West Kootenay Mountains just became a little more accessible to backcountry skiers and snowboarders.
After eight years of hard work, Rossland resident Trevor Campbell will officially release his Mighty Bighorn Maps, backcountry guides to Kootenay Pass and, most recently, the Rossland Range.
“There is a lack of information out there right now to inform people about where they can ski, and the popularity of backcountry touring is increasing exponentially,” said Campbell.
The 37-year-old snowboarder hiked his way up and over every summit in the Rossland Range and the Salmo-Creston’s Kootenay Pass, discovering and detailing hundreds of backcountry routes.
Campbell studied Physical Geography at the University of the Fraser Valley and later Geographical Information Systems at Selkirk College with his whole purpose to create the backcountry maps.
“Anytime I had a chance at school to turn it into a project or make it part of the curriculum it was there . . . all my studies were focused around that.”
The result has been two unique, all-inclusive map systems for each of the popular zones.
Some may worry that the maps will reveal carefully guarded, age-old “secrets” to the Rossland Range and Kootenay Pass, but Friends of the Rossland Range director Les Carter sees it differently.
“It’s a level playing field, there are no secret stashes anymore. I get e-mails from Seatttle, Australia, and more, about the Rossland Range and more knowledge is always better,” said Carter. “People know where they are, and can make better decisions about routes and conditions.”
Combining a currently unmatched level of accuracy, Campbell doubled the scale from 1:50,000 down to 1:25,000, and incorporates high resolution photographs of over 30 routes in each range, further enhancing the understanding of the terrain.
He also hired local avalanche experts ACMG Guide Josh Milligan and Wren McElroy of the Whitewater ski patrol who provided detailed avalanche exposure scale ratings for all routes.
While each backcountry adventurer is ultimately responsible for their own safety, these three tools combined into one weatherproof document dramatically increase each skier’s decision-making ability.
“Trevor has spent a lot of time ground-truthing the map, and consulting with stakeholders and experts (Canadian Avalanche Association, etc.),” said Carter. “He has produced a very professional product.”
Carter’s original concern was for the Nancy Greene Summit huts that are considered non-permanent fixtures as per agreement with Atco Wood Products that hold forest tenure over the land.
“If a hut becomes a problem for any reason such as being in the way of a new forestry road, then we will take it down. Trevor’s map and text reflect that,” says Carter.
After spending countless hours in the field, both winter and summer, and even more behind the computer, Campbell is justifiably pleased with the result.
“It’s kind of emotional almost,” said Campbell. “Over the span of eight years, all the life changes alone, and having this project always in the background, its pretty satisfying to see it come to fruition.”
The product is made of fine synthetic material that is waterproof and rip-proof, perfect for long winter trips.
Clearly defined and user friendly, the map will make trips to the backcountry safer, more reliable, and even more enjoyable for backcountry enthusiasts.
Join Campbell for Mighty Bighorm Maps launch Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Café Books West in Rossland. Cost is only $16.95.