Photo: Roy Moe
Our founders, adventurers and environmentalists Art Twomey and Margie Jamieson, were instrumental in the development of backcountry skiing in Canada.
Art was a globally respected photographer and cinematographer. A glacial geologist, he was a long time member, instructor, mentor and leader in the Canadian Avalanche Association. The Canadian Avalanche Center's national avalanche archive in Revelstoke is named in his memory.
The Purcell Wilderness was the first large scale wilderness protected by citizen action anywhere in Canada. In the early 1970s, very early in BC's environmental era, a number of environmental organizations came together in a campaign to protect the Purcell area. Art has been credited for much of the inspiration for this effort and with Anne Edwards and Patrick Morrow later published Exploring the Purcell Wilderness which captured the rugged beauty of the area and the opportunity to explore it.
A member of the purist 1977 New Zealand Everest Expedition (which was described by a fellow member as the smallest and cheapest Everest expedition ever), a photograph of Art's capturing a huge avalanche raking Mount Everest is still available for purchase from Fine Art America.
Art died in a helicopter crash in 1997. In the words of his friend, Pat Bates, “Art Twomey's love for the mountains took him from the Antarctic to Peru, New Zealand and Mt. Everest. But it was in the mountains of the East Kootenay that he chose to make his home in 1969.
“There he established Ptarmigan Tours, a small adventure tour company in which he and his partner, Margie Jamieson, offered guests the opportunity to ski the Purcell snow, hike or bike desert canyons, or kayak tropical ocean waters.
“As a pioneer in wilderness and wildlife protection, Art led the successful campaign that established the St. Mary's Alpine Park, the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, and protection for the Purcell mountain caribou herd.
“As an early member of the Canadian Avalanche Association, he was instrumental in instituting the CAA avalanche courses which he instructed for 15 years. As well as a motion picture photographer, he was a regular contributor to many major international outdoor publications."
Art and Margie's place in the development of backcounty skiing in Canada has been documented in Canadian ski historian Chic Scott's classic book, Powder Pioneers, Ski Stories from the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains. In 1969, Art and friends built Ptarmigan Lodge (which is still part of our ski tenure) and the Boulder Hut in 1984.
After Art's death, Margie sold Ptarmigan Tours and the rights to the ski tenure to Mark and Sarah Yancey in 2005. Mark and Sarah continue to steward the environmental values and BC backcountry tradition that the hut was built to honor.