Explore Kootenays with outdoor club

It’s easy, accessible and invigorating.

It’s a world of adventure in our own backyard and with over 600 peaks in the Kootenays, a local club is making them more accessible to residents.

The Kootenay Mountaineering Club (KMC) has been traversing the highs and lows of the area since 1964. Originally formed as the Kootenay chapter of the Alpine Club of Canada, in 1969 it officially morphed into the KMC.

From its12 founding members, KMC now boasts close to 300 in the West Kootenay area, with about 75 climbers in Greater Trail alone.

“It’s great because they offer all sorts of activities for every season, so in the summer there is lots of hiking and kayaking, and in the winter we have lots of different types of skiing and snowshoeing,” said three-year member and union president Chuck Macklon. “What makes it really great is that there are all levels of ability that you can join in on and will get you to places you’d never get to on your own.”

Over their long history, the club has broken new trails and cleared existing ones, provided rock schools, climbing and hiking camps, have built and renovated cabins and of course climbed mountains, organizing explorations and first ascents throughout the year.

The active group goes all-year-round, planning a variety of adventures for the beginner and expert, from casual mountain-bike rides to demanding winter ski-mountaineering expeditions.

“We have a grading system for all our trips, which are guided by volunteers like myself that know the area,” said KMC vice-president Peter Oostlander.

The retired Oostlander moved to Trail from Vancouver where he was a member with the B.C. Mountaineering Club.

“The big difference is that here, it’s right at your doorstep, whereas Vancouver there’s always a long drive,” he said.

KMC plans about 30 trips in the winter and over 60 from April to October, each one graded for level of difficulty.

These trips are open to non-members as well, but for members, the three weeklong summer camps is the highlight of the year. Organizers arrange a helicopter to fly members into a remote region of the Kootenays where they can hike and explore at their own pace.

“The benefit of that particular camp is that it’s very well organized and people can pick their own hikes, from really easy to full-on mountaineering,” he said.

The club also focuses on instruction and safety in a very social, healthy, and stunning environment.

“Lots of people that are members of the club have extensive knowledge of the area and experience, they’re awesome,” added Macklon.

The club is not only for hiking or skiing buffs, many and diverse interests such as photography, botany, archeology and geology are enjoyed in the field.

Macklon was also a metallurgical technologist for 30 years, so his interest in geology and rock formations often find him descending an area with a pack filled with rocks.

“I usually weigh more coming out than coming in.”

For more info or to sign up for a hike visit the Kootenay Mountaineering Club online at kootenaymountaineering.bc.ca.