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As the storms roll through day after day, website
the portents are all in place for another wild winter on Vancouver Island. The snow is piling up in the mountains and more snowfall records are likely to be set as La Nina returns again this year. For Cumberland based Island Alpine Guides (IAG) that means they are likely to be busier than ever.

IAG offers extensive courses and guided trips to make exploring the Island “Alps” enjoyable and safe. Year round they offer an array of climbing and hiking packages. In winter, erectile
they specialize in avalanche training and back country touring.

Jan Neuspiel, viagra 100mg
IAG’s managing director, has 25 years guiding experience. Born and raised in Ottawa, the genial 50-year-old says that skiing was a family affair—“almost a religion.” He left Ottawa “very soon after first year university to become a ski bum, which I’m proud to say, I’m still doing today on some level.”

Neuspiel’s first stop was to explore the Rockies, where he soon became involved in back country skiing and mountain climbing. His introduction to guiding was in the river rafting business. “I discovered that I really loved that way of life, that job—the whole business of taking people into beautiful wild places and sharing that with them and looking after them,” Neuspiel says. “All of that stuff really appealed to me so then it morphed pretty quickly into guiding climbing and ultimately skiing as well.”

After stopping long enough to get a diploma in outdoor recreation from North Vancouver’s Capilano College, Neuspiel headed to the Himalayas in north western India on a skiing expedition, which would be the start of 25 years of Himalayan adventures. “That trip kind of fell apart but it got me over there and then I made my way across to Nepal and that is where I got my first job,” Neuspiel says.

“A couple of years later, I made my way back to northern India with my skis and finally realized the dream of skiing in the Himalayas there. I did some of my skiing there with a friend I had made in Nepal, an Australian, who was starting to toy with the idea of starting a helicopter skiing operation in that part of the Himalayas. Long story short, a few years later I did end up hooking up with him and working at that operation. And, before I knew it, I was running the operation and had been there for 11 years!”

Neuspiel laughs, noting how lucky he has been throughout his work life. But hard work no doubt enters into the mix as well. Himachal Helicopter Skiing is based in Manali, India, a city of 30,000 people located at 6,398 feet. “We grew it from a business that, when I joined, ran about three weeks of heli-skiing, to a business that owned three helicopters and was operating 12 weeks a winter, 250 clients in a winter. So yeah, we grew it into quite a business.”

While in Nepal Neuspiel met and married his wife Amanda, originally from England. Amanda works as a medical herbalist and thus when they decided to leave Nepal their destination had to be temperate for her work and mountainous for his. “The main contenders that fit that description are New Zealand and the west coast of BC,” Neuspiel says. “Neither of us is from New Zealand so we thought we’d consider the West Coast. We came to visit a friend in the Comox Valley and liked it. At first we really dropped our bags here but over time we settled in.”

Neuspiel continued to spend about four months out of the year in India, while gradually building his knowledge of Vancouver Island’s mountains and back country. When they adopted their son Vijay five years ago it was time to think about making a more permanent home here. That was when Neuspiel and another Cumberland resident, Cliff Umpleby, started Island Alpine Guides.

In his web blog Neuspiel sums up how IAG is doing: “Here we are entering our fifth year thinking, ‘The timing was about right.’ We’ve grown considerably every year since we started and are looking strong into the future as Vancouver Island’s premiere mountain school and guide service. Looking into the future we certainly intend to keep meeting the needs of our fellow islanders right here in the island Alps.”

IAG’s most popular winter course is the Avalanche Skills Training One (AST 1), followed closely by the Intro to Winter Travel. The AST 1 is offered at both Mount Washington and Mt. Cain. IAG is licensed by the Canadian Avalanche Centre to provide the two-day courses composed of about six hours of classroom and 12 hours of field instruction. In the classroom, participants learn about avalanche terrain, mountain snowpack, the nature and formation of avalanches, assessing avalanche danger, avalanche transceivers, safety measures and self rescue. In the field students learn terrain recognition, route finding, safe travel, stability evaluation, hazard recognition and small party self rescue. IAG also offers a four day long Avalanche Skills Training 2 course.

For the two day long Intro to Winter Travel the staff guide participants through gear selection and preparation while they manage the logistics of transportation, tenting and cooking. Neuspiel describes a typical outing from the arrival at the departure spot: “We would do final checks through gear, pack up our packs, and have a briefing before we head off up the mountain. We would ski our way to a location where we intend to camp for the night. In the process there is a lot of learning that goes on. Our instructors realize that the best way to teach a lot of outdoor pursuits is through using teachable moments to allow people to learn the stuff they’ve come there to learn.

“We get to a spot, set up a camp, and if the timing is right, probably go out for a little cruise around. If it is a trip where people are on skis, go for some ski runs; if it is a snowshoe trip, go for a wander around on snowshoes. If a person is on a split board, we’re going snowboarding, whatever it is. Camping out in the winter is full of lessons of its own and so we would help people through all of that and teach them how to be comfortable and enjoy sleeping out in the snow. The second day would involve doing a whole bunch more ski runs or whatever and ultimately heading out to finish the trip.”

Not sure if back country touring is for you? “Back country skiing is really suitable for anyone who skis and who is interested in being outdoors, particularly in the wilderness,” says Neuspiel. “It is particularly well suited to those who like powder snow. In terms of criteria the person needs to be a strong intermediate level skier and reasonably fit. Other than desire and a sense of adventure, that is about it.”

Once you’ve taken the courses, Island Alpine Guides has a multitude of tours to satisfy all tastes and abilities. There are Mount Washington and Mt. Cain back country tours, weekend ski tours to Mount Myra, Mount Adrian, or Mount Tom Taylor, heli-accessed touring at Alexandra Peak, Mount Adrian, or Mount Matchlee, as well as a seven-day Mount Washington to Comox Glacier traverse to name just a few of the winter options.

Neuspiel laughs when asked about the snow and the quality of local skiing. “Everyone asks that. Surely it is all Island cement, right? The best skiing is anywhere on the right day. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ve skied snow as good as anywhere on Vancouver Island. I’ve skied cold smoke powder, over the shoulders, on the back of Mount Washington. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that is a big part of what we do as guides. We make sure we get people to the right spot at the right time to get the best snow they possibly can.”

Island Alpine Guides staff is almost all based in the Comox Valley and are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. “They are an interesting group of people who share my passion for the mountains and for being in the mountains with people,” Neuspiel says. “They come with a variety of different experiences—from a mountain guide from France that has joined us here in the last couple of years and brings his own French flavor to things, which is fantastic, to a woman who has a really strong background with Outward Bound as an instructor and so comes with a really strong set of teaching skills, to a hiking guide who has been with us for a little while now who has just got keen with a capital K written all over him with everything that he does.”

Neuspiel also focuses his energy beyond the clients of IAG to assist all back country enthusiasts through two reporting services: the Vancouver Island Mountain Conditions Report and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin. The Mountain Conditions Report was initiated by IAG as a way to share information among people travelling in the backcountry.

He describes what information is provided: “What’s the access like on these logging roads now, what condition is that trail in, are the crevasses on that glacier opened up more, did you see avalanche activity, was there a big rock slide somewhere? Whatever it is that helps people planning their trip.” A new blog has been developed for this report to combat previous problems with spam. Information should be sent to info@islandalpineguides.com.

The non-profit Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society publishes an avalanche bulletin three times a week throughout the winter. The current bulletin advises that the many storms to pass over Vancouver Island in the last week of November have created high snow packs with a lot of instability. Jan is the lead forecaster for the Centre and he wants to encourage everyone to send him any information they have about snow conditions on the Island. Email him at forecaster@islandavalanchecentre.com. The information will make the Bulletin better and the interaction with the forecasters will also provide people with an opportunity to hone their skills in assessing snow pack.

Vancouver Island may not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think of mountain adventures but Neuspiel is working on changing that. The motto for Island Alpine Guides is “think globally, adventure locally.”

“There’s no shortage of challenges and real mountain topography here,” Neuspiel says. “The other point is the Island mountains have a unique beauty that is all their own. I have to say that over the years it has really grown on me to the point where, in my aged state, if I just wander around in these mountains for the rest of my career I’ll be more than happy.”

Avalanche Safety Tips

Carry avalanche rescue gear—probe, beacon/transceiver, shovel, etc.—at all times when travelling in the winter backcountry.

Avalanches can be associated with sunshine and daily warming. Consider travelling early while everything is frozen, or at night. The Canadian Avalanche Centre website (www.avalanche.ca) lists conditions that may lead to avalanches.

Watch for cracks across the snow surface and listen for the tell-tale “whump” noise associated with a slope collapse.

In avalanche country, always travel in a group and ensure everyone stays within sight of one another. If caught in an avalanche, use a swimming motion to try and stay at the surface. If possible, move to the side of the avalanche. If you’re not at the surface when the slide stops, quickly punch the snow to create an air pocket with one arm and push your other arm toward the surface to help rescuers locate you.


www.islandalpineguides.com
www.islandavalanchebulletin.com

As the storms roll through day after day, the portents are all in place for another wild winter on Vancouver Island. The snow is piling up in the mountains and more snowfall records are likely to be set as La Nina returns again this year. For Cumberland based Island Alpine Guides (IAG) that means they are likely to be busier than ever.

IAG offers extensive courses and guided trips to make exploring the Island “Alps” enjoyable and safe. Year round they offer an array of climbing and hiking packages. In winter, they specialize in avalanche training and back country touring.

Jan Neuspiel, IAG’s managing director, has 25 years guiding experience. Born and raised in Ottawa, the genial 50-year-old says that skiing was a family affair—“almost a religion.” He left Ottawa “very soon after first year university to become a ski bum, which I’m proud to say, I’m still doing today on some level.”

Neuspiel’s first stop was to explore the Rockies, where he soon became involved in back country skiing and mountain climbing. His introduction to guiding was in the river rafting business. “I discovered that I really loved that way of life, that job—the whole business of taking people into beautiful wild places and sharing that with them and looking after them,” Neuspiel says. “All of that stuff really appealed to me so then it morphed pretty quickly into guiding climbing and ultimately skiing as well.”

After stopping long enough to get a diploma in outdoor recreation from North Vancouver’s Capilano College, Neuspiel headed to the Himalayas in north western India on a skiing expedition, which would be the start of 25 years of Himalayan adventures. “That trip kind of fell apart but it got me over there and then I made my way across to Nepal and that is where I got my first job,” Neuspiel says.

“A couple of years later, I made my way back to northern India with my skis and finally realized the dream of skiing in the Himalayas there. I did some of my skiing there with a friend I had made in Nepal, an Australian, who was starting to toy with the idea of starting a helicopter skiing operation in that part of the Himalayas. Long story short, a few years later I did end up hooking up with him and working at that operation. And, before I knew it, I was running the operation and had been there for 11 years!”

Neuspiel laughs, noting how lucky he has been throughout his work life. But hard work no doubt enters into the mix as well. Himachal Helicopter Skiing is based in Manali, India, a city of 30,000 people located at 6,398 feet. “We grew it from a business that, when I joined, ran about three weeks of heli-skiing, to a business that owned three helicopters and was operating 12 weeks a winter, 250 clients in a winter. So yeah, we grew it into quite a business.”

While in Nepal Neuspiel met and married his wife Amanda, originally from England. Amanda works as a medical herbalist and thus when they decided to leave Nepal their destination had to be temperate for her work and mountainous for his. “The main contenders that fit that description are New Zealand and the west coast of BC,” Neuspiel says. “Neither of us is from New Zealand so we thought we’d consider the West Coast. We came to visit a friend in the Comox Valley and liked it. At first we really dropped our bags here but over time we settled in.”

Neuspiel continued to spend about four months out of the year in India, while gradually building his knowledge of Vancouver Island’s mountains and back country. When they adopted their son Vijay five years ago it was time to think about making a more permanent home here. That was when Neuspiel and another Cumberland resident, Cliff Umpleby, started Island Alpine Guides.

In his web blog Neuspiel sums up how IAG is doing: “Here we are entering our fifth year thinking, ‘The timing was about right.’ We’ve grown considerably every year since we started and are looking strong into the future as Vancouver Island’s premiere mountain school and guide service. Looking into the future we certainly intend to keep meeting the needs of our fellow islanders right here in the island Alps.”

IAG’s most popular winter course is the Avalanche Skills Training One (AST 1), followed closely by the Intro to Winter Travel. The AST 1 is offered at both Mount Washington and Mt. Cain. IAG is licensed by the Canadian Avalanche Centre to provide the two-day courses composed of about six hours of classroom and 12 hours of field instruction. In the classroom, participants learn about avalanche terrain, mountain snowpack, the nature and formation of avalanches, assessing avalanche danger, avalanche transceivers, safety measures and self rescue. In the field students learn terrain recognition, route finding, safe travel, stability evaluation, hazard recognition and small party self rescue. IAG also offers a four day long Avalanche Skills Training 2 course.

For the two day long Intro to Winter Travel the staff guide participants through gear selection and preparation while they manage the logistics of transportation, tenting and cooking. Neuspiel describes a typical outing from the arrival at the departure spot: “We would do final checks through gear, pack up our packs, and have a briefing before we head off up the mountain. We would ski our way to a location where we intend to camp for the night. In the process there is a lot of learning that goes on. Our instructors realize that the best way to teach a lot of outdoor pursuits is through using teachable moments to allow people to learn the stuff they’ve come there to learn.

“We get to a spot, set up a camp, and if the timing is right, probably go out for a little cruise around. If it is a trip where people are on skis, go for some ski runs; if it is a snowshoe trip, go for a wander around on snowshoes. If a person is on a split board, we’re going snowboarding, whatever it is. Camping out in the winter is full of lessons of its own and so we would help people through all of that and teach them how to be comfortable and enjoy sleeping out in the snow. The second day would involve doing a whole bunch more ski runs or whatever and ultimately heading out to finish the trip.”

Not sure if back country touring is for you? “Back country skiing is really suitable for anyone who skis and who is interested in being outdoors, particularly in the wilderness,” says Neuspiel. “It is particularly well suited to those who like powder snow. In terms of criteria the person needs to be a strong intermediate level skier and reasonably fit. Other than desire and a sense of adventure, that is about it.”

Once you’ve taken the courses, Island Alpine Guides has a multitude of tours to satisfy all tastes and abilities. There are Mount Washington and Mt. Cain back country tours, weekend ski tours to Mount Myra, Mount Adrian, or Mount Tom Taylor, heli-accessed touring at Alexandra Peak, Mount Adrian, or Mount Matchlee, as well as a seven-day Mount Washington to Comox Glacier traverse to name just a few of the winter options.

Neuspiel laughs when asked about the snow and the quality of local skiing. “Everyone asks that. Surely it is all Island cement, right? The best skiing is anywhere on the right day. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ve skied snow as good as anywhere on Vancouver Island. I’ve skied cold smoke powder, over the shoulders, on the back of Mount Washington. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that is a big part of what we do as guides. We make sure we get people to the right spot at the right time to get the best snow they possibly can.”

Island Alpine Guides staff is almost all based in the Comox Valley and are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. “They are an interesting group of people who share my passion for the mountains and for being in the mountains with people,” Neuspiel says. “They come with a variety of different experiences—from a mountain guide from France that has joined us here in the last couple of years and brings his own French flavor to things, which is fantastic, to a woman who has a really strong background with Outward Bound as an instructor and so comes with a really strong set of teaching skills, to a hiking guide who has been with us for a little while now who has just got keen with a capital K written all over him with everything that he does.”

Neuspiel also focuses his energy beyond the clients of IAG to assist all back country enthusiasts through two reporting services: the Vancouver Island Mountain Conditions Report and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin. The Mountain Conditions Report was initiated by IAG as a way to share information among people travelling in the backcountry.

He describes what information is provided: “What’s the access like on these logging roads now, what condition is that trail in, are the crevasses on that glacier opened up more, did you see avalanche activity, was there a big rock slide somewhere? Whatever it is that helps people planning their trip.” A new blog has been developed for this report to combat previous problems with spam. Information should be sent to info@islandalpineguides.com.

The non-profit Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society publishes an avalanche bulletin three times a week throughout the winter. The current bulletin advises that the many storms to pass over Vancouver Island in the last week of November have created high snow packs with a lot of instability. Jan is the lead forecaster for the Centre and he wants to encourage everyone to send him any information they have about snow conditions on the Island. Email him at forecaster@islandavalanchecentre.com. The information will make the Bulletin better and the interaction with the forecasters will also provide people with an opportunity to hone their skills in assessing snow pack.

Vancouver Island may not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think of mountain adventures but Neuspiel is working on changing that. The motto for Island Alpine Guides is “think globally, adventure locally.”

“There’s no shortage of challenges and real mountain topography here,” Neuspiel says. “The other point is the Island mountains have a unique beauty that is all their own. I have to say that over the years it has really grown on me to the point where, in my aged state, if I just wander around in these mountains for the rest of my career I’ll be more than happy.”

Avalanche Safety Tips

Carry avalanche rescue gear—probe, beacon/transceiver, shovel, etc.—at all times when travelling in the winter backcountry.

Avalanches can be associated with sunshine and daily warming. Consider travelling early while everything is frozen, or at night. The Canadian Avalanche Centre website (www.avalanche.ca) lists conditions that may lead to avalanches.

Watch for cracks across the snow surface and listen for the tell-tale “whump” noise associated with a slope collapse.

In avalanche country, always travel in a group and ensure everyone stays within sight of one another. If caught in an avalanche, use a swimming motion to try and stay at the surface. If possible, move to the side of the avalanche. If you’re not at the surface when the slide stops, quickly punch the snow to create an air pocket with one arm and push your other arm toward the surface to help rescuers locate you.


www.islandalpineguides.com
www.islandavalanchebulletin.com
As the storms roll through day after day, Sildenafil
the portents are all in place for another wild winter on Vancouver Island. The snow is piling up in the mountains and more snowfall records are likely to be set as La Nina returns again this year. For Cumberland based Island Alpine Guides (IAG) that means they are likely to be busier than ever.

IAG offers extensive courses and guided trips to make exploring the Island “Alps” enjoyable and safe. Year round they offer an array of climbing and hiking packages. In winter, they specialize in avalanche training and back country touring.

Jan Neuspiel, IAG’s managing director, has 25 years guiding experience. Born and raised in Ottawa, the genial 50-year-old says that skiing was a family affair—“almost a religion.” He left Ottawa “very soon after first year university to become a ski bum, which I’m proud to say, I’m still doing today on some level.”

Neuspiel’s first stop was to explore the Rockies, where he soon became involved in back country skiing and mountain climbing. His introduction to guiding was in the river rafting business. “I discovered that I really loved that way of life, that job—the whole business of taking people into beautiful wild places and sharing that with them and looking after them,” Neuspiel says. “All of that stuff really appealed to me so then it morphed pretty quickly into guiding climbing and ultimately skiing as well.”

After stopping long enough to get a diploma in outdoor recreation from North Vancouver’s Capilano College, Neuspiel headed to the Himalayas in north western India on a skiing expedition, which would be the start of 25 years of Himalayan adventures. “That trip kind of fell apart but it got me over there and then I made my way across to Nepal and that is where I got my first job,” Neuspiel says.

“A couple of years later, I made my way back to northern India with my skis and finally realized the dream of skiing in the Himalayas there. I did some of my skiing there with a friend I had made in Nepal, an Australian, who was starting to toy with the idea of starting a helicopter skiing operation in that part of the Himalayas. Long story short, a few years later I did end up hooking up with him and working at that operation. And, before I knew it, I was running the operation and had been there for 11 years!”

Neuspiel laughs, noting how lucky he has been throughout his work life. But hard work no doubt enters into the mix as well. Himachal Helicopter Skiing is based in Manali, India, a city of 30,000 people located at 6,398 feet. “We grew it from a business that, when I joined, ran about three weeks of heli-skiing, to a business that owned three helicopters and was operating 12 weeks a winter, 250 clients in a winter. So yeah, we grew it into quite a business.”

While in Nepal Neuspiel met and married his wife Amanda, originally from England. Amanda works as a medical herbalist and thus when they decided to leave Nepal their destination had to be temperate for her work and mountainous for his. “The main contenders that fit that description are New Zealand and the west coast of BC,” Neuspiel says. “Neither of us is from New Zealand so we thought we’d consider the West Coast. We came to visit a friend in the Comox Valley and liked it. At first we really dropped our bags here but over time we settled in.”

Neuspiel continued to spend about four months out of the year in India, while gradually building his knowledge of Vancouver Island’s mountains and back country. When they adopted their son Vijay five years ago it was time to think about making a more permanent home here. That was when Neuspiel and another Cumberland resident, Cliff Umpleby, started Island Alpine Guides.

In his web blog Neuspiel sums up how IAG is doing: “Here we are entering our fifth year thinking, ‘The timing was about right.’ We’ve grown considerably every year since we started and are looking strong into the future as Vancouver Island’s premiere mountain school and guide service. Looking into the future we certainly intend to keep meeting the needs of our fellow islanders right here in the island Alps.”

IAG’s most popular winter course is the Avalanche Skills Training One (AST 1), followed closely by the Intro to Winter Travel. The AST 1 is offered at both Mount Washington and Mt. Cain. IAG is licensed by the Canadian Avalanche Centre to provide the two-day courses composed of about six hours of classroom and 12 hours of field instruction. In the classroom, participants learn about avalanche terrain, mountain snowpack, the nature and formation of avalanches, assessing avalanche danger, avalanche transceivers, safety measures and self rescue. In the field students learn terrain recognition, route finding, safe travel, stability evaluation, hazard recognition and small party self rescue. IAG also offers a four day long Avalanche Skills Training 2 course.

For the two day long Intro to Winter Travel the staff guide participants through gear selection and preparation while they manage the logistics of transportation, tenting and cooking. Neuspiel describes a typical outing from the arrival at the departure spot: “We would do final checks through gear, pack up our packs, and have a briefing before we head off up the mountain. We would ski our way to a location where we intend to camp for the night. In the process there is a lot of learning that goes on. Our instructors realize that the best way to teach a lot of outdoor pursuits is through using teachable moments to allow people to learn the stuff they’ve come there to learn.

“We get to a spot, set up a camp, and if the timing is right, probably go out for a little cruise around. If it is a trip where people are on skis, go for some ski runs; if it is a snowshoe trip, go for a wander around on snowshoes. If a person is on a split board, we’re going snowboarding, whatever it is. Camping out in the winter is full of lessons of its own and so we would help people through all of that and teach them how to be comfortable and enjoy sleeping out in the snow. The second day would involve doing a whole bunch more ski runs or whatever and ultimately heading out to finish the trip.”

Not sure if back country touring is for you? “Back country skiing is really suitable for anyone who skis and who is interested in being outdoors, particularly in the wilderness,” says Neuspiel. “It is particularly well suited to those who like powder snow. In terms of criteria the person needs to be a strong intermediate level skier and reasonably fit. Other than desire and a sense of adventure, that is about it.”

Once you’ve taken the courses, Island Alpine Guides has a multitude of tours to satisfy all tastes and abilities. There are Mount Washington and Mt. Cain back country tours, weekend ski tours to Mount Myra, Mount Adrian, or Mount Tom Taylor, heli-accessed touring at Alexandra Peak, Mount Adrian, or Mount Matchlee, as well as a seven-day Mount Washington to Comox Glacier traverse to name just a few of the winter options.

Neuspiel laughs when asked about the snow and the quality of local skiing. “Everyone asks that. Surely it is all Island cement, right? The best skiing is anywhere on the right day. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ve skied snow as good as anywhere on Vancouver Island. I’ve skied cold smoke powder, over the shoulders, on the back of Mount Washington. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that is a big part of what we do as guides. We make sure we get people to the right spot at the right time to get the best snow they possibly can.”

Island Alpine Guides staff is almost all based in the Comox Valley and are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. “They are an interesting group of people who share my passion for the mountains and for being in the mountains with people,” Neuspiel says. “They come with a variety of different experiences—from a mountain guide from France that has joined us here in the last couple of years and brings his own French flavor to things, which is fantastic, to a woman who has a really strong background with Outward Bound as an instructor and so comes with a really strong set of teaching skills, to a hiking guide who has been with us for a little while now who has just got keen with a capital K written all over him with everything that he does.”

Neuspiel also focuses his energy beyond the clients of IAG to assist all back country enthusiasts through two reporting services: the Vancouver Island Mountain Conditions Report and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin. The Mountain Conditions Report was initiated by IAG as a way to share information among people travelling in the backcountry.

He describes what information is provided: “What’s the access like on these logging roads now, what condition is that trail in, are the crevasses on that glacier opened up more, did you see avalanche activity, was there a big rock slide somewhere? Whatever it is that helps people planning their trip.” A new blog has been developed for this report to combat previous problems with spam. Information should be sent to info@islandalpineguides.com.

The non-profit Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society publishes an avalanche bulletin three times a week throughout the winter. The current bulletin advises that the many storms to pass over Vancouver Island in the last week of November have created high snow packs with a lot of instability. Jan is the lead forecaster for the Centre and he wants to encourage everyone to send him any information they have about snow conditions on the Island. Email him at forecaster@islandavalanchecentre.com. The information will make the Bulletin better and the interaction with the forecasters will also provide people with an opportunity to hone their skills in assessing snow pack.

Vancouver Island may not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think of mountain adventures but Neuspiel is working on changing that. The motto for Island Alpine Guides is “think globally, adventure locally.”

“There’s no shortage of challenges and real mountain topography here,” Neuspiel says. “The other point is the Island mountains have a unique beauty that is all their own. I have to say that over the years it has really grown on me to the point where, in my aged state, if I just wander around in these mountains for the rest of my career I’ll be more than happy.”

Avalanche Safety Tips

Carry avalanche rescue gear—probe, beacon/transceiver, shovel, etc.—at all times when travelling in the winter backcountry.

Avalanches can be associated with sunshine and daily warming. Consider travelling early while everything is frozen, or at night. The Canadian Avalanche Centre website (www.avalanche.ca) lists conditions that may lead to avalanches.

Watch for cracks across the snow surface and listen for the tell-tale “whump” noise associated with a slope collapse.

In avalanche country, always travel in a group and ensure everyone stays within sight of one another. If caught in an avalanche, use a swimming motion to try and stay at the surface. If possible, move to the side of the avalanche. If you’re not at the surface when the slide stops, quickly punch the snow to create an air pocket with one arm and push your other arm toward the surface to help rescuers locate you.


www.islandalpineguides.com
www.islandavalanchebulletin.com

As the storms roll through day after day, stomatology
the portents are all in place for another wild winter on Vancouver Island. The snow is piling up in the mountains and more snowfall records are likely to be set as La Nina returns again this year. For Cumberland based Island Alpine Guides (IAG) that means they are likely to be busier than ever.

IAG offers extensive courses and guided trips to make exploring the Island “Alps” enjoyable and safe. Year round they offer an array of climbing and hiking packages. In winter, pills they specialize in avalanche training and back country touring.

Jan Neuspiel, IAG’s managing director, has 25 years guiding experience. Born and raised in Ottawa, the genial 50-year-old says that skiing was a family affair—“almost a religion.” He left Ottawa “very soon after first year university to become a ski bum, which I’m proud to say, I’m still doing today on some level.”

Neuspiel’s first stop was to explore the Rockies, where he soon became involved in back country skiing and mountain climbing. His introduction to guiding was in the river rafting business. “I discovered that I really loved that way of life, that job—the whole business of taking people into beautiful wild places and sharing that with them and looking after them,” Neuspiel says. “All of that stuff really appealed to me so then it morphed pretty quickly into guiding climbing and ultimately skiing as well.”

After stopping long enough to get a diploma in outdoor recreation from North Vancouver’s Capilano College, Neuspiel headed to the Himalayas in north western India on a skiing expedition, which would be the start of 25 years of Himalayan adventures. “That trip kind of fell apart but it got me over there and then I made my way across to Nepal and that is where I got my first job,” Neuspiel says.

“A couple of years later, I made my way back to northern India with my skis and finally realized the dream of skiing in the Himalayas there. I did some of my skiing there with a friend I had made in Nepal, an Australian, who was starting to toy with the idea of starting a helicopter skiing operation in that part of the Himalayas. Long story short, a few years later I did end up hooking up with him and working at that operation. And, before I knew it, I was running the operation and had been there for 11 years!”

Neuspiel laughs, noting how lucky he has been throughout his work life. But hard work no doubt enters into the mix as well. Himachal Helicopter Skiing is based in Manali, India, a city of 30,000 people located at 6,398 feet. “We grew it from a business that, when I joined, ran about three weeks of heli-skiing, to a business that owned three helicopters and was operating 12 weeks a winter, 250 clients in a winter. So yeah, we grew it into quite a business.”

While in Nepal Neuspiel met and married his wife Amanda, originally from England. Amanda works as a medical herbalist and thus when they decided to leave Nepal their destination had to be temperate for her work and mountainous for his. “The main contenders that fit that description are New Zealand and the west coast of BC,” Neuspiel says. “Neither of us is from New Zealand so we thought we’d consider the West Coast. We came to visit a friend in the Comox Valley and liked it. At first we really dropped our bags here but over time we settled in.”

Neuspiel continued to spend about four months out of the year in India, while gradually building his knowledge of Vancouver Island’s mountains and back country. When they adopted their son Vijay five years ago it was time to think about making a more permanent home here. That was when Neuspiel and another Cumberland resident, Cliff Umpleby, started Island Alpine Guides.

In his web blog Neuspiel sums up how IAG is doing: “Here we are entering our fifth year thinking, ‘The timing was about right.’ We’ve grown considerably every year since we started and are looking strong into the future as Vancouver Island’s premiere mountain school and guide service. Looking into the future we certainly intend to keep meeting the needs of our fellow islanders right here in the island Alps.”

IAG’s most popular winter course is the Avalanche Skills Training One (AST 1), followed closely by the Intro to Winter Travel. The AST 1 is offered at both Mount Washington and Mt. Cain. IAG is licensed by the Canadian Avalanche Centre to provide the two-day courses composed of about six hours of classroom and 12 hours of field instruction. In the classroom, participants learn about avalanche terrain, mountain snowpack, the nature and formation of avalanches, assessing avalanche danger, avalanche transceivers, safety measures and self rescue. In the field students learn terrain recognition, route finding, safe travel, stability evaluation, hazard recognition and small party self rescue. IAG also offers a four day long Avalanche Skills Training 2 course.

For the two day long Intro to Winter Travel the staff guide participants through gear selection and preparation while they manage the logistics of transportation, tenting and cooking. Neuspiel describes a typical outing from the arrival at the departure spot: “We would do final checks through gear, pack up our packs, and have a briefing before we head off up the mountain. We would ski our way to a location where we intend to camp for the night. In the process there is a lot of learning that goes on. Our instructors realize that the best way to teach a lot of outdoor pursuits is through using teachable moments to allow people to learn the stuff they’ve come there to learn.

“We get to a spot, set up a camp, and if the timing is right, probably go out for a little cruise around. If it is a trip where people are on skis, go for some ski runs; if it is a snowshoe trip, go for a wander around on snowshoes. If a person is on a split board, we’re going snowboarding, whatever it is. Camping out in the winter is full of lessons of its own and so we would help people through all of that and teach them how to be comfortable and enjoy sleeping out in the snow. The second day would involve doing a whole bunch more ski runs or whatever and ultimately heading out to finish the trip.”

Not sure if back country touring is for you? “Back country skiing is really suitable for anyone who skis and who is interested in being outdoors, particularly in the wilderness,” says Neuspiel. “It is particularly well suited to those who like powder snow. In terms of criteria the person needs to be a strong intermediate level skier and reasonably fit. Other than desire and a sense of adventure, that is about it.”

Once you’ve taken the courses, Island Alpine Guides has a multitude of tours to satisfy all tastes and abilities. There are Mount Washington and Mt. Cain back country tours, weekend ski tours to Mount Myra, Mount Adrian, or Mount Tom Taylor, heli-accessed touring at Alexandra Peak, Mount Adrian, or Mount Matchlee, as well as a seven-day Mount Washington to Comox Glacier traverse to name just a few of the winter options.

Neuspiel laughs when asked about the snow and the quality of local skiing. “Everyone asks that. Surely it is all Island cement, right? The best skiing is anywhere on the right day. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ve skied snow as good as anywhere on Vancouver Island. I’ve skied cold smoke powder, over the shoulders, on the back of Mount Washington. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that is a big part of what we do as guides. We make sure we get people to the right spot at the right time to get the best snow they possibly can.”

Island Alpine Guides staff is almost all based in the Comox Valley and are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. “They are an interesting group of people who share my passion for the mountains and for being in the mountains with people,” Neuspiel says. “They come with a variety of different experiences—from a mountain guide from France that has joined us here in the last couple of years and brings his own French flavor to things, which is fantastic, to a woman who has a really strong background with Outward Bound as an instructor and so comes with a really strong set of teaching skills, to a hiking guide who has been with us for a little while now who has just got keen with a capital K written all over him with everything that he does.”

Neuspiel also focuses his energy beyond the clients of IAG to assist all back country enthusiasts through two reporting services: the Vancouver Island Mountain Conditions Report and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin. The Mountain Conditions Report was initiated by IAG as a way to share information among people travelling in the backcountry.

He describes what information is provided: “What’s the access like on these logging roads now, what condition is that trail in, are the crevasses on that glacier opened up more, did you see avalanche activity, was there a big rock slide somewhere? Whatever it is that helps people planning their trip.” A new blog has been developed for this report to combat previous problems with spam. Information should be sent to info@islandalpineguides.com.

The non-profit Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society publishes an avalanche bulletin three times a week throughout the winter. The current bulletin advises that the many storms to pass over Vancouver Island in the last week of November have created high snow packs with a lot of instability. Jan is the lead forecaster for the Centre and he wants to encourage everyone to send him any information they have about snow conditions on the Island. Email him at forecaster@islandavalanchecentre.com. The information will make the Bulletin better and the interaction with the forecasters will also provide people with an opportunity to hone their skills in assessing snow pack.

Vancouver Island may not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think of mountain adventures but Neuspiel is working on changing that. The motto for Island Alpine Guides is “think globally, adventure locally.”

“There’s no shortage of challenges and real mountain topography here,” Neuspiel says. “The other point is the Island mountains have a unique beauty that is all their own. I have to say that over the years it has really grown on me to the point where, in my aged state, if I just wander around in these mountains for the rest of my career I’ll be more than happy.”

Avalanche Safety Tips

Carry avalanche rescue gear—probe, beacon/transceiver, shovel, etc.—at all times when travelling in the winter backcountry.

Avalanches can be associated with sunshine and daily warming. Consider travelling early while everything is frozen, or at night. The Canadian Avalanche Centre website (www.avalanche.ca) lists conditions that may lead to avalanches.

Watch for cracks across the snow surface and listen for the tell-tale “whump” noise associated with a slope collapse.

In avalanche country, always travel in a group and ensure everyone stays within sight of one another. If caught in an avalanche, use a swimming motion to try and stay at the surface. If possible, move to the side of the avalanche. If you’re not at the surface when the slide stops, quickly punch the snow to create an air pocket with one arm and push your other arm toward the surface to help rescuers locate you.


www.islandalpineguides.com
www.islandavalanchebulletin.com

As the storms roll through day after day, the portents are all in place for another wild winter on Vancouver Island. The snow is piling up in the mountains and more snowfall records are likely to be set as La Nina returns again this year. For Cumberland based Island Alpine Guides (IAG) that means they are likely to be busier than ever.

IAG offers extensive courses and guided trips to make exploring the Island “Alps” enjoyable and safe. Year round they offer an array of climbing and hiking packages. In winter, they specialize in avalanche training and back country touring.

Jan Neuspiel, IAG’s managing director, has 25 years guiding experience. Born and raised in Ottawa, the genial 50-year-old says that skiing was a family affair—“almost a religion.” He left Ottawa “very soon after first year university to become a ski bum, which I’m proud to say, I’m still doing today on some level.”

Neuspiel’s first stop was to explore the Rockies, where he soon became involved in back country skiing and mountain climbing. His introduction to guiding was in the river rafting business. “I discovered that I really loved that way of life, that job—the whole business of taking people into beautiful wild places and sharing that with them and looking after them,” Neuspiel says. “All of that stuff really appealed to me so then it morphed pretty quickly into guiding climbing and ultimately skiing as well.”

After stopping long enough to get a diploma in outdoor recreation from North Vancouver’s Capilano College, Neuspiel headed to the Himalayas in north western India on a skiing expedition, which would be the start of 25 years of Himalayan adventures. “That trip kind of fell apart but it got me over there and then I made my way across to Nepal and that is where I got my first job,” Neuspiel says.

“A couple of years later, I made my way back to northern India with my skis and finally realized the dream of skiing in the Himalayas there. I did some of my skiing there with a friend I had made in Nepal, an Australian, who was starting to toy with the idea of starting a helicopter skiing operation in that part of the Himalayas. Long story short, a few years later I did end up hooking up with him and working at that operation. And, before I knew it, I was running the operation and had been there for 11 years!”

Neuspiel laughs, noting how lucky he has been throughout his work life. But hard work no doubt enters into the mix as well. Himachal Helicopter Skiing is based in Manali, India, a city of 30,000 people located at 6,398 feet. “We grew it from a business that, when I joined, ran about three weeks of heli-skiing, to a business that owned three helicopters and was operating 12 weeks a winter, 250 clients in a winter. So yeah, we grew it into quite a business.”

While in Nepal Neuspiel met and married his wife Amanda, originally from England. Amanda works as a medical herbalist and thus when they decided to leave Nepal their destination had to be temperate for her work and mountainous for his. “The main contenders that fit that description are New Zealand and the west coast of BC,” Neuspiel says. “Neither of us is from New Zealand so we thought we’d consider the West Coast. We came to visit a friend in the Comox Valley and liked it. At first we really dropped our bags here but over time we settled in.”

Neuspiel continued to spend about four months out of the year in India, while gradually building his knowledge of Vancouver Island’s mountains and back country. When they adopted their son Vijay five years ago it was time to think about making a more permanent home here. That was when Neuspiel and another Cumberland resident, Cliff Umpleby, started Island Alpine Guides.

In his web blog Neuspiel sums up how IAG is doing: “Here we are entering our fifth year thinking, ‘The timing was about right.’ We’ve grown considerably every year since we started and are looking strong into the future as Vancouver Island’s premiere mountain school and guide service. Looking into the future we certainly intend to keep meeting the needs of our fellow islanders right here in the island Alps.”

IAG’s most popular winter course is the Avalanche Skills Training One (AST 1), followed closely by the Intro to Winter Travel. The AST 1 is offered at both Mount Washington and Mt. Cain. IAG is licensed by the Canadian Avalanche Centre to provide the two-day courses composed of about six hours of classroom and 12 hours of field instruction. In the classroom, participants learn about avalanche terrain, mountain snowpack, the nature and formation of avalanches, assessing avalanche danger, avalanche transceivers, safety measures and self rescue. In the field students learn terrain recognition, route finding, safe travel, stability evaluation, hazard recognition and small party self rescue. IAG also offers a four day long Avalanche Skills Training 2 course.

For the two day long Intro to Winter Travel the staff guide participants through gear selection and preparation while they manage the logistics of transportation, tenting and cooking. Neuspiel describes a typical outing from the arrival at the departure spot: “We would do final checks through gear, pack up our packs, and have a briefing before we head off up the mountain. We would ski our way to a location where we intend to camp for the night. In the process there is a lot of learning that goes on. Our instructors realize that the best way to teach a lot of outdoor pursuits is through using teachable moments to allow people to learn the stuff they’ve come there to learn.

“We get to a spot, set up a camp, and if the timing is right, probably go out for a little cruise around. If it is a trip where people are on skis, go for some ski runs; if it is a snowshoe trip, go for a wander around on snowshoes. If a person is on a split board, we’re going snowboarding, whatever it is. Camping out in the winter is full of lessons of its own and so we would help people through all of that and teach them how to be comfortable and enjoy sleeping out in the snow. The second day would involve doing a whole bunch more ski runs or whatever and ultimately heading out to finish the trip.”

Not sure if back country touring is for you? “Back country skiing is really suitable for anyone who skis and who is interested in being outdoors, particularly in the wilderness,” says Neuspiel. “It is particularly well suited to those who like powder snow. In terms of criteria the person needs to be a strong intermediate level skier and reasonably fit. Other than desire and a sense of adventure, that is about it.”

Once you’ve taken the courses, Island Alpine Guides has a multitude of tours to satisfy all tastes and abilities. There are Mount Washington and Mt. Cain back country tours, weekend ski tours to Mount Myra, Mount Adrian, or Mount Tom Taylor, heli-accessed touring at Alexandra Peak, Mount Adrian, or Mount Matchlee, as well as a seven-day Mount Washington to Comox Glacier traverse to name just a few of the winter options.

Neuspiel laughs when asked about the snow and the quality of local skiing. “Everyone asks that. Surely it is all Island cement, right? The best skiing is anywhere on the right day. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ve skied snow as good as anywhere on Vancouver Island. I’ve skied cold smoke powder, over the shoulders, on the back of Mount Washington. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that is a big part of what we do as guides. We make sure we get people to the right spot at the right time to get the best snow they possibly can.”

Island Alpine Guides staff is almost all based in the Comox Valley and are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. “They are an interesting group of people who share my passion for the mountains and for being in the mountains with people,” Neuspiel says. “They come with a variety of different experiences—from a mountain guide from France that has joined us here in the last couple of years and brings his own French flavor to things, which is fantastic, to a woman who has a really strong background with Outward Bound as an instructor and so comes with a really strong set of teaching skills, to a hiking guide who has been with us for a little while now who has just got keen with a capital K written all over him with everything that he does.”

Neuspiel also focuses his energy beyond the clients of IAG to assist all back country enthusiasts through two reporting services: the Vancouver Island Mountain Conditions Report and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin. The Mountain Conditions Report was initiated by IAG as a way to share information among people travelling in the backcountry.

He describes what information is provided: “What’s the access like on these logging roads now, what condition is that trail in, are the crevasses on that glacier opened up more, did you see avalanche activity, was there a big rock slide somewhere? Whatever it is that helps people planning their trip.” A new blog has been developed for this report to combat previous problems with spam. Information should be sent to info@islandalpineguides.com.

The non-profit Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society publishes an avalanche bulletin three times a week throughout the winter. The current bulletin advises that the many storms to pass over Vancouver Island in the last week of November have created high snow packs with a lot of instability. Jan is the lead forecaster for the Centre and he wants to encourage everyone to send him any information they have about snow conditions on the Island. Email him at forecaster@islandavalanchecentre.com. The information will make the Bulletin better and the interaction with the forecasters will also provide people with an opportunity to hone their skills in assessing snow pack.

Vancouver Island may not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think of mountain adventures but Neuspiel is working on changing that. The motto for Island Alpine Guides is “think globally, adventure locally.”

“There’s no shortage of challenges and real mountain topography here,” Neuspiel says. “The other point is the Island mountains have a unique beauty that is all their own. I have to say that over the years it has really grown on me to the point where, in my aged state, if I just wander around in these mountains for the rest of my career I’ll be more than happy.”

Avalanche Safety Tips

Carry avalanche rescue gear—probe, beacon/transceiver, shovel, etc.—at all times when travelling in the winter backcountry.

Avalanches can be associated with sunshine and daily warming. Consider travelling early while everything is frozen, or at night. The Canadian Avalanche Centre website (www.avalanche.ca) lists conditions that may lead to avalanches.

Watch for cracks across the snow surface and listen for the tell-tale “whump” noise associated with a slope collapse.

In avalanche country, always travel in a group and ensure everyone stays within sight of one another. If caught in an avalanche, use a swimming motion to try and stay at the surface. If possible, move to the side of the avalanche. If you’re not at the surface when the slide stops, quickly punch the snow to create an air pocket with one arm and push your other arm toward the surface to help rescuers locate you.


www.islandalpineguides.com
www.islandavalanchebulletin.com

As the storms roll through day after day, online
the portents are all in place for another wild winter on Vancouver Island. The snow is piling up in the mountains and more snowfall records are likely to be set as La Nina returns again this year. For Cumberland based Island Alpine Guides (IAG) that means they are likely to be busier than ever.

IAG offers extensive courses and guided trips to make exploring the Island “Alps” enjoyable and safe. Year round they offer an array of climbing and hiking packages. In winter, one Health
they specialize in avalanche training and back country touring.

Jan Neuspiel, IAG’s managing director, has 25 years guiding experience. Born and raised in Ottawa, the genial 50-year-old says that skiing was a family affair—“almost a religion.” He left Ottawa “very soon after first year university to become a ski bum, which I’m proud to say, I’m still doing today on some level.”

Neuspiel’s first stop was to explore the Rockies, where he soon became involved in back country skiing and mountain climbing. His introduction to guiding was in the river rafting business. “I discovered that I really loved that way of life, that job—the whole business of taking people into beautiful wild places and sharing that with them and looking after them,” Neuspiel says. “All of that stuff really appealed to me so then it morphed pretty quickly into guiding climbing and ultimately skiing as well.”

After stopping long enough to get a diploma in outdoor recreation from North Vancouver’s Capilano College, Neuspiel headed to the Himalayas in north western India on a skiing expedition, which would be the start of 25 years of Himalayan adventures. “That trip kind of fell apart but it got me over there and then I made my way across to Nepal and that is where I got my first job,” Neuspiel says.

“A couple of years later, I made my way back to northern India with my skis and finally realized the dream of skiing in the Himalayas there. I did some of my skiing there with a friend I had made in Nepal, an Australian, who was starting to toy with the idea of starting a helicopter skiing operation in that part of the Himalayas. Long story short, a few years later I did end up hooking up with him and working at that operation. And, before I knew it, I was running the operation and had been there for 11 years!”

Neuspiel laughs, noting how lucky he has been throughout his work life. But hard work no doubt enters into the mix as well. Himachal Helicopter Skiing is based in Manali, India, a city of 30,000 people located at 6,398 feet. “We grew it from a business that, when I joined, ran about three weeks of heli-skiing, to a business that owned three helicopters and was operating 12 weeks a winter, 250 clients in a winter. So yeah, we grew it into quite a business.”

While in Nepal Neuspiel met and married his wife Amanda, originally from England. Amanda works as a medical herbalist and thus when they decided to leave Nepal their destination had to be temperate for her work and mountainous for his. “The main contenders that fit that description are New Zealand and the west coast of BC,” Neuspiel says. “Neither of us is from New Zealand so we thought we’d consider the West Coast. We came to visit a friend in the Comox Valley and liked it. At first we really dropped our bags here but over time we settled in.”

Neuspiel continued to spend about four months out of the year in India, while gradually building his knowledge of Vancouver Island’s mountains and back country. When they adopted their son Vijay five years ago it was time to think about making a more permanent home here. That was when Neuspiel and another Cumberland resident, Cliff Umpleby, started Island Alpine Guides.

In his web blog Neuspiel sums up how IAG is doing: “Here we are entering our fifth year thinking, ‘The timing was about right.’ We’ve grown considerably every year since we started and are looking strong into the future as Vancouver Island’s premiere mountain school and guide service. Looking into the future we certainly intend to keep meeting the needs of our fellow islanders right here in the island Alps.”

IAG’s most popular winter course is the Avalanche Skills Training One (AST 1), followed closely by the Intro to Winter Travel. The AST 1 is offered at both Mount Washington and Mt. Cain. IAG is licensed by the Canadian Avalanche Centre to provide the two-day courses composed of about six hours of classroom and 12 hours of field instruction. In the classroom, participants learn about avalanche terrain, mountain snowpack, the nature and formation of avalanches, assessing avalanche danger, avalanche transceivers, safety measures and self rescue. In the field students learn terrain recognition, route finding, safe travel, stability evaluation, hazard recognition and small party self rescue. IAG also offers a four day long Avalanche Skills Training 2 course.

For the two day long Intro to Winter Travel the staff guide participants through gear selection and preparation while they manage the logistics of transportation, tenting and cooking. Neuspiel describes a typical outing from the arrival at the departure spot: “We would do final checks through gear, pack up our packs, and have a briefing before we head off up the mountain. We would ski our way to a location where we intend to camp for the night. In the process there is a lot of learning that goes on. Our instructors realize that the best way to teach a lot of outdoor pursuits is through using teachable moments to allow people to learn the stuff they’ve come there to learn.

“We get to a spot, set up a camp, and if the timing is right, probably go out for a little cruise around. If it is a trip where people are on skis, go for some ski runs; if it is a snowshoe trip, go for a wander around on snowshoes. If a person is on a split board, we’re going snowboarding, whatever it is. Camping out in the winter is full of lessons of its own and so we would help people through all of that and teach them how to be comfortable and enjoy sleeping out in the snow. The second day would involve doing a whole bunch more ski runs or whatever and ultimately heading out to finish the trip.”

Not sure if back country touring is for you? “Back country skiing is really suitable for anyone who skis and who is interested in being outdoors, particularly in the wilderness,” says Neuspiel. “It is particularly well suited to those who like powder snow. In terms of criteria the person needs to be a strong intermediate level skier and reasonably fit. Other than desire and a sense of adventure, that is about it.”

Once you’ve taken the courses, Island Alpine Guides has a multitude of tours to satisfy all tastes and abilities. There are Mount Washington and Mt. Cain back country tours, weekend ski tours to Mount Myra, Mount Adrian, or Mount Tom Taylor, heli-accessed touring at Alexandra Peak, Mount Adrian, or Mount Matchlee, as well as a seven-day Mount Washington to Comox Glacier traverse to name just a few of the winter options.

Neuspiel laughs when asked about the snow and the quality of local skiing. “Everyone asks that. Surely it is all Island cement, right? The best skiing is anywhere on the right day. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ve skied snow as good as anywhere on Vancouver Island. I’ve skied cold smoke powder, over the shoulders, on the back of Mount Washington. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that is a big part of what we do as guides. We make sure we get people to the right spot at the right time to get the best snow they possibly can.”

Island Alpine Guides staff is almost all based in the Comox Valley and are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. “They are an interesting group of people who share my passion for the mountains and for being in the mountains with people,” Neuspiel says. “They come with a variety of different experiences—from a mountain guide from France that has joined us here in the last couple of years and brings his own French flavor to things, which is fantastic, to a woman who has a really strong background with Outward Bound as an instructor and so comes with a really strong set of teaching skills, to a hiking guide who has been with us for a little while now who has just got keen with a capital K written all over him with everything that he does.”

Neuspiel also focuses his energy beyond the clients of IAG to assist all back country enthusiasts through two reporting services: the Vancouver Island Mountain Conditions Report and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin. The Mountain Conditions Report was initiated by IAG as a way to share information among people travelling in the backcountry.

He describes what information is provided: “What’s the access like on these logging roads now, what condition is that trail in, are the crevasses on that glacier opened up more, did you see avalanche activity, was there a big rock slide somewhere? Whatever it is that helps people planning their trip.” A new blog has been developed for this report to combat previous problems with spam. Information should be sent to info@islandalpineguides.com.

The non-profit Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society publishes an avalanche bulletin three times a week throughout the winter. The current bulletin advises that the many storms to pass over Vancouver Island in the last week of November have created high snow packs with a lot of instability. Jan is the lead forecaster for the Centre and he wants to encourage everyone to send him any information they have about snow conditions on the Island. Email him at forecaster@islandavalanchecentre.com. The information will make the Bulletin better and the interaction with the forecasters will also provide people with an opportunity to hone their skills in assessing snow pack.

Vancouver Island may not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think of mountain adventures but Neuspiel is working on changing that. The motto for Island Alpine Guides is “think globally, adventure locally.”

“There’s no shortage of challenges and real mountain topography here,” Neuspiel says. “The other point is the Island mountains have a unique beauty that is all their own. I have to say that over the years it has really grown on me to the point where, in my aged state, if I just wander around in these mountains for the rest of my career I’ll be more than happy.”

Avalanche Safety Tips

Carry avalanche rescue gear—probe, beacon/transceiver, shovel, etc.—at all times when travelling in the winter backcountry.

Avalanches can be associated with sunshine and daily warming. Consider travelling early while everything is frozen, or at night. The Canadian Avalanche Centre website (www.avalanche.ca) lists conditions that may lead to avalanches.

Watch for cracks across the snow surface and listen for the tell-tale “whump” noise associated with a slope collapse.

In avalanche country, always travel in a group and ensure everyone stays within sight of one another. If caught in an avalanche, use a swimming motion to try and stay at the surface. If possible, move to the side of the avalanche. If you’re not at the surface when the slide stops, quickly punch the snow to create an air pocket with one arm and push your other arm toward the surface to help rescuers locate you.


www.islandalpineguides.com
www.islandavalanchebulletin.com

As the storms roll through day after day, injection
the portents are all in place for another wild winter on Vancouver Island. The snow is piling up in the mountains and more snowfall records are likely to be set as La Nina returns again this year. For Cumberland based Island Alpine Guides (IAG) that means they are likely to be busier than ever.

IAG offers extensive courses and guided trips to make exploring the Island “Alps” enjoyable and safe. Year round they offer an array of climbing and hiking packages. In winter, help
they specialize in avalanche training and back country touring.

Jan Neuspiel, IAG’s managing director, has 25 years guiding experience. Born and raised in Ottawa, the genial 50-year-old says that skiing was a family affair—“almost a religion.” He left Ottawa “very soon after first year university to become a ski bum, which I’m proud to say, I’m still doing today on some level.”

Neuspiel’s first stop was to explore the Rockies, where he soon became involved in back country skiing and mountain climbing. His introduction to guiding was in the river rafting business. “I discovered that I really loved that way of life, that job—the whole business of taking people into beautiful wild places and sharing that with them and looking after them,” Neuspiel says. “All of that stuff really appealed to me so then it morphed pretty quickly into guiding climbing and ultimately skiing as well.”

After stopping long enough to get a diploma in outdoor recreation from North Vancouver’s Capilano College, Neuspiel headed to the Himalayas in north western India on a skiing expedition, which would be the start of 25 years of Himalayan adventures. “That trip kind of fell apart but it got me over there and then I made my way across to Nepal and that is where I got my first job,” Neuspiel says.

“A couple of years later, I made my way back to northern India with my skis and finally realized the dream of skiing in the Himalayas there. I did some of my skiing there with a friend I had made in Nepal, an Australian, who was starting to toy with the idea of starting a helicopter skiing operation in that part of the Himalayas. Long story short, a few years later I did end up hooking up with him and working at that operation. And, before I knew it, I was running the operation and had been there for 11 years!”

Neuspiel laughs, noting how lucky he has been throughout his work life. But hard work no doubt enters into the mix as well. Himachal Helicopter Skiing is based in Manali, India, a city of 30,000 people located at 6,398 feet. “We grew it from a business that, when I joined, ran about three weeks of heli-skiing, to a business that owned three helicopters and was operating 12 weeks a winter, 250 clients in a winter. So yeah, we grew it into quite a business.”

While in Nepal Neuspiel met and married his wife Amanda, originally from England. Amanda works as a medical herbalist and thus when they decided to leave Nepal their destination had to be temperate for her work and mountainous for his. “The main contenders that fit that description are New Zealand and the west coast of BC,” Neuspiel says. “Neither of us is from New Zealand so we thought we’d consider the West Coast. We came to visit a friend in the Comox Valley and liked it. At first we really dropped our bags here but over time we settled in.”

Neuspiel continued to spend about four months out of the year in India, while gradually building his knowledge of Vancouver Island’s mountains and back country. When they adopted their son Vijay five years ago it was time to think about making a more permanent home here. That was when Neuspiel and another Cumberland resident, Cliff Umpleby, started Island Alpine Guides.

In his web blog Neuspiel sums up how IAG is doing: “Here we are entering our fifth year thinking, ‘The timing was about right.’ We’ve grown considerably every year since we started and are looking strong into the future as Vancouver Island’s premiere mountain school and guide service. Looking into the future we certainly intend to keep meeting the needs of our fellow islanders right here in the island Alps.”

IAG’s most popular winter course is the Avalanche Skills Training One (AST 1), followed closely by the Intro to Winter Travel. The AST 1 is offered at both Mount Washington and Mt. Cain. IAG is licensed by the Canadian Avalanche Centre to provide the two-day courses composed of about six hours of classroom and 12 hours of field instruction. In the classroom, participants learn about avalanche terrain, mountain snowpack, the nature and formation of avalanches, assessing avalanche danger, avalanche transceivers, safety measures and self rescue. In the field students learn terrain recognition, route finding, safe travel, stability evaluation, hazard recognition and small party self rescue. IAG also offers a four day long Avalanche Skills Training 2 course.

For the two day long Intro to Winter Travel the staff guide participants through gear selection and preparation while they manage the logistics of transportation, tenting and cooking. Neuspiel describes a typical outing from the arrival at the departure spot: “We would do final checks through gear, pack up our packs, and have a briefing before we head off up the mountain. We would ski our way to a location where we intend to camp for the night. In the process there is a lot of learning that goes on. Our instructors realize that the best way to teach a lot of outdoor pursuits is through using teachable moments to allow people to learn the stuff they’ve come there to learn.

“We get to a spot, set up a camp, and if the timing is right, probably go out for a little cruise around. If it is a trip where people are on skis, go for some ski runs; if it is a snowshoe trip, go for a wander around on snowshoes. If a person is on a split board, we’re going snowboarding, whatever it is. Camping out in the winter is full of lessons of its own and so we would help people through all of that and teach them how to be comfortable and enjoy sleeping out in the snow. The second day would involve doing a whole bunch more ski runs or whatever and ultimately heading out to finish the trip.”

Not sure if back country touring is for you? “Back country skiing is really suitable for anyone who skis and who is interested in being outdoors, particularly in the wilderness,” says Neuspiel. “It is particularly well suited to those who like powder snow. In terms of criteria the person needs to be a strong intermediate level skier and reasonably fit. Other than desire and a sense of adventure, that is about it.”

Once you’ve taken the courses, Island Alpine Guides has a multitude of tours to satisfy all tastes and abilities. There are Mount Washington and Mt. Cain back country tours, weekend ski tours to Mount Myra, Mount Adrian, or Mount Tom Taylor, heli-accessed touring at Alexandra Peak, Mount Adrian, or Mount Matchlee, as well as a seven-day Mount Washington to Comox Glacier traverse to name just a few of the winter options.

Neuspiel laughs when asked about the snow and the quality of local skiing. “Everyone asks that. Surely it is all Island cement, right? The best skiing is anywhere on the right day. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ve skied snow as good as anywhere on Vancouver Island. I’ve skied cold smoke powder, over the shoulders, on the back of Mount Washington. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that is a big part of what we do as guides. We make sure we get people to the right spot at the right time to get the best snow they possibly can.”

Island Alpine Guides staff is almost all based in the Comox Valley and are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. “They are an interesting group of people who share my passion for the mountains and for being in the mountains with people,” Neuspiel says. “They come with a variety of different experiences—from a mountain guide from France that has joined us here in the last couple of years and brings his own French flavor to things, which is fantastic, to a woman who has a really strong background with Outward Bound as an instructor and so comes with a really strong set of teaching skills, to a hiking guide who has been with us for a little while now who has just got keen with a capital K written all over him with everything that he does.”

Neuspiel also focuses his energy beyond the clients of IAG to assist all back country enthusiasts through two reporting services: the Vancouver Island Mountain Conditions Report and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin. The Mountain Conditions Report was initiated by IAG as a way to share information among people travelling in the backcountry.

He describes what information is provided: “What’s the access like on these logging roads now, what condition is that trail in, are the crevasses on that glacier opened up more, did you see avalanche activity, was there a big rock slide somewhere? Whatever it is that helps people planning their trip.” A new blog has been developed for this report to combat previous problems with spam. Information should be sent to info@islandalpineguides.com.

The non-profit Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society publishes an avalanche bulletin three times a week throughout the winter. The current bulletin advises that the many storms to pass over Vancouver Island in the last week of November have created high snow packs with a lot of instability. Jan is the lead forecaster for the Centre and he wants to encourage everyone to send him any information they have about snow conditions on the Island. Email him at forecaster@islandavalanchecentre.com. The information will make the Bulletin better and the interaction with the forecasters will also provide people with an opportunity to hone their skills in assessing snow pack.

Vancouver Island may not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think of mountain adventures but Neuspiel is working on changing that. The motto for Island Alpine Guides is “think globally, adventure locally.”

“There’s no shortage of challenges and real mountain topography here,” Neuspiel says. “The other point is the Island mountains have a unique beauty that is all their own. I have to say that over the years it has really grown on me to the point where, in my aged state, if I just wander around in these mountains for the rest of my career I’ll be more than happy.”

Avalanche Safety Tips

Carry avalanche rescue gear—probe, beacon/transceiver, shovel, etc.—at all times when travelling in the winter backcountry.

Avalanches can be associated with sunshine and daily warming. Consider travelling early while everything is frozen, or at night. The Canadian Avalanche Centre website (www.avalanche.ca) lists conditions that may lead to avalanches.

Watch for cracks across the snow surface and listen for the tell-tale “whump” noise associated with a slope collapse.

In avalanche country, always travel in a group and ensure everyone stays within sight of one another. If caught in an avalanche, use a swimming motion to try and stay at the surface. If possible, move to the side of the avalanche. If you’re not at the surface when the slide stops, quickly punch the snow to create an air pocket with one arm and push your other arm toward the surface to help rescuers locate you.


www.islandalpineguides.com
www.islandavalanchebulletin.com

As the storms roll through day after day, shop the portents are all in place for another wild winter on Vancouver Island. The snow is piling up in the mountains and more snowfall records are likely to be set as La Nina returns again this year. For Cumberland based Island Alpine Guides (IAG) that means they are likely to be busier than ever.

IAG offers extensive courses and guided trips to make exploring the Island “Alps” enjoyable and safe. Year round they offer an array of climbing and hiking packages. In winter, pharmacy
they specialize in avalanche training and back country touring.

Jan Neuspiel, IAG’s managing director, has 25 years guiding experience. Born and raised in Ottawa, the genial 50-year-old says that skiing was a family affair—“almost a religion.” He left Ottawa “very soon after first year university to become a ski bum, which I’m proud to say, I’m still doing today on some level.”

Neuspiel’s first stop was to explore the Rockies, where he soon became involved in back country skiing and mountain climbing. His introduction to guiding was in the river rafting business. “I discovered that I really loved that way of life, that job—the whole business of taking people into beautiful wild places and sharing that with them and looking after them,” Neuspiel says. “All of that stuff really appealed to me so then it morphed pretty quickly into guiding climbing and ultimately skiing as well.”

After stopping long enough to get a diploma in outdoor recreation from North Vancouver’s Capilano College, Neuspiel headed to the Himalayas in north western India on a skiing expedition, which would be the start of 25 years of Himalayan adventures. “That trip kind of fell apart but it got me over there and then I made my way across to Nepal and that is where I got my first job,” Neuspiel says.

“A couple of years later, I made my way back to northern India with my skis and finally realized the dream of skiing in the Himalayas there. I did some of my skiing there with a friend I had made in Nepal, an Australian, who was starting to toy with the idea of starting a helicopter skiing operation in that part of the Himalayas. Long story short, a few years later I did end up hooking up with him and working at that operation. And, before I knew it, I was running the operation and had been there for 11 years!”

Neuspiel laughs, noting how lucky he has been throughout his work life. But hard work no doubt enters into the mix as well. Himachal Helicopter Skiing is based in Manali, India, a city of 30,000 people located at 6,398 feet. “We grew it from a business that, when I joined, ran about three weeks of heli-skiing, to a business that owned three helicopters and was operating 12 weeks a winter, 250 clients in a winter. So yeah, we grew it into quite a business.”

While in Nepal Neuspiel met and married his wife Amanda, originally from England. Amanda works as a medical herbalist and thus when they decided to leave Nepal their destination had to be temperate for her work and mountainous for his. “The main contenders that fit that description are New Zealand and the west coast of BC,” Neuspiel says. “Neither of us is from New Zealand so we thought we’d consider the West Coast. We came to visit a friend in the Comox Valley and liked it. At first we really dropped our bags here but over time we settled in.”

Neuspiel continued to spend about four months out of the year in India, while gradually building his knowledge of Vancouver Island’s mountains and back country. When they adopted their son Vijay five years ago it was time to think about making a more permanent home here. That was when Neuspiel and another Cumberland resident, Cliff Umpleby, started Island Alpine Guides.

In his web blog Neuspiel sums up how IAG is doing: “Here we are entering our fifth year thinking, ‘The timing was about right.’ We’ve grown considerably every year since we started and are looking strong into the future as Vancouver Island’s premiere mountain school and guide service. Looking into the future we certainly intend to keep meeting the needs of our fellow islanders right here in the island Alps.”

IAG’s most popular winter course is the Avalanche Skills Training One (AST 1), followed closely by the Intro to Winter Travel. The AST 1 is offered at both Mount Washington and Mt. Cain. IAG is licensed by the Canadian Avalanche Centre to provide the two-day courses composed of about six hours of classroom and 12 hours of field instruction. In the classroom, participants learn about avalanche terrain, mountain snowpack, the nature and formation of avalanches, assessing avalanche danger, avalanche transceivers, safety measures and self rescue. In the field students learn terrain recognition, route finding, safe travel, stability evaluation, hazard recognition and small party self rescue. IAG also offers a four day long Avalanche Skills Training 2 course.

For the two day long Intro to Winter Travel the staff guide participants through gear selection and preparation while they manage the logistics of transportation, tenting and cooking. Neuspiel describes a typical outing from the arrival at the departure spot: “We would do final checks through gear, pack up our packs, and have a briefing before we head off up the mountain. We would ski our way to a location where we intend to camp for the night. In the process there is a lot of learning that goes on. Our instructors realize that the best way to teach a lot of outdoor pursuits is through using teachable moments to allow people to learn the stuff they’ve come there to learn.

“We get to a spot, set up a camp, and if the timing is right, probably go out for a little cruise around. If it is a trip where people are on skis, go for some ski runs; if it is a snowshoe trip, go for a wander around on snowshoes. If a person is on a split board, we’re going snowboarding, whatever it is. Camping out in the winter is full of lessons of its own and so we would help people through all of that and teach them how to be comfortable and enjoy sleeping out in the snow. The second day would involve doing a whole bunch more ski runs or whatever and ultimately heading out to finish the trip.”

Not sure if back country touring is for you? “Back country skiing is really suitable for anyone who skis and who is interested in being outdoors, particularly in the wilderness,” says Neuspiel. “It is particularly well suited to those who like powder snow. In terms of criteria the person needs to be a strong intermediate level skier and reasonably fit. Other than desire and a sense of adventure, that is about it.”

Once you’ve taken the courses, Island Alpine Guides has a multitude of tours to satisfy all tastes and abilities. There are Mount Washington and Mt. Cain back country tours, weekend ski tours to Mount Myra, Mount Adrian, or Mount Tom Taylor, heli-accessed touring at Alexandra Peak, Mount Adrian, or Mount Matchlee, as well as a seven-day Mount Washington to Comox Glacier traverse to name just a few of the winter options.

Neuspiel laughs when asked about the snow and the quality of local skiing. “Everyone asks that. Surely it is all Island cement, right? The best skiing is anywhere on the right day. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ve skied snow as good as anywhere on Vancouver Island. I’ve skied cold smoke powder, over the shoulders, on the back of Mount Washington. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that is a big part of what we do as guides. We make sure we get people to the right spot at the right time to get the best snow they possibly can.”

Island Alpine Guides staff is almost all based in the Comox Valley and are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. “They are an interesting group of people who share my passion for the mountains and for being in the mountains with people,” Neuspiel says. “They come with a variety of different experiences—from a mountain guide from France that has joined us here in the last couple of years and brings his own French flavor to things, which is fantastic, to a woman who has a really strong background with Outward Bound as an instructor and so comes with a really strong set of teaching skills, to a hiking guide who has been with us for a little while now who has just got keen with a capital K written all over him with everything that he does.”

Neuspiel also focuses his energy beyond the clients of IAG to assist all back country enthusiasts through two reporting services: the Vancouver Island Mountain Conditions Report and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin. The Mountain Conditions Report was initiated by IAG as a way to share information among people travelling in the backcountry.

He describes what information is provided: “What’s the access like on these logging roads now, what condition is that trail in, are the crevasses on that glacier opened up more, did you see avalanche activity, was there a big rock slide somewhere? Whatever it is that helps people planning their trip.” A new blog has been developed for this report to combat previous problems with spam. Information should be sent to info@islandalpineguides.com.

The non-profit Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society publishes an avalanche bulletin three times a week throughout the winter. The current bulletin advises that the many storms to pass over Vancouver Island in the last week of November have created high snow packs with a lot of instability. Jan is the lead forecaster for the Centre and he wants to encourage everyone to send him any information they have about snow conditions on the Island. Email him at forecaster@islandavalanchecentre.com. The information will make the Bulletin better and the interaction with the forecasters will also provide people with an opportunity to hone their skills in assessing snow pack.

Vancouver Island may not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think of mountain adventures but Neuspiel is working on changing that. The motto for Island Alpine Guides is “think globally, adventure locally.”

“There’s no shortage of challenges and real mountain topography here,” Neuspiel says. “The other point is the Island mountains have a unique beauty that is all their own. I have to say that over the years it has really grown on me to the point where, in my aged state, if I just wander around in these mountains for the rest of my career I’ll be more than happy.”

Avalanche Safety Tips

Carry avalanche rescue gear—probe, beacon/transceiver, shovel, etc.—at all times when travelling in the winter backcountry.

Avalanches can be associated with sunshine and daily warming. Consider travelling early while everything is frozen, or at night. The Canadian Avalanche Centre website (www.avalanche.ca) lists conditions that may lead to avalanches.

Watch for cracks across the snow surface and listen for the tell-tale “whump” noise associated with a slope collapse.

In avalanche country, always travel in a group and ensure everyone stays within sight of one another. If caught in an avalanche, use a swimming motion to try and stay at the surface. If possible, move to the side of the avalanche. If you’re not at the surface when the slide stops, quickly punch the snow to create an air pocket with one arm and push your other arm toward the surface to help rescuers locate you.


www.islandalpineguides.com
www.islandavalanchebulletin.com

It seems fitting that I would meet with Anita Kalnay on a day when the autumn air is ripe with the aroma of changing seasons. I take a deep breath to savor the scent of ripe apples, treatment
cedar, anorexia
wet leaves and other fragrances of fall, and then settle down to chat with this woman of many talents. In addition to being a perfume-maker, Kalnay has a university degree in recreation administration. She is also a certified aromatherapist, reflexologist and yoga instructor.

To be perfectly honest, I never knew that the art of perfume making, which combines artistic talent and intuition with scientific knowledge, existed outside of laboratories in perhaps Paris or New York. But here I am, sitting on a deck in Courtenay, chatting with a woman who creates award-winning perfumes in a modest laboratory in the corner of her kitchen!

Personally, I am allergic to store-bought perfume, so I asked Kalnay why she makes perfume. Is there a market for fragrances when many public places—such as churches and theatres—are now mandated as ‘Scent Free?’

“I am actually allergic to synthetic perfumes, too!” says Kalnay. “Natural perfumes are different. For the most part, I work with 100 per cent natural plant-based ingredients that are blended with a small amount of organic alcohol or jojoba oil. I guess you could say I am like a vegan perfumer. Most people who can’t wear synthetic perfume are fine with these botanical blends. They smell nice and they can even have a ‘remedy’ effect. Often, they are so subtle that only the person wearing it can detect the scent.”

Kalnay’s natural perfume line is marketed under the name Flying Colors: Genie in a Bottle and it is, she says, “Inspired by nature.”

Her unique botanical blends are produced by painstakingly calculating the perfect combination of all-natural (no synthetic) ingredients, counting minuscule drop by drop, inhaling deeply, pausing for thought, and then adding a little more of this or that, until it is perfect. “My nose knows when I get the fragrance ‘just right’,” says Kalnay. “There is a lot of technical skill and accurate note-taking—as well as sniffing—involved in the perfume-making process.”

Inspiration for each individual perfume usually comes from personal life experiences. A stroll through a forest near Cumberland, for example, resulted in the creation of a fragrance called Cumberland: Wild Forest Apple and Spearmint. Mountain biking at breakneck speed through the warm, dry forests of Oregon inspired her to create Hood River. A quote by iconic actress Mae West—“I generally avoid temptation… unless I can’t resist it”—resulted in a coconut-scented massoia, tuberose, and chocolate perfume called VVAVOOM! (It will be officially released with her spring 2012 White Floral collection.)

The raw materials to create these perfumes are very expensive. As a result, the finished product may be pricier than some nationally branded synthetic perfumes. To keep costs in check—and because ‘a little dab will do ya!’—Flying Colors perfumes are packaged in smaller bottle sizes. The cost of a 4.5 ml roll-on is about $60. In addition to her signature blends, she also customizes fragrances for individual clients.

While I am impressed by the imaginative names and descriptions of her product line, as well as the professionalism and creativity of her promotional materials, I still wanted to know how one becomes a professional perfumer.
Kalnay smiles and explains that her grandmother was a professional wine taster in southern France. Fragrance, of course, plays an important role in wine tasting. Maybe there is a genetic connection?

“But the real reason I ended up becoming a perfumer, and acquiring such a unique range of skills, was because my husband, Chris, and I have spent much of the past 20 years living in very isolated places. I had a choice—keep busy or go crazy! I chose the path of educational enrichment!”

She laughs. “It’s quite a story… how much time do you have?”

After graduating from the University of Alberta in 1981, this native of Swift Currant, Saskatchewan, got her first real job teaching outdoor education at a junior high school in Fort McMurray, Alberta. It was where she met Chris, also a teacher. They married in 1984.

In 1990, Chris accepted a position at a private school in Kemano, BC. The remote town of only 350 people existed solely for the purpose of housing the families of people who worked for Alcan Hydro and was located two hours south of Kitamat. It could be accessed only by boat or helicopter.

“We thought this would be a good place to live for a couple of years and save some money,” says Kalnay. “In hindsight, I guess we didn’t pay much attention when they told us that supplies were only brought in twice a week and that a trip ‘to town’ and back would be a 24-hour turnaround! When you combine living in the shadows of towering mountains with over 1200-centimetres of annual precipitation, you seldom see the sun. The average length of time most people could stand living there was three years. We stayed for 10.”

While Chris taught school, Anita made every effort to keep busy. She drove a frontend loader in the winter and worked alongside a master gardener in the local greenhouse in the summer. With her background in recreation administration, she served as a volunteer to help plan recreation activities for the community.

“Working with the gardener for two years was a great experience for me,” says Kalnay. “It helped me move beyond being an intellectual to become more grounded. It awakened in me a desire to nurture my creativity, and I began to expand my interests.”

During breaks from the solitude of Kemano, Kalnay attended as many continuing education classes as she could, including an art therapy class in Victoria. While living in Kemano, she took distance-learning courses through the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. She studied reflexology, aromatherapy, metaphysics and more. A friend taught her to quilt and, while she found all the straight lines and precision of quilting “a little anal for me,” she did learn that she loved working with fabric. To elevate her mood during the long, dark days of a Kemano fall and winter, Kalnay crafted with fabric, using bright colors, aromatherapy, and lots of fluorescent lighting to keep her motivated.

In 1993, Kalnay secured a grant from the Terrace Community Futures Program. The grant enabled her to market a line of one-of-a-kind sweatshirts created with fabric she had hand-dyed in her basement. She marketed them under her own label: Flying Colors – Let your imagination fly! Her shirts were sold through local markets and she became known as the ‘Flying Colors Lady.’

Eventually, the people of Kemano learned that Kalnay could perform aromatherapy and reflexology treatments, so she started doing that, as well. When they asked for massages, she took some courses and then added massage to her repertoire of services. She soon learned that, in addition to body treatments, she became a confidant. “These people were stressed and needed a massage or reflexology treatment and someone to listen to them with an open heart. I felt privileged to be able to be there for them.”

In 1999, the residents of Kemano were informed that the town was going to be completely shut down. Of the 80 homes there, 10 were moved, four were left standing, and the remainder were used by BC firefighters for ‘practice’ and they were burned to the ground. The closure of this town was so significant that Canadian Geographic Magazine did a feature story on it.

In 2000, the Kalnays moved to Gabriola Island. They spent the next year building a log home while Chris looked for work. Kalnay started a massage/reflexology/aromatherapy business in a yurt—and by now had added hot stone massage to the mix—still continuing to peruse advanced education, focusing now on aromatherapy.

Kalnay was consumed with learning more about the use of various essential oils as a complement to other alternative health services. She learned that ‘scent’ could be used to relieve stress, enhance mood, improve sleep, boost the immune system and much more. She traveled to Washington and earned a diploma in the holistic science of Spiritual PhytoEssencing, which is based on an interface of aromatherapy, herbal medicine, physiology, homeopathy and other natural healing modalities. She is one of only six people in the world to have received this level of accreditation. She also studied under international aromatic consultant Michael Scholes of LabofFlowers.com and organic chemist Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy in California. Somehow, she also found the time (and energy) to become certified as a Kundalina Yoga instructor. This style of yoga is designed to strengthen the neuro-endocrine system, ‘exercise your potential,’ and increase self-awareness through meditation.

In the meantime, Chris’ efforts to secure a teaching post on Gabriola Island had not been successful, so he began looking elsewhere. “He applied for a job in Alert Bay and got it. At the time, we didn’t even know where it was on the map!” recalls Kalnay with a laugh.

The couple sold their island home, packed up and, in 2004, moved north to the rugged coast of British Columbia. This time, they were able to make regular escapes from the solitude of a small town and they traveled to the Comox Valley almost every second weekend to ski and enjoy many of the other recreational activities offered here.

Anita rented a storefront location in Alert Bay and, for the next four years, operated a successful aromatherapy, reflexology and massage business. She also offered yoga classes out of space donated to her by the local Family Resource Centre.
In Alert Bay she got serious about mixing personal essential oils blends for clients. She started another division of her Flying Colors brand and called it Genie in a Bottle. In 2007, one of her spiritual teachers said to Kalnay: “You are only operating from one per cent of your full potential.”

Kalnay tells me this just as I am taking a long sip of herbal tea. This seems so absurd I almost choke on my tea. I was still trying to figure out when this woman had time to sleep. Surely this ‘teacher’ had to be kidding.

“Seriously! That’s what he told me,” Kalnay replies, then pauses. She takes a sip of her tea and then continues: “Anyway, I did some soul searching and decided to take my business to the next level. I signed up to apprentice under Vancouver-based Ayala Moriel Parfums, an Israeli artisan perfumer dedicated to the art of natural perfumery. For the next three years, I traveled to Vancouver once a month to learn from her.”

In 2009, Chris was offered a teaching job on Cortes Island. They bought some property there and, while Chris commuted from Cortes, Anita continued building a life (and her business) in the Comox Valley. Along with her friend and colleague, Sandra Shotton, she also opened an Ayurvedic Spa in Nanaimo at Island Yoga Vista. She spends one week a month in Nanaimo giving ‘intuitive’ massage treatments, which use herbal-infused massage oils from India.

In 2010, during her final year of internship, Kalnay produced a line of artisan perfumes called the Flying Colors Muse Collection. This past summer she was one of several perfumers from five countries who accepted a challenge to create a new blend in a ‘soli-flore”—a single-scent perfume. Another Canadian perfumer, Lyn Ayre, of Coeur d’Esprit Natural Perfumes, sponsored the contest. Kalnay’s wild azalea blend she labeled as Kokoro—inspired by a visit to the Mount Shasta region of Northern California—took top honors.

“I am very grateful to Lyn for opening me up to the ‘world’ of perfuming and encouraging me to enter challenges such as hers,” says Kalnay. “The entire fragrance industry is based on responding creatively to ‘briefs’ that poetically describe the needs of the clients. So, perfumers can’t shy away from competitions and the artistic challenges they bestow. As a result of my success in this competition, I have now been invited to participate in a ‘top secret’ international challenge in 2012.”

It has been a long and sweet-smelling journey, but it is time to let this ‘genie’ out of the bottle! Flying Colors: Genie in a Bottle now boasts a product line of more than a dozen blends and Kalnay has been busy creating her 2012 spring collection, as well as developing marketing materials, building her website, and promoting her natural perfumes. As a result of her diligent efforts, Flying Colors perfumes are catching the attention of natural perfume aficionados across North America, putting both Kalnay, and the Comox Valley, in the spotlight.


For more information call 250.650.1204 or visit: www.genieinabottle.ca