Each month we will be highlighting explorers in the Kootenays. This week we are featuring, Matt Gunn. Matt is a mountain enthusiast with a passion for exploring. Matt splits his time between summer scrambling adventures and winter ski touring. He is the author of two guidebooks 'Hikes around Invermere' and 'Scrambles in Southwest British Columbia'. He now resides in Squamish with his wife Dora and daughters Teagan and Aven.
To see more of Matt's photography check out his Instagram feed: Matt.G.Gunn.
1) Why do you love to spend time in the Kootenays?
The Kootenay's are a special part of the world filled with spectacular mountains, rugged glaciers and incredible lakes. Of course there are other amazing mountainous areas in Western Canada, but one of the beauties of the Kootenay's is the wilderness aspect. The nearby national parks in the Canadian Rockies are fantastic, but they are filled with people from around the globe. The Kootenay's are just a few more steps into the wilderness and provide endless opportunities to experiences mountain adventures without being in a throng of people.
Photo below - "En route to Snowman Pass in the Purcells. While the destination was incredible, the scenery along the way was fantastic in its own right."
2) How does the Kootenay's wilderness inspire you?
I'm particularly drawn to the extensiveness alpine meadows which fill with wildflowers and offer views of glaciated terrain as far as the eye can see. There are hundreds of places like this where I'd love to camp in order to watch the sun rise and set. The Kootenay's inspire the photographer in me, over the years the best landscape images I've taken have been in the Kootenays.
Photo below - "One of the most spectacular backpacking destinations I've ever visited is Snowman Pass. The Lake provides Incredible views of glaciated peaks and valleys. It's been close to 20-years since my first to the area, far long than I ever hoped it would take for a return trip."
3) Describe your perfect day in the Kootenays?
Waking up in a backcountry hut above treeline before dawn. Watching the sun rise through the lens of my camera, capturing images of mountains reflected in an alpine lake. Spending the day wandering through alpine meadows with my wife and daughters. Gaining a ridge for views of distant peaks and reaching a summit I had yet to climb. Swimming in an alpine tarn in the heat of the afternoon. Eating a good meal outside the hut and ending the day taking photographing the sunset.
Photo below - "The Bugaboo Provincial Park draws climbers from around the world but is also an incredible backpacking destination. On this trip I spent the morning at a tarn above the Conrad Kain Hut watching the morning light arrive on the Snowpatch Spire."
4) What is a place or experience that you would suggest to a new visitor to the Kootenays?
For a family it's hard to beat a 4 or 5-day paddle done the west-shore of Slocan Lake at the base of Valhalla Provincial Park. This has got to be one of the best value multi-day trips I can think of when you consider how easy it is to access. The trip takes you from one idyllic beach side campsite to another through incredible aqua marine waters.
Photo below - "This is one of many idyllic rest stops during a 5-day paddle down the west-shore of Slocan Lake, near the Valhalla Provincial Park."
5) What is the Kootenay's best-kept secret?
As a guidebook author I'm generally a good person to ask for information about mountain adventures. I love inspiring people to get out and explore the mountains and sharing my experiences is my way of achieving that goal. There are a number of amazing hiking destinations in the Kootenay's that deserve much more attention from backpackers than they currently get. These include the Limestone Lakes, International Basin and Snowman Pass.
Get out there a check them out! However, when it comes to ski touring destinations there tends to be a lot more sensitivity to people's secret stashes. There are valleys in the Purcell Mountains that hold endless ski touring possibilities and where you're more likely to run into a trapper or a moose than another ski touring party. I'd love to tell you more about the area, but I'd be hunted down and held responsible. But for those willing to explore I suggest you boot up Google Earth and start searching. It's out there...
Photo below - "One of the most incredible backcountry destination I've ever visited is the Limestone Lake Basin located in the heart of the Height of the Rockies Provincial Park."
Responses and all photos by Matt Gunn.