6 breathtaking views and awesome adventures you won’t believe are less than a days drive from Calgary
If you live in Calgary, you’re actually pretty lucky to! Being able to live in a beautiful urban area surrounded by gorgeous mountains is certainly something to be thankful for. On top of the views, being so close to seemingly endless outdoor adventure and activities are an accolade many cities don’t have to brag about. If you’re looking for outdoor fun while maintaining social distance, here are a few suggested short staycations to consider.
Hiking & Biking
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When it rains look for rainbows. 📷Leanne Albertson . . . . #mykimberley #kimberleyalpineresort #agoodplacetobe #kimberleybc #instadaily #photooftheday #eastkootenays #kootrocks #rainbows #thatviewtho #rainyday #destinationbc #explorebc #visitkimberley #kootenaylife #views
Let’s start with Kimberley. People love to describe Kimberley as a hidden gem in the rockies – and that’s exactly what it is. You’ll need to turn off the main highway to find this town but trust us, it’s worth the time. Not only can you hike up the ski hill at the resort to take in some of the gorgeous views of the town from the top of the mountain, but Kimberley, like the others above have an array of trail networks in and around the towns. One of the places that is a must do while in Kimberley is the short walk to the Marysville waterfalls, it’s another one of those hidden gems you don’t expect to find so easily and is definitely worth the short trek out to it!
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There is something so calming about watching a waterfall. 🎥@shannonbjarnason . . . . #marysvillefalls #waterfalls #calming #mykimberley #agoodplacetobe #kimberleybc #instadaily #videooftheday #tourismkimberley #kootrocks #powderhighway #destinationbc #explorebc #eastkootenays #beautifulbc #kootenaylife
Views from town and the top of the mountain
Next up, is a town that is already many Calgarians’ favourite short trip to make, Fernie, B.C. An easy 2.5/3 hour drive from the south end of Calgary along the Cowboy Trail you’ll drive right into Fernie’s town site, where you are literally surrounded by mountains on all sides. Continue through the town to Fernie Alpine Resort and you will not be disappointed. The views of the Lizard Range from the base of Fernie Alpine Resort are breathtaking enough, but by taking a ride on the Elk Chairlift you’ll get a view of the valley of Fernie, B.C that can’t be matched.
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Whether you take a hike or go by bike, be sure to stop, take a moment and soak up those views 👀 #HiFernie 👋 📸 on 07.06.20 . . . . . . . . . . #lovefernie #ferniealpineresort #fernie #bikefernie #hikefernie #ferniebikepark #ferniestoke #kootrocks #canadianrockies #photooftheday #hellobc #getoutside #kootenay #explorebc #explorekr
Hiking & Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse
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Pictured: if the stories your parents told you about their commute to school were true. 📷: @ajsergent . . . . . #thishorserules #goldenrules #goldenbc #kootrocks #explorebc #beautifulbc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #britishcolumbia #explorecanada #canadianrockies #rockymountains #purcellmountains #hikebc #hike365 #hellyhansen #feelalive #photooftheday #getoutside #kickinghorse #kickinghorsemtn #liveyouradventure #whererockies #exploremore
Continuing on, let’s go to Golden, B.C, home to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and just a 2.5 hour drive from Calgary’s north side. One of the unique aspects of Kicking Horse is the view of 6 National Parks from the peak of the mountain. And guess what, the peak of the mountain is easily within your reach! Kicking Horse has gondola accessed hiking and dining that offer some of the most stunning views you’ll find. And if you’re looking for something a little more to get the adrenaline pumping, the views from Via Ferrata are intense not just due to the views but due to the fact that you’re dangling off the side of a mountain or the suspension bridge (all while harnessed in of course).
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Cruising up Terminator until the end of the month. 📷: @alpinewithv . . . . . #thishorserules #goldenrules #goldenbc #kootrocks #explorebc #beautifulbc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #britishcolumbia #explorecanada #canadianrockies #rockymountains #purcellmountains #viaferrata #photooftheday #getoutside #kickinghorse #kickinghorsemtn #liveyouradventure #whererockies #exploremore @hellobc
Places to stay along the way
Even though you can easily visit any one of these towns and get back to Calgary in a day, staying overnight is always a nice option to have!
✅ Gorgeous slopeside mountain views
✅ Outdoor patios & in hotel restaurants offering take out
✅ Outdoor pools & hot tubs
✅ Close to all activities & adventures
✅ Convenient and safe – all our suites have full kitchens
Both of our feature properties at Fernie Alpine Resort and Kimberley Alpine Resort feature all of the above, making either location a great basecamp for your quick getaway or longer staycation.
See special offers at Lizard Creek Lodge
See special offers at Trickle Creek Lodge
We realize this can be a difficult time to consider travelling, before heading out on your trip check on the Alberta & British Columbia government website for any guidelines or restrictions at your time of travel. To see what safety procedures and routines we have put in place visit our resort or hotel websites.
Kimberley Alpine Resort COVID information.
Feature Photo by Powder Matt
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PSA – Kimberley is Slaying the Scene RN
Now that we have your attention, it’s time to give you the downlow about Kimberley. Don’t worry if you don’t understand our millennial slang, we’ll explain it all in due time.
No matter how much time you’ve spent in this unique place (there’s just something special about a town with only one set of street lights), we can almost guarantee you still don’t know all the Kimberley experiences there are to be had. We don’t blame you, TBH there’s so much going on in this awesome, but unassuming town it’s hard to keep up with it all.
All the feels – friendly, modest charm
What do people think of when they think of Canadians (besides hockey), they think of the word friendly. Canadians are known around the world for being a friendly bunch and Kimberley is one of the absolute best examples of this. At Kimberley, locals and repeat visitors are super passionate about what an amazing place this is, but they aren’t going to be extra about it. If you ask, we’re happy to let you in on our secrets, but if you don’t ask, we’re happy to let you figure it out on your own too.
Get your Canadian on – go to a Dynamiters Hockey game while in town, skate at the skating rink at Trickle Creek Lodge, Snowmobile – tours are run out of nearby Cranbrook.
Kimberley is not quite your average ski town – in some ways it is, however in many ways it’s one and only of its kind in Canada. With its distinct European vibe, you’ll feel like you’ve travelled further than you probably have.
Do something different, Kimberley styles – Check out the Ullr Dag fest, an annual ski burning ceremony as an offering to the norse god of snow. Visit the Cuckoo Clock in the Platzl (give it some coin and it will even yodel for you) or attend one of their newer festivals – the Medieval Festival (annually in July).
Food & craft beer scene is on point
For a smaller town, there is a ton of lit AF places to eat and drink. First of all, Kimberley has its very own brewery – Overtime Beer works, a craft beer lovers dream! Other Kimberley dining gems include The Shed, Pedal and Tap, Sullivan Pub and Buckhorn & Main Mountain Eatery. Of course, there are all the usual comforts as well like – Stonefire Pizza, Kimberly City Bakery, Britner’s Fish & Chips, Burrito Grill (and more).
Get turnt – at free après live music at Stemwinder – weekly, The Shed in the Platzl, Overtime Beerworks (just beside the Platzl) and Friday night College nights at the ski resort.
A lesser known fact about Kimberley is that it’s actually super convenient to get to. The Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC) is located under a half hour away from the resort and has major carriers flying in, like WestJet. Many hotels also offer shuttles to pick you up, like Trickle Creek Lodge, Kimberley Alpine Resort’s top Ski in/Ski Out property.
Vacation Goals – Fly & ski all in one day. This can be done at Kimberley since the airport is so close or if you miss day skiing, we have night skiing as well!
Low key popular destination
In the ski resort world, there seems to only two extreme sides to the spectrum – super crowded, or deserted. Well Kimberley has somehow mastered being blissfully in between. While there are a healthy number of visitors to the town at any given time, if you’re skiing there’s a good possibility, you’ll hit a run or two and not see another soul and there’s a great possibility you won’t stand in a single lift line up.
Pro tip – Check out Dorval. Dorval is a forever favourite run of our staff as most people ride right on by it! Our theory is everyone is too busy making their way to the Easter chair to notice this spot and pass it by, but next time we suggest you try it out! To get to Dorval, ski right of the intersection to Dean’s Right and Ridgeway, some of the best attributes of Dorval are – it’s one of the steepest runs on the hill and is only groomed once a week. One of the rarest experiences you’ll have on this run is actually seeing another soul riding near you and if you do, there’s a safe bet they work at the resort or grew up skiing there.
A better Romantic getaway
Even better than Netflix and Chill? Romantic getaway seems to imply hanging out in your hotel room, going out for nice meals, spending quality time with your SO – and all of these are things you can do in Kimberley. But we’re upping the romance game by offering you fun experiences with your bae too.
Couple Goals – try out twilight snowshoe tour at the top of the mountain, topped off by chocolate fondue in the Kootenay Haus. Or go on a Snowshoe S’mores excursion, taking you around Trickle Creek Golf Course with a stop for a fire and smore’s before finishing up.
All Seasons Adventure on fleek
There’s so much to do here, you won’t have time in one trip (bruh….).
Pics or it didn’t happen. Try these Kimberley adventures on for size – Heli skiing, Night skiing, Snowmobiling, Cross Country Skiing, Skating, Hockey, Black Spur Ultra (fall), Round the Mountain (summer), Horseback Riding (summer), Hiking, Biking and don’t forget golf…so much golf!
The downlow on snowfall
If after reading this whole list, snowfall is what it really comes down to when you you’re your vacation choice – the best is still yet to come for Kimberley! Historically, we get most snow during our winter seasons between February and April.
Yaas. That is all.
Millennial Slang Help:
PSA – Public Service Announcement
Slaying – Looking fresh or on point
RN – Right Now
all the feels – A phrase used to describe something that makes you feel good; or having good vibes
Extra – Over the top, dramatic behavior
On Point – fleek (see below)
Lit – When something is turned up or popping
Turnt – Hype for a party
S.O – Significant Other
Bae – A pet name that stands for Before Anyone Else
On fleek – refers to something that’s perfect or on point.
Bruh – Another way of saying “seriously?”
Yaas – An enthusiastic way of saying yes
Photos; Mountain Man Cole, The Shed, Tourism Kimberley
- Published in News
4 Epic Winter Adventures to Have in the Canadian Rockies (Besides the Obvious)
Sure, the Canadian Rockies are known for clean lines, epic powder days, and bluebird skies, but skiing and snowboarding are far from all they have to offer. A winter wonderland and snow globe brought to life; if you need a break from the slopes or just want to vary your vacation activities, try these unique winter adventures on for size. You don’t have to venture far from the resorts, either (if at all).
- S’mores Fat Bike Adventure – Kimberley Alpine Resort
This adventure on the Trickle Creek Golf Course includes a two-hour guided fat bike tour (also available as a snowshoe tour) through the winding trails of the golf resort. After you’ve broken a sweat, a firepit, hot beverages, and toasty s’mores will be waiting to power your ride back down. If you’re looking for an even bigger adrenaline rush, they also run night tours via headlamp.
- Snowshoe and Fondue Tours – Kimberley Alpine Resort
Held at the top of North Star Mountain, you’ll ride the chairlift up for snowshoe trek through the deep pow. When you’re ready to warm-up, the Kootenay House Log Cabin will have chocolate fondue waiting as a tasty reward. They also run a special Valentine’s Day tour if you’re looking for a unique outing with your loved one.
- Cat Skiing – Fernie Wilderness
For dedicated backcountry enthusiasts, snowcats can plow through almost any type of weather so whiteout conditions won’t impede your vacation plans. The Fernie Wilderness has some of the most legendary and challenging runs on the planet but is still accessible enough that beginning skiers and boarders can practice their turns. An added bonus? The trips are BYO.
- Purcell Heli-Skiing – Kicking Horse Resort
Heli-skiing is one of the most coveted winter experiences for true powder hounds. Grouped by skill level, a helicopter will take you to up the pristine mountaintop in search of untouched lines and fresh powder in the Canadian Rockies’ vast wilderness. You are guaranteed at least five runs with an average of 700 vertical feet, so get ready to feel the burn.
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Ski Season Starts on Saturday!
There’s not much skiers and snowboards look forward to more than the first few turns of the season and with great early season snowfall in November this year’s opening weekend is looking like it’s going to be an awesome one! Most terrain off of the Easter Chair will be open, this includes skiing in the Vimy Ridge zone, and the upper parts of the Black Forest and Tamarack Ridge zones. Access to the Easter Chair will be by way of the North Star Express Quad Chair. Exit off the mountain back to the base will be by way of the Ridgeway ski way. (Please be aware and ski with care, and watch for early season hazards. Skiing on the Easter Chair is not recommended for first-timers or beginners). Services open will be Guest Services, Winter Sports School (lessons start Dec 16th), Rental & Repair shops, NEW Buckhorn & Main restaurant located in Trickle Creek Lodge, Stemwinder Bar & Grill, Slopeside Café and the Retail Shop.
For hours and ticket prices see our website. The most up to date information will be posted to our Snow Report & the RCR App.
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Photos with Santa
Photos with Santa
Santa and his crew are making a stop at Kimberley Alpine Resort to say hi to all the skiers and snowboarders!
Don’t miss this opportunity to get a picture with him and his elf!! Santa will also be out on the slopes making some turns so make sure to stop and give him a high five!
Look for Santa and his crew at 1:00pm in the base area.
Why Kimberley is your young family’s new favourite destination
I have truly arrived. Most of this sunny Kootenay winter day had been spent sessioning Kimberley Alpine Resort’s marquee kids run, known as the Mascot Trail. After a half dozen laps, I had become intimately familiar with every twist, turn, banked corner, camel bump and kicker that the little Mascot could throw at us. Now late in the afternoon, photographer Steve Ogle and I settle into deck chairs outside the Trickle Creek Lodge lounge in the sunshine, order some cold pints and watch our oldest kids Casey, 6, and Zola, 7, happily lapping the Owl T-Bar without direct parental support. The timeless ski resort classic rock soundtrack that seems perpetually trapped in the 80s – Joe Jackson, Talking Heads, Men at Work, etcetera – sets the après ski mood. I’ll speak for both generations and say that both generations are enjoying this newfound, mutually enjoyable liberty.
I’ll be honest, I had up until now given Kimberley Alpine Resort a pass in my ski travel plans, even though it’s a hill with an interesting past, built by millwrights and other trades people employed at the nearby massive Sullivan underground lead, zinc, silver and tin mine that ran for 92 years until its closure in 2001. My loss as I was to discover during a week in March, when Ogle and I traveled to the East Kootenays with our families to sample Kimberley’s skiing riches. What the resort lacks in bowls, chutes and alpine faces, it makes up for with a respectable vertical drop of 750 metres, long runs (like the 6.4 km long Ridgeway), steep fall line groomers, bump runs and glades that have produced more than its fair share of national level skiers and athletes. This fact is reinforced when we park our entourage of eight one afternoon at Kootenay Haus, a bring-your-own-bag lunch chalet, with a self-serve, pay-by-donation coffee pot, tucked on a knoll between a pair of blue runs and sporting a deck with a jaw dropping view of the Columbia Valley. Displayed on one of the inside walls are the mugs of the many Kimberley characters who have left their mark on the race courses and mountains of the world – Gerry Sorensen, Stan Hayer, Paralympian Josh Dueck, Seven Sumitteer, Pat Morrow, and telemark skier extraordinaire Monte Paynter, to name a handful.
Later that same day we connect with another local Heidi Korven and her skiing family to explore more of the hill. Korven is proud of her town and ski hill; for good reason. Kimberley’s heritage village core has traded in its Bavarian motif for something a little more contemporary with a bevy of new businesses that includes the awesome family friendly Spirit Rock Climbing Centre, a craft brewery, and popular eateries like the Pedal and Tap and Stonefire Pizzeria, all minutes away from the chairlifts. Heidi’s daughters, Sawyer,7, and Noa, 4, make the run call, and we navigate our way to Vortex, a black diamond that funnels down through the Black Forest glades and requires our kids to step up their game from the Mascot Trail. We lay siege to this narrow run, six kids seven and under getting it done. By the time we’re riding the fixed grip Easter Triple back to the summit, après is calling. We finish with – you guessed it – the Mascot Trail and half an hour later are commandeering the outdoor Jacuzzi at the Mountain Spirit Resort and I’m wondering why it took me so long to pencil in a trip to this East Kootenay treasure.
- Published in News
Kimberley, B.C – ALL Things Adventure
Nestled in the Kootenay Rockies, at the footstep of the Purcell Mountains you’ll find a charming town gently tucked into the mountainside with access to it all, Kimberley B.C. Known for it’s epic supply of fresh snow at Kimberley Alpine Resort during the winter months, Kimberley can fly under the radar when it comes to summer adventuring, keeping the gems of this town yours to discover! Endless options for exploration exist in all directions, but where to begin?
Trickle Creek Lodge makes the ultimate base camp for adventure with all the bells as whistles. With the P2P trail and Railway Trail literally out the lobby door, it’s too easy to hike, bike or run to your destination of choice. The extensive network of trails connect multiple parks with in town, most notably the Kimberley Nature Park. Connecting parks run into town, up the mountain offering incredible views for sunsets and all the way to Marysville. The best part? After a busy day of activities the outdoor pool and hot tub will be calling your name as the sunsets over the towering mountains. Finish the night with a bite and earned beer at the restaurant in Trickle Creek Lodge before crashing in that cozy bed to do it all over again.
Several extensive trail systems exist with in the Kimberley area including the braggable new downhill trails on Bootlegger Mountain. Much of the Kimberly Nature Park is also bike specific. Hosting over 50km of trails nearly all of them all bike-able at varying ability levels there is some loamy goodness for everyone. Bike to a variety of destinations for an extra enticing outing like the Halfway Cabin, Dipper Lake or into the Platzl for an après bike session!
Again with the Kimberley Nature Park, but it’s too good to not mention again! These manicured and town accessible trails offer views with elevation gain, family walks and educational hikes. A drive to area that won’t disappoint is the nearby Top of the World Provincial Park. Top of the World’s hiking network is easily accessible via a easy 6.7 km hike into a campground complete with cabin, from there the trails ascend quickly justifying it’s name as it produces endless alpine views. For a heli of a hike, connect with Boulder Hut Adventures and do just that, take a helicopter into a remote backcountry lodge location for some once in a lifetime hiking opportunities!
When not chasing an adrenaline induced adventure, relax downtown Kimberley and enjoy some local eats at Pedal and Tap, or spend an evening on one of the 3 golf courses in town. Take a paddle on St. Mary’s Lake or simply enjoy the stroll to Marysville Falls with an ice-cream in hand. Big or small, the town of Kimberley is the gateway to adventures for all.
Words & Photos by Abby Cooper
- Published in Uncategorized
12 (plus) reasons to visit Kimberley this August
The Meachen Creek Falls (just off the road on the way to Hourglass lake) offers some absolutely amazing photo opportunities for your Instagram!
2) Farmers Market
Running every Thursday evening from 5 – 7:30pm until September 7th, visit Downtown Kimberley (Howard Street) to find fresh local and sustainable food as well as some local artisans. Started and still run by Wildsight, a company committed to protect biodiversity and support sustainable communities, Wildsight also offers educational programs for kids and families to learn more about the wild outdoors, recycling and much more.
3) Pool Party – Trickle Creek Lodge
Time to party! Trickle Creek Lodge has an outdoor heated pool and two hot tubs, with nearby BBQ’s it’s the perfect location to come for a road trip or week away. Hang with the family and entertain friends and have a pool party!
While there are many easier hikes in and around the Kimberley area (even a trek up the ski hill is easier than this one), if you’re looking for a real challenge, try Fisher Peak. Once scaled the views from the top are definitely hard to match! Read about the experience on our post ‘The Taunting Temptress – Climbing Fisher Peak’.
5) Rails to Trails
Opened in 2010, the Rails to Trails is a well travelled passage that has been used as far back as the early 1900’s as a railway to transport lead, zinc and logs between the Kimberley and Cranbrook area, eventually being revamped into the passenger track it is today (hence the name). Rails and Trails is open to anyone on foot, bike, skateboards (skis or snowshoes in the winter) and is a 28 km trail connected the two cities. For a full map of the trails visit the Rails to Trails website – northstarrailtrail.com.
6) Nature Park
Also known as ‘the gateway to nature’, the Kimberley Nature Park is the largest municipal park in British Columbia! Offering everything from guided hikes for everyone of any age to group mountain bikes and educational programs. Find out more about their programs and what to explore in the Nature Park on their newly redesigned website – kimberleynaturepark.ca.
7, 8 & 9) Golf Central
This gorgeous course is known for its wide open spaces and perfect greens. Hole #12 is the signature hole here and after playing the hole we think you’ll realize why.
Trickle Creek Golf Resort
Affectionately called ‘a golfer’s dream’ Trickle Creek is home to 18 challenging holes surrounding by the beauty of the mountains and is one of just a few Canadian Courses to be rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest. Don’t miss a chance to stop for a photo op at the signature hole #11.
Kimberley Golf Club
From their website – the Kimberley Golf Club is ‘proven to be one of the most scenic, charming and challenging courses in the B.C. Rocky Mountains’.
Trickle Creek Lodge is located close to all three courses and has a package to stay and play all three. See the Offers page on the Trickle Creek Lodge website and look up the package called ‘Golf Kimberley Package’ for this special offer.
10) Downtown Platzl
The pedestrian platzl in downtown Kimberley is not to be missed, with its quaint brick lined paths surrounding by locals restaurants and shops including a German themed bakery with delicious daily specials and fresh made items and the Kimberley Heritage Museum. Top it off with life size chess and a huge freestanding cuckoo clock (put a coin in the clock to see what happens).
11) River Sports
Through the Kootenay Raft Company you can sign up for a guided whitewater rafting trip (introductory or extreme tours available), or you can simply rent kayaks canoe’s or Stand Up Paddleboards. Whatever water adventure you’re in the mood for, you can find it near Kimberley! More iformation is available on the Kootenay Raft Co. website – http://www.kootenayrafting.ca/.
12) Black Spur Ultra
Trail Running has been gaining significant popularity in recent years and the Black Spur Ultra race event is no exception either. The course starts and ends at Kimberley Alpine Resort (meaning if you stay at Trickle Creek Lodge you can walk to the start and finish line) and is a challenging race that can be run individually or in a relay team. Teams have 12 hours to finish 50K and individuals or teams have 24 hours to finish 100K – now that’s a race with bragging rights! If you aren’t interested in racing, the event needs many volunteers to help run smoothly – get more information about racing or volunteering on the official website – blackspurultra.com.
Too many to mention! Other attractions to check out include the Comico Gardens, Mini Golf, Kimberley Skate Park, Kimberley Underground Mining Railway Tour, Spirit Rock Climbing Centre (and yes, there is still more). Get more information about all activities in Kimberley on the Tourism Kimberley website.
- Published in News
The Taunting Temptress – Climbing Fisher Peak
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.
Self-preservation dictates that you want to be in the lead. Unfortunately, Pat is fitter, stronger and younger than I. So, lagging behind, my focus was keeping my head up while also keeping it down.
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.
- Published in News
NEW Helicopter Ski Touring Day Tours
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.
Get more information or book your tour from the Boulder Hut Adventures website.
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