Savour life – time in nature – the Canadian Rocky Mountain back country lodge experience at Mt. Assiniboine Lodge

Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park

Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park

Mt. Assiniboine Lodge opened in 1928. It was the first ski-touring lodge in North America. It seems that the people who have worked there have fallen so deeply in love with it that they have spent most of their lives devoted to it.

This blog will give some of the history, talk about current and past owners and use pictures to show you what a few days of living and hiking at the lodge is like. I’ve described the wildflowers food and and some recipes in other posts. I hope you will explore those as well.

Erling Strom spent 50 summers as the lease holder of Mt. Assiniboine Lodge and realized his life’s dream doing so. Sepp and Barb Renner took over the lease from the Strom’s ran it for 30 years. Now their son Andre and his business partner Claude Duchesne have taken the helm. Claude comes from 20 years as a Canadian Mountain Helicopter guide but his wife Annick has been a cook at Assiniboine for many years and their children have spent most of their summers growing up there.

Mt Assiniboine co-owner Claude Duchesne photo - Karen Anderson

Mt Assiniboine co-owner Claude Duchesne
photo – Karen Anderson

The elder Renners, Barb and Sepp, are also still around and very humbly joke that you just can’t take old fossils out of the park. Sepp Renner told me that he started coming to Assiniboine 45 years ago. I have the feeling, you’ll be able to find him there doing heavy lifting, guiding hikes and climbing the mountains like a young mountain goat for many years to come.

Sepp Renner (Rt) leads the charge to unload and load the helicopter each time it lands on changeover days photo - Karen Anderson

Sepp Renner (Rt) leads the charge to unload and load the helicopter each time it lands on changeover days
photo – Karen Anderson

one of the joys of staying at Mt. Assiniboine Lodge is meeting Sepp Renner who ran the lodge for 31 years and who still guides the harder hikes daily when he is at the lodge photo - Karen Anderson

one of the joys of staying at Mt. Assiniboine Lodge is meeting Sepp Renner who ran the lodge for 31 years and who still guides the harder hikes daily when he is at the lodge
photo – Karen Anderson

The lodge is only accessible by helicopter or by hiking or skiing to it. This is a true back country experience. We had planned to fly in and hike the 27 kilometers out to Mt. Shark but due to massive damage from the 2013 Alberta floods, the Mt. Shark trail was closed. My dear friend Barb and I flew out and our husbands and sons hiked out over three grueling days.

Guests escorted to heliport for the 7 minute flight to Mt. Assiniboine photo - Karen Anderson

Guests escorted to heliport for the 7 minute flight to Mt. Assiniboine
photo – Karen Anderson

Before this trip I had only been in a helicopter one other time. Now I’ve been on three helicopter rides and feel they were some of the most thrilling moments of my life. As you’ll see in these photos, the view is as up close and personal as I will ever get to these reclusive peaks in the Canadian Rockies. I’m just not going there on my own.

Helicopter "peak"-a-boo involves the incredible mountain peaks of the Canadian Rockies photo - Karen Anderson

Helicopter “peak”-a-boo involves the incredible mountain peaks of the Canadian Rockies
photo – Karen Anderson

July 17 - still ice in mountain lake - Canadian Rockies photo - Karen Anderson

July 17 – still ice in mountain lake – Canadian Rockies
photo – Karen Anderson

Lush green valley signal we are getting close to Mt. Assiniboine Lodge which is situated thus to afford great ski touring photo - Karen Anderson

Lush green valley signal we are getting close to Mt. Assiniboine Lodge which is situated thus to afford great ski touring
photo – Karen Anderson

MT. Assiniboine and Lodge from its heliport base photo - Karen Anderson

MT. Assiniboine and Lodge from its heliport base
photo – Karen Anderson

My husband and son on the threshold of our cozy cabin at Mt. Assiniboine Lodge photo - Karen Anderson

My husband and son on the threshold of our cozy cabin at Mt. Assiniboine Lodge
photo – Karen Anderson

A room with a view photo - Karen Anderson

A room with a view
photo – Karen Anderson

Our friends were ready and waiting to go hiking with us photo - Karen Anderson

Our friends were ready and waiting to go hiking with us
photo – Karen Anderson

Day 1 - we headed up the nub via the niblet and nublet  Sounds like a Jolly Green Giant commercial but is actual described as suitable for "perky" hikers photo - Karen Anderson

Day 1 – we headed up the nub via the niblet and nublet
Sounds like a Jolly Green Giant commercial but is actual described as suitable for “perky” hikers
photo – Karen Anderson

You can read about slightly easier and equally scenic versions of this hike here.

Me and my family on "the niblet" with Mt. Assiniboine making an indelible impression on our souls

Me and my family on “the niblet” with Mt. Assiniboine making an indelible impression on our souls

At the top - it's always fun to see what's on the other side photo - Karen Anderson

At the top – it’s always fun to see what’s on the other side
photo – Karen Anderson

A little higher up on "the Nublet"  Famous last words - let's go down that shale - it doesn't look too bad I really am not fond of shale but I did it. photo - Karen Anderson

A little higher up on “the Nublet”
Famous last words – let’s go down that shale – it doesn’t look too bad
I really am not fond of shale but I did it.
photo – Karen Anderson

Late evening light on Mt. Assiniboine photo - Karen Anderson

Late evening light on Mt. Assiniboine
photo – Karen Anderson

Ready to go again - Day 2 Mt. Assiniboine - Ladies hike 15 k - Windy Ridge

Ready to go again – Day 2 Mt. Assiniboine – Ladies hike 15 k – Windy Ridge

Guide Marie-Therese (Renner) Hogg points out Windy Ridge far in the distance photo - Karen Anderson

Guide Marie-Therese (Renner) Hogg points out Windy Ridge far in the distance
photo – Karen Anderson

I made it - look how far away Mt. Assiniboine is

I made it – look how far away Mt. Assiniboine is

Hiking - like in life - it's really all about putting one foot in front of the other photo - Karen Anderson

Hiking – like in life – it’s really all about putting one foot in front of the other
photo – Karen Anderson

Hiker's camouflaged photo - Karen Anderson

Hiker’s camouflaged
photo – Karen Anderson

Day 2 - extreme option with Sepp Renner - hike to The Towers photo - Cole Anderson

Day 2 – extreme option with Sepp Renner – hike to The Towers
photo – Cole Anderson

Sepp Renner (who has climbed Mt. Assiniboine 50 times) leads the way up the steep stuff to The Towers photo - Cole Anderson

Sepp Renner (who has climbed Mt. Assiniboine 50 times) leads the way up the steep stuff to The Towers
photo – Cole Anderson

The views make the challenge of The Towers worth it (or so I'm told) photo - Cole Anderson

The views make the challenge of The Towers worth it (or so I’m told)
photo – Cole Anderson

Mother Grizzly and baby cubs photo - Cole Anderson

Mother Grizzly and baby cubs
photo – Cole Anderson

Sepp Renner (in red) discusses the landmarks with Todd Anderson  enroute to The Towers photo - Cole Anderson

Sepp Renner (in red) discusses the landmarks with Todd Anderson enroute to The Towers
photo – Cole Anderson

The staff  have great vitality and spirit at Mt. Assiniboine Lodge photo - Cole Anderson

The staff have great vitality and spirit at Mt. Assiniboine Lodge
photo – Cole Anderson

And that’s it for now. On behalf of my family and friends I would like to thank the staff of Mt. Assiniboine Lodge for making our first visit so memorable. We’ll be back. We’ve got the bug.

I’d also like to dedicate all the posts I’ve done this week to our dear friends Donna, Bill and Julia who were unable to make the trip due to complications of the Alberta flood. We missed you terribly and promise to go back with you anytime you are ready.

Mt. Assiniboine and its eponymous lodge are in our hearts forever and will always be a great way to savour life.

5 Comments

Filed under Alberta at Noon, Savour life, Time in Nature, Travel

5 responses to “Savour life – time in nature – the Canadian Rocky Mountain back country lodge experience at Mt. Assiniboine Lodge

  1. Louise Savoie

    Wonderful! Thanks for letting us in on this great experience!

  2. jo brooks

    Wow!! What an experience–pretty close to The Divine I’d say…..

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