KMC Hiking Camp History
by Ron Perrier and Muriel Walton (distinguished by italics)
The Kootenay Mountaineering club had been holding summer camps since 1968 (Earl Grey Pass), 1969 (Mulvey Basin), 1970 (Royal Group), 1971 (Adamants), 1972 (Mulvey) and 1973 (Gold Range). These were often combined climbing and hiking camps attended by a wide range of club members. 1974 saw the first Hiking Camp.
Hiking camp is the best week of the year for me. We get to go to amazing places all over SE British Columbia, that usually have never seen another boot step. Hiking is totally off trail and can be rugged. The organization is superb – everything seems to come off without a hitch. The core of the organization is a hiking camp manual which is fine tuned regularly and covers most every thing one would ever want to know. A committee of one to 7 volunteers coordinates all the organization: picking a site, holding the lottery and wait lists, coordinating leaders and cooks, and making a recci of the road and helicopter loading site. Precamp meetings divide up the twenty or so jobs necessary to get together all the food, wine, propane, and coolers. Then a helicopter zooms us into a paradise isolated from the rest of the world. The food is spectacular and copious, the company special, the alpine flower displays some of the best in the world, and the hiking and climbing as demanding as you want. Volunteerism is key to the whole process. Including everyone gives a sense of community. And all this for unbelievably low prices.
1974. Bonney Gem, Purcells. Now Purcell Wilderness Conservancy. In 1974, the club added a Hiking Camp to the club schedule. The Summer Camp Chairman at the time was Peter Wood. He was in charge of, and went to, both climbing and hiking camps. Ann Wood was the treasurer. Pete Wood is the Father of Hiking Camp.
The club had only one tent and it was used for both climbing and hiking camps with a necessary week between camps. That first camp was at Lake Bonney Gem in the Purcells. 22 attended and the helisite was at Johnson’s Landing. The setting was beautiful with 2 tiny islands in a lake backed by Mt Lake. Cost was $100 and the cook went for half price. She remarked on the tremendous appetites of some of the members especially Peter Wood (I attended hiking camp with Peter this summer in 2013 and he still eats a lot). Mountains climbed included Mt Lake, Mammary, McLeod, McLanders, Fitzsimmons, Rasmussen and a first ascent of Mt. Sawczuk. An axe through a note on a tree from a trip to Bonney Gem in 1915 was found and brought back to Nelson. Eight walked out in the rain over two days via Carney Creek, Fry Creek, and Johnson’s Landing. The rest flew out by helicopter.
For the first several years of camp, any difference in amount paid and actual cost was refunded. When available I have listed the amount initially paid but the amount of the refund isn’t often recorded.
1975. Gwillim Lakes, Valhallas. Now Valhalla Provincial Park. 21 people attended including 2 teenage boys. The camp lasted 9 days from August 9-17. Cost was $120 including all helicopter travel. Refunds were to be issued to those who walked in and/or out depending on costs. If the camp was oversubscribed, the camp chairman reserved the right to make whatever selections were necessary – probably based on date of receipt of the camp deposit and KMC camp committee involvement. Weight limit was 45 pounds absolutely, excluding ropes and other climbing equipment. Peter Wood was both club president and camp chairman.
The trekking “hiking camp” was in Earl Grey Pass.
1976. Wilson Creek, Goat Range. Now Goat Range Provincial Park. Hugh Thompson suffered a severe laceration on the back of his leg from a falling rock and evacuation was necessary. With no method of communication, Peter Wood walked out to the nearest telephone and Hugh was airlifted to Nelson Hospital. The prominent peaks climbed were Cascade and Marion. On the appointed departure day, the weather socked in. Most had packed up their tents and slept in the cook tent. Four walked out the first day. When the weather was just as bad the next day, all the rest walked out except for four left behind to load the helicopter with the main camp stuff.
This summer also had a “trekking hiking camp” that involved backpacking along the Rockwall Trail between Floe Lake and Lake O’Hara. A group of six started at each end and exchanged keys in the middle.
1977. St Mary’s Alpine Park, Purcells. Now St Mary’s Alpine Provincial Park. Twenty participants, August 6-13. Mts. Totem, Manson, St. Mary, Nowitka, and Trinity were all climbed. A radio telephone was added to the camp and people enjoyed making collect phone calls home. Final cost per camper after refund was $94, two-thirds of which was helicopter costs.
1978. Demers Lakes, Valhallas. Now Valhalla Provincial Park. July 15-23. John Stewart was hiking camp chairman. Nineteen campers climbed Mts Bor, Urd, Demers, and Dorval. For the first time, a second satellite camp with two tents, stove and food was set up three kilometers south near Hird Lakes. Four camp members spent time alternately at the satellite camp.
1979. Wee Sandy Lake, Valhallas. Now Valhalla Provincial Park. July 28 to August 6, 10 days. A second cook tent, stoves and kitchenware were purchased so that hiking and climbing camps could operate simultaneously and independently of each other. The scheduling of one camp effectively tied up the gear for three weeks. 18 people flew in from New Denver. Mts Meers and Niord were the main destinations. A satellite camp was set up again 5 miles south that allowed access to New Denver Glacier and the headwaters of Nemo Creek.
The ingenious integrated table for the cook tent, still used today, was designed and built by Earl Jorgensen and used for the first time. With about 64 different ways to pack it together, this jig saw puzzle of a table always provides good entertainment at the end of camp. I imagine that the little yellow stools and ironing board appeared at the same camp. Cost $140.
1980. Bonney Gem, Purcells. Now Purcell Wilderness Conservancy. Over 9 days, 34 campers attended in 3 groups depending on their length of stay. A satellite camp was set up at Eagle Nest Lake, a 10-hour walk from the main camp.
1981. Clint Creek, Pioneer Group, Purcells. This is the location of the camp of record, but it is never mentioned in the Newsletter or Karabiner. The advertised camp was supposed to be at Eagle Nest Lake, Carney Creek, Purcells. Cost $200. An alternate camp was suggested a week before (July 19-25) 2 miles north of Kootenay Joe Ridge and 1 mile west of Winter Peak in the Purcells. It was to be held for those wanting a shorter camp with easier hiking and scrambling. Cost $150 if flying both ways and $125 if walking out. No reports were written up in either of the club’s publications about any these camps, neither of which I have ever heard of.
1982. Monashee Park, Monashees. Now Monashee Provincial Park. Camp was on the north corner of Margie Lake. No camp reports.
1983. Gwillim Basin, Valhallas. Now Valhalla Provincial Park. Between 18 and 24 campers enjoyed a week. Most walked in and out. Mts Gregorio, Lucifer, Black Prince, Devils Dome and Bor were climbed. Two overnighted at Demers Lake and three overnighted at Coven Lakes.
1984. Hume Creek, Purcells. Because of high demand, two camps were held for the first time and 33 total attended. Significant mountains climbed were S Christalline, Cuestaform Craggs, and Tetragon.
1985. Valley of the Lakes, N Purcells. For the second time, two camps were held in successive weeks and 45 attended, 19 in the first camp and 26 in the second. Four stayed for both weeks. The helicopter site was at the CMH Bobbie Burns Lodge and only two trips were required in the 14 passenger chopper to bring all the gear and people up. Camp participants were from Scotland, New Brunswick, Reno, San Francisco and Australia. A satellite camp was held at Sugarplum Spire. Some stayed for a second week at the satellite camp and groups of seven hiked over from the main camp. The helicopter appeared on Friday night and the camp had to be rapidly dismantled and flown out – with no warning! Initial cost was $180, actual cost was $125 or $113 if you walked out. The difference was rebated.
1986. Anemone Pass, Mica Creek area. Jeff Ross took over from John Stewart as chairman of hiking camp. A committee of 6 people helped to share the responsibilities. Because of huge demand for hiking camp, a $20 cancellation was instituted. Three consecutive weeks were held with 19 in each camp. The only death to ever occur in hiking camp was in Camp one in 1986.
Patricia Lifely, the camp cook for the first two weeks of camp, slipped on a grassy slope, lost hold of her ice axe, and disappeared from sight down a gully on July 28th, the Tuesday of camp. Her death devastated everyone. She was easily the strongest woman in camp with a fine sense of balance and was a great telemark skier. There was an initial evacuation near dark on the 28th and a second one was called in for the 29th, both during snow squalls. Everyone was offered the opportunity to leave and 11 departed leaving 5 at camp. A service was held near a cairn dedicated to her memory. On the Saturday, her fiancée flew in to view the site and to retrieve Patricia’s daypack and ice axe. A memorial in the form of a framed photo of the hiking camp area was presented to the Nelson District Hospital by the KMC.
Despite the extra helicopter costs of $1,062, the camp still broke even. Total cost was $10,284.89 of which $7,092.95 was helicopter cost.
In second camp, a herd of tame caribou allowed us to photograph them at the campsite. Although we all recall this camp for the hilarious fun and laughter, there was some serious climbing. 10 out of 20 campers reached 8600’ Yellow Creek Lookout, but only 1 was able to scale Mt. Chapman. After a 13 hour hike, Bill Hurst at age 60 crossed the glacier on Mt. Chapman to reach the 9,900’ peak where we recovered a film canister to deposit in the Banff Alpine Museum, with a lightning-stuck paper indicating the names of two surveyors including Fabrige.
The second camp write up by Larry Doell follows. It parodies the low, three-legged hiking camp stools made by Earl Jorgensen. They were so low that they weren’t very comfortable but they were better than sitting on the ground as climbing camp did.
CULT OF THE YELLOW STOOL
by Larry Doell
Webster’s defines fetish as: A material object believed among primitive cultures to have magical powers.
It was a dusk on the first evening that the second hiking camp began its transformation into the Kootenay Mountaineering Cult of the Yellow Stool. It didn’t occur at the more appropriate site of the Jeff Ross Throne room, but on the heather outside the cook tent.
There, glowing a luminescent yellow in the twilight, convened a score of what appeared to be three-legged aliens. Upon closer examination, they were identified as Earl Jorgansen Bunsmaster Stools, engaged in a somewhat cheeky discussion on the true nature of buns – some preferring French rolls and others, crusty Italian.
It wasn’t long before the surrounding trees sported flocks of stool pigeons and the lake was transformed with swimming stools. With footstools underfoot, Naomi Lindstrom and Carolyn Mousel watched from their No-tell Motel as Carolyn’s husband, Don, took Mrs. Gerein’s little girl, Audrey, on a test drive in his flashy new Stoolbaker before returning to build his hopelessly utopian city of Stoolingrad.
Craig Andrews, in line with his profession as a stool teacher, deranged the cult into posing behind his daughter, Claire, who sat at the wheel of a Stoolbus.
While an unsuccessful search was under way for an amphibious subject for a toad stool photograph, Power Bill Hurst was proselytizing the new faith to mountain goats. Jack Steed was taking tomstoolery to new heights, enjoying several peak experiences on his E. J. Bunsmaster.
Mother Earthy, worried that the stools were going through life with only three legs, tried to interest them in occupational therapy classes.
Concerned that they were getting too much behind, Meadowlark Culley of an “Ode to a Stool” fame, arranged for them to be enrolled in stool classes, and would exhort them daily for remaining at the rear of the class.
Being as a rule, bottom feeders, Teri McLean worked hard at devising a suitable menu for them – everything arriving at an acceptable diet of butt roast with buns.
Jane Steed formed a choral group with Alice Korfman and Marylin Clark who affectionately became known as the Stoolettes. They quickly absorbed the Trudy Andrews and Muriel Walton’s duo, Rum and Corkettes, and led the cult around the campfire in the evenings on rousing renditions of such old chestnuts as “Tie a yellow stool ‘round the old oak tree”. Walter Branigan and Bab Korfman, taking each other in hand, focused on squeezing high soprano out of one another.
The total transformation was realized on Saturday morning shortly after John Walton pulled up his pants after posing for the Waiting for John in the John photo. There on the alpine tundra, with only the fou bird as witness, we all crouched on hands and knees with stools clutched to our heads and transcended our individual egos, emerging collectively as a herd of stoolaboos.
1987. Limestone Lakes, S Rockies. Cost $170 with a nonrefundable deposit of $50. The rest of the fee was refundable up to June 30th when full payment was due. A new cook tent was purchased. The old camp gear was made available to members who wanted to have “family camps”. Camp 1 was a day late flying in and out because of pilot deficiencies. Negotiations with Frontier Helicopters resulted in a downward adjustment of $1,172.64 to the bill plus a write off of $446.72 for what was considered “pain and suffering”. The outstanding features of the area were Island Lake, a large ultra-marine blue lake flanked by 10,000 foot peaks, stratified cliff faces, and huge fossil beds.
An age restriction of 15 was added. Members aged 15-18 had to be accompanied by an adult. Members who had renewed their memberships prior to February 1st were granted an exclusive 2 month period to register for camp.
It was here that Pauline Wah introduced us to the extraordinary beauty of the delicate alpine flowers by her enthusiasm over the intricacies of the Saxifrages, and search near the Amphitheatre for the elusive Mist Maiden- Cliff Romanzoffia, finally finding one lone, tiny white flower with its vivid golden-yellow eye moistened by a drip from above. Thus was born the yearly Wildflower List.
Early camps had lively evening entertainment. You might find everyone Scottish dancing in the meadow under the direction of the Stewarts, or you could join the circle around the fire with Janet Cameron leading the lively choir, or listen while Norman Thyer presented his Cambridge University song, “We Are Off To See the Wild West Show” to the delight of all. If you were with the Wahs, you would be treated to an “adjective story.” Pauline would gather a few campers to create a skeleton “adjective story” narrating actual camp events, with blanks left infront of each noun. Each camper in the fireside circle, unaware of the story, were asked to shout out any adjective that came to mind as Pauline filled in the blanks. After all blanks were filled, she would read the story aloud, pausing for the laughter. For example, one sentence in the 1987 story reads, “ On ravishing Tuesday, mindless Fred Wah chased after his sex-starved group while his shallow wife and weird friends mistook their own demented echo for malodorous Fred’s purple voice.”
1988. North Fork of Glacier Creek, Purcells. Ron Cameron, Joan Harvey, and Jim Keinholz were now in charge of hiking camp. Cost $180. Mac Duff and Eyebrow were climbed.
Experienced climbers seem always willing to teach the inexperienced. Jack Steed taught us to set our goals high. Philippe De la Salle gave useful safety tips. Ritchie Dean Sr., noting that creeks rise dangerously high in the heat of the day, built three carefully engineered bridges at Glacier Creek for us to cross on our return from the heights. Felix Belzyck kicked snow steps and offered a hand. John Walton became known as “the route finder”. Craig Andrews gave two young ladies, new to climbing, advice as they braved the 170 foot wall of snow to reach the enormous McBeth ice fields. “Don’t look back. Keep your eyes on your steps. Plant your ice axe in front of you, then step up to it. Kick your toes in HARD. Concentrate.” Fear vanished when they finally heard Earl Jorgenson’s encouragement from above, “Good work, girls you did it!”
1989. Wildcat Creek, Rockies. This is a tributary of the Blaeberry River, 7 km west of Peyto Lake on the Banff Jasper Highway. Access was 45km N/NE of Golden. By June, all camps were full with waiting lists. On the first load in, the helicopter broke a skid and the move had to wait till the next day. The 14 passenger CMH Bobbie Burns helicopter got the entire camp up in 3 loads. Mts Peyto, Trapper, Mistaya and Baker were climbed. The nearby Mistaya lodge was just completing construction. That might affect any future camps here but it sounded nice with access to the continental divide above Peyto Lake.
The constitution was amended at the 1989 AGM to allow only residents of the West Kootenay to become “new” members of the club. Hiking camp had become so successful that the Hiking Camp Committee had wanted the change. The club executive was reluctant to make the change but were finally persuaded and the motion passed. In recent years, many people from outside the area had joined the club for the sole purpose of attending hiking camp. Their company, experience and contributions were appreciated, but local members were not able to attend camp because of over-subscription. Volunteering by camp participants makes the camps possible. They wanted to make sure that there were enough local members on the camps to do the transportation, shopping, cooking and myriad other jobs necessary. At some camps, the locals doing all the work constituted less than half the camp. All club members from outside the West Kootenay were able to retain their membership but only if it was renewed every year.
Helen Butling died in 1989. She was a driving force in the KMC from its origin and probably served on every executive position over the years. The Slocan Chief Cabin owes its existence to her work parties. She was also very active in the Alpine Club of Canada. She organized all the food for the early camps and her recipes form a foundation for many of our present recipes.
Helen Butling’s ironing board became the tea table each afternoon, the wine bar before dinner, and the wash up table after, around which many fine friendships have been formed. Earl Jorgenson’s periodic repairs have kept it a KMC icon.
1990. Ghost Peak/Mt Cartier, Selkirks. Mike Brewster and Joan Harvey were in charge of camps. The camp was 11 km SE of Revelstoke at 6650 feet. Mt Cartier is visible from Highway 23, ten kilometers south of Revelstoke. Mts Cartier, Fang, Cave, Drimmie, and MacKenzie (location of Revelstoke ski hill) were climbed. This was the first time, for ecological reasons, firewood was brought up by each camp. The cancellation date for a refund was advanced to June 15. Someone in camp 2 actually brought up a solar shower! Other campers couldn’t understand when it was possible to swim in the lakes. The Friday night of most camps was skit night. Everyone put a lot of effort into it. It is a tradition that has waned considerably in recent years. Camp I had costume night: Supper guests included the Great Pumpkin, Yellow Chick, Hagar the Viking, the spirit of Ghost Peak, Santa Claus, a New Guinea couple, an Owl, a Blind Leper, a bug in a net, and a hot water tank.
The executive passed a motion that fires on all club trips must be in a club burning device and that wood must be brought in by the users. A metal fire burning “device” was to be at least a foot off the ground. This was a compromise between those who thought there should be no fires and those who thought that campfires are an integral part of hiking camp ambiance.
1991. International Basin, Purcells. International Basin was a great place with good mountains and lots of old mining debris. Cost $200. A new supply tent was in camp.
1992. Edouard Pass, Purcells. Laurie Charlton took over as Hiking Camp chairman. This was a beautiful spot with good tent sites and something for everyone. Cost $225.
Here is a note written by Vivian Bowers then Newsletter Editor in November, 1992.
IT’S ALL TRUE, the rumors you heard about climbing camp while sitting around the approved burning device at hiking camp! At climbing camp, they really do get up at 3:00 a.m., do marathon 18-hour climbs, shun rest days, form climbing cliques that discourage outsiders, and have egos the size of boulders.
AND IT’S ALL TRUE, what they say at climbing camp about hiking camp. At hiking camp, they sit on funny three-legged stools, camp leaders inspect participants’ fingernails every morning, no one drinks anything stronger than tea, and everyone dresses up in silly costumes on the last night. (“As long as they make you dress up, you won’t see me in hiking camp”).
IT’S ALL TRUE!
Norman Thyer wrote an opinion about bringing technical climbing gear to hiking camp. It starts a debate that continues today.
Summer camps have become a major activity of the KMC. Twenty years ago, there was a single one-week camp every year. Now we have separate camps catering to “hikers” and “climbers”, and even with three distinct hiking camps, there are always more applicants than vacancies.
With two distinct categories of camp, there is a risk of the club becoming polarized into two separate groups, climber and hikers. I have even heard suggestions that all technical climbing gear should be banned from hiking camps. In my opinion, this would only aggravate the polarization, and exclude the needs of people whose interests lie between, or overlap, the two extremes of easy hiking and highly technical climbing.
One rational for banning technical gear from hiking camp is that its presence would tempt people to attempt exploits beyond their ability. My response is that people are just as liable to do that when they don’t have the appropriate equipment, and, indeed, could get themselves into more trouble through not having it. I personally feel safer doing a technical climb on solid rock than hiking on loose rock. If I had to cross sloping, hard snow or ice, I would rather do so with crampons than trust to Vibram on millimeter-deep footholds or resort to crawling on hands and knees.
Accidents rarely occur because one is too well equipped. Mostly they are the results of inadequate equipment or training, “acts of God”, or, especially, bad judgment.
The sort of things one does at a camp are not governed solely by the equipment one has. Instead, the equipment one brings should be governed by the nature of the terrain. If there’s a glacier within walking distance of camp, someone is sure to say “That glacier’s safe. There aren’t any crevasses.” Or “You can see all the crevasses.” and take a trip across it as if going for a walk in a city park. However, if I was called upon to go and rescue him/her, I’d want to be properly equipped. If camp participants are expected to do nothing more challenging than hike on trails or in meadows, the location should be chosen accordingly.
Hiking camp participants are told to bring ice-axes. At the 1991 Hiking Camp, there was at least moderately steep snow on most hiking routes. I wonder how many of the people who bring ice-axes to hiking camp are proficient at self-arresting on steep snow. It’s too late to learn when you’re hurtling down a slope toward rocks or a gully that leads over a cliff. How many could belay a companion across an exposed snow slope. How many could rappel down if they found themselves at the top of smooth slabs when taking a “short cut” down the mountain? I think it is better to be prepared for such situations than to hope that they won’t occur.
Rather than restrict our activities, shouldn’t we try to expand them, to improve our skills of travelling in the mountains? Our club offers a Climbing School every year, where these skills can be learned. But how many people are discouraged from attending for reasons which are completely unjustified, such as stories in the “Karabiner” of hair-raising exploits on Class 5.14 cliffs, or the fear of hanging on a rope above a 100m drop, or by the prospect of having to buy and carry a huge rack of climbing hardware that , in reality, only a rock specialist would use?
Our club is a mountaineering club, but the tastes and abilities of its members vary widely. Some members are not satisfied with anything less than strenuous, highly technical climbs, while others are quite content to hike on trails and in meadows, and still others seek something in between; while not aspiring to 14-hour marathons on class 5.10 rock, some class 4 climbing with a bit of glacier travel would suit them fine. Can our camps accommodate them all without being polarized into the two extremes of a strictly hiking camp and ambitious climbing camp? Could we have a General Mountaineering Camp? A third type of camp in a third location would, of course, involve more equipment and organization. Perhaps a compromise would be to designate the first week of hiking camp for general mountaineering, and later weeks for hiking only.
Let’s have some discussion on this matter. Meanwhile, I suggest: Don’t deliberately restrict your activity by leaving your equipment at home; bring it with you (within reason – remember the weight) and learn how to use it properly in improving your mountain travel skills, your judgment and your safety.
I don’t disagree with anything Norman says. Some of the issues though are: Carrying any climbing equipment puts one over-weight. It is hard enough to stay below 50 pounds. One solution is for the climbers, if they want a rope, to meet before camp and bring up one rope and rack. Each would have their own harness, helmet and crampons.
If one were to get into trouble, there are few people in most camps with the skills to do anything very technical, like a crevasse rescue. That would be a lethal mistake in virtually every camp I have been in, most often, as there is rarely a rope in any camp. In latter years, many of the “climbers”, as they age, now attend hiking camp and bring valuable skills. I have crossed many glaciers foolishly without a rope but if all the snow has melted and all ice exposed, there are few hidden dangers. Certainly crampons should be brought if there is any thought of having to deal with ice.
1993. Dunbar Lakes – “Shagri-la”, Purcells. 25 km east of the Bugaboos and 25 km west of Brisco. This high valley at tree line featured two large, four medium, and 20 small lakes ranging in color from opaque pale glacial blue to the clearest greens. Mts Horeb (a technical climb) and Ethlebert were on the east side and the Septets formed the west skyline. It could be accessed by a short hike over Tiger Pass to a mine and road to the south. Cost $225.
Full fees were payable on registration for the first time rather than a deposit and balance in June. A signed waiver form was required.
There was no lottery for the spaces at camp prior to 1995. The February Newsletters with the application were all mailed from the Nelson Post Office at the same time. But they arrived at some member’s house several days before others’. Laurie Charleton received several completed applications before he had even received his Newsletter in Rossland. It was first-come-first-serve. I personally remember driving my application and hand delivering it to Laurie’s house on more than one occasion. Consideration was given to giving priority to those who contributed to the club and camp. But that never happened. Merit based selection processes don’t work very well. Cronyism is always a threat. The lottery solved all these problems.
1994. Valley of the Moon, Monashees. The camp was on the east border of Monashee Provincial Park about 40km NW of Nakusp. Fawn Lake, just inside the park boundary, was only .5km from camp and the favorite bathing lake. Mts Gunnarson, Slate, Fosthall, and Caribou were climbed. It was considered by some one of the best hiking camps because of its long ridge walks and meadows connected by ledges and ramps. Jeff Krueger and Max Bankes walked out on an epic 2-day marathon.
This was the first year of the lottery, a great solution to the application process. The previous first-come-first-serve system was not fair and this gives an equal chance for everyone. Laurie Charlton wrote a detailed seventeen point guide to the lottery system with the 1995 application form. It operates in 2014 exactly as laid out in his guideline with a March 15 deadline. The only change is that we now notify everyone by email instead of phone or mail.
Some of the idiosyncrasies of the postal system can cause problems. Ross Scott mailed his application in Rossland (where Laurie Charlton lived), but by the time it went down to Trail, was sorted and then came back to Rossland, it was received after the 15th and he was on the wait list.
1995. Rusty Ridge, Purcells. This area is 10km NE of St Mary’s Alpine Park and 30km NW of Kimberly. Camp was below Peak #7 on a long line of 12 peaks on a ridge. We built some huge cairns in camp 1. Camp Rule- NEVER HIKE ALONE was broken in camp 3, when Earl Jorgensen got lost on Tuesday. He had started out with the Waltons, Hazel Kirkwood and Jim Mattice but when they turned back in early afternoon because of snow, causing slippery hiking, he continued alone along the ridge toward the peak with only his small fanny pack. Coming down in snow and fog, he zigged instead of zagged, descended the wrong ridge, and only late in the day, realized that he was going the wrong direction toward Doctor Creek. His only alternative was to spend the night out. He found shelter, wood, and water in the meadow. He said that he was on his last match when he was finally able to start a fire, and leaning against a tree, he wrapped himself in his thin emergency foil blanket until daylight in an attempt to get warm during the cold night. Back in camp search parties combed the mountainside until dark. Imagining the worst, John Walton made frantic attempts long into the night to make radio contact. Finally at daylight Nelson Forestry answered. The entire search machinery was mobilized – RCMP, ambulance, PEP, and a helicopter. The helicopter flew over him three times in an effort to locate him as he was walking in the opposite direction from the camp. The helicopter brought him back to camp. He had a medical checkup including an ECG, all of which was fine. Earl offered to pay for the helicopter but that was refused. The camp ran a deficit.
1996. Hope Creek, Badshot Range, Selkirks. Between the Lardeau River and Lake Creek which parallels the Duncan. There were lots of ridge walking, no major peaks, but several smaller peaks in the 7500-8000 foot range.
A legal waiver signature was required for the first time in 1997.
1997. Sugarplum Spire, Purcells. The helisite was 84kms up the Duncan. The area was in the north drainage of Hume Creek close to the location of satellite camp at Valley of the Lakes in 1985. Cost $250. Camp 3 had two evacuations. On Sunday, Mary Woodward fell in some rocks, broke her wrist, and was helicoptered to Revelstoke Hospital. A new and improved radio was used to make the necessary contact with the outside world. On Tuesday, Jenny Baillie, near the top of Mt Hatteras, pulled a rock over that ripped open her left calf just back of the knee. She was able to get down using ice axe crutches. The next morning her calf looked like “an uncooked chunk of meat”. Now with experience with the emergency radio, Jennie was in Nelson Hospital by 11 am.
Earl Jorgensen died in February, 2001. He was a very active and hardworking KMC member and introduced his children to hiking camps. Earl was the prime builder and planner of camp equipment. His yellow stools have been replaced but who could forget them. The short legs pegged into holes in the small seats – they took up as little space as possible. The old biffy seat and tent are, alas also gone, but Earl made the seat too. One of the reasons it was discarded was the complexity of putting it together. The folding tables in the cook tent are still being used although the end one is now turned sideways in front of the stoves because of the shorter tent. With 64 possible ways to put them together for the helicopter trip out, they are great fun on Saturday morning. The ironing board table is one of Helen Butlings creations. Could you imagine camp functioning without all these inventive things.
He was well known for being “late” on at least one hike; some would call it “lost”. John Stewart, in Earl’s obituary in the Karabiner, made some interesting comments about hiking camp.
“Hiking and camping attitudes have changed in Earl’s 25 years in the Club. At 1976 camp, Peter Wood walked 10 miles and then drove 30 to summon medical aid. The whole camp walked out of the camp at the end when the helicopter was several days late and no sign of improving weather. Ten years later, when Earl was lost overnight, the poor radio-telephone prompted the angry amazement that the club would dare have 20 people far in the wilderness without instant help. Now it’s a reliable satellite phone (when the batteries work) and GPS.
1998. Marvel Pass, Rockies. Seven kms SE of Mt Assiniboine Provincial Park and west of Banff NP, it is on the continental divide and a great place (this is the projected site of Hiking Camp for 2014). Mountains climbed included Aurora, Byng, Gloria, and Eon. Eight people from camp 2, made sandwiches for two days and walked over to Mt Assiniboine and spent the night in the cabins. The area in which the camp was held was closed one week after third camp due to a grizzly bear mauling.
1999. Copeland Ridge, N Monashees. Camp was at 6200 feet about 25 kms NW of Revelstoke in the headwaters of Hiren Creek. The helisite was the helicopter base and no chicken wire was required. This was the snow camp. Camp 1 never saw dry ground and from what I remember neither did Camp 3. You had to move your tent every couple of days as the snow melt around the tent caused a platform to rise inside. Anyone with a simple air mattress learned that they don’t work on snow or any cold surface. Sun protection was important as were good waterproof boots.
2000. Moonraker Peak, N Purcells. Camp was at 6900 feet at the headwaters of Canyon Creek about 18km due west of Golden on the eastern edge of Glacier NP. Mountains climbed included Moonraker, Dawn, and several unnamed mountains. The helisite was the Canadian Helicopters base in Golden so there were no logging roads for the second year in a row. The chopper flew over the Kicking Horse Ski Hill.
2001. Fitch Creek, Purcells. The helisite was 60km up the Duncan. This area is about 7km south of the Hume Creek camps. There were no named peaks, but many ridges and good hiking. The most memorable memories were the great views across the Duncan, the spectacular waterfall showers right next to camp, and the prodigious number of horseflies. Everyone ate every meal inside the cook tent. If you killed one, a thousand came to the funeral. And they are hard to kill. Hans Korn, Suzanne Blewett, and Ron Perrier climbed Tetragon, much closer to the Hume Creek Campsite than Fitch Creek. Cost $275.
2002. Blanket Creek, Monashees. Drew Desjardins was in charge of hiking camp. Mts. Blanket, Castor, and Big Apple were climbed.
Some of our camps displayed a profusion of blossoms of one particular wildflower. Blanket Creek had thousands of Marsh Marigold with their white flowers tinged with blue brightening every marsh, stream bank and seepage slope below melting snow.
2003. Mt Soderholm, Rockies. Camp was at 6000’ SW of Mt Soderholm and 16km SSW of Mt Assiniboine. Views were of the Rockies to the east and the Royal Group to the south. Skyline Hikers from Calgary had a camp with 50 participants close by and a lodge was under construction on the plateau. Third camp was canceled because of forest fire danger. They were not given priority in the 2004 camp lottery as the fires were “an act of god”! This is the summer where large parts of Kootenay NP burned. Cost $260. Expenses were high and fees just covered costs. In the summer of 2005, Marg Gmoser backpacked through this area and camped at the hiking camp location 2 years previously. There was little evidence that camp was ever there. She was amazed at how well rejuvenated were the kitchen, storage tent area, tent sites and little trails. This camp only had 2 weeks of use not 3 as usual.
Ron Cameron became Hiking Camp chairman. A committee of 7 others helped with organizing camp. A financial report is required by the Societies Act and needs to be ready by September 30, the club’s year-end. Get all your receipts as early as possible into the hiking camp treasurer.
2004. Endless Ridges, S Purcells. 7900’ on headwaters of Skookumchuk Creek with Doctor Creek and Peak to the north. The initial camp location was found to be inside the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy and was changed to here. There were no peaks, but an amazing array of ridges covered with larch and deep game trails (elk). Cost $300 because of high helicopter costs. Hiking Camp had to cover all its own costs and cannot use general club funds.
2005. Mt Llewellyn, N Selkirks. 25 km east of Revelstoke. Cost $325. The helicopter pilot brought us to one of his favorite lakes. The rock here was limestone. The creek that emptied into the lake came out of the mountainside. A camper in Camp 1 developed back pain and had to be evacuated on the Tuesday. Both Mt Kenneth and Llewellyn were technical climbs.
2006. Twilight Creek, A site near Sentry Mountain was the hiking camp committee’s selection for this year’s camp. However there is a lodge, Sentry Lodge, in the area. The owner of the lodge threatened the helicopter company with loss of winter business if they provided the KMC helicopter service to fly camp into the area. As a result, Twilight Creek became the default choice. This was the “rock camp”, with little plant material until some trees and lakes were reached a few hundred feet below camp. The lakes provided great swimming. The flower count was one of the lowest – 71. Seraph was climbed by most, Cherub by a few.
FMCBC looked into this affair of a helicopter company being squeezed by a lodge. They negotiated with several branches of government and the Backcountry Lodges Association. An apology was received from that association. In the future, camp is to notify all tenures in the area far enough in advance to adjust our plans based on tenure holder feedback. This sort of behavior would not be tolerated by the tenure granting authority in the future.
The idea of burning deadfall resurfaced but was rejected again in favor of us bringing up our own firewood. Three camps would remove too much biomass from the environment.
2007. Kain Creek, Purcells. NE of the Bugaboos. Many ridge walks, often shared with CMH HeliHikers (charging $2207 for 3 nights), and good views of the Bugs from the west ridges. Cost $425.
2008. International Basin, Purcells. Helihikers from the CMH Bobbie Burns Lodge walked through camp a few times. Mts Coney, David, and Sibbald were climbed. Graham Kenyon, who has attended more camps than anyone (I think), wrote another entertaining, humorous account of camp. Satellite phone rental was $600 for three camps.
2009. Limestone Lakes, Rockies. Camp was just west of Height of the Rockies Provincial Park. Amazing fossil beds and karst features were the highlight. We hiked on long game trails, the legacy of many mountain sheep. There was no snow and the coolers were stored in the creek. New cook and supply tents had internal frames. Nancy Selwood was the new chairman of hiking camp. Cost $450.
2010. Mica, N Selkirks. Camp was about 10kms east of Mica townsite. We had a new biffy tent with a seat on a three legged base. It certainly is easier to assemble (Earl Jorgensen’s original biffy seat was another jigsaw puzzle) and the tent takes seconds to move.
2011. Hume Creek, Purcells. A return to the 1984 HC location.
2012. Carnovan Lake, Rockies. The planned campsite was at the pass near the lake but that idea was nixed by the helicopter pilot because of high winds at the pass. The most amazing feature of this camp was, for the first time ever, NO INSECTS! Mark Hatlen became head of hiking camp.
Simon Mitchell’s account of the camp location follows.
I could hardly believe our campsite, perched on a scree slope. The helicopter landed on a rocky pimple from which our sleeping bags had a propensity to roll into the creek! Then came the hike to camp with some of our gear, up and down through two creeks. This was followed by a session of mining rocks to make a tent site that was not quite level. It turned out that there were no completely flat spots and after a few days one became used to balancing on one’s right cheek in the biffy.
Ron Perrier, Mark Hatlen, and Neil Bermel made a shower for camp.
2013. Echo Lake, Purcells. Fortieth Anniversary Camp. Echo Creek drains north into Howser Creek. To the south over two ridges is the watershed of the North Fork of Glacier Creek. There were great views of the Four Squatters to the north and Howser Towers and the Bugaboos to the NE. Camp was on the edge of a spectacular lake with a great backdrop of mountains. Sunsets were magical. Crystals were common in the white quartz slides and iron pyrite was common. The only bugs were a few horse flies on sunny afternoons. This is the second camp in a row without significant insects. Two great ridges extended to the NW and NE. No mountains had cairns and we are probably the first people to have ever been here.
2014. Marvel Pass, Rockies. A return to the 1998 site, but at a different, much more beautiful site at the end of a large lake right on the Banff National Park boundary. The rules of the lottery were reinterpreted resulting in one 17-person wait list. If an opening was refused in one of your listed camps, you went to the bottom of the list and lost automatic placement in the camp of your choice the next year. With 4 cancellations, this resulted in only 8 having that privilege. Mounts Aurora, Bing and Marvel were climbed. Many walked to Mt. Assiniboine, mostly for the day, and many did the 26km circuit around Marvel Lake and Owl Lake. Swimming was gorgeous. Third camp was treated to 81-year old Bert Port climbing more mountains than anyone.
2015. Valley of the Moon, Monashees. A return to the 1994 camp on the edge of Monashee Provincial Park. Fawn Lake, just inside the park boundary, was only .5km from camp and a favourite bathing lake along with the unnamed lake below camp. First camp saw grizzlies and mountain goats. Mts Gunnarson, Slate, Fosthall, and Caribou were climbed. It was considered by some one of the best hiking camps because of its long ridge walks and meadows connected by ledges and ramps. The average age of Camp One was 65.
2016. Wolverine Pass, Rocky Mountains. A new location just off the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park, this area had lovely trail and ridge walking but few peaks to bag (Drysdale, . The only campsite was just meters from the park boundary. A trail from the west went through camp. Camp 2 had the best flower show. There were complaints from backpackers about all the hikers on the trail. This caused problems for the 2017 camp when threats to enforce a two-week restriction on camping in one spot were made.
2017. Edouard Pass, Purcells. A return to the 1992 camp location, this must be one of the most beautiful camps, but also the one with the fewest hiking possibilities. The hike up the ridge between Forster and False Forster Passes is on great granite and ends up at one of the loveliest spots of any hiking camp, a small tarn covered with ice and spectacular views. Mountaineers climbed Galloway, Gwendolyn and the three unnamed peaks to the south west. A new cook stove and some new camp chairs were welcome.
After reading forty years of Karabiners and Newsletters to find out all this info, many things stand out about hiking camp. The amazing places we visit for three weeks that rarely have seen another boot print. A chance to see mountains throughout the Monashees, Selkirks, Purcells, and Rockies. Helicopter rides. Something for everyone – meadows, lakes, ridges, flowers, glaciers, moraines, wildlife, mountains of all difficulty. One of the best wildflower displays on the planet everywhere we go. The phenomenal, fine-tuned organization – 20 individuals, with minimal direction, prepare and buy everything we need to survive in relative luxury for a week, and then it is repeated by two more groups with equal efficiency. Volunteerism drives the basics of camp – everyone participates in a relatively equal way, costs are kept low, a sense of community develops. Our strong environmental ethic is intended to leave our camp site with only the remnants of our boot prints – plastic mats around the cook tent, replacing the sod over our biffy holes, straining our grey water, burning our own wood in a metal burner, even composting all vegetable waste in some camps. Spectacular, bountiful, home made food that, despite heavy exercise every day, usually results in weight gain. Wine. An incredible variety of fellow campers, most in the 50-70 age range, from all walks of life and life experiences. Some people who stand out are: The Camp 1 painting group. Graham Kenyon and Barb Stang’s write-ups about camp are always a treat. Geology experts like Leslie Anderton, Liz Huxter, and Chris Hatch. Bird experts like Ed Beynon and Peter Woods. And then there is the flower experts, most notably Muriel Walton and Hazel Beynon. They should write a book. The many people over the years who have served on the Hiking Camp Committee and functioned as leaders and cooks. I don’t think there is anything to change.
We are fortunate that our vast area includes some of the most arid and some of the wettest climates in Canada and some of the most diverse landscapes in North America, from high rugged mountains to deep, broad valleys, gently rolling plateaus and eroded badlands with its equally diverse ecosystems that include coniferous forests, broad-leaved deciduous forests, lush subalpine meadows, alpine tundra, wetlands, grasslands and shrub-steppes. It is little wonder that campers are always amazed by vast carpets of brilliant colourful wildflowers in our meadows. We realize that taking notice and learning about the flowers enriches our appreciation our mountain environment. Each year veteran campers, such as Pat Thompson, shared their knowledge to create lists of flower sightings and each year with patience, persistence and practice our list grows longer. In 1987, our first group attempts of naming them were much improved when Margaret Gmoser sent Muriel Walton a wonderful gift, “Wildflowers of the Canadian Rockies” by George Scotter and photographer Halle Flygare. Ever since, groups of flower enthusiasts can be seen huddled together viewing plants and studying guidebooks to try to learn more about our plant life and to know scientific names as well as common names.
Above the trees, in the true alpine zone, we find our most tenacious, persistent and hardiest hikers, and it is here too, that we find the most tenacious, persistent and hardiest plants in settings of splendid natural beauty. The cliffs, boulder fields, tallus and scree slpes, gullies and avalanche tracts often display the most distinctive and rarest plants in the Kootenays.
What is the rarest plant you may wonder? One of the most inconspicuous is a sky blue Moss Gentian. You may even have trouble finding it in a guidebook! It has been discovered on the highest mountain ledge by Hazel Kirkwood, but only on a sunny day. The tiny flowers with 4 or 5 pointed petals sit alone at the tip of each little moss-like branch. These blossoms close when a cloud obscures the sun. Here is your challenge, find Gentiana prostrata then take its picture without leaning over it!
Being able to recognize our wildflowers, to call them by name, to learn their characteristics and uses, then to introduce them to other hikers is an exciting step toward a deeper appreciation of our magnificent Kootenay Mountains.
Perhaps because the others were full or perhaps because of the youth, the Waltons attended three Family Camps with other KMCers as follows.
1982: Gwillim Basin, Valhallas- Andrews family and Walton family walked in and camped for a week.
1984: Hume Creek, Purcells- Craig, Trudy and Claire Andrews, Fred, Pauline and Erica Wah, Graham and Andrew Kenyon, Mary Woodward, and John, Muriel and John Jr. Walton. Pauline collected our money for the helicopter and we planned together, using the KMC cook tent which was torn apart by a storm.
1985: Monashee Park- George Robinson, 3 Andrews , 3 Waltons, and 5 Stillwells camped for one week on the east side of Peter’s Lake. We all enjoyed climbing Mt. Fosthall. We helicoptered in and hiked the 8.5 miles out.