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philfort

Heli ski operation on Mt Waddington

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Wow, thanks for telling us all about it, that's very cool of you. I especially like the way you have no idea what you are talking about:

 

I'm all in favor of increased guiding access to public lands

 

since this is not the issue here, nor ever has been. Apparently no one has been allowed to guide on Waddington until now.

 

Jordop, sorry, I was feeling a bit smart-ass when I wrote that post. But American Alpine Institute and NOLS offer Mt. Waddington climbs (the NOLS trips are heli or plane resupplied). And I thought (though I may be wrong) that ACMG-IFMGA guides are allowed to operate on Ministry of Forests lands. So, allowing a guide service to land a helicopter in the area is increasing access for a guided visitor.

 

I've never been shy about stepping up and voicing my opinion about guides' access on public lands on both sides of the border. I think that my voice provides a bit of balance to others who cry "No - Never!" I know that the resulting compromise will sit somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

 

Really, you should buy me that beer.

 

Edit: Wow, I just finished reading Don's posts on this. Very persuasive and compelling argument. And though I'm not a Canadian citizen, I am a tourist who comes in and spends my money there (something that means less now than it did 6 or 7 years ago). And as a climber, a back country skier, and a guide, I figured my opinion was asked for in the OP.

Edited by mtnfreak

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mtnfreak: let me spell it out for you.

 

Guides can already guide Wadd.

Helicopters can already land at wadd.

 

This proposal is about commercial heliskiing and heli-snowmobiling at Wadd. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH INCREASING GUIDE ACCESS!

 

In fact, if the proposal is accepted, it means that only guides working for the proponent's company will be allowed to guide heliski parties there. That is how commercial tenures work. So it will actually reduce guiding possibilities for someone like you.

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Umm, this is about HELI-SKIING AND COMMERCIAL TENURE, not guides being able to access public lands. Guides have always been able to guide, land a helicopter, etc in the Wadd area.

 

We are talking about a HELI-SKIIING TENURE whereby there will be repeated and frequent mechanized use of a formerly wilderness area.

 

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Edit: Wow, I just finished reading Don's posts on this.

 

Yeah, it's usually best to do this before you spout off :wave:

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Edit: Wow, I just finished reading Don's posts on this.

 

Yeah, it's usually best to do this before you spout off :wave:

Jordop - I apologized for being a smart-ass and I said that Don's argument was compelling and persuasive. Not that I agreed with him or regretted my post. I don't agree (completely) with Don, nor do I regret voicing my opinion.

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mtnfreak: let me spell it out for you.

 

Guides can already guide Wadd.

Helicopters can already land at wadd.

 

This proposal is about commercial heliskiing and heli-snowmobiling at Wadd. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH INCREASING GUIDE ACCESS!

 

In fact, if the proposal is accepted, it means that only guides working for the proponent's company will be allowed to guide heliski parties there. That is how commercial tenures work. So it will actually reduce guiding possibilities for someone like you.

Thanks for the spell-out. So does "commercial tennure" grant the permit holder exclusivity? And as I understand it, heliskiing is not presently offered around Mt. Waddington, only heli-access - am I wrong? And does it simply add to the helicopter traffic that already occurs, or does it limit it in a "rob Peter to give to Paul" scenario?

 

EDIT: And hey - I followed the links in the first two posts (though I'm not a Bivouac member so I can't see the discussion), and I don't have any information about "heli-snowmobiling". Can someone cite a source to back that up? I had assumed that any snowmobile access would be for lower mountain operations (like other coastal boat heli-ski operators).

Edited by mtnfreak

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Commercial tenure grants exclusivity for the activity of choice. It robs Peter to pay Paul. Heli-skiing is not presently offered, only heli-access. But heli-access is permitted to anyone. If a tenure is granted, it is my understanding of the exclusivity provision of the tenure process that heli-access for the purposes of skiing will only be permitted to the tenure holder during the permit period.

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The heli-snowmobiling will be flying snowmobiles into alpine glaciers as I understand it. High-marking on the Dias and Scimitar :tdown:

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Why wouldnt you ask these questions before emailing Diane..?

Because the first two posts gave me the impression that someone was simply adding another helicopter service into the area - "commercial tenure" is not a term used in the States. Also, "heli-snowmobiling" and "commercial tenure" were not mentioned in the first two posts, or in the links provided.

 

So give me a second...

 

EDIT:

Dear Ms. Tetarenko,

 

This is in regards to the Permit Application submitted by Knight Inlet Heli Sports Ltd. Earlier today I emailed you to voice my support for this permit application. However, I did so without having all the facts at hand, to my embarassment. I'd like to retract my previous statement with this email instead.

 

I've learned that Knight Inlet Heli Sports, Ltd, is applying for a "commercial tenure" permit in two areas near and including Mt. Waddington in the Coast range. If approved, this permit would give them exclusive access to these areas, eliminating the current choices provided by numerous guide and pilot services. If approved, guided and non-guided visitors to the area would loose - in part or in full - their ability to choose the services that best meet their needs.

 

Because of this, I strongly encourage you to refuse the permit application submitted by Knight Inlet Heli Sports. I apologize again for my earlier comments made while still un-informed of the issue, and thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

 

EDIT #2:

Thank you for the followup email. Your comments will be considered during the adjudication of this application.

 

Diane Tetarenko

Manager, Adventure Tourism

Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts

Suite 142 - 2080A Labieux Road

Nanaimo, BC V9T 6J9

 

Phone: (250) 751-7241

Cell: (250) 713-7559

Fax: (250) 751-7224

Email: Diane.Tetarenko@gov.bc.ca

Edited by mtnfreak

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I just wrote a letter telling Diane I thought the whole thing was a bad idea.

Edited by AlpineK

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mtnfreak, et al,

 

i see by the various posts to-and-fro, and pro-and-con, that there is some level of confusion about what i am concerned about, and what i am opposed to. i regret not providing more information initially, but i was too busy putting all my thoughts into a very long missive to Ms. Tetarenko. that done, for those of you with patience i can make amends.

 

i am NOT opposed to the entire Knight Inlet heliskiing proposal. i have no trouble with the concept of being granted tenure for heliskiing in the Whitemantle and Sims-Tumult areas. i think the Silverthrone-Klinaklini application region is far too big to be practical, a view that is supported by a letter from Swede Mattsson, who runs Bella Coola Helisports just up the coast. he contends that it is not possible to heliski over greater than 50km of range without fuel caches, and the KIH application explicitly states that no fuel caches will be made on public lands. without a meaningful business plan in place to support the grant of this area, this looks like a simple 'land-grab', and i suggest zone 4 ought to be cut back radically and/or granted conditionally, with later examination of actual use to determine long-term boundaries.

 

the KIH application is extremely flimsy. it runs all of 12 pages (including 2 cover pages, 2 maps, one google-earth-like photo, 3 pages of informationless charts, and 4 pages of actual content. for comparison, i understand the Bella Coola application was something like 150 pages. responsible companies who get the rights to make money off public lands by being granted those rights by the people of this province have a responsiblity to manage their grants in the public interest, not just for their narrow field of view. there is little evidence of anyn thoguht about any of these issues in the application.

 

my main concern in the areas outside the waddington range is for the heliskiers to not spoil the wilderness experience of the one or two touring parties per year that might pass thru the region. this should be no hardship - each of the 4 zones applied for is roughly the same size as all of garibaldi park! or, for a WA perspective, zone 4 alone is just about the same size and shape as the combined north and south portions of the north cascades park, i.e., about 80km-100km N-S and 30km to 40km E-W. and the application from KIH proposes dealing with "overlap with existing use" by keeping "any flight paths or ski activities a minimum of one kilometer away". ONE kilometer?!?! in a tenure area three or four times the size of the entire north cascades or of garibaldi park, they propose to 'stand off' by ONE KILOMETER?!?! laughable!

 

KIH also has so far made a mockery of the application process, ignoring the regulatory requirements for stakeholder consultation, for instance. they contacted the Federation of Mtn Clubs of BC during their 'investigative' stage. the FMC replied stating their likely concerns, and asking to be 'kept min the loop' if and when an actual application was filed. Mr. Dawson (the applicant) replied suggesting the FMC spend their time and energy fighting fish farms and old growth logging! since then, nothing. nor have the Alpine Club or the BCMC (who has a hut in the tenure area) been contacted. this is public stakeholder consultation?

 

KIH is already advertising trips, despite tenure not yet being granted. see:

http://www.knightsinletheliskiing.com/

if they've actually taken clients on trips before the application process has been finalized, they've 'broken the law'. a few years ago, a heliski company similarly took clients out prior to approval, and they paid the price with a (one month? i'm unsure...) suspension.

 

despite what at every turn seems to be a casual, frivolous, condescending, priviledged company attitude, i don't object wholesale to the application. there is lots of turf out there, and heliskiing in new, remote regions is drawing customers from the established operations like Cdn Mtn Holidays and Weigle in an overall flat or declining market. i can even imagine that the presence of a helicopter in the head of Knight Inlet might be of use to climbing and/or touring parties some day, either for access or in case of an emergency.

 

it'd sure be easier to be supportive, however, if the application and the applicant weren't so 'wingy'!

 

so, mtnfreak, i too am all in favour of increased access to public lands, both guided and otherwise. fact is, i get in trouble with some of my cohorts in the ACC, cuz i'm strongly a recreationist, not a preservationist. use it or lose i, i reckon. unless we have LOTS of backcountry use going on, other have a perfectly valid argument that 'their' rights trump ours. that's how most of the Whistler corridor (and other areas too) has been lost as touring terrain to snowmobilers.

 

i'm usually pretty laissez-faire, but i'm totally hard-core about the waddington range itself. this region stands out from all others in the coast mountains, both topographically and metaphysically. not every place ought to be subjected to the full onslaught of modern technological civilization. the waddington range is one of those 'special' places where motorized recreation has no place - motorized access and egress, fine, but 'play with your noisy toys' somewhere else, please boys.

 

cheers, don

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I enjoy the peace and solitude of the backcountry like most of you folks, but I'm finding it harder and harder these days to justify why my views/desires should trump others; particularly commercial interests or those who lack the skills/willingness to experience this spectacular area a little bit differently. Surely the solution is to compromise by allowing some sort of limited/licenced commercial access.

 

bigtree, it's perfectly valid to preserve some areas for 'peace and solitude', and to restrict some activities in some places. yup, one has to justify the exclusion, and in the waddington range case i realize i'm arguing for exclusion of heliskiers even though they'll be in the rnge in february and march, and tourers won't be there (mostly) till april and may. for me, that comes down to 'spirit' and 'feel' and a bunch of other hard-to-express sentiments. economics and rationality and logic must be considered too, but the other side of the equation is equally important. no decision on land use is ever unanimous, but i have no qualms nor any discomfort in being hard, hard, hard in my attitude on this one. what'll eventually happen? who knows. but whatever land use regime i have to live with in the future, i'll sleep well for having not held back when the outcome was up for debate.

 

your 'peace and solitude of the backcounrty' viewpoint is absolutely vald. just say this much about this issue, and you'll have done your bit.

 

cheers, don

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I understand your passion Don. I'm just not sure that e-mails/letters are going to achieve your objective; particularly given our province's tenure scheme and the general lack of weight that this type of protest correspondence carries with the bureaucracy.

 

This strikes me a classic land use zonation issue similar to all the others we've experienced up and down the coast since the '80's. If you want to win this one you'll need to rally some allies and try and speak with a single voice. Suggest you get in touch with the FMCBC of which you know the ACC is a part of. I'm sure Evan Loveless et al are sensitized to the issue and may have already taken action.

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The FMCBC, ACC, and BCMC have all written to oppose heliskiing in the Waddington Range. The BCMC went further, and opposed tenure in the Whitemantle and SIlverthrone-Klinaklini areas as well. Good on 'em for ignoring any hint of compromise.

 

Contact is already underway with the Ministry of Agriculture and Parks, who administer all 'flavours' of protected area status. The obvious solution is to have designated non-motorized recreation status. This will not be easy to achieve, but there is room for optimism, and it's better to sort this out openly than to get into battles every 2 or 3 years.

 

I'm confident we'll 'win the battle' for Waddington, but please keep you pens poised - the 'issue' is not dead, and the need for 'speaking our minds' is not over.

 

And on that theme, please send even a brief e-mail if you haven't already done so. The deadline is March 9th, and the community of mountaineers needs to take care of its own business...

 

Cheers, and thanks to all who wrote. There have apparently been MANY submissions.

Edited by Don_Serl

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Nice big article today on the front page of the BC section of the Globe and Mail. Impressive. Also a really weird/spooky photo of Don's reflection peering out of the upper Tellot!

 

Piece seemed to focus more on the impact on ski mountaineering, less on the eggregiously large nature of the tenure. The company's refusal to comment for the story is a nice shot in the foot for them I think.

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0410bcskiers.jpg

 

credit where credit due:

the lovely photo of the Upper Tellot Glcr is by Janez Ales; seems like the media don't have to credit a photo within a photo...

btw, dead silence from the govt' on the Wadd issue for the past few weeks, but the application is still pending. and the boat is up there... and they're still doing 'exploratory' skiing...

cheers, don

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Don, I just finished watching Warren Miller's Cold Fusion DVD which had some great heli ski footage of Waddington in it. Seems to me the young bucks flew in via Whitsaddle heli from a ranch on the Chilcotin Plateau. I know you're opposed to that kind of stuff in the area but it still looked very cool, particularly one scene where a guy takes a spectacular/lengthy tumble which ends as he bounces off the downslope side of a 'schrund or crevasse and then stands up and shakes it off like its an everyday occurrence.

 

Coincidentally, I bumped into an oldie but goodie article about your Waddington traverse in Mark Krosse's Fifty Favorite Climbs. I have a better appreciation of your passion/motivations.

 

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bigtree, tks for the heads-up - i'll have to try to get ahold of a copy. sounds spectacular.

 

I can understand the motivation for the skiers - i'd just like them to do their runs honestly, by flying in lower, climbing the peak, then skiing the line. a lot of the best stuff the core Whistler extreme skiers have done has been done in this style (not least becuz it's the best way to suss out the conditions on the line on the way up, and so avoid getting killed on the descent), and I have a whole bunch of respect for that.

 

in contrast, a young threesome from Pemberton recently flew to the summit of Broad Pk and skied the NE face (photos pgs 151 and 152, wadd guide). good work, in a way, but...

 

they then went on to attempt to ski the N face of Bell (!), which would have been amazing (photo pg 149 lower). after failing to get up the S side, they got choppered to high on the NE ridge (the rounded snow-knob below the junction of rtes 38 and 39) and within a few hundred metres avalanched themselves, stopping only a short distance before pitching over the seracs and rock cliffs directly beneath the 38/39 junction. a very narrow escape, and a lesson in why more traditional appproaches, even to extreme skiing, are justified.

 

in general, i find the extreme skiers to be more attuned to the mtns than the heli-skiers, and more 'a part of' the mtn environment. therefore i'm much more tolerant in my attitudes towards them.

 

cheers, don

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