To the mountains

So, I started working on a novel last year, called Dodge, based on the whacky premise that developers would come into this part of the world with plans to destroy astonishingly beautiful and environmentally crucial creeks and rivers for profit (theirs, of course), and, even whackier, to build a crazy-ass ski resort on a rapidly receding glacier in the very heart of a pristine alpine wilderness, cradling crucial grizzly and mountain caribou habitat in its high altitude embrace. The book focuses on this admittedly far-fetched premise, and how an odd assortment of interesting characters who are drawn to live in such remote areas might respond.

I have such a vivid imagination.

Then along comes that wild & crazy gang of guys and gals, the British Columbia government, with their announcement that — wait for it — developers are to be allowed to build a fancy destination ski resort, smack-dab in the middle of the pristine alpine terrain you see in the photos above and below. Life, once again, imitating art.

I’m not quite sure why I’ve had such a passionate attachment to high places for most of my life, but it started at an early age. I still have a yellowed newspaper clipping, describing how a junior high school student (that would be me) organized a petition that persuaded the Oregon legislature to create a buffer zone around the fragile Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area, an amazingly beautiful chunk of the central Cascades, back in the mid-’60s.

I went on to climb all over the world, and have written several books on alpine themes, including The Mountains of Canada, Canada the Mountains, and The Naked Mountain. My wife, Janet, and I moved to British Columbia’s West Kootenays specifically to live in an area surrounded by spectacular mountain terrain. So when the chuckleheads in Victoria made their boneheaded announcement this past week, I was less than amused.

I suspect they’re going to be surprised at the vehemence of the public reaction. For my part, I’m pulling out the ol’ laptop, and together with the talented and driven Keith Liggett, who’s based on the other side of the Purcells in Fernie, what we hope will be a gorgeous and moving new book on the Jumbo Pass area is in the works. Intended as both a fundraiser for groups opposed to this crazed decision to allow the construction of a Euro-style resort in one of the most wonderful alpine areas left in “southern” North America, and a tangible reminder of the importance of wilderness in our lives, regardless of where we live, we hope to have the book (and a multimedia ebook) ready as soon as possible. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s a brief video clip from an area adjacent to the Jumbo area, called Monica Meadows. It’s a nice reminder that joy and fun are to be found everywhere, certainly in the world’s high places. It also serves to give those of you who have never been here/there a taste of what you’re missing — and what is about to be paved, unless we do something about it. This clips stars the captivating Janet Mayfield, channeling Julie Andreas, and Scout the Wonder Dog. Make sure you really crank up the volume for this, the audio’s a bit weak (but the singing’s magnificent!)…

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