I have a cool connection to this place because Panorama Mountain is where I learned how to carve on my snowboard. A decade ago, I’d been snowboarding for a season and hadn't perfected the infamous ‘carve’ yet and instead spent time catching both of my edges, and crashing. Then I went to Panorama for a weekend and on the last day of my trip I carved like the wind. I will never forget it. So, revisiting this mountain on a board again was like being back in that moment 10 years ago. But this time I also I had someone with me to make my trip memorable in a different way. His name is Karl, and I'd like you to meet him.
When I arrived at Panorama Mountain I met with a long-time local legend, Karl Fahrni. Karl arrived here in 1974 from Australia via Switzerland and missed the Alps. That’s when he discovered the Radium area and has never left. Karl loves hang-gliding and being on the mountain. In summer, you’ll find him hiking or fishing in the backcountry lakes.
“You have to have a connection and love mother nature to live out here. It is very special.”
Karl and his daughter Karen skied with me for the day and I learned just how much this place means to them. Karen was born and raised in the Radium area, but went to school in Calgary then travelled the world for a year. Then she returned to her hometown. “I keep getting drawn back here, I love being with my dad in the outdoors. He … taught me the essence of hard work. I have no regrets.”
It’s clear to me father and daughter have a strong bond and are both strong skiers.
Then they introduced me to Taynton Bowl. Formerly a heli-skiing area, this is the place to head for vertical adventures. It's all within bounds of the resort, and is patrolled and avalanche controlled, so there's no need for avalanche gear. This is black diamond territory, so not the friendliest for me when I’m loaded down with camera gear.
Karl has been exploring and skiing this area for a long while. When I asked him what the mountain would say if it could speak, he said, “Don't make a mess of it.”
Enough said, Karl.
Soak it all in while surrounded by winter's icy beauty
An overwhelming sense of relaxation surrounded me as I entered the Radium Hot Springs. The pools are a comfy 39 C, and people speak in hushed tones knowing this is where we all come to chill out. But as a landscape photographer, I was struck by beauty of the ice and snow encrusting the trees, creating magical ice sculptures surrounding the hot springs.
Through the steam, the formations had an other-worldly quality. It was one of those unexpected and beautiful moment in my travels.
Meet a “headbanger”
After leaving the hot pools, I was wondering if I was going to get chance to meet the local wildlife, the big horn sheep, known as ‘headbangers. Karl told me stories of these curious yet protective creatures, known very well to the locals. They get the name for their fall mating ritual, in which they literally butt heads to see which will win the mate of their choice. They roam the hills – and even the streets – making themselves one of the highlights of visiting this area. As if they knew I wanted to photograph them, they appeared on the side of hill, off the main highway. I pulled into a rest area, jumped out of the car with my camera and began shooting. I had their attention now, and these not-so-shy creatures seemed to love modelling for me.
I can honestly say I found physical and emotional exhilaration in Radium. Chilling out in the steamy hot pools and then having the local wildlife pose for me; it just doesn’t get better than that. It was the perfect way to wrap up my SkiBC journey.
If you go
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