It's a vertical hike that could leave Vancouver's famous Grouse Grind in the shade.
The Pemberton Valley Trails Association (PVTA) hopes this year to establish an 8.5 kilometre trail through Crown Land to take users from the valley to the sub-alpine area of Mt. Currie, a rise of 1,700 metres.
It will cost $60,000 to lay the basic trail, said PVTA secretary Chris Allen and could be completed by the fall. Full permission and funds are still being sought to make the dream a reality.
"It could be an epic tourism draw.It's also an amenity that everyone in Pemberton would like," Allen said.
"We actually don't have a lot of alpine access in Pemberton, you have to go quite far up to the end of the Pemberton Meadows valley or the Duffey. There's not a lot of access around here, and (the Mt. Currie trail) will be about 10 minutes from the centre of Pemberton."
The Pemberton Valley Utilities and Services Committee (PVUS) agreed on Feb. 6 to provide $20,000 for the trail as part of a $45,000 grant to the PVTA. The amount is dependent on funds being matched from other sources to reach the $60,000 construction cost.
Allen said they planned to approach the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and Mountain Equipment Co-op by spring for funding assistance, and would add to the building funds from their own operating budget. He felt confident of the PVTA's ability to reach their target.
"Our annual budget is $34,000, so in terms of raising that extra $20,000, we could pretty much do that out of our general funding, but we will definitely be looking for community support," Allen said.
As well, the PVTA's annual summer fundraiser at the end of June will be used solely to raise money to complete the Mt. Currie Trail, Allen said. Last year, this event raised $5,000.
Allen said Pemberton council and the SLRD have been strong supporters.
"Everyone in Pemberton stares at the mountain all day long. Some go up, but most of the time it's treacherous for people to walk," Allen said.
"Historically, there used to be a trail that went straight up there, so everyone we’ve talked with in the community is quite excited because it is something reasonable and straightforward to do.”
Contract trail builder John Cilton was originally brought by the SLRD last summer to scout the site. If everything falls into place, he could start construction this spring.
Cilton said the trail would start near Green River Motocross Park.
“Its terminus is a big, beautiful alpine meadow underneath the south face of Currie, and from that point there are lots of nice places to camp,” he said. “People can go on to climb Currie… the trail will end in the alpine and what people do there will be up to them.”
Cilton said while it would be marketed as a three-season trail, it had further potential.
“I would like to see a four-season trail because you could ski-skins up there. I think the meadow there would be a beautiful spot to set up a winter camp.” Local stakeholders, especially Lil’wat First Nations, are an important part of the process, he said.
“The PVTA has a really good relationship with the Lil’wat (First Nation) and Johnny Jones at the Currie office, their archeological officer. Once we know if the trail is going to be a reality, then we will walk the line with Johnny Jones and he’s looking for any sensitive grounds. If there aren’t it’s a go ahead, but if there is then we will make the modifications to satisfy that.”
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said the trail would be an improvement on an abandoned trail that had been rendered inaccessible after floods in 1984.
“Clearly Mt. Currie is a Pemberton icon and to a large degree it is an inaccessible icon that is really reserved for the elite in some respects, the people who can afford to fly up… (The trail) would provide an opportunity for anyone with a moderately good fitness level to access that.”
Donna Hasan, the co-chair of Tourism Pemberton, said the Mt. Currie trail’s attraction as a destination tied in with a significant increase in back country adventure tourism in the Pemberton area.
“To be able to access the mountain through a designated trail would certainly be a tourism draw. It would certainly be in my top five!” Hasan said.