CANMORE – Making climate action a priority, Talus Backcountry Lodge is taking steps to promote local travel, while transitioning away from using helicopters for summer access for guests and providing guided self-propelled adventures instead.
Lodge owners Thomas Grandi and Sara Renner have made it their mission to provide journeys that meet the highest standards of environmental conscience while working to provide consistent experiences.
“It’s making those changes of habit when it comes to travel,” Renner said. “We just really want to encourage it [local travel]. It’s important for locals to see their backyard.”
The transition is part of a change that needs to take place when it comes to the culture of tourism, Renner said, explaining that she wants people to embrace a more local focus when it comes to vacation plans, versus hopping on an airplane and flying around world to take a break.
After completing a greenhouse gas energy audit on the backcountry lodge's operations, she said, the findings indicated that promoting local travel was the greatest way to have a climate action impact.
“That was the interesting thing for us,” she said. “The amount of carbon that is released from travel and personal travel is quite big. I think that we have a beautiful backyard and if people make these travel decisions, maybe they won’t go to an all-inclusive, maybe they’ll try something local.”
By vacationing regionally, she said there is a huge positive impact on the environment and quality of life.
To encourage local tourism, Talus Backcountry Lodge will be offering residents living within 150 kilometres of the area a 10 per cent discount applied to the nightly rate.
They will also be allowing guests to access the East Kootenay backcountry lodge using guided hiking tours, which will help alleviate the carbon footprint of the lodge while providing guests with a more intimate connection to the environment.
“Part of the appeal of the business when we found out it was for sale is that we knew that we could transition to human-powered access,” Renner said. “For us, that’s an important way to experience the mountains and it’s personally how we get the most joy out of the mountains. We were so thrilled when we found out you could backcountry ski into the lodge.”
Making the shift to guided summer hiking access is expected to reduce carbon emissions by approximately three times the current rate.
"I really do think people do have a sense of place in the Bow Valley and appreciate it. We’re just trying to create more of an opportunity for loving living here and loving to explore here.”
The lodge will continue to use helicopters to aid in the operation of the backcountry paradise, Renner said, adding helicopters play a critical role for Talus by providing vital services that include winter transportation, groceries, propane and firewood delivery, and rescue services.
The climate action driven changes at Talus Lodge will begin in summer 2020 with the introduction of pricing for locals. Transportation will be provided.
“It’s an easy hike in from the top of a logging cut,” Renner said. “It’s four kilometres in.”
In summer 2021, the lodge plans to complete the transition to guided hiking access with provided transportation and in the winter full-helicopter access and guided ski touring access will be available.
“We live in such a beautiful place, we’re around such beauty all the time,” she said. “Every time that I get out and explore my backyard it really does take my breath away.”