THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS INTO THE HEART OF CANADA
Words: Tam Leach Photography: Natalie Mayer
We were on a mission.
There was no snow in Europe. A dry December was followed by an even drier January, leaving ribbons of snow across swathes of mud and heather, desperate “pistes" in lieu of proper resorts.
In Canada, however, they were living in a world of white. By late November, powder days were the norm; by early January, most of the snowfall records had been shattered. Whistler, for example, had a nine metre base, and was already close to passing its annual average, with four months of the season still to go.
Stuck in the bone-dry Alps, our course of action seemed obvious. We planned a trip, as lickety-split as we could manage. Two weeks to explore the lesser known resorts of the Canadian Rockies would be the saviour of our season. Hurried, spendy phone calls were made across Europe, emails sent back and forth, money was scrounged. Our flights would leave the UK on February 5th.
Every week we watched the storms roll in online across the weather reports. Tignes: 15°. Sun. Fernie: - 18°. Snow. More Snow. Even more snow. We watched, and we waited. Hungrily.
Other travellers returned from the great white with tales of bottomless powder. Two weeks before we left, the forecast was as it had been all winter. Snow! Snow! Snow! But then the online clouds began to falter. Temperatures were still low – perhaps too low – but the pictogram flakes grew sparse and prickly.
We tried not to worry. A storm came eventually to Switzerland, only to be followed by high temperatures and drought. Newspapers were full of climate change doom, and chalet owners across the Alps were entering the panic stage. Canada had such a substantial base that so long as the temperatures stayed in the minuses, the goods would remain intact, if not fresh, for our arrival; the entire country a giant freezer preserving our promised bounty.
On the 3rd of February, in Calgary, Alberta, the temperature was –16°. On the 4th, it suddenly and unexpectedly began to shoot up. By the 5th, the day that we flew, it was up to 11°, and sunny. And the forecast for the 6th? Back down to – 12°. For the first time in months, we tried to ignore the weather reports.
It’s like a bad kid’s joke. How do you get six snowboarders into a minivan? Optimistic descriptions of “fits seven" don’t take in to account board bags, the multiple outfits required to satisfy sponsors, skateboards, or a backbreaking amount of camera gear. Unfortunately the search for snow budget was limited, and we couldn’t afford two cars.
Five of us flew from London to Calgary, the nine hour direct flight far easier than the task of packing the car – and driving jet-lagged – that awaited at the end of the journey. Our crew was up to the task, though; anything that meant a reprieve from the drought. Scott McMorris’s slopestyle comp in the Burton European Open had been cancelled due to poor weather; Dom Harington had been chasing after pipe contests moved hither and thither due to lack of pipes to hold them in. In the filmer’s slot was Stu Edwards; having been unable to get out to his usual Mammoth winter stomping grounds, he’d been surviving the winter on a diet of Castleford and dryslope.
By the time Jenny Jones arrived in Calgary, two hours later and direct from victory at the Mt Bachelor Chevy Grand Prix, we’d just about solved the packing puzzle. Board bags were dismantled: boots, clothes, backpacks and frighteningly expensive electrical equipment slotted together precariously in the back of the Dodge Grand Caravan like a giant game of Jenga.
It was dark when we finally left the airport, so it was hard to tell exactly how much snow lay on the ground, and what sort of state it was in. Nobody wanted to be the one to say it, but the world outside the windows looked rather bereft of the white powder that we’d been hoping for. Still, we had a way to go yet. On went the in-car DVD system and out went the lights, as the jet-lagged drifted towards the Rockies and to sleep.
Our first destination: Castle Mountain. Hardly known outside southern Alberta, let alone Canada. “You’re going to Castle?!" said Colin Whyte, Future Snowboarding ed and closet Canadian. “Wow. That’s great. It’s wild and woolly!"
Castle Mountain: a resort rescued from receivership by 150 local shareholders, whose holiday homes are in a trailer park at the foot of the mountain. It’s that kind of a place. Castle Mountain: where, until last year’s opening of a new intermediate zone on Mt Haig, the precipitous, wooded terrain was, according to the Director of Snow Sports, “mildly discomforting to fairly terrifying" for the average skier.
Castle is located just off Highway 3, the road that skirts the US-Canadian border and which is known as the “Powder Highway". Here on the eastern side of the Continental Divide, the annual snowfall averages 910cm, and three day totals of 75cm are not uncommon.
And the place is practically empty. We stayed in Castle’s Keep, a huge luxury cabin that none of us wanted to leave; it’s one of only six cabins available to rent. The opening of Mt Haig is part of a slow-and-steady development plan that will gradually see cabins replacing trailers and the construction of a hotel to compliment the existing hostel, but Castle is unlikely to get crowded anytime soon. Not only are the owners more concerned with sustainability than growth, but the road from Calgary that heads west to Banff and Lake Louise is bigger, better maintained and subsequently a faster weekend escape route to the mountains than route 22 south; only those who know head down here. Shareholders show up at the weekends for powder and hoedowns, but midweek you might never see another soul.
When Castle’s on, said everyone we met who had ridden there, it’s unbeatable. It’s like heliskiing for $50. The trees are incredible, and even if it hasn’t snowed for a few days, the high winds that bluster around the upper mountain – up to 150km, kids – will cover your tracks as quickly as you make them.
“Unfortunately," said the Snow Sports director, the guy in the rental shop, and the trailer park seasonaires, all looking like they wanted to commit hara-kiri for disappointing us so, “the last wind was a Chinook."
A Chinook is like the mountains have farted, explained one Canadian, bluntly, a blast of warm air that rushes through the valleys along the eastern edges of the Rockies. It was the Chinook that was responsible for the massive temperature swings just before our arrival, apparently, and for resulting dire conditions on the hill. It was bulletproof - solid as anything anyone had ever ridden; the pistes were like an ice-rink, the off-piste like frozen mashed potatoes.
We tried our best. Trooped off with the trailer park crew, hacksaws in hand, in an optimistic attempt to build log slides. Drove to the nearest town – a liquor store, Wal Mart and A&W twenty minutes down an icy, hail-blown road – to find that the local street rail now began and ended in dirt. Jen and Nat even spent an afternoon digging the crystallised, crap excuse for snow to create a wallride up a particularly photogenic trailer, only to finally admit defeat. It was like trying to build something out of a dried-up Slurpie. With frozen gloves. In minus temperatures.
So we hung out in the trailer park, ate pizza and drank shots in the T-Bar Pub, which felt like our local ten minutes after first stepping inside. The problem with an undeveloped gem is that there’s not much to do when the weather won’t cooperate. It was in Castle that we first felt the force of Canadian friendliness, the locals happy to talk and eager to do whatever they could to help us out. The community atmosphere was inspiring, the total lack of pretension refreshing, and the potential obvious. But potential is sadly not enough when you’re itching to ride.
Resolved to return under better conditions, we repacked the car – this time, a slightly shorter process – and headed on out. A chatty woman in the WalMart said that the snow was a little better west over the pass in Fernie. We crossed fingers and prayed for snow.
Fernie is the party town of the eastern Canadian Rockies, apparently. “You guys been to Fernie yet?" was the second question on every Canadian’s tongue, shortly after asking if they could help us. “You’ll love it/Didn’t you love it?" they would continue. “Fernie’s a party town, man."
We weren’t looking for a party town; we were looking for snow. Pulling into the icy parking lot of the Pinnacle Ridge apartments, the outlook didn’t look great. “There’s snow forecast for the mountain tonight," said the woman at the front desk and the guy who drove all the way across town to show us how to work the lock, helpfully.
We appreciated their optimism, but seeing as the slopes of Fernie resort tumble down practically into the town, and that it didn’t even seem close to snowing where we stood – shivering in the cold, surrounded by frozen chop – we didn’t hold out much hope.
We were wrong, though only just. Sipping Starbucks in the cute compact-but-bijou resort village the next morning, we heard tales of fresh up the hill. And, taking our first runs, were pleased to feel actual snow under our edges, rather than sheet ice.
Sadly, a quick tour of the mountain resulted in the disappointed conclusion that the swathes of impressive-looking in-bounds off-piste was still a good storm away from being decent. We watched a group of riders painfully skritch-skratch their way down through a steep-ass glade of trees, while chairlift companions apologetically told us just how great it had been, oh, a couple of weeks back. We could see if for ourselves: Fernie is a playground of chutes, spines, open bowls, windlips, logslides and glades, a mountain of envy-inducing terrain. “Think how much you could get done if you were here for a season," said Jenny, wistfully, as we cursed the weather yet again.
Still, though not quite the powder we were searching for, it was, at least, a start. And conditions in the small but well-put together park were fine for a kicker session. The largest jump was closed, but a word in the ear of the park boys, a quick radio conversation with the people down below, and we were set. By now the Canadians’ genuine desire to help out wasn’t coming as such a surprise. You want it open? You can handle it? Ok-eh, we’ll get a snowmobile to ferry you up and down, and your very own guide.
Small Paul, our guide, is, indeed, small; rabidly enthusiastic, and tripping over himself helpful. Though he spends every winter in Canada, has a Canadian girlfriend, and exhibits the uber-accommodating traits of the Canadians, he is also Australian. There are lots of Australians in Fernie, benefiting from the favourable visas of the Commonweath. As Macca is about to drop in, a guy from Byron Bay looks curiously on.
“So these are Pommie pros, huh?" he says, dubiously. “You wouldn’t think that there was such a thing."
Scott soars high overhead, a lean, clean, late b/s 180, and Bryon Bay’s jaw drops in disbelief.
Back in the lift ticket office, there’s a plaque on the wall that reads: “Our mission is to provide our guests with the best vacation and recreational experience possible." Anywhere else this would just be corporate speak, but here I’m beginning to really believe that they mean it: with the blessing of his employers, Small Paul is up before us the next morning, scouting out spots.
Eventually Dom settles on a 25-stair wooden rail that slopes from a first floor apartment to the ground, skimming over sharp-edged trash cans, broken glass, random spikes of wood and a treacherous-looking broken shopping trolley, all frozen solid into a pile of dirt-encrusted ice-snow.
The guys in the apartment aren’t happy about our plans at first, but can’t live with saying no. “We’re not here, right?" Heath and Safety is definitely an issue, police south of the border would have us arrested, yet here office workers gaze from windows across the street and passers-by look on benignly as first Dom, then Small Paul, risk impalement to stomp it. Random elderly people actually smile and cheer, and the boys in the flat celebrate with a six pack.
We mark our own joy at actually going snowboarding with a night out in Fernie’s famous nightlife. Diminutive ski towns are usually only “party towns" in a relative sense, and the ex-logging hamlet of Fernie’s no different: an assortment of “funky" places to drink coffee, a small but international offering of restaurants (here, the selection includes Swedish meatballs, Cajun spices, Mexican with skatepark attached and the fusion flavours of the Curry Bowl), and more than two places to drink. All very pleasant, and all within walking distance of each other, flanking 2nd Avenue, the historic redbrick main street. But after stumbling from pool game to so-so live music and back again, we discover a DJ who is – gasp – ruling it, not just in a ‘well, we’re in a resort, it’s okay for a laugh’ type of way, but with a seriously decent set that you’d be pleased with on a night out in a big city.
A little bit of encouragement from Nat, Jen and Stu, and the dance floor gets serious, too. If we knew any snow dances we might throw one in there, but we don’t: we just prance around like idiots, hoping that in Fernie our luck has turned.
Headlights pick out the tiny flakes in the darkness: it’s snowing as we crawl up the winding access road to Kicking Horse. Not exactly puking, but enough to get us excited. Problem is, it’s still snowing the next morning – not much, but enough to cause a white-out. Dust on crust in zero visibilitiy: mmmmhmmmm. Thank god for Andy Bostock. Or perhaps thank the One God … but more of that, later.
Andy is an Animal-sponsored mountain biker who escaped to this area a few years back with his wife, Kris, to live the good life. Like the Canadians around him, he can’t do enough for us and can’t wait to show us around. He turns up on our first morning in the small cafeteria at the base of the mountain. More developed than Castle, more isolated than Fernie, Kicking Horse is yet another uncrowded resort with unrinsed and unbelievable in-bounds terrain, a slick tourist outpost on the hill above the rough-n-ready lumber town of Golden.
Andy wants us to experience his little slice of paradise at its best, but, yet again, the weather just isn’t cooperating. The mountain is beat down from two weeks without decent snowfall; landings are dodgy and the skies are grey. Despite the knowledge and enthusiasm of our guide, we fairly soon reach the mutual conclusion that it’s not going to happen. Not on the mountain, at least.
Refusing to be thwarted, Andy gets on the phone to a friend who runs a snowmobile rental company, to see if there are any sleds going spare the next day. We’re dubious that the actual backcountry will be much better than any of the terrain on the mountain, but our guide insists that they know a spot with its own little weather system, a consistent powder keg when all else is frozen chop.
We leave him making arrangements and head into Golden in pursuit of rails, clutching badly drawn maps from the locals. The maps head to rails alright, but unfortunately these particular rails are of the distinctly small variety; nothing to compare to Dom’s Fernie stairmaster. Nevertheless the Canadians have once again done all they can to help. The country doesn’t seem to have much of a secret spots culture: “Locals will show you spots," said one, “Just don’t expect them to wait." We abandon the maps and drive through the rusty railway yards, past the High School, around the concrete skatepark: nothing.
Just as we’re about to give up, someone spies a steep wooden kink coming off the side of a building. However: there is a guy rope tied up right at the bottom of the steps. Which leads to a flagpole. Which is painted orange, and topped with a spear. And the building, though not particularly notable in construction, is decorated with fairy lights, trimmed in orange paint, and has a sign above the door that reads “Golden Sikh Temple" in English and something in an alphabet that none of us can understand.
“They’re never going to let us ride a temple," says someone, probably me. Poaching is out of the question: not only are there cars parked outside, but, well – it’s a temple.
“Shall I go and ask?" says Jenny, a veritable dynamo at sorting out shots, for others as much as for herself. The rest of us watch from the car as she and Nat wait on the threshold, then disappear inside, two small girls in beanies on a surely doomed mission.
Five minutes later, they’re back. Contrary to all our expectations about religious authority, we’ve been given the thumbs up. Oh, and the Sikhs would like to give us lunch, too.
There have been Sikhs in Golden since the late 1800s, we learn, brought here to work in the old lumber mills, and they follow the traditions of Sikhs the world over. They believe in One Supreme God, or Vaheguru, neither entity nor idol, but the grace within. If baptised, they must subscribe to five symbols, including keeping their hair unshorn and carrying a sword. They take the name of Singh (lion) if they are a man, Kaur (princess) if they are a woman. Any Sikh, male or female, can read from the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book. And on Sundays everyone, friend or stranger, is invited to show up for Pangat, a community lunch.
Stoked – it was a Sunday. A group of about ten men and women bid us to sit down in a long single line, as is the custom. They have just finished eating themselves, but earnestly ladle up trays of vegetarian goodness. At no point do they preach, but politely answer all our questions. Why are the walls of the dining room covered with gruesome paintings of beheadings and death by metal cogs and other forms of torture? Because Sikhs are a warrior race, we’re told, taking up the sword against all forms of injustice; those are Sikhs who have suffered for what they believe to be right, whether in the name of Sikhism or for any other cause.
“In our religion, we have to help everybody," explains the motherly lady serving me. This does not appear to be shallow doctrine: in our case, at least, the Sikhs of Golden follow through. Not only do they feed us and clean up after us, but pack up shakapara sweetmeats as supplies for our travels. They bring us shovels to dig out the steps, and pliers to untie the frozen guyrope attached to their sacred flagpole (“Wherever you see one, there is a Sikh"). Then they pack up and leave us to it.
Only the priest, Mr Jarnail Singh, remains. It transpires that he’s not here to keep an eye on us – he lives here, in draughty rooms off the dining hall. We dig as he watches, curiously. “You know, that railing is very old; it might break," he says, worriedly. We immediately promise to replace it if his fears prove to be justified. “Oh, I don’t care about the railing," replies Mr Singh. “I am just concerned for you."
“Natalie, you look cold," he remarks, a little later; frozen fingers are a by-product of the snowboard photographer’s craft. “Do you need me to get you some gloves?"
At one point an older Canadian couple roll up in a large, shiny pick-up, and look relieved to discover that the priest is aware that a bunch of kids in oversized snowsuits have taken over his yard. He shows them Nat’s business card, which features a rail shot in another story, another continent, and explains what we’re planning to do. “Have fun, you guys," waves the woman, as they drive off, satisfied in their neighbourly duties.
The stairs fully prepped, Scott starts to hit the rail. “Oh good, very good," nods Mr Singh, in appreciation. “But why," he says, turning to me and looking a little perplexed, “Does he want to do such a thing?"
I trot out the usual clichés: personal challenge, self-betterment, pushing the boundaries of what can be done on a plank of wood and P-tex. Mr Singh nods again, then disappears inside. He returns five minutes later with a tray of chai tea and an old newspaper clipping. It’s a column from The Golden Star, featuring a black and white picture of the priest holding up some curiously twisted vegetables. “Mr Jarnail Singh," reads the caption, “Priest of the Golden Sikh Temple, with his exceptionally large, award-winning cucumbers."
Mr Singh beams as we congratulate his green fingers. Scott can throw 180s down a scary-large kink; Mr Singh can grow size-defying gourds. Sipping hot tea in the cold landscape, we toast the pursuit of excellence while basking in the warm glow of human kindness.
In the words of that man in dark glasses, we still hadn’t found what we were looking for. Plenty that was unexpected, along with rail shots and park life checked off our to-do list. But no powder; no white gold.
It snowed again the night of the Sikh rail, but still not enough to change conditions at the resort. Fortunately, Andy had been plotting while we’d been playing: the snowmobiles were on.
We meet Aaron Bernasconi outside Tim Horton’s, on the outskirts of Golden. It’s icy cold, it’s early, but Tim Horton’s – Canadian fast food meets home baking national institution – is steaming, packed with burly guys stamping their feet and picking up breakfast.
Aaron looks right at home, but in fact he’s an East Coaster – a boardcross kid from Nova Scotia who jacked in competitions to live the big mountain life in Whistler, then jacked in Whistler to get away from the crowds. He moved to Golden five years ago having spotted the area from a plane window, and is now the proud owner of a snowmobile rental business, his 800cc babies sitting in a massive trailer in the Tim Horton’s forecourt.
Andy joins us with his own machine – they are an enviable staple of the Canadian snowboarder’s garage – and we head out to the trailhead. We have minimal to no snowmobiling experience, but once again we discover an advantage of Canada over the US: there is no mollycoddling here. We show our driver’s licences, sign the liability forms, and listen to a safety talk. Aaron checks that our transceivers are working, and that we all have shovels and probes. And then he lets us go. And go. And go. We climb steadily up a snowy trail. It’s deeply rutted from months of machine abuse, but as we gain height the snow piled up in the forests begins to take on a distinctly fluffy appearance.
We stop about twenty or thirty minutes up the trail, where the forest clears to scrubby mountain meadow both below and above the trail. Aaron points to a natural kicker above us: road gap. And the snow? Soft. Fresh. Powder. Hard to believe if it wasn’t right in front of us, but there’s little time to be wasted pondering the vagaries of geography. As Jen, Scott and Dom scramble to prep the kicker, it’s a quick hike for the rest of us to the first powder turns of 2007.
The coverage isn’t bottomless, and the landing for the gap soon develops icy bald spots. “It gets better," insists Andy, impatient for us to move on. He doesn’t realise that we’re reluctant to leave only because these are already by far the best conditions that we’ve had all trip. Finally back on the machines, we climb still higher through the forest until we find ourselves in one of the most stunning valleys on earth. High praise indeed – and there are presumably at least a dozen to rival it in the immediate vicinity. But accelerating out through the woods, into a valley shadowed by the stark spires of the bald Dogtooth Range, just us and the Wilderness with a capital W, the beauty is almost daunting.
Aaron stops in the shelter of some lonely firs and pulls out a Tim Horton’s sandwich. “Okay. After we eat, Andy and I will ferry you all to the top of that little ridge" – he points to a cliffband nestled in woods – “and then we’ll ride down and use two more machines to get us up there for the next run."
Being city born and bred, the thought of leaving $10,000 machines unattended is an anathema to me, despite the fact that we’re in the middle of nowhere. “Um – nobody’s going to nick them, right?" Aaron and Matt just laugh.
Riding up to the ridge is an adventure in itself: hanging onto the side of the sled as Aaron guns it straight up the steep treeless slope beneath the towering peak, trying to remember which way to lean with the threat of a death roll back down if we get it wrong. But no sooner has that adrenalin rush passed than we cruise down to the highlight of a day already picked out in screaming neon yellow: we find ourselves above a ridge of pillow lines, from baby bumps to thirty foot drops. All untouched, and all shrouded in the bottomless fluff that was the reason for making this trip in the first place. The cliffband is like a pillow line training facility; for piste-bound Brits in the middle of a dry winter, it’s like stumbling across the Holy Grail.
It would be perfect if this was the end of our journey. A true narrative arc, from no snow to an abundance, sewn together with a golden thread of kindness and generosity. Real life rarely reads as a story, however. We spent another perfect day in the backcountry before our schedule took us down to Panorama, known locally as Ice-o-rama: a purpose-built eagle’s nest in the notorious Purcell range, a resort primarily designed for family skiers on vacation. The views (of 1000 peaks, allegedly – we didn’t count) are outstanding, the park decent for jibbers, and the resort boasts the region’s only pipe, but the hardpacked pistes were a bit of a come-down after Golden. A shiny Intrawest village, the resort was also the only place in Canada that we got shut down; resort security apologetically telling us that they were really sorry, but Jenny couldn’t possibly slide a street rail. “Legal reasons," naturally. So instead we howled at wolves – no, really: there’s a sanctuary in Panorama – and sank cold tins of beer in boiling hot tubs, then got on the road back to Calgary early because the first big storm of the month was predicted to hit the day that we left.
No matter. By now it was snowing in the Alps, and the long dry winter’s spell of inactivity was broken. It might not have been the trip we were expecting, but we did find, eventually, the sort of snow that makes your entire being glow with exultation, with the sheer luck of being alive under velvet blue-black night skies, the lights from your snowmobile picking out the trail before you; engines roaring, board strapped to your back, muscles gently aching from a day well spent.
Back in the draughty temple in the old lumber town, Mr Singh would be sipping tea as he studied, pausing to think of his wife and daughter back in the Punjab, still waiting for their Canadian visas after nine years. “What does the tattoo on your head mean?" one of us had asked him while we ate, ready to lap up the symbolism. Mr Singh had smiled, eyes crinkling, flushed mildly with embarrassment.
“I … oh … It was just for fun. Because, well, when you are young, you don’t know so many things."
Too right. We spend most of our time in the company of familiars, sliding around on a slidey thing in fantasy-land resorts. We know how to read a weather report and we know how to scam as much as possible for as little as possible, but really we know @$*! all. We might not have found enlightenment in Canada, but we did learn at least two things, for sure: that hope is the kindness of strangers, and that we all want to go back. And soon.
We flew with Air Canada (0871 220 1111) direct from Heathrow to Calgary. Flights during the 2007/2008 season start at just under £400 return, inc. taxes.
TOUR OPERATORS AND TOURIST BOARDS
When you’re hiring a car, staying in a resort and buying lift tickets, travelling independently isn’t always the most economical choice. Depending on budget and what you expect out of a holiday, a UK based tour operator can save you money. Thanks to Frontier Ski (020 8776 8709), the UK’s ski Canada specialist, whose help with route planning and transport was invaluable; and to Nim at the Canadian Tourism Commission (0870 380 0070), without whose knowledge and assistance we wouldn’t have made it past Heathrow. Thanks also to the regional tourist reps at Travel Alberta (00 1 780 427-4321) and Tourism British Columbia.
Castle Mountain, Alberta (00 1 403 282-0456). Full day tickets $59.
Castle Mountain Ski Lodge and Hostel (001 403 627-5121), hostel beds $25; also renting agent for Castle’s Keep, sleeps 10-14, $300 per night.
Fernie Alpine Resort (00 1 250 423-4655). Full day ticket $69 (06/07 rates).
Pinnacle Ridge (0800 032-8836 or 00 1 250 423-2606). Two-bed condos sleeping six from $255 per night.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (00 1 250 439-5400). Full day ticket $60 (06/07 rates).
Townhomes, lodges and glossy modern condos are available on-mountain; see the resort website for details and booking. In Golden you’ll find hotels, motels and private cabins; highly recommended are the Mount 7 Lodges (00 1 250 344-8973) Two luxury cabins, each sleeping up to eight and with private hot tub, on 60 acres of private mountainside just south of Golden.
Panorama Mountain Village (00 1 250 342-6941). Full day ticket $63 (06/07 rates). Accommodation is managed by the resort; see the website for details and booking.
Golden Snowmobile Rentals (001 250 344-8175) Rentals from £225 per day; safety packs (backpack, shovel, probe and transceiver) $25 per day.
Mountain Perks (00 1 250 423-4023) runs shuttles from Calgary International to Kicking Horse and Golden, Invermere (for Panorama) and Fernie. 2007 fares were $67 Canadian each way.
NOTE: ALL PRICES IN CANADIAN DOLLARS
Thanks to all those who helped us on our travels, with special thanks to the Golden Sikh Temple for their patience and understanding.