Climb a mountain, no experience required

In People, Summer

Photo: Grant Mattice, Mt Nimbus Via Ferrata

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ACMG guide and CMH Bobbie Burns area manager Carl Trescher helps people climb mountains with North America’s Longest via ferrata

Words by Morgan Dinsdale | Posted July 19, 2016

“There’s got to be a better way?”

Sitting at the bar after a long day of mountaineering in the Purcell Mountains, ACMG Mountain Guide Carl Trescher can remember this question being tossed around back in 2005. Carl and the guiding team at CMH Bobbie Burns had a problem to solve. Logistically it was becoming impossible to keep up with the demand for traditional mountaineering.

“A traditional day of climbing is actually quite physical and strenuous, we almost couldn’t find enough guides to go do it,” Carl explains. “We needed a superior way to take a group of people out to experience climbing a peak in a safe environment.”

And with this thought the idea for the Mount Nimbus via ferrata was born.

Grant Mattice 1
Photo: Grant Mattice | Mt Nimbus Via Ferrata

Italian for iron road, via ferrata’s fixed climbing routes were pioneered by Italian troops during the First World War as a safe means to cross the Dolomite Mountain Range. Using a series of steel cables, ladders and metal steps to ascend rock faces they create vertical pathways through mountainous terrain otherwise inaccessible to non-climbers.

As Carl notes, “via ferratas allow people who’ve never climbed before a chance to experience summiting a mountain in total remote wilderness.” Unlike traditional rock climbing and mountaineering, which requires some serious technique and heavy equipment, just about anyone can climb a mountain on a via ferrata.

It took the guiding team at CMH Bobbie Burns a few summers to discover the perfect place to build.

“We had an old climbing route on the north side of Nimbus Tower, but we’d never looked down the south side,” he says. “When we looked down, we all knew it was absolutely perfect.”

Photo: Grant Mattice | Mt Nimbus Via Ferrrata
Photo: Grant Mattice | Mt Nimbus Via Ferreta

Reaching ragged into the sky, Nimbus Tower is a wild and extraordinary peak whose vista showcases 360° of extraordinary mountains. The team spent months studying its rocky routes, searching for the perfect pathway.

“We found the mountain and we let the rock speak to the route,” Carl explains.

In fact, certain features of the Mount Nimbus via ferrata came about purely as a result of this, including the breathtaking suspension bridge that was built as a means to stay high above a band of rock found between the two towers.

The team enlisted the expertise of local rope and rigging experts and Carl travelled to Germany to study via ferrata construction and rope course design from European masters. What resulted was Canada’s largest and most impressive via ferrata.

“There’s nothing in North America like the Mount Nimbus via ferrata,” said Carl. “When it comes to a full-day adventure of climbing in the alpine, there’s nothing like experiencing the true summit of Nimbus Tower.”

Photo: Grant Mattice |Mt Nimbus Via Ferrata
Photo: Grant Mattice |Mt Nimbus Via Ferrata

The exhilaration of a day spent traversing knife-edge ridgelines, climbing rock faces via metal rungs and crossing a free-hanging suspension bridge 1000m above the ground equates to one of Canada’s most exhilarating mountain adventures.

There’s no doubt that Carl and his team are proud of their accomplishment. “It was really hard work but super fun to build,” he says speaking of the team of mountain guides involved in its construction. “It sparked that love for exploration in the mountains we all have.”

Stoke high as ever, Carl and the guiding team look forward to another season summiting Mount Nimbus and exploring deeper into the wilderness of the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia. It seems as long as there are mountains to climb there will never cease to be adventures at the Bobbie Burns.

The Mount Nimbus Via Ferrata is part of the CMH Bobbie Burns High Flying Adventures.