Once in a blue moon something unlikely occurs. A goal beyond expectations – beyond capacity of aging knees – is accomplished.
The view of Fisher Peak from our Kimberley home is mesmerizing. For years I’ve gazed across the Rocky Mountain Trench at that daunting, taunting pinnacle. Fisher dominates the skyline in this range of the Rockies. At nearly 3000 meters it towers over its lofty neighbors.
Last July I watched the second full moon of the month, a blue one, rise near Fisher and said to my brother, “Let’s do it.”
Good weather is critical to mountain climbing. Luckily, the forecast was ideal: clear skies and calm winds. An alpine storm even in summer can necessitate an overnight bivouac. We were not equipped for that nasty contingency.
As predicted a perfect day greeted our early start. Climbing Fisher requires no mountaineering equipment, no technical skills. But it’s a long drive to the remote trailhead and the sheer, steady steepness of the climb – and the equally grueling descent – make for a long, hard day.
From trailhead to summit the elevation gain is 1400 meters. That’s nearly a vertical mile!
The hike began unfortuitously. When my brother Patrick donned his daypack, the water reservoir was empty – and his pack was sopping wet. A leaky start.
It is imprudent to begin a seven-hour climb on a hot summer day without H2O but we had little option. We’d driven an hour up bumpy logging roads to reach the trailhead. Returning to get water meant we would not have time to complete the ascent. Besides, we were in the mountains. That’s where water comes from. Find a stream, fill up – and beaver fever be damned.
The upward march began in a shaded forest of conifers. After an hour, patches of light started to shine through the canopy and the trail opened across a jumble of rocks. Beneath our feet we heard gurgling, the babbling of an invisible creek. The steepness continued as the path skirted a cascading waterfall, the source of the hidden rumbling – and the source of clean, beautiful liquid sustenance to fill an empty camelback.
After ninety minutes of relentless climbing, the trail leveled and we came upon a beautiful alpine tarn, its crystal clear waters mirroring the jagged peaks enveloping us. Above the small lake a cirque opened up and we had our first view of Fisher, the temptress, still hundreds of meters higher.
A solitary marmot whistled a warning call. The sound echoed loudly off the walls of the rocky amphitheater.
We were halfway to the summit.
The next leg of the assault is difficult: three hundred vertical meters of steep, loose scree. A real b*#ch!
Even with foreshortened hiking poles digging firm, two hard-earned forward steps were countered by a slippery step backward. The scree section is also dangerous. As it steepens, the risk of lost footing and a fall increases. And, worse still, a hiker above can dislodge rocks upon those below.
Did I mention the scree was a real b*#ch.
After an hour the loose slope resolves to a saddle – a safe refuge before the final climb to the top. This notch in the mountain is festooned with prayer flags. We took a breather in the thin air and gazed around. We had equaled the height of the nearby Steeples, where we’d seen the moon rise a few nights before. Dibble Glacier, a remnant of the last ice age is visible from this vantage, its ancient blue-gray mass cupped within the Steeples.
The last section begins innocuously with a well-marked switchback through ever-bigger rocks. But soon these boulders become broken, vertical slabs. We abandoned our hiking poles, which became a liability in the four-limbed scramble up, over and around truck-sized stones.
Clinging precariously to handholds and squeezing through narrow fissures, we neared the top. In a few spots only a tiny foothold marked the difference between moving safely upward or making a quick 1000-meter descent. But for us this was the fun part.
The top of Fisher is as tiny as it appears from our balcony 30 kilometers away: a small platform with room for just a handful of climbers. I’m not sure what I expected at the peak but was surprised to see just a jumble of huge boulders stacked atop one another. Like the playthings of a giant.
The view from the top is remarkable. 360 degrees of pure horizon. To the north and east an endless ocean of mountain peaks. To the south the blue meandering waters of the Kootenay River and Koocanusa Lake disappearing into the United States a hazy hundred kilometers away. In the west, directly below us, lay the verdant green fields of the Trench. Further distant the bare ski runs of Northstar Mountain stood out clear as day. I could almost see my deck over there in Kimberley. No, I couldn’t.
The difficulty with scrambling up to a steep, precarious perch is… what goes up must come down. On the ascent we had concentrated on grabbing, reaching and looking upward. To get down we had to look down. It was disconcerting hanging over a cliff ledge, slipping toward an invisible foothold below.
But we slid safely through the slabs, retrieved our poles at the saddle and surfed down through the scree. Soon we were back at the lovely tarn. We stopped briefly to look back up at the now distant peak. Picas gallivanted about, squeaking cutely, gathering nesting grasses, oblivious to the great feat we had just accomplished.
Surprisingly, the last downward section can be the hardest, an unrelenting ninety minutes of joint-jarring, toe-busting, knee-knocking descent. Alpine wildflowers in radiant bloom helped ease the pain.
We were back in Kimberley in time to enjoy barbequed steak. At sunset we sipped a cold one on the deck and watched as alpenglow lit Fisher’s face. The next blue moon is January 31, 2018. What to do for an encore?
See the original post and more images on Gerry’s blog.
Experience Helicopter Assisted Ski Touring from Kimberley Alpine Resort with Boulder Hut Adventures. Come ski the best of the Purcell backcountry as part of a professionally guided, one-day helicopter-assisted backcountry touring adventure!
Start your day with a helicopter pick-up at Kimberley Alpine Resort. You and your guided group will be dropped off at a ridge top for an epic first run. From there, professionally guided ski touring enables you to explore the amazing Purcell Mountains under your own power. The day includes a safety briefing, helicopter transport, lunch and professional guiding service. An additional heli-drop run is an option at the end of the day with a return to all the comfort and amenities that Kimberley has to offer.
Dates available are March 12, 19, 26th & April 2, 9, 16th – get more information or book your tour from the Boulder Hut Adventures website.
What binds a community together? What makes us proud to call the place we live home? In Kimberley, for over 92 years, it was the holes we dug in the ground, the thousands who gathered to extract precious metals from the world’s largest lead and zinc mine. It was a town toughened by grit, the damp echoe beneath us. Yet when the mine closed in 2001, we began the search for a new identity, beyond the one previously carved underfoot—an identity that celebrated our stunning landscape and the small-town charm that drew us towards it.
In 2007, an event was born in Kimberley that became an integral part of our identity: The Dirtbag Festival, a visual celebration of the elusive dirtbag lifestyle. The festival, entering its 10th anniversary, is a local cultural phenomenon. It consistently sells out two consecutive nights, and has included a variety of formats toasting the dirtbag lifestyle: the ever-popular community slide show, an eclectic compilation of Kimberley residents’ photographs; locally-produced films, some which are national award winners; spoken word; after parties; presentations by adventure gurus, such as 2016’s keynote Will Gadd; and beyond these events, the pervasive buzz leading up to the weekend, the constant chatter: “Are you going to Dirtbag?”
What exactly is a festival that honours dirtbags? According to its Facebook page, the Dirtbag is, “…a celebration of story gatherers as well as the story tellers, told by dirtbags living in the rebel realms of the wild spaces they call home, through film, photography, spoken word and art. It is a community of artists, activists, pranksters, and adventurers who carry us through dark winters by sharing their stories.” It poses a question to Kimberley residents: “What awes & inspires you? What keeps you going? What’s your place on earth? What’s your story?”
In its 2007 inaugural opener, local dirtbag icons attempt to explain the term “dirtbag”. According to Dave Quinn, “The most valuable thing a dirtbag has is time to spend with friends and to explore passions. Way down on this list is money.” Quinn believes to call someone a dirtbag, “…is to lay a really nice compliment on them.”
Dirtbag co-founder (along with Kevin Shepit) and host of the Travel Channel’s “Big Crazy Family Adventure” Bruce Kirkby says, “Dirtbag’s got a bad sound, but it’s really a great thing: You put your money—what little you have—into the things that count. You don’t spend all your time trying to make money. You do things that are fun.” Kirkby believes that the success of the Dirtbag Festival is that it speaks, “to what we value, and why we were here. And folks like seeing what their friends and neighbours shot in the last year, as opposed to going to Banff to see what the entire world has produced. So it’s become a very intimate event.”
Shepit believes that the Dirtbag Festival was embraced from the beginning. “It represents letting go,” he says. “Letting go of tomorrow’s worries, yesterday’s mistakes, workload, debt load, stress load, and the celebration of being able to, at a moment’s notice, simply notice the moment.” The new man behind Dirtbag’s curtain, Steve Tersmette, believes, “Dirtbaggery is our lifeblood. Look out our backyard. How can we not be a town of dirtbags?”
Dirtbag films have showcased a collage of wild adventures: family canoe trips through Alaska; 15-year-olds urban skiing off downtown rooftops; solemn Indian pilgrimages; the quiet narration of multi-day treks through the St. Mary’s Alpine; and the ever-popular openers, featuring Jedi dirtbag John Haner (see link above).
The spirit of Dirtbag brings a community together in the most unusual ways: Ryan Lunge’s 2014 Dirtbag Film winner, “Pirates of the Kimberlean” featured ten neighbourhood children from three to six years of age. It included special effects, green screen, waterfall cable cam shots, pirate outfits and props crafted by parents, and a 16-foot long pirate ship replica Lunge built in his back yard. Lunge, who had never shot a video before, learned everything from a book, and watching YouTube. “It became a bit of an obsession for the year prior to Dirtbag,” Lunge said, “but we had such a blast.”
How does a town celebrate its identity and culture? It gathers in a sold out theatre, hoots and hollers as photos and films flash upon a screen. It stands teary-eyed, smiling, sending ovations to the dirtbags we’ve lost. It celebrates the lifestyle of living in the Kootenays, among the people who are proud to call Kimberley home, and the Dirtbag its festival.
Dirtbag Festival 2017 (March 24-25, 2017)
Submissions Open: December 15, 2016
Submissions Close: February 19, 2017
Ticket Sales Open: Feb 1, 2017
There’s something about mountain towns that I love. Maybe it’s the coziness that comes from feeling perfectly enveloped by peaks around you, or the gentle orange glow that bounces off the jagged summits at sunrise and sunset. At first glance, Kimberley feels like one of those towns inside a snow globe: Windows lit by fireplaces, smoke wafting from the chimneys, sidewalks blanketed in white. Quiet. But if you think Kimberley is a sleepy town “in the middle of nowhere”, think again.
Some of my favourite memories and laughs have come from adventures in Kimberley. From surprise powder days that provided fresh tracks with every run, to gliding on cross-country skis under a full moon, to discovering a snow pack so deep we could ski off a garage roof and land in a soft pillow of snow below (don’t try this one at home, kids).
And then there’s the culture of this mountain town – steeped in history, it has embraced the future and younger families and adventurers are eager to call it home. It permeates a zest for life that can sometimes be forgotten in the city.
In Kimberley, “do it now” attitude means something completely different here – it’s more like “go do it now”. This means that deadlines can wait just a little longer on a powder day, or that meeting can happen just as efficiently on the chairlift. Come evening, at the local watering holes, local legends help keep the stories alive that make a place unforgettable.
Here’s four reasons why adventurers are loving Kimberley now more than ever:
- Four seasons of fantastic – Snowy winters and sunny summers. Kimberley provides quick access to dozens of outdoor activities.
- Go fast, then slow down – Adventurers love to get out there, then wind down re-charge. With a vast number of outdoor activities, and the emergence of a local food culture and plenty of cozy accommodation options, it’s easy to find the perfect balance between “go” and “rest”.
- Powder stashes for days – When winter storms roll through the East Kootenays, they can provide a big powder punch. Quieter mountains like Kimberley Alpine Resort can provide fresh tracks days after a storm, particularly on the mountain’s “backside” which offers a variety of advanced terrain.
- Fly close – When the big city calls, the Canadian Rockies International Airport is located just 20 minutes from Kimberley, with daily service from Calgary and Vancouver. And speaking of flying, Kimberley is also home to world-class fly fishing on dozens of lakes and Rocky Mountain rivers.
So give that snow globe a shake, and find yourself living in a real-life version of one this winter in Kimberley. Go on, do it now.
Unparalleled Savings! 1st, 4th & 7th ski day FREE & up to $40 (double discount period) savings every time you ski! Plus go Direct to Lift – just by linking your credit card.
- 3 FREE days The 3 Free Days can be redeemed at any RCR Western Resort.
- Cardholders receive their 1st, 4th and 7th ski days FREE and daily discounts every other day.
- Children 6-12 to get their very own RCR Kids’ Club Card FREE of charge. ($5 discount on full-day Child lift tickets at any RCR resort)
- Your Direct to Lift card can be linked to any major credit card at any of our resorts or at the Calgary office.
For more information visit the RCR Webstore. On sale until December 31, 2016.
Head north into Kimberley, and you’ll notice a billboard: “Smile. You’re here. We’re happy.” Ascend into a landscape of the highest city in Canada, the snowpack of surrounding mountains, the people readied for cold weather: steep metal rooves, wood-fired chimneys, Thule boxes stuffed with skis. Enter a town with tales of grandfathers who descended into earth, drilling, jackhammering, and blasting into what was the world’s largest underground lead-zinc mine. Pause for a moment, and you’ll notice Kimberley’s quiet charm, the mining homes built eighty years ago, kids who still wander into ravines and build forts, the town’s one traffic light, and for a loonie listen to the yodel of Happy Hans from the world’s largest cuckoo clock. When you ask directions, there’s a friendliness to the people. You’ll notice their smiles, like those settled in a place they needed to be. It doesn’t take long to discover, whether you live here or are just visiting, Kimberley’s a good place to be doing just about anything.
Among long-time residents, whose families carved Kimberley out of rock, is a new population calling Kimberley home: A younger generation, who’ve set roots here for the lifestyle and the vast array of activities right outside their door. It’s not long before they notice how long it takes to grocery shop, distracted by new friends telling tales of their latest adventures. As organic farmer and counselor Kelly Comishin says, “And all those adventures are from understated, humble folk, out because they love it. Not for bragging rights.” When you talk to the people of Kimberley, there’s a humility to them, and a sense that “good” is sometimes the quietest form of “best”. It’s a town of belonging, where everyone’s welcome. A town, once defined by mining, now by the eclectic mix of industry reflecting the culture of people who live here: skateboard manufacturing, coffee roasting, gin distilleries, climbing gyms, microbreweries, coffee shops and locally-sourced restaurants. All these, infused into the established culture of brick buildings, restaurants, hardware stores, and small businesses that have supported families and served the community for generations.
Kimberley’s a town that will charm you. You’ll never want to leave—there’s too many good things going on. When you enter Kimberley, you’ll smile.
Like the sign says, You’re here. We’re happy.
To Help Put a Smile on Your Face:
Kimberley Alpine Resort: Over 75 runs, five lifts and 2,465 vertical feet, with Rocky Mountain panoramas. Longest night skiing run in Canada.
Kimberley Nordic Club: X-C Ski Trails, with over 40 kms of snow-cat groomed trails; 3.3 km lit for night skiing.
Outdoors Adventures: The Kimberley Nature Park is one of Canada’s largest trail networked municipal parks; as well, a 25 km North Star Rails to Trails joins Kimberley to Cranbrook on a converted paved railway bed. Travel anywhere, just minutes outside of Kimberley, for an abundance of lakes, rivers, trails, and access to the Purcell and Rocky Mountains.
Golf: There are three public courses within Kimberley, and eight within a ½ hour drive.
Fine Food: Kimberley hosts the most restaurants per capita in Canada! Whether you’re looking for a German-themed meal in the oldest building in Canada, or a Rails to Trails chicken burger and mucky fries, Kimberley has a cuisine for everyone.
Activities and Attractions: Indoor climbing gym; aquatic centre; pedestrian-only brick-lined platzl, downtown shopping, and restaurant hub; underground mining railway.
Art and Culture: Galleries. Arts and cultural centre (Centre 64). Live performances. Heritage sites, and a variety of festivals.
Accommodations: In Kimberley, there’s an accommodation for every budget: from mountain chalets, to ski-in/ski-out luxury lodges. Enjoy the Rocky Mountain alpenglow from your bedroom or hot tub.
Getting Here is Easy: Kimberley is only a 20 minute drive from either The Canadian Rockies International Airport, or from Highway 3, one of Canada’s two primary east-west routes.
Photos: Cali Sammel, Raven Eye Photography & Mike Reece
August 5, 2016
It’s not over yet! Although it’s winding down, there is still plenty of summer sunshine left before the chill of winter creeps up on us. In the meantime, whether you’re a golfer, runner or explorer, here are the rest of the summer events to attend to soak in the last of the summer rays!
Pars & Guitars 2
August 18th at Trickle Creek Golf Resort
For the second Pars & Guitars event of the summer, Trickle Creek Golf Resort will welcome Amy Thiessen to our Clubhouse Patio stage. Pair your tickets with a round of golf and/or dinner reservations before the show, call 250-427-3389 to order advance tickets.
Black Spur Ultra
August 20th at Kimberley Alpine Resort
From the creators of the Sinister 7 Ultra, the Black Spur Ultra is a race wrought from the windy, technical single track that trail runners dream about. No pavement, big climbs through rugged terrain, and stunning scenery. It its first year many racers dubbed Black Spur an “instant classic”. Hosted at Kimberley Alpine Resort, you can walk to the start line right from your hotel room. Visit the official website for more information or to volunteer!
September 3 in Kimberley
First Saturdays in Kimberley is a monthly celebration of Kimberley Arts & Culture. With a variety of local vendors and artisans to visit and shows throughout the day to enjoy. For more information on the First Saturday events in Kimberley visit the Kimberley Arts at Centre 64 website.
Thursdays until September 8th
Stop by Howard Street in Downtown Kimberley each Thursday from 5 – 7:30pm and purchase fresh food from local farmers and producers as well as products from vendors such as Bootleg Mountain Soap, Pridham Studio (functional pottery) and WaterMELon Designs (for our furry pet friends). For more information visit the Kimberley Farmers Market website.
Men’s Mountain Classic
September 15th – 17th at Trickle Creek Golf Resort
The 28th annual Men’s Mountain Classic will be at Trickle Creek Golf Resort on September 15th – 17th. For all event information visit the official website.
**You can NOW Register and Pay at Guest Services or call 250.427.4881**
You can also fill out the RCR Event Waiver online. Please click on the following link: https://
Downhill Ski or Board (2km) Cross Country Ski (5km) Road Runner (4.2km) Rock Climb (5 climbs) Cyclist (4km)
Individual (all ages) $40
Mixed team up to 5 people (all ages) $100
Registration fee includes a bbq lunch, event souvenir and a draw ticket for a chance to win awesome prizes!
Click here to view Schedule and Nordic Maps – 2016 iron legs schedule 5km Nordic Map 3.5km/kids Nordic
8am – Bib pick up, waiver signing and collection of payments on the day of the race. (It is recommended that individual racers drop their equipment off at the transition areas prior to registering at 8am-9:30am on Saturday. There will be a volunteer present at 8am outside the Climbing Gym and Nordic Centre to watch over equipment.)
9:30am – Pre race meeting in Slopeside
10.30am – Race starts
1:30pm: Ceremony in KAR Plaza
Here is the 2016 Course Map for the running/cycling portion of Iron Legs. Runners will start at Kimberley Nordic Club and run down to Spirit Rock Climbing Center through the Platzl. The cycling portion will start at Climbing Gym through the Platzl (mandatory for all cyclists to walk/push bike through Platzl) up Gerry Sorensen Way to Stemwinder Drive (past Trickle Creek Lodge) into the KAR Plaza.
A special thanks to our sponsors so far: Rossignol, Helly Hansen, Head, Jeep, Telus, Kokanee, Spirit Rock Climbing Centre, Kimberley Vacations, Kootenay Mountain Works, Purcell Outdoors and Handz on Evolution, B104 Total Country and 102.9 The Drive, Kimberley Nordic Centre, St. Eugene Resort and Casino and the City of Kimberley.
Schedule of Events
Saturday, April 2nd
9am Splash event information and REGISTRATION tents opens in plaza *Please note – Registration is on the day of the event on a first come first serve basis.
11am BBQ and beer gardens open, photo booth, plaza games, free facepainting and more!
12pm Live music by Mile High Club
2:15pm Spring Splash event begins!!!
4:45pm Spring Splash & event awards
5:00pm Live music by Jory Kinjo and the Static
7:30pm Live music in Stemwinder by Oak Republic
Sunday, April 3rd