Art Twomey (l) and Jorg Marquari at Boulder Hut in 1993. Photo: Adrian Flash

Art Twomey (l) and Jorg Marquari at Boulder Hut in 1993.
Photo: Adrian Flash

By CHRISTALEE DOUAN, Staff Writer, Kimberley Daily Bulletin, January 14, 1997

The environmental and outdoor community is mourning the loss of one of their most valued members today. Art Twomey, 52, who perished in this weekend's helicopter accident, was known internationally as a great outdoorsman, hiker, skier and photographer. And was, ironically, also known for his attention to safety and respect for the power of natural forces.

"Art has a long reputation of being a very fine mountain guide and he is extremely conscious of safety standards," said John Bergenske, a close friend of Twomey's. "He wasn't a risk taker. He always took great precautions anytime that he was traveling."

Art Twomey moved to the East Kootenays in 1969 and built his first cabin in the Purcell Mountains. The glacial geologist, along with his partner Margie Jamieson, was instrumental in creating the St. Mary's Alpine Park, which later led to the creation of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy. His love of nature and the outdoors took him on a Mt. Everest expedition in1977, as well as to the tops of many mountains in Peru, Nepal and New Zealand. In the Kimberley area, Twomey is known as the owner/operator of Ptarmigan Tours, which takes people into the East Kootenay backcountry skiing and hiking as well as mountain biking into the South West U.S. and kayaking in Figi and the Queen Charlotte Islands.

In the mid-70s he also published a book entitled Exploring the Purcell Wilderness and many of his wilderness photographs have appeared in magazines internationally. Bergenske said Twomey was also well-known throughout the world as one of the foremost avalanche experts. "He was an early member of the Canadian Avalanche Association and has been training people in avalanche awareness and avalanche hazards for over 15 years," said Bergenske. "I know that Art died in the pursuit of something that he very much believed in because he was going in with some young men to train them in avalanches and teach them how to travel safely in avalanche terrain, which was one of his passions." Twomey was also an active environmentalist, being one of the first persons to study the mountain caribou in the area.

"Basically he has had a lifetime love for wild places and his father was curator for the Carnegie Museum," said Bergenske, adding that people from around the world went to Ptarmigan Tours because of the love of nature that Twomey had. "It's not just a tour, it's basically an education and a love for the environment that was reflected.”

The community is also grieving the loss of 53-year-old Kimberley resident Jorg Marquari, owner/operator of Mountain High Helicopters Ltd. Marquari, who lives on the St. Mary's Lake Road, leaves to mourn his partner Barbara George.