After a pair of chilly nights in the backcountry as part of their course activities

Students celebrated first day of spring at -16 C

A group of Selkirk students welcomed spring by spending a pair of frigid nights in the West Kootenay backcountry.

A group of Selkirk College Recreation, Fish and Wildlife Program students welcomed spring by spending a pair of frigid nights in the West Kootenay backcountry.

As part of an annual field trip for the program, 10 students and two instructors spent March 20 and 21 in the Selkirk Wilderness Skiing tenure near Meadow Creek in order to get hands-on experience for their Backcountry Risk Analysis and Mitigation II and Commercial Recreation Management courses.

“We were dropped off on a sparsely treed, east facing slope at an elevation of 2,100 meters and were left with only a three-metre snowpack and the backpacks on our backs,” says Selkirk College instructor Keyes Lessard.

Students and instructors built and slept in trench snow shelters designed to trap warm air generated by body heat. Despite the -16 to -18°C nighttime lows, the temperatures inside the shelters hovered from -1 to -3°C. This type of shelter is the preference over others because one stays relatively dry during its construction, a very important piece of information to learn for survival in such a harsh environment.

Students gained practical outdoor skills including avalanche risk assessment, winter travel and survival.

“One can only truly learn the tricks of the trade for the many winter camping challenges hands on,” says Selkirk College instructor Robyn Mitz. “Who knew that if one fails to add a little bit of water to the bottom of a pot while trying to melt snow for drinking water, that you will burn your pot?”

Lifelong soft skills — those skills that most employers are looking for in today’s world of constant change — were also acquired during the trip. Time management, organization and communication are all essential skills to living and surviving in the mountains with minimal supplies.

After two very cold nights and days travelling, learning and sliding in the snow, the group descended 900 meters to the lodge Selkirk Wilderness Skiing. The lodge owner graciously welcomed the tired group, providing warm showers, appetizers, coffee and a relaxed conversation about his experiences owning a commercial recreation business.

“As we sat in the warm and cozy Selkirk Wilderness Skiing lodge, with a beautiful view of the Purcell Mountains, enjoying a kale, mango and wheatgrass smoothie and a perfectly made Oso Negro Americano, our tanned faces, sore bodies, and tool box of newly acquired skills were reminders of the adventure we were just on,” says Lessard.

A hot gourmet dinner, a warm and comfortable bed that did not need to be shoveled out and erected for four hours prior to sleeping, a team building game around the pool table and many smiles on tanned faces was the perfect way to experience a commercial recreational business and enjoy the last night of the three night adventure field trip.

“A special thank you should go out to the fine folks at Selkirk Wilderness Skiing for their fantastic hospitality,” says Mitz. “To the students who endured a very challenging and adventurous trip, may the skills acquired on this trip and in the program act as positive foundations for their future endeavors.”

Just Posted

Selkirk College nursing students visit Honduran migrants

Students were overwhelmed by migrants’ hope in the face of poverty and displacement

Feds, B.C. to expand Darkwoods Conservation area

New funding allows the national land trust to add some 7,900 hectares to the Darkwoods Conservation Area

Good fencing makes good neighbours— especially when your neighbours are bears

Workshop in Pass Creek this weekend to promote benefits of proper protection for livestock

Laird Creek residents still hoping for independent report on logging road

Logging company wants to reopen road that residents believe caused slide in 2011

Kootenay region posts 10-per-cent return rate on electoral reform ballots

As of Nov. 13, only 5.3 per cent of ballots had been returned province-wide

EU divorce deal in peril after two UK Cabinet ministers quit

Negotiators from Britain and the European Union have struck a proposed divorce deal that will be presented to politicians on both sides for approval, officials in London and Brussels said Tuesday.

Feds respond to sexual assault investigation at B.C. naval base

Report of Oct. 5 sexual assault on Vancouver Island base taken over by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

Northern California fire death toll at 56; 130 missing

Many of the missing are elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.

Canfor to buy 70 per cent stake in Swedish Vida Group for $580 million

The privately held company has nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet.

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mixing business and family: Trudeau turns to Singapore ancestors to widen trade

Trudeau’s ancestor, Esther Bernard, born Farquhar (1796-1838) was the daughter of Major-General William Farquhar (1774-1839), the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore.

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Most Read