This article first appeared in print in the February issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
Accessing the backcountry is not always easy. Whether it’s down to lack of experience, knowledge, or simply lack of peers to get out there with — sometimes the natural beauty that is on our doorstep can be just too far out of reach. The recently formed Columbia Mountains section of the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) wishes to change that.
So, what exactly is the ACC and how does it operate? The ACC is a guiding hand for those looking to step out of their comfort zones and into the backcountry. Since its inception in 1906, the club has gained over 15,000 members and has served as a voice for mountain users nationwide. With 24 regional sections across the country, the club is a powerful tool for uniting communities in protecting local, natural spaces.
The newest Columbia Mountains section — that covers the Purcell, Selkirk, Monashee and Caribou mountain ranges — was formed when, in the Fall of 2018, a handful of like-minded mountain enthusiasts came together with a common goal. Fueled by a determination to preserve and protect our historical mountains, the committee now focuses on facilitating the journey for those looking to experience the backcountry, but may not have otherwise had the means to do so.
Breaking down the “exclusivity” of the backcountry is the first step towards achieving this goal. “Some people don’t have the skills necessary to climb mountains or even go on a hike on their own, but would be game to try it with experienced people,” said Ben Wilkey, a born-and-bred Revelstoke local and one of the founding members of the ACC CM section. “The goal of our section is to get these people together so that they can go on adventures, learn how to travel safely in the mountains and have some fun doing it” he explained.
The club will be working with ACMG guides to help organize trips for beginners through to experienced mountain users. Introductory ski touring trips to Balu Pass, all the way up to accredited AST 2 courses are already up on the calendar. In summer, courses such as, ‘Beginner Rock Climbing and Mountaineering’ and ‘Advanced Alpine Climbing’ will be available to members.
The CM committee is seeking to operate a “user driven” section, that will cater to the shifting needs of its members. This means that those affiliated will have an opportunity to voice what kinds of trips they would like to see offered and potentially lead trips too.
The ACC may even help you find your future ski-touring crew. “We want the section to plug into the local outdoor community, get to know each other and maybe give back a little to the mountains that we all love to spend time in,” Wilkey explained. The section will be hosting casual social nights for members to get to know one another, as well as community clean-ups and trail maintenance days.
What’s more, being a member of the national ACC gets you a discount on the use of their extensive backcountry hut network across B.C. and Alberta. It also allows members to sign up for any of the national led trips including the annual General Mountaineering Camp, Winter Camps, Winter Skills, Summer Camps, Summer Skills and Leadership Training.
Whatever your ability level, there’s never been a better time to get involved in the ACC. To learn more about membership perks and trips, or for more information, check out the Facebook group ‘Alpine Club of Canada Columbia Mountains Section’, or follow the blog on their website at www.acccolumbiamountains.com.