist Douglas Chadwick.

And few North American animals are as misunderstood, he adds.

While researching his 2010 book The Wolverine Way, Chadwick says he failed to uncover a single credible report of a wolverine attacking and injuring humans. Nonetheless, people demonized them. And that’s easy to do in “the absence of data,” Chadwick says.

Absence of data; those three words say much about the wolverine. And whenever the first snow flies in BC, I start thinking again about this ultimate winter specialist.

Probably Not – A Reflection

Thoughts From a Concerned Backcountry Enthusiast

Are we exhausted, have we had enough?
Without exception the last two years have been tough.
Is it over?
Probably not.

There is no new normal, not like we thought.
Climate change scientists are telling us loud and clear,
Just as they have for years.
Are we listening?
Probably not.

In the Western world – we like our stuff
Giving anything up would just be too tough.
Inequities are there, but our words are like thin air.
Do we get it?
Probably not.

Will we change our ways, will we hear nature’s call?
Or continue to dismiss the warnings, thinking all will be well?
Technology will save us, look what we’ve done,
For the next generation, their future has just begun.
Will electric cars and space travel save us?
Probably not.

Do we think about what’s ahead?
We live on a finite planet, that’s been said.
There are too many of us, we want too much,
We are not willing to give anything up without a fuss.
The natural commons are paying a price,
While we purchase things, we think are nice.
Do we know the difference between wants and needs?
Probably not.

Governments and corporations keep the system going,
And the public maintains a comfortable position of uncaring and unknowing.
As decisions are made that compromise our existence,
There is little resistance.
Will we see what’s happening in time to make a change?
Probably not.

Is there time to make a difference?
To save the forests, the oceans, the rivers and glaciers, the air we breathe?
Natures gifts for life and all that we need.

It takes courage to make a change,
To care about the planet outside of our personal gain.
To care about others who are paying the price,
For the consequences of not thinking twice.

Will I stop hoping for change or voicing my concerns?
Probably not.
I love our beautiful planet too much.

By R. E. Reid

Contest Winner Announced

Who’s the Winner of The Ultimate Backcountry Experience

To view the winning entry and our three honourable mentions, CLICK HERE

Our winner has an opportunity to escape and revel at a BLBCA lodge of their choice! They have won the ultimate week-long backcountry experience for themselves and a friend at their choice of a BLBCA member lodge, valued up to $5,000.

Enter our Epic BMFF Contest!

We’re celebrating the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival with Our Biggest Contest Yet!

The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is underway and we’re thrilled to be a part of it again this year. These nine days are filled with awe-inspiring and evocative films and stories of adventure and exploration from around the world.

We’re honoured to once again sponsor the Best Short Mountain Film Award this year, which our very own Lynea Neilsen will be virtually presenting at the Awards Presentation on November 4.  Be sure to check out the Banff Centre’s website for the full list of winning films following the Awards Presentation, including the award we were excited to present.

Along with sponsoring and presenting the Best Short Mountain Film Award, we’re also a part of the Festival Marketplace, which features the latest and greatest from the BLBCA and other Festival Partners. If you haven’t already, come check out our virtual booth here.

And now onto the big news… We might even call it “mountain-sized” news…

We’re hosting an EPIC photo and video contest throughout the Banff Mountain Film Festival giving you and a friend the chance to win a one-week stay at your choice of any of our 32 BLBCA member lodges!

Imagine seven days of backcountry adventure, beautiful landscapes, unspoiled alpine views, home comforts, legendary cuisine, and likeminded souls. With 32 BLBCA member lodges to choose from, there is no shortage of idyllic hideaways for this getaway. Our member lodges are nestled deep within the four major mountain ranges across British Columbia: The Rockies, Columbia Mountains, Cariboo Chilcotins, and Coast Range, meaning you can experience some of the most pristine, untouched mountains in North America.

This contest is open to BLBCA Affiliate Members only. If you’re not already a member, you can purchase an Affiliate Membership directly on the contest page, then submit a photo or video from one of the three contest categories for your chance to win this epic backcountry trip to a BLBCA Member Lodge next summer.

What are you waiting for?! Head over to the contest and enter today; we can’t wait to see your submissions!

Get To Know: Jasmin Caton

Introducing You to The Owner and Operator of BLBCA Member Lodge, Valhalla Mountain Touring

BLBCA member lodge owners come from many walks of life and we wanted to share their unique stories to connect backcountry enthusiasts with these stewards and caretakers of lodges throughout British Columbia. With that, allow us to introduce you to Jasmin Caton of Valhalla Mountain Touring, located near New Denver, BC.

Jasmin spent many of her formative years at the lodge, which came into the Caton family when Jasmin was around 13 years old, though the family had spent time there backcountry skiing before that point. During a break from studying at university, Jasmin completed her first professional level avalanche course and spent a winter at the lodge, working as a custodian. The lifestyle that came with living in a “tiny little stuffed shack” and taking care of the chores at the lodge, along with the opportunity to socialize and spend time with the guests, appealed to Jasmin. It was at that time she began mentoring with the guides working for her parents at Valhalla Mountain Touring, which planted the seed for becoming a guide. Nearly ten years and a Master’s degree later, Jasmin began guiding, as the opportunity–and responsibility–to take over the family business surfaced.

Jasmin Caton, Owner, Operator and Lead Guide at Valhalla Mountain Touring

“Taking over the lodge was something I had to rise up to and meet the challenge of. In hindsight, it was so great that I had all the support around me to make that choice–an obvious one,” says Jasmin.

Jasmin took over the business in 2006 and has been operating Valhalla Mountain Touring ever since.

BLBCA Executive Director, Brad Harrison, recently had the chance to chat with Jasmin on the Mountain Escapes podcast to learn more about her experience, specifically as a female lodge owner/operator and ACMG Rock and Ski guide. Jasmin says it’s something she reflects on a lot and hopes that the up-and-coming female guides will also have positive experiences, as she did.

“I didn’t experience much in the way of overt challenges. However, I do think there are patterns and biases. All of these things run really deep in our society and in the guiding community,” says Jasmin.

Jasmin notes the positive changes happening within the guiding culture are encouraging more women to take this career path and says it’s nice to feel she is a part of that shift: “I think having more female instructors does breed a culture of welcoming and openness to female students.”

When it comes to guests at the lodge, Jasmin notes that Valhalla Mountain Touring’s clientele has been largely gender balanced, though she has focused on offering women’s only trips. “There are a lot of women who very likely wouldn’t sign up for a mixed group trip, for a whole bunch of different reasons that just wouldn’t appeal to them or feel comfortable for them. By offering women’s only trips, there’s a place for those women who don’t have a whole group of their friends to plan a trip with, who can join in and feel comfortable and supported.”

As a female lodge owner, Jasmin’s personal experiences have shaped the way she aims to run Valhalla Mountain Touring, to make it a more inclusive space for all who visit and stay.

“Everyone who shows up, we do our best to give them the best experience we can. That’s something that I wanted to have be a real fundamental principle of the operation,” says Jasmin.

Learn more about Jasmin’s story in the first episode of the Mountain Escapes podcast here. To learn more about Valhalla Mountain Touring, click here.

The Rewind: Mountain Biking–In The Mountains

Welcome to our series, “The Rewind”, where we share some of our older, most-loved community content–because great stories deserve a second telling! In our latest edition of The Rewind, we’re kicking it back to Mountain Biking–In The Mountains, a blog originally posted in September 2018. We hope you enjoy!

Mountain biking should take place in well, the mountains, and there’s something special about sharing that experience with friends and family. Unique vistas, with layers of unadulterated peaks definitely will help you put down that phone and capture real moments in time.

True mountain biking has long been a coveted experience for the sports elitist. What I mean by this is that, as a rider you used to flip over a magazine cover and dream of being that pro, somewhere high in the mountains, exploring alpine terrain and returning to a remote lodge with scrumptious food, tasty beverages and clean, crisp sheets. These trails were often hard to find, local secrets, that took a massive amount of fitness to explore. Over the last 5 years, this scene has changed, from heli-biking to the growth of easily accessible alpine single-track, and here in Beautiful British Columbia, we’re leading the charge.

The Backcountry Lodges of BC Association has a number of lodges that provide quick and easy access to the alpine, true mountainside access, all situated around riding hand-built single-track. In this article we’ll be highlighting Sol Mountain Lodge throughout our imagery and point-of-view video footage.

Be Bear Aware

Recreating Safely in Natural Bear Habitats

British Columbia’s backcountry offers several incredible attributes, from stunning landscapes and unspoiled alpine views to solitude and integration with nature. Another awe-inspiring offering provided by the backcountry is the extensive wildlife that you may encounter along the way; perhaps viewing wildlife – safely and responsibly – is even the reason you choose to visit the backcountry.

BC is home to both black (in coastal areas the Kermode bear, a rare, white-coated black bear) and grizzly bears with the province’s varied landscape providing the ideal habitat for both species. While black bears tend to prefer extensively wooded areas, lowlands and wetlands, grizzlies tend to occupy a greater range of habitats including tundra plains, prairie and grasslands, and of course, the thick temperate rainforests of coastal BC. The two species can however – and do – overlap habitats.

As humans recreating in natural bear habitats, it’s our responsibility to be mindful of bear habits and activity, taking every precaution in order to prevent and reduce human-bear conflict. Most bear encounters occur in the warmer months of the year (March through November) when the number of outdoor recreationalists is higher, leading to an increased chance of an encounter.

The late summer and autumn is a key time for bear activity in the backcountry: bears enter a state of hyperphagia – an extreme appetite which increases their feeding activity – driven by their biological need to fatten up prior to hibernation. Though the onset and duration of this hyperphagia state differs based on the regional norms of food availability which can vary. During hyperphagia, bears can feed upwards of 20 hours each day to prepare for a winter of hibernation. As a result of this, they can become temperamental and defensive if they perceive a threat to a potential meal source.

Before embarking on any adventure into the wilderness – and into bear habitat – prepare yourself by learning about bears, their behaviours, and how to avoid conflicts and stay safe while recreating in BC. (Consider taking WildSafeBC’s Bear Safety When Recreating course to learn more.)

While you’re out in the backcountry, be alert and watch for bears or bear activity including their tracks and scat, strange smells or disturbed vegetation nearby. Alert potential bears to your presence by making noise: singing, talking calmly and loudly, or clapping, especially near streams and areas of low visibility. Hike and bike in groups and don’t let children wander; larger groups of 4 or more are less likely to have a negative encounter with a bear. Always keep pets on-leash, as dogs can provoke defensive bear behaviour. And of course, always be prepared with bear spray and know how to use it effectively.

When camping outdoors, store bear attractants – such as food (both human and pet), garbage, recyclables, toiletries, and other smelly items – in a bear-safe manner, see what WildSafeBC advises about this. Utilize bear-proof food storage lockers when provided or bring your own bear-proof containers and hang food from a rope system or tree branch in an area inaccessible to bears (at least four metres off the ground and three metres from the nearest tree.)

It’s crucial for us to respect the fact that the backcountry is home to bears and as visitors in their areas, we must do our part to conserve bears and their natural environment. To learn more on

bear safety and what to do if you encounter a bear or if a bear approaches or charges you, please visit the following resources:

BC Parks

WildSafeBC

AdventureSmart

Commercial Bear Viewing Association

Bear Smart – BC Government

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.

NASCAR Champion Becomes Lodge Owner

BLBCA member lodge owners come from many walks of life. I have been in the adventure tourism business most of my life and know all of our 32 owners pretty well. Along with his wife Carrie, Cole Pearn is the newish owner of Golden Alpine Holidays, a system of 4 backcountry lodges located in the Esplanade Range of the Selkirk Mtns, NW of Golden, BC.

Cole took a bit of a unique path on his way to being a backcountry lodge owner. He was a decorated NASCAR champion when he abruptly retired at the end of the last full season and decided to buy the GAH business. I am confident in saying that I don’t know any other lodge owners that have followed the exact journey that Cole has. Welcome to our family Carrie and Cole.

Our friends at Pique Newsmagazine recently published an article highlighting Cole’s racing career. Give it a read if you have a moment, NASCAR champion Pearn up to speed with Daly at Indy 500.

Explore BLBCA Lodges….later

We, the BLBCA members, can’t wait to get off our computers, phones and get back into the mountains, where we are most at home.  We would love to have you join us again and we are anxiously waiting and hoping the Covid-19 pandemic will subside as soon as possible

But, as Destination BC – has suggested, #exploreBC…later. We are readying to re-open as soon as it is safe to do so. And, we are  keen to once again have you escape the crowds, #unpluginBC , and enjoy your backcountry adventure at a BLBCA-member lodge.

The world will undoubtedly be different once we emerge from this crisis. BLBCA members will be at the forefront and doing our best to adapt to the new “normal”. We will do everything we can to make you feel confident and comfortable about visiting our facilities once it is appropriate to do so.

Take good care,

Brad Harrison, BLBCA Executive Director

COVID-19 Crisis & the BLBCA

The Board of Directors of the BLBCA are recommending that all member lodges suspend their winter operations as expediently as possible and remain closed until such time that the BC Centre for Disease Control, CDC , and Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, have determined that the emergency is over. Guests should be assisted in exiting the lodges and encouraged to follow all the recommendations of the CDC and Dr. Henry.

BLBCA members are doing their best to help flatten the curve of this pandemic, despite significant financial and operational challenges. We encourage all businesses, residents and visitors do their part, with a concerted effort, we will get through this crisis.

Other Resources

Alberta Health Services
HealthLink BC
Destination BC – has taken an active position relating to the COVID-19 crisis, providing a robust source of current information and links to a number of resources.

Enter and #UnplugInBC for FREE!

The only way to win is to play. When you share your love of the backcountry, you get entries into a draw for one of 3 BLBCA lodge stays. The more you share, the more entries you’ll get and the better your chances are to win!

We’ve teamed up with Sol Mountain LodgeWells Gray Adventures, and Golden Alpine Holidays, so you can extend your backcountry fun and spend the summer with us.

Enter to win one of three amazing BLBCA experiences.

BLBCA Welcomes Tyax Adventures

The BLBCA is pleased to welcome Tyax Adventures as the newest full member to our association. Tyax Adventures is located in the heart of British Columbia wilderness, specifically in the unique landscape of the South Chilcotin Mountain Range.

The operation recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, and is operated by Dale and Jane Douglas. Their vision has created a world class destination using historical trail network from the gold-rush era and the First Nations peoples. They operate 5 backcountry camps, supported by a supply chain of tried and true horseback packing and seasoned wranglers, who keep our camps stocked with necessities and luxuries for our backcountry guests.

Within the tenure and operating areas, their guests enjoy multi-day backcountry adventures, under their own steam; while being guided and fed by Tyax’s handpicked team. Tyax operates mainly in the summer months, catering to mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners. Access to routes near remote lakes is either by non-mechanized means, or by a float plane drop in a De Havilland Beaver. Guests are whisked into the backcountry and enjoy comfortable accommodation while traveling back to civilization. As the principal commercial operator in the region, Tyax Adventures is committed to working with local stakeholders; maintaining trails and supporting the pristine backcountry.

In the winter months they rent their Eldorado Cabin, which supports small group, self-catered/guided ski touring for week-long pristine backcountry skiing in the Southern Chilcotin Mountains. If you are interested, they have one prime vacancy, from February 21st-28th, 2020. Contact Tyax Adventure for info.

We are two decades into Tyax Adventures (time flies!), and it is still such great reward to be able to share this magnificent environment with our guests, both the returning ones, ( & now their kids), as well as the new ones who discover us for the first time!” says owner/operator Dale Douglas

 

BLBCA Lodge Catches the Eye of 57 Hours

Backcountry Skiing at Burnie Glacier, Northern British Columbia | 57hours

Review by Lee Lau – Vancouver-based backcountry skier, mountain biker and writer. Revelstoke, Whistler, Rogers Pass, the Selkirks, the Rockies. Mention Canadian ski destinations and the eyes of powder hounds glaze over and their minds travel to these hallowed lands, these meccas.

Assiniboine Lodge – Jewel

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.

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.

Winners Announced

Our spring contest has closed and we’ve announced the winners of our three amazing BLBCA backcountry experiences, courtesy of Mount Carlyle Backcountry Lodge, Wells Gray Adventures, and Sol Mountain Lodge.

Check to see if you were a lucky winner!

BLBCA Affiliate Membership – Sign Up From Your Phone

Support the BLBCA & become an affiliate member in less time than it takes to put your ski boots on!

Sign up now at @ https://goo.gl/FR7J25

Receive a $25 gift card from True Outdoors

It’s BLBCA contest time! 

Unplug in BC, and win a stay with the BLBCA!

We’ve teamed up with Sol Mountain LodgeWells Gray Adventures, and Mount Carlyle Backcountry Lodge, so you can extend your backcountry fun and spend the summer with us.

Enter to win one of three amazing BLBCA experiences.

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!

Mountain Biking: In the Mountains

Mountain biking should take place in well, the mountains, and there’s something special about sharing that experience with friends and family. Unique vistas, with layers of unadulterated peaks definitely will help you put down that phone and capture real moments in time.

True Mountain biking has long been a coveted experience for the sports elitist. What I mean by this is that, as a rider you used to flip over a magazine cover and dream of being that pro, somewhere high in the mountains, exploring alpine terrain and returning to a remote lodge with scrumptious food, tasty beverages and clean, crisp sheets. These trails were often hard to find, local secrets, that took a massive amount of fitness to explore. Over the last 5 years, this scene has changed, from heli-biking to the growth of easily accessible alpine single-track, and here in Beautiful British Columbia, we’re leading the charge.

The Backcountry Lodges of BC Association has a number of lodges that provide quick and easy access to the alpine, true mountainside access, all situated around riding hand-built single-track. In this article we’ll be highlighting Sol Mountain Lodge throughout our imagery and point-of-view video footage.

ABOUT
Sol Mountain Lodge is a family friendly lodge that you can drive to! Albeit the road is suitable only for 4×4 vehicles with favourable ground clearance. Be forewarned, it definitely feels like cheating when you open your car door and set your eyes on the immaculate lodge. Since this article is mainly about the trails, I’ll skip all the general info (you can view it on their website) and cut to the goods!

THE TRAILS
Sol Mountain Lodge is a family run business, this means all hands on-deck, all-the-time! The trails here are built with the utmost care for the environment and even more impressive is that lodge owner Aaron Cooperman, has his teenage son, Seth, working full-time, hand clearing, and hand laying rocks for your riding pleasure. Seth is also an absolute shredder, so if you’re up at the lodge and he’s done working for the day, be sure to ask him to go for a pedal.

I first heard about the trails at Sol Mountain Lodge from Seth, he’s a young junior racer in my event series (the Canadian National Enduro Series), when he told me about the steep rock rolls, expansive views and technical climbs, I was hooked! One thing to be weary of here at Sol, is that it takes almost double the riding time to get anywhere, the reason, the views. It took us almost three hours to ride fifteen kilometers as we couldn’t help but stop at every opportunity to bask in the humbling glory and serenity of the alpine.

The best time for a ride, is right now, go early in the morning or late in the evening for the best light, and it’s best to book a few nights at the lodge so you can ensure that you get those Instagram shots, you’ll want to ride and re-ride the trails to claim your favourites.

Alpine trails are unique, and although the map shows many blue square trails, there are a few black diamond moves and a wee-bit of an exposure to keep you honest.

FAMILY FUN?!
Why not bring the whole family for some alpine fun in the sun!? This area boasts lots to do from hiking, biking to simply hanging out at this premier lodge, there’s something for everyone. A massive thanks to Seth Cooperman (the son) and Aaron Cooperman for showing us around the trails. I don’t want to give all their stories away, but be sure to leave a donation at the trailhead, you’ll find a pleasant surprise for you at the lake!

Ted Morton  – Canadian Enduro

 

Bernie Schiesser: Master of the Hills

Excerpt from Crowfoot Media
Written by: Lynn Martel | Photo: Bruce Roberts

Bernie Schiesser calls it fate, but the cast of characters in his bio reads like a who’s who of Rockies history. Over the course of his long life, Schiesser’s positive energy and remarkable contributions to many aspects of mountain life have firmly established him on that same roster. Here’s the story behind the man – the pioneer, guide, and backcountry host – who will forever have a legacy in the Canadian Rockies. 

“Bernie Schiesser,” says long-time friend Randy Heppell, “taught me how to pace myself. Working, logging, skiing or just walking in the mountains, life became a meditation. He was always trying to get me to find that focus, that energy that put me in tune with what I was doing and the environment around me.”

Read the complete article at Crowfoot Media

Note: Bernie has been a longtime and active member of the Backcountry Lodges of BC Association. We are pleased that Meghan Ward and her staff at Crowfoot Media have helped to recognize Bernie’s immense contribution to Canada’s mountaineering community with this article.

Pushing Limits, Pursuing Passions

Excerpt from www.osprey.com
Written by: Kylee Toth Ohler | Photo: Robb Thompson
Posted by Kami York-Feirn | December 7, 2017

I have always loved the act of being in motion from the time I was a small girl on skis at 18 months, through my teen years as a competitive speed skater and now as a multi-sport athlete.  The drive to go higher, faster, longer is never fully quenched, and neither is my love for beautiful views and natural landscapes.

Virtually Experience Backcountry Lodge

Zoya Lynch and her family got hooked on Golden’s backcountry lifestyle in the early 1990s.

Her parents took a leap of faith and invested in the Amiskwi lodge in the back of the Blaeberry Valley.

As long time residents of Calgary, and with four young children, becoming a part of the backcountry lodge was quite the change for the family.

Now, Lynch and her sister Izzy are producing a short documentary to show how the little lodge in the backcountry changed their lives. They also received a $40,000 grant from STORYHIVE to create a virtual reality 360 degree immersive look at a typical backcountry winter trip.

The sisters have been working with Lululemon film creative Andrea Wing to create the virtual reality experience part of the two pieces they are creating.

In 1994, the Lynch family had an opportunity to invest and build the Amiskwi Lodge, and they quickly jumped on it.

“We ended up having this really cool side life in the mountains. It really shaped our lives now in a big way,” Lynch said, adding that her sister is now a professional skier and she is a professional adventure photographer. “Our path now has definitely been shaped by that split decision of my parents to take on the Amiskwi Lodge.”

The family’s story will be told in a video documentary that is less than 10 minutes long.

 

Assiniboine Lodge…Pure and Simple 90 Years Later!

“2018 marks the 90th Anniversary of Assiniboine Lodge!
It is a very special time for the iconic mountain pioneers and the many guests who remain such an integral part of Assiniboine’s history.”

How to Disconnect for Deeper Connection

“As we hiked the 7½ miles to Purcell Mountain Lodge, we skipped straight over the small talk. With our phones tucked discreetly in our packs, we got to know each other on the kind of deep level that’s unique to the backcountry, where time slows and an hour feels like a day.”

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.

Mistaya Lodge in the Rockies

Dave Birnie, owner of Mistaya Lodge in the Canadian Rockies near the British Columbia/Alberta border north of Yoho National Park, discusses his passion for the remote wilderness.

DBC’s Story with BC Journeys

Discover British Columbia’s Story with BC Journeys, featuring Google Maps Street View

BC is place where raw wilderness thrives, and culture is shaped by nature. It’s time to share these stories. Over 4 months, our crew captured stunning scenery and local narratives from across the province. Nearly 1,000 km were trekked, to add wilderness terrain to Google Maps Street View, and to highlight BC’s expansive and pristine nature. Through video profiles, 360˚ footage and Google Street View technology, we want travellers to discover the diverse landscapes and intimate stories of BC locals. Explore at http://www.bcexplorer.com/journeys.

A Unique Opportunity

Ever wondered why every single backcountry lodge has a special feel to it? I’ve visited many of them and am trying to get to more because they are always carefully placed by people who understand a human desire for wilderness.

4 Ways to Experience Summer

4 Ways to Experience BC’s Backcountry Lodges in Summer
Explore BC blog
March 8, 2017

It’s been an incredible winter season in BC, and before long, the snow will melt and thoughts will shift from winter to summer. That doesn’t mean BC’s backcountry lodges should be forgotten. There are plenty of other ways to experience these alpine retreats in summer.

1. Mountain Bike From Your Doorstep
A mountain biker enjoys pristine alpine singletrack right out the door of the lodge at Sol Mountain Lodge in the Monashee mountains near Revelstoke, British Columbia.

Nestled in the Monashee Mountains, 2.5 hours south of Revelstoke, there is a growing network of alpine single-track trails right out the door of Sol Mountain Lodge. Primarily operating as a ski touring lodge since 2005, Sol has expanded its summer offerings. There are 20 kilometres (12 miles) of flowy, single-track trails that run through meadows and forests, along alpine ridges, and over rock slabs that wind in and out of Monashee Provincial Park. The lodge opens in August for mountain biking, with options to book an overnight stay or just a day trip. Access to the lodge and terrain is via the 1.9-kilometre (1.1-mile) “Park N Ride” trail from the parking lot.

Another lodge just outside Revelstoke is also offering mountain biking this summer. Marty Schaffer, owner and guide at Blanket Glacier Chalet, explored the terrain surrounding the lodge last summer and found a biking paradise. Plans are in the works to offer 3- and 4-day mountain biking trips with access by helicopter. Keep an eye on the Blanket Glacier Chalet website for upcoming details on new summer operations.

BLBCA-Blog-Alpine Mountain Biking-Mar 12, 2017

2. Standup Paddleboard on Alpine Lakes

BLBCA-Blog-Stand-Up Paddle Boarding-Mar 12, 2017A family-run lodge sits above the treeline in the Valhalla Range of the Selkirk Mountains, just outside Nelson. Ice Creek Lodge is accessed via the eight-km (five-mile) Ice Creek Trail, or by 20-km (12-mi) Drinnon Pass through Valhalla Provincial Park. Standup paddleboard packages are available in summer, where guided, self-guided, and “choose your own adventure” options cater to all abilities and interests. These alpine paddleboard excursions offer full use of the main lodge and sauna, and can include paddleboard rentals so you don’t have to lug your own. Porter and guiding services are available to deliver gear and lead guests around this alpine paradise.

3. Take a Hike and Stretch it Out

BLBCA-Blog-Hiking-Mar 12, 2017Many of BC’s backcountry lodges offer hiking adventures in the summer months. Experiences can range from fully guided and catered multi-day trips, to self-guided and self-catered excursions. These give flexibility to groups of friends, families, or couples to choose how they experience the lodges and backcountry hiking opportunities in BC. Custom packages include themed getaways focusing on wildlife viewing, family experiences, artist retreats, and hut-to-hut adventures. 

After all that hiking, stretching is a must. A few backcountry lodges in BC are beginning to offer special yoga retreats. At Sol Mountain Lodge, daily hiking, yoga classes, vegetarian meals, and interactive workshops are all offered over four days this August. The program is hosted by Beth Purser, an ACMG (Association of Certified Mountain Guides) guide, natural health practitioner, and registered yoga instructor. Beth is also hosting a yoga retreat at Purcell Mountain Lodge, which will include a helicopter transfer to the lodge, accommodation, and meals. More details on that experience to follow on the lodge’s website.

4. Sneak In One More Ski Trip

BLBCA-Blog-Icefall Lodge-Mar 12, 2017By the time late March and April roll around, most of us are thinking about summer. But this also happens to be a great time to book a backcountry ski trip. Many of the lodges in BC still have availability come spring, so you can take a few more turns in the sunshine before packing in the gear for the season.

Learn more about BC’s backcountry lodges and find the an alpine retreat that offers your favourite summer and winter activities.

Article written by Destination British Columbia with collaboration from the BLBCA.


More from the BLBCA:

>>Find a Lodge

>>Winter Gallery

>>Lodge Gallery

>>About the BLBCA

A Peek at Purcell

It was another gorgeous summer at Purcell Mountain Lodge, filled with long hikes and stunning backcountry. There’s over 3,000 acres of rolling alpine meadows, endless fields of wildflowers and countless peaks and ridges, set against a backdrop of tumbling glaciers and alpine vistas.

Take a peek at the past summer season

Summer Days at VMT

It was a beauty-filled summer in the backcountry at Valhalla Mountain Touring.

In summer, guests can stroll on paths and trails to access flower filled ridges with big mountain views, peaks and alpine lakes. It’s perfect for hikers, photographers, wildlife and wildflower viewing. 

Are You Covered?

The backcountry beckons! Perhaps your guests are rock climbing, upgrading skills in a course or hiking the Alpine. As a backcountry enthusiast they’re prepared and probably have several back up plans. Those plans should include travel medical insurance and evacuation coverage.