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.
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
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.
Join us for another Mountaintop Kidz Festival on June 26th, 2016! Ride the chairlift to the mountaintop to find a kids wonderland of fun including bouncy castles, scavenger hunts and live music! Plus facepainting, crafts, mountaintop BBQ and petting zoo!
Tickets will be available starting June 10th from Trickle Creek Lodge.
For Immediate Release: April 12th, 2016
TRICKLE CREEK LODGE OFFICIAL HOTEL PARTNER FOR BLACK SPUR ULTRA
Kimberley, BC – The trail running event of the summer is returning to Kimberley, B.C this summer on August 20th & 21st. The Black Spur Ultra is a ‘pure, tough’ mountain running event that is wrought from the winding single track that trail runners dream about (no pavement – just rugged terrain and big climbs)!
Trickle Creek Lodge is proud to once again be the official Black Spur Ultra hotel partner, offering all competitors and spectators a special rate on Studio, One Bedroom and Two Bedroom suites. Visit our official website, call us at 1-877-282-1200 or email us at email@example.com to inquire about our special Black Spur rates and to book your spot today.
About Trickle Creek Lodge & Resorts of the Canadian Rockies Inc.
Trickle Creek Lodge is part of the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies Inc. (RCR) family. Proudly Canadian, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies Inc. (RCR) is the largest private ski resort owner/operator in North America, owning six ski resorts across Canada, including Nakiska Ski Area in Alberta; Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and Kimberley Alpine Resort in British Columbia. RCR also owns and manages a number of hotels and golf courses, including Trickle Creek Golf Resort in Kimberley, and Wintergreen Golf and Country Club in Bragg Creek. RCR aims to provide each and every guest The Ultimate Experience.
For more information, please contact:
Senior VP Marketing & Resort Experience
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies
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City of Kimberley receives $4.5M federal Gas Tax Fund contribution for reconstruction of Gerry Sorensen Way
KIMBERLEY, B.C. – The City of Kimberley is pleased to announce that it will receive the lesser of $4.5M or 100% of the costs for the Gerry Sorensen Way Reconstruction project under the Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund.
With an estimated 800,000 vehicle trips on Gerry Sorensen Way each year, local residents should benefit from reduced wear and tear on their vehicles. As a resort municipality, the City of Kimberley is also interested in improving tourists’ perceptions and experiences in our City. Travel between the downtown core and the Kimberley Alpine Resort, Trickle Creek Golf Course, Kimberley Nordic Centre, 500 condominiums, and 300 townhouses should be greatly improved.
The poor condition of Gerry Sorensen Way is largely due to poor drainage and improper subsurface materials from the original construction. The annual patching of potholes and cracking has consumed approximately half of the City’s paving budget over the last five years.
The project will go out to tender in March. The work on Gerry Sorensen Way will begin in May and finish in September 2016.
Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick states “Good roads create a positive impression of the community, and are a visible indication to taxpayers that their tax money is being well spent. Virtually every visitor that comes to Kimberley drives Gerry Sorensen Way, as does the majority of residents on a regular basis. Our highest profile road needs to be one of our best. We are thrilled to be able to do the work this year.”
Don McCormick, Mayor, City of Kimberley
“Through the federal Gas Tax Fund, the Government of Canada is allowing communities in BC, and all across Canada, to make informed decisions about their infrastructure investments and how best to spend federal dollars. Community officials are best positioned to identify their specific needs, and the federal Gas Tax fund supports them in making those strategic investments. These 57 projects will contribute to building the strong, inclusive and sustainable communities Canadians desire to live in.”
Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
“These funds will help support the construction of infrastructure improvements that will provide a better standard of living for residents in communities all across B.C. I’m pleased to say that local governments throughout the province are receiving more than $69 million in funding for 27 capital projects through the Federal Ga s Tax Fund, which is administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and provided by the Government of Canada.”
Honourable Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
“Investments through the federal Gas Tax Fund are helping British Columbia’s municipalities address their local infrastructure priorities, while creating jobs and supporting economic growth. Gas tax funding is important for building and improving critical transportation infrastructure, including the bridge in Zeballos and other municipal facilities. We thank the federal government for its support from this fund, which will make way for a number of worthwhile projects around B.C. to complement our 10-year transportation plan – B.C. on the Move.”
The Honourable Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
“The federal Gas Tax Fund is helping local governments accelerate their capital investment plans. These investments will support improved levels of service for facilities in communities throughout BC. The 189 local governments that we represent appreciate the ongoing commitment of the Government of Canada to improving local infrastructure. We are also pleased with the valued support provided by the Province of British Columbia to deliver this program.”
Al Richmond, President, Union of BC Municipalities
To learn more about the federal Gas Tax Fund visit: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/gtf-fte-eng.html.
We like white on green here at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies; lots and lots of snow on our mountains and all over the trees on those mountains too. Because if you’ve never come rocketing through the glades, ripping up and down the natural moguls with powder hitting you in your grinning face until you blast back onto the trail, you really haven’t lived. And we kind of want to keep that around for a while, for future skiers and riders, for our kids, and for our kids’ kids too.
That’s why we decided to take a stand and be the first ski resort company to refuse printing a brochure this year, to do what we can to lessen our environmental footprint. On top of that, we’ll plant a whole tree for every email sign-up to our online newsletter. We hope this helps reiterate to consumers everywhere, that taking paper maybe isn’t the answer any more, especially if you can find that information online anyways.
So, help do your part and keep the Trees for Glades! Sign your email up on our Trees for Glades website and read our full story (plus enter our contest for the chance to win a spring event ski trip for you and 3 friends)!
Success So Far:
- 75,000 pieces of paper saved by this initiative alone
- So far: 3000+ trees planted – thanks to you!
Photo courtesy of Trees for the Future Facebook.
If you aren’t participating in the Gran Fondo race on Saturday, you likely know someone who is. The best spot to cheer on your family and friends is in the platzl. Each of the 3 race categories pass by the Aid station set up in the platzl during their races, while waiting check out one of the many pubs, European themed restaurants or cafes, play a giant game of chess, check out the Heritage Museum, the largest freestanding cuckoo clock in North America or just enjoy the socializing. Visit the Gran Fondo website for more information about the race.