Jumbo Wild, Patagonia’s latest New Localism film project, is an hour-long documentary by Sweetgrass Productions depicting all sides of an epic struggle between backcountry protection and development in British Columbia’s iconic Jumbo Valley – highlighting the tension between protection of wilderness and the backcountry experience and ever-increasing development interests in wild places. As I’m sure you already know, a large-scale proposed ski resort threatens the rich wilderness of British Columbia’s Purcell Range – a revered backcountry ski and snowboarding destination with world-class terrain, sacred ground for local First Nations people, and part of one of North America’s most important grizzly bear corridors. This isn’t your typical ski movie. Set against a backdrop of incredible backcountry ski and snowboard footage, Jumbo Wild features unprecedented documentation of all sides of this divisive issue bringing the passionate local fight to protect the Jumbo Valley to life for a global audience for the first time.
The full-length film will show for the first time on October 6 in British Columbia and an eight minute short version of the film will be available the same day online
To coincide with the release of the film, Patagonia and local partners at Wildsight are encouraging the world to get involved by saying no to development and advocating for permanent protection for the Jumbo Valley, a place with enormous cultural and ecological value. The campaign achieved a significant victory this summer when the Environmental Certificate was rescinded, but the next step is protecting the Jumbo Valley forever. Right now is a great opportunity to use this apex moment to take a hard look at the complex issues surrounding what has been a 24-year struggle.
The Jumbo Glacier Resort is a proposed four-season “European-style” expansive ski resort with thousands of beds in the heart of the wild, remote Jumbo Valley and providing access to several glaciers. There are currently eight ski resorts within a four hour radius of Invermere: Panorama, Kimberley, Fernie, Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, Whitewater, Nakiska, Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise – none of them are running at capacity.
For 24 years, local residents, skiers, riders, alpinists, grizzly bear advocates and the Ktunaxa Nation have strongly opposed the corporatization of their beloved backcountry wilderness. Developers say their proposed year-round ski resort would be a snow rider’s dream, but Kootenay residents – including many who love to ski and support local ski resorts – don’t want it.
To the Ktunaxa Nation, the Jumbo Valley is known as Qat’muk, home of the grizzly bear spirit. The area is of profound spiritual and cultural importance and the resort would undermine beliefs and practices at the core of Ktunaxa culture and identity.
In addition, the Jumbo Valley is recognized internationally as a vital part of one of North America’s most important wildlife corridors. Grizzlies depend on this connected habitat to maintain healthy populations in the region and beyond. The Jumbo Valley is one of only two remaining areas in North America where bears can freely roam between Canada and the U.S. If built, Jumbo Glacier Resort would fragment a critical section of this corridor, potentially leading to reduced grizzly populations, locally, regionally and even continentally.