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Our Top 10 Most-Read Mountain Stories in 2020


Compiled by Juliette Recompsat

A year unlike any other, 2020 pushed us forward and backwards all at once. It also pushed us outside and into new ways of exploring and connecting. We noticed this theme, subtle but strongly rooted, winding through the Crowfoot Media content that our readers loved most this past year. As we were hitting print on Volume 5 of the Canadian Rockies Annual in the spring, our lifestyles and livelihoods were flipped upside down. This year’s top stories show how we turned to the mountains and to each other to find our way forward.

Editor’s Note: Many articles contain content regarding activities and destinations that may not be accessible during the pandemic. This is not an endorsement to do any such activities while restrictions are in place.

Photo by Paul Zizka.

1/ The Aftermath of Mountain Tragedy

By Kevin Hjertaas, with Meghan J. Ward

An adventurous life lived in the mountains brings you to the highest of summits and the lowest of valleys. Alpinists know what many of us have learned this year – that inevitable and unprecedented are not mutually exclusive. Mountain enthusiasts do their best to prepare for the lows that come with taking risks in the outdoors, but there is less focus on what it takes to climb back up. Ski guide Kevin Hjertaas shares the insights reverberating through the aftershocks of his own mountain tragedy, so that those who come next will have solid ground to stand on. [Read on…]

Photo by Abby Cooper.

2/ 10 Classic Ski Touring Trips Close to Calgary

By Cory Tracy

Like you, we’re incredibly grateful that exploring close to home still means epic days spent in bucket-list locales. Winter in the Canadian Rockies unlocks a playground for backcountry skiers, aspiring and experienced alike. Arm yourself with the knowledge and equipment you need to stay safe in the backcountry and find out what earning your turns is all about. To get started, check out these classic tours around Kananaskis, Lake Louise and onto the Icefields Parkway.  [Read on…]

17-0324_Free Camping BC

3/ Free Camping Resources for Alberta and British Columbia

Compiled by Tera Swanson

For several years running this round-up of resources for Rockies camping has been a favourite on our reading lists. These books, blogs and wildland directories are your ticket to affordable camping across the mountains of Alberta and BC. From single-site hideaways to community-run lakeside campgrounds, there are more than 1,300 places to pitch your tent for free in BC alone. All you need is a healthy sense of adventure, backcountry camping etiquette and of course, s’mores! [Read on…]

Photo by Tyler Parker.

4/ 8 Larch Hikes in the Canadian Rockies

By Meghan J. Ward

It’s the ultimate case of “right place, right time” – larch season in the Canadian Rockies. For a short stretch of time in the fall, the trees at a specific altitude signal the changing of seasons in a most spectacular way. Larch trees, normally incognito amongst the tall pines of sub-alpine forests, turn a vivid golden hue that lights up the landscape. You’ll need to see it to believe it, so begin with these suggested larch hikes around the Rockies. [Read on…]

Photo by Abby Cooper.

5/ Guide to Hot Springs in the Canadian Rockies Region

By Abby Cooper

When it comes to exploring in the mountains, you can almost always choose your own adventure. The same goes for the hot springs of the Canadian Rockies. Options for a mountainside soak run the full range from remote wilderness to resort comfort, and they all share the same revitalizing essence. This definitive guide will help you decide where to go and how to be sure your hot springs experience is soothing for the spirit and the soul. [Read on…]

Cirque Peak. Photo by Sarah Smith.
Photo by Sarah Smith.

6/ From Trail to Peak: 8 Epic Hikes in Banff

By Juliette Recompsat

Stepping from forested pathways onto the scree-lined slopes above treeline is a natural progression for many hikers, but it never loses its allure. If you’ve spent much time hiking in Banff National Park then you’ve likely experienced for yourself the pull of the alpine that beckons with stunning vistas. If you haven’t, consider these iconic Rockies hikes that will get you up above it all.  [Read on…]

Photo by Jesse Millen.

7/ Understanding, Underneath: An Avalanche Survival Story

By Abby Cooper

Each day and every decision made in the backcountry is a careful compromise. It’s all about balance – safety and enjoyment, risk and respect. When it comes to backcountry skiing and snowboarding, one thing that can never be compromised is instinct. Trusting your gut is easier said than done, but this story shows what can happen when you don’t. [Read on…]

Photo by Paul Zizka.

8/ 8 Canadian Rockies Waterfalls to Whet Your Appetite

By Billie Norman

There’s good reason why the sound of waterfalls features regularly on sleep stories and meditation mixes. The rhythmic power of rushing waterfalls is hypnotizing to all the senses. From famed to unnamed, the Canadian Rockies are home to countless falls accessible by car, bike or hiking trail. [Read on…]

Castle Mountain Hike, Fernie
Photo by Dan Kilgallon.

9/ 6 Day Hikes in Fernie, BC

By Mike Cotton

Glance up from just about anywhere in the Elk Valley and you’ll see peaks rising up on either side that are sure to bring out your inner hiker. You’ll be pleased to know that there are well-established hiking trails up many of these mountains. Make the mountain community of Fernie your base camp for exploring and head for the hills with these must-do day hikes in the area.  [Read on…]

Canoeing on Bow Lake. Photo courtesy Noel Hendrickson/Banff & Lake Louise Tourism.
Canoeing on Bow Lake. Photo courtesy Noel Hendrickson/Banff & Lake Louise Tourism.

10/ Scrambling Safely: Q+A with a Public Safety Specialist

By Meghan J. Ward

If your hiking trail tilts steeply upwards and fades away into the rocks, there’s a good chance you’re in scrambling territory. Start using your hands to help you make your way up and then you’ll know for sure. This might sound intimidating, but scrambling is a favourite pastime for many an experienced hiker – as long as it’s done with caution and consideration. Read up on these tips from a mountain safety expert to prepare for scrambling safely.  [Read on…]

Looking for more great mountain culture stories? Peruse our archives, follow our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and/or subscribe to our print magazine, the Canadian Rockies Annual!

Raised in the Rockies, Juliette Recompsat travelled to every continent before her roots drew her back to the mountains. Home is where the peaks are!

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.

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