The Kootenay Mountaineering Club (KMC) has been creating memorable life experiences for over 50 years.
KMC first formed in 1968 and has been running hiking/climbing camps since 1974, with only 2020 and 2021 camps missed due to COVID health orders.
“Each summer, the Kootenay Mountaineering Club (KMC) hosts three week-long hiking camps for interested KMC members,” explained longtime executive member Peter Oostlander. “Camps are usually located in remote locations, in more remote areas of the Kootenays.”
Last summer, members hiked from camps in the Septet Creek area of the Bugaboo Mountains near Bugaboo Provincial Park, just outside of Invermere. Historically, most camps visit remote and often difficult terrain in the Purcell, Monashee, Selkirk and Rocky Mountains.
Participants are transported by helicopter to the selected site with their own hiking/climbing gear, camp gear and food.
All camps are self-contained and unguided. Each trip has a capacity of 20 people per camp, including a volunteer facilitator who organizes pre-camp and camp set-up, and a volunteer cook.
Of the 365 members, most come from the Trail, Rossland, Castlegar and Nelson area, making KMC the largest climbing club outside of the Lower Mainland. This year, due to heavy snowfall in the alpine regions, the first two camps were cancelled, but an additional camp was added after the last camp.
Active members are selected for the camps by an annual lottery system and Dan Bouillon of Greater Trail was one of the raffle winners, who recently joined a hike in the Bugaboos.
“What I found most surprising and amazing about this experience were the people I met,” Bouillon said. “Although I expected to be inspired by mountains and vistas, to have my heart wanting to burst out of my chest with effort, and to experience a bit of fear in the most dangerous places, these are the people inspiring people I have encountered that have given me the most lasting impressions.
“We talked about biology and conservation, adventures in remote places around the world, encounters with rhinos and elephants, Bengal tigers and hippos, cougars and bears.
“Many of the hikers were at retirement age and nothing was holding them back in life – truly inspiring!”
And in addition to no age limit, physical condition or climbing ability is also not an issue.
“Because the hiking camp has 20 participants each, we see the group split into smaller teams that are of similar ability,” Oostlander added. “So one group may only run easy terrain, while others are more energetic and select longer distances or slightly more technical terrain.”
In addition to hiking camps, MCK members regularly organize mountain and meadow hikes, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing and other adventures almost every week of the year.
For more information, go online to kootenaymountaineeringclub.ca.
HikingKootenaysOutdoors and Recreation