Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mtn

Something I’ve learned about myself is that I rarely turn down an opportunity for adventure. When Kicking Horse Mountain calls and wants you to climb Terminator Peak and cross a swaying suspension bridge, you go.

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But this was no ordinary climb, this type of climb is called “Via Ferrata” which means “iron path” in Italian. I have done these types of climbs before but this one is positioned as most exhilarating Via Ferrata in Western Canada. We did the ASCENSION Route, which is the full route to the peak. It did not disappoint.

From Kicking Horse’s website: “465 meters of pure bliss! Starting off the ridge-line dividing the Rocky Mountain trench from the Purcell range, and exiting at the top of Terminator Peak, the ASCENSION Route is a truly unique beast. From the climbers’ mouth, this course is one of the most technical & scenic in North America. Discover our signature “Guts Bridge” and stand on top of the world, feeling that you summited a giant!

 

Via Ferrata Gallery

Interested in seeing how something like this comes together? Kicking Horse Mountain put together a video series of the making of the Via Ferrata:

Learn more about Kicking Horse Mountain’s Via Ferrata climb here.

Dax

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Expedition: Columbia Valley

In December of 2015 I embarked on my final expedition of the year in the Columbia Valley of British Columbia, Canada. This place is a blessing for anyone looking for a mix of renegade adventure, outdoor family activities, relaxation, and big mountain fun.

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The last time I visited the Columbia Valley I was about 21 years old, on a snowboarding trip at Panorama Mountain Resort with one of my best friends. This time around I teamed up with The Weather Network to explore and document outdoor activities found in the area. Prior to leaving on an expedition, I always have some level of preconceived notions of what the expedition will be like. I think about the itinerary, who I will meet, what I will be doing; and I can honestly say every aspect of this expedition shattered my mind. The main hub of the valley is the town of Invermere, in Kootenay National Park, which served as a base for this expedition while we stayed at Copper Point Resort.

Before I get too deep into this, let’s get some thing straight about Copper Point Resort. Until the moment I stepped into my room I thought all hotels were more or less the same: same hard mattress, same pillows that will never be like home, same cookie-cut bathrooms, same generic hotel-room look with barely enough room to enjoy it… MY EXPECTATIONS WERE BLOWN AWAY BY COPPER POINT. Without giving away too much, I stepped into what I thought was literally an upscale condo – I had two fireplaces, three bathrooms (which had TV’s in the mirrors), full amenities, and after twelve seconds of admiring the room I was thinking of ways to pitch them having me live there as a resident ambassador for Copper Point. Since then I have stayed in hotels and motels which will never measure up. This is by far the best place to stay if you visit Invermere.

 

Paragliding.

The first day of the expedition began at Panorama where I was to go paragliding (for the first time in my life). The plan was to ski off the summit of Panorama Mountain (almost 8,000ft) and paraglide to the base. Many people have asked if I was scared or if I had any fears prior to doing this and to be honest, I wasn’t afraid of the paragliding itself – I was more freaked out by the fact that I haven’t been on skis since I was in Grade 9. The last time I wore skis I skied into a tree and broke my thumb. Who the hell skis into a tree thumb-first? I do. Anyways, I pulled up my socks, told my mind to shut up, got my gear and headed to the top of the mountain. There I met up with maybe one of the most renegade-badass human beings I have ever met. His name is Max Fanderl (FlyingMax.com), who has competed in the Red Bull X-Alps. We went up the chairlift and at the summit I did a quick interview with The Weather Network and then we got suited up. We began skiing off the summit and I remember the moment the wind picked me up and I was soaring above the trees and mountain within moments. This was the most surreal feeling I have ever had and I couldn’t believe how the mountain looked from above. The weather conditions were perfect – little to no wind, the trees were all dusted in snow, and it is a moment I will never forget.

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Snowmobiling.

I have never snowmobiled up until we arrived at Toby Creek Adventures. Upon arriving at base camp the folks from Toby Creek were like “Here’s your machine,” and pointed to a snowmobile directly in front of me. After a couple seconds I replied with, “What, are you joking.” Initially I had assumed I’d be taking photos off the back of a snowmobile while someone else drove…So this was AMAZING news because it allowed me the opportunity to try something new but also to get Point-Of-View photos with my GoPro. I got a run down on how to pilot the snowmobile, mounted the GoPro to my helmet and we all geared up for the day. We rode up to the Paradise Mine on Brewer Mountain in the Purcell Mountains, which was about a 4 hour/half-day trip. Along the way we stopped in several places to admire the spectacular views, and one of these locations included a frozen ice waterfall.

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Snowbiking.

“What the hell is snowbiking?” I asked myself on my way to Radium Snowmobile and Snowbike Rentals in Invermere, BC. I figured it was much like fat tire biking, which is basically a bicycle with fat tires, for enhanced traction on snow. I was wrong. As it turns out, snowbikes are a modified dirtbike. But instead of having tires, they have a large ski on the front and track on the rear (the one I rode even had nitrous) – like OMG. As if I needed that much power. I met up with Steve Langevin, a former pro snowbiker and operator of Radium Snowmobile and Snowbike Rentals. We ascended up Brewer Mountain on a tear. Being on a snowbike feels like you are surfing on clouds – conditions were ideal that day and we were literally surfing on 4 feet of powder on the side of a mountain. After connecting with Steve that day we became very close friends. Steve has a certain attitude about life, sports, and nature that makes you want to be around him. We naturally became buddies and this is a day I’ll never forget. Steve, I love you man.

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Skiing, Snowboarding, Fat Tire Biking.

While I was on the expedition I also had the opportunity to get back on skis, try fat biking for the first time and even get a day of snowboarding in at Panorama Mountain Resort.

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Ice Fishing.

I had never been ice fishing prior to this day. The Weather Network and I headed out to the middle of Windermere Lake where we met up with Reel Axe Adventures, who were burrowing into the ice and setting up fishing poles. We didn’t know how thick the ice was but seeing the confidence from the folks at Reel Axe eased our tensions. After about 10 minutes we started getting bites and after a couple hours we ended up with a pile of fish. I liked this experience so much the next time will be in a hut and will be a several-day endeavor.

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I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that a common theme from this expedition was TRYING NEW THINGS. I always want to push boundaries and get out of my comfort zone every time I go on an expedition and my time in the Columbia Valley proved to be my most adventurous and athletic expedition to date. From family fun to solo outdoor activities, it is the perfect place to plan your next trip, any time of the year.

 

Related Press:

Calgary Herald Article: “Outdoor adventure abounds in Invermere

 

If you visit the Columbia Valley:

Stay at: Copper Point Resort (http://www.copperpointresort.com/)

Have fun at: Panorama Mountain Resort (Skiing/Snowboarding/Fat Tire Biking), FlyingMax.com (Paragliding), Toby Creek Adventures (Snowmobiling), Reel Axe Adventures (Ice Fishing), Radium Snowbike and Snomobile Rental (Snowbiking)

Eat and drink at: Birchwood Restaurant, Kicking Horse Coffee

Relax at: Radium Hot Springs, Fairmont Hot Springs

Travel planning & additional resources: Destination British Columbia | Official Tourism and Travel Website for BC Canada

 

Dax

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What Being Robbed Taught Me

On November 8, 2015 I had all my photography equipment and a bunch of my exploring gear stolen from my truck at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Banff National Park, AB. Turns out, that day was a blessing in disguise. The following is the story of what happened and what I learned from being robbed.

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MY FACEBOOK POST JUST HOURS AFTER THE THEFT:

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So just to update everyone – the gear has still not been recovered. I kept an eye on Kijiji and the Banff Center security was notified and I had the RCMP involved. That being said, the thieves could have taken the camera equipment anywhere to sell it, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about how an act of robbery could actually turn out being a blessing in disguise. First of all, I’ve had many people ask me about some of the action associated with my social media postings after the theft. They are as follows:

  • Over 200+ Re-tweets on Twitter (by far the most re-tweets I have ever received. Up to that point, the most re-tweets I had on a single tweet was 52)
  • The most replies on Twitter I have ever had on a single tweet (so many that I had trouble replying to every one of them)
  • 168 Shares on Facebook (also by far the most shares I have ever received on a post)
  • The most comments on Facebook I have ever had on a single post (96+)
  • 660NEWS Radio Calgary interviewed me about the theft incident to raise awareness over radio (article link below)
  • Postmedia Network interviewed me about the incident (article link below)

Press:
Photographer looking to recover stolen camera equipment reaches out on social media (660 News)
Photographer has camera equipment stolen at Banff film fest (Postmedia Network)

 

So, what did I learn from all this?

 

1. Compassion is King. (and always will be)

I hear people say that negative news travels further than positive news. Which may be true in some cases, but compassion can TRANSCEND further into the feelings of people, and that can be way more powerful than a negative story. This is also a two-way street; people had compassion for me and my daughter because our stuff was stolen, but what about the thief? Honestly, after a day or two I gained compassion for whoever broke into my truck and stole everything. Why? Because he or she is in a worse place than I am. Who thinks robbery is cool? People who are desperate, or dumb people. Either way – they cannot bounce back harder or stronger from this… I can.

2. Don’t underestimate the power of your network.

You know, I’ve been on Twitter since 2009, Instagram since 2014, and have been on Facebook forever (but have only taken it seriously since 2014) and I always knew I had an awesome tribe. I love my friends, I love people who comment and interact with my feeds and social media has forever played a HUGE role in my career and personal life. BUT my mind was blown that day and the PURE LOVE I felt from everyone melted my heart – even people I rarely interact with or who I just met shared and offered all kinds of help. Some friends even set up a GoFundMe page and others just reached out and offered me money to help me get some new equipment. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I felt from my friends, followers, and the community for the coming weeks. I love you all, you have no idea.

3. Things get way, way better.

Seriously, they do. After I posted my outreach post across my social media networks, the love and support from people was overwhelming enough – that night the kind folks at GoPro reached out to me and offered to send me all new GoPro equipment. (photo below) LIKE, WHAT! I also posted the image below on my Facebook which got more ‘Likes” than any other photo I have ever posted. (500+ Likes)

Then the VERY NEXT DAY Instagram made me a Suggested User, becoming a top-choice account as chosen by Instagram, drastically increasing my following on Instagram. Then the next day Canadian Geographic magazine reached out to me to publish one of my photos in their JAN/FEB issue. Then a friend of mine on Twitter who I’ve tweeted back and forth with named Joey Bergeron (@joeybergeron) sent me a note and said that he was willing to send me his Canon 30D DSLR camera plus a couple lenses and everything I’d need to get back on my feet. Like, wow. I got emotional like a roller coaster for all of those days but Joey, my man, you really struck a chord with me. I love you. Furthermore someone at Canon Canada saw my post and I’m now in touch with them. (more to come on that hopefully)

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4. You have a choice when you get robbed: You can pout, or forge forward.

Unfortunately, robbery happens. Sometimes we can avoid it, and sometimes we can’t. I say that this theft was a blessing because at the moment after getting into my truck with my daughter and realizing we had been robbed, I got upset. However, I knew that being robbed was something I could not control. This instance, was out of my control. So I did not allow myself to become clouded with negativity. That day my daughter and I planned on going indoor rock climbing (her first time climbing indoors) after the film festival, and I looked into the back seat and said to her, “Sweetheart, it’s lame that we got robbed. But there is nothing we can do about it right now other than report it. You know, Christmas is coming up and I’m sure if you ask Santa nicely he will bring you a new LeapPad, but this theft is not going to ruin our day or our spirits – we ARE going back inside and we are going rock climbing.” And we did. And it was amazing. So amazing that for those moments while we climbed, we both forgot about the robbery incident. Forge forward, and come back stronger.

5. Life is about being alive, not things.

It always sucks having your stuff stolen, but at the end of the day – it’s just stuff. Stuff that I LOVED DEEPLY, but I am thankful the robbery didn’t happen while my daughter and I were in the car, and that nobody got hurt. It could have been a lot worse in more than one way. I mean, if I would have witnessed the robbery I’d be in jail right now for like, murder. Or like however many broken legs.

6. Don’t underestimate the other guys greed.

Frank Lopez said it best in Scarface…

 

6. Never leave items of deep value alone. (obviously)

Even if your vehicle is locked, even if you have a security system – if you want to keep it, always have it on you, in a locker, or within sight.

 

Have you ever been robbed before or been the victim of a theft? How did you bounce back?

Dax

As always, drop me a line and follow my adventures on:
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I RESPECT YOUR PRIVACY AND WILL NOT SHARE YOUR EMAIL.