At this point, the majority of us are aware, in one capacity or another, of the history of the proposed Jumbo Glacier resort. By now the majority of us have formulated an opinion about the proposal.
The proponents are adamant that this is a sustainable project and an appropriate use of public land, and somehow believe they have the publics support to make this resort a reality. They believe there are simply not enough ski hills in the area and that an extended ski season will keep local tourism and ski industries afloat.
Local environmental advocacy groups have long fought back, largely with local public support. Call it scare tactics, call it reality, call it whatever you want. No, the area is not a pristine, unspoiled wilderness. The region has long supported itself through forestry and mining and the Jumbo Creek Valley was no different.
Groups like Wildsight and the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society are 100 per cent necessary to keep industry and government in check. Without them, frivolous land grabs and exploitation of resources would run rampant.
Local First Nations have also thrown in their two cents. To the Ktunaxa, the valley has spiritual value and should be left alone. To the Shuswap, the resort should go ahead as planned.
The topic has been a political hot potato; with neither local nor provincial bodies wanting to make a decision. The decision has been kicked around so much, its starting to look like an inmate in a prison riot.
I say lock it up. Tie this thing up for as long as possible and one of two things is going to happen:
eventually the proposal will become stale and it is unlikely investors will want their name attached whether it goes ahead or not; or everyone involved will eventually pass away and the proposal along with them. In any event, it will give us hikers, climbers and mountaineers more time to spend with the area before tourists swarm the upper glaciers of the Commander Group of mountains.
Amid all the shots being fired across everyones bows, the history of this great group of mountains has yet to be mentioned. The immediate area has eight peaks over 11,000 feet of elevation a concentration rivalled only by the Columbia Icefields and countless more over 10,000 feet, and is mountaineers heaven.
It is not only the height and prominence of these great peaks that draw climbers to them. The history is rich and laced with the names of the most dominant pioneers of Canadian alpinism. They recorded numerous first ascents on the areas peaks in the heyday of Canadian mountaineering, even when everyones focus had been on the Rockies peak bagging spree.
That is the way the area should be enjoyed: summiting a peak after negotiating the objective hazards of glacier travel, rockfall, weather and exposure; standing atop a mountain summit after a long day of work; enjoying a view that requires a concerted effort to attain. Not riding a ski lift. Not milling around with hundreds of tourists. Not trying to find a parking spot closest to the gondola.
Of course, my argument could be avoided entirely if the government just says no. And to everyone else…go take a hike! Seriously!