December 6th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 49
New festival celebrates mountain life
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Source: website
Pass Herald Reporter
What do Sondrio, Italy and Crowsnest Pass, Alberta have in common? They are two communities separated by an ocean with plenty of differences, but bound by a similarity that surpasses language, culture or politics: life in the mountains.

Both of these mountainous communities, along with countless others around the globe, will be celebrating International Mountain Day on December 11. Established by the United Nations (UN), this day is meant to celebrate unique mountain cultures and special alpine landscapes around the world.

For Crowsnest Pass, recognizing International Mountain Day is a first this year, with the Crowsnest -Mountain Spirit Festival. Taking place from December 8 to 11 in various areas around the community, each of the free events taking place this weekend showcase mountain life in some way, whether it is activities, wildlife or our alpine community.

A group of local residents and institutions came together to form an ad-hoc volunteer committee to make this festival happen. The committee has involvement from Crowsnest Conservation Society, Crowsnest Outdoors, the Nordic Ski Club, Pass Powderkeg Ski Area, the Crowsnest Heritage Initiative Society, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and several enthusiastic locals.
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“The purpose of this festival is to promote and showcase not only the unique mountain culture of the people of the Crowsnest Pass but also the heritage, recreation opportunities, natural beauty, mountain landscape, and ecology of this place where we work, live, and play,” says Fred Bradley, a member of the organizing committee.

As a three-month-old newbie to the community, the mountain culture of Crowsnest Pass certainly hasn’t been lost on Claire Rogers, also on the organizing committee.

“It’s amazing to me how many groups exist in the Pass that champion different outdoor activities. In my short time here, I’ve seen how these groups provide friendship and community, support to participants of all levels and act as ambassadors to this area. Personally, I’d like this festival to inspire all of us to make the most of mountain life by being the catalyst that brings these different, incredible groups together to celebrate this area and what unites us all as mountain people,” says Rogers.

Crowsnest Mountain, whose looming presence is almost always felt if not seen, is a popular tourist attraction for hikers, and even motorized vehicle users who enjoy the trails at its base. While the festival name certainly highlights the landmark, the Crowsnest Mountain has much deeper roots in the history of the valley.

“Crowsnest Mountain is the iconic mountain in the Southern Canadian Rockies. It was a spiritual mountain to the Blackfoot people in their legends and is one of their three vision quest mountains,” says Bradley. “Crowsnest Mountain continues to have a strong spiritual connection to people of the Crowsnest Pass so we felt it was fitting to reference this ‘spiritual’ mountain in the naming of this festival.”
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The idea didn’t come to life until a few weeks ago, but is already gaining traction in the community and is set to become an annual event.

“We didn’t have much time to plan this year, but we’re happy with the list of activities we’ve come up with in such a short time period,” says Rogers.

Indeed, activities planned throughout the weekend can appeal to any and all activity levels and interests. Pass Powderkeg will be kicking off the Crowsnest - Mountain Spirit Festival this Friday, December 8 with the first day of their night skiing. Crowsnest Nordic Ski Club is offering a free wax and gear check event for skiers of all abilities at the Allison Chinook Ski Trails, and several group hiking/snowshoeing adventures are also planned. The Festival of Lights in Bellevue takes place on Sunday, December 10 with hot chocolate and treats, fire truck rides, Christmas carolling and a bonfire to cozy up by. For the inquisitive minds, there’s a lecture at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre about the birds and the bees (literally!).

The CMN, hosted at the University of Alberta, is an alliance of universities, governments, Indigenous communities, and businesses with a common interest: the continuous sustainability of mountain communities and landscapes around the world. Now in its second iteration, this year’s weeklong Canadian Mountain Network Mountain Festival takes place from December 4 to 11 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

The UN’s theme for the 2017 International Mountain Day theme is “Mountain Under Pressure: Climate, Hunger, and Migration” meant to draw attention to the unique challenges faced by mountain communities around the world.

“Partnering with this unique new festival brings opportunities to continue to showcase our region and educate both tourists and locals on the most sustainable ways to enjoy themselves here. This festival allows us to work with other groups in the community with similar interests, “says the Crowsnest Conservation Society.

For a complete list of events taking place this weekend for Crowsnest - Mountain Spirit Festival, visit the festival’s Facebook page at To learn more about the UN-designated International Mountain Day, visit
December 6th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 49
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