Skyline Hikers of the Canadian Rockies

Skyline Hikers

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Principles

Skyline Hikers has a culture of safety and environmental responsibility as laid out in the following principles.

General

Each camp provides a backcountry experience for visitors with minimal impact on the environment.

Camp tents and most of our equipment are flown in and out by helicopter from the trailhead to minimize impact.

A 1-week pre-camp setup with the outfitter and Skyline Hikers personnel ensures the camp, including safe, tested water, is up and running efficiently when the first week’s hikers arrive.

We provide on-site education in backcountry ethics, the value of our national and provincial parks and the need for their preservation.

We believe our backcountry usage complements existing ecological objectives and we will continue to co-operate with Parks Canada and provincial authorities to access the backcountry while reducing impact on the environment.

Our guests are strong advocates for the preservation of national and provincial parks in their natural state.

Low-Impact Camping

Skyline Hikers strives to make all aspects of our campsite activities low impact:

  • Campers and outfitters pack out everything they bring in.
  • Tent ridge poles are saved and reused upon return to the site.
  • Tents have no floors so that ground vegetation disturbance is minimized.
  • Water for kitchen use is taken from streams and filtered through a filter system.
  • Drinking water is filtered through a ceramic filter.
  • Kitchen staff use “Best Practices” to reduce food wastage.
  • Organic and non-burnable garbage is packed out twice a week by horses. No food wastes are burned.
  • Burnable materials and other permitted inorganic waste is burned in approved barrels.
  • Use of Styrofoam cups is not permitted. Campers bring re-usable cups.
  • Kitchen waste water and hiker’s wash water is passed through a filter cloth and two straining tanks and then drained to a buried perforated pipe which is located well away from any streams.
  • Toilets are pit privies located well away from streams and water courses.
  • Outfitter uses hay cubes for horses (free of oats, alfalfa and weeds).
  • Burning of open fires is very limited – one group fire each evening.
  • Firewood is obtained out of Park and flown in by helicopter.

Once the yearly camps have concluded, all gear is removed and the camp site is raked and reseeded with native grass seed, as approved by Parks Canada.

Reducing Impact on the Trail

Skyline Hikers minimizes our environmental impact on and around the trail to and from camp as well as the trails we use for day hikes through the week:

  • We hike on trails approved by Park Wardens to avoid sensitive areas.
  • On existing trails we walk single file. When a trail is not present, we spread out to reduce footstep impacts.
  • Trails are not flagged within the National Parks.
  • All hikes are limited to groups of 10 or fewer.
  • We reduce the trail impact of pack horse trains by limiting the size and weight of the hikers’ duffle bags.
  • Skyline Hikers have kept total yearly hiker numbers at +/- 250 over the five weeks. Typically we have 45 to 55 hikers per week plus 3 outfitter staff. These numbers have not changed since 1980.

Skyline Hikers continues to develop and use new sites, including those out of the National Parks such as Baril Creek in the Kananaskis and White Man Pass in BC. Our goal is to have a 10-year rotation for base camp sites to provide varied experiences for the hikers and reduce the cumulative impacts at the sites we visit.

Responsible Hiking

Potential hikers are reminded in detail in our registration package that high altitude hiking is strenuous and they need to be fit.

Each hike is led by a day leader to assure safety and compliance with the Parks Canada camp agreement.

All hike leaders are volunteers attending the respective camps. They receive no remuneration for leading hikes.

For safety and environmental reasons, our day hikes have no more than 10 hikers and preferably not fewer than 6, but an absolute minimum of 4 hikers.

Each day hike group carries a first aid kit and portable GMRS walkie talkie with pre-established and tested communication procedures.

An emergency response plan (ERP) is prepared for each year’s hiking site location. Helicopter evacuation procedures are pre-arranged and included in the ERP.

A medical aid volunteer attends each week’s camp; this role is filled by doctors, nurses or EMTs. The medical aid volunteer also goes out on day hikes and that group carries a satellite telephone in addition to the portable GMRS walkie talkie.

Our day hike groups stay together so as not to disturb wildlife but also to alert wildlife to our presence. Within each day hike group, hikers stay together to help and watch out for one another in the group.


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