You know Whistler, Aspen, Jackson Hole. But what about Jumbo? Canada's yet-unbuilt ski hill is so wrapped in controversy, it could be called Mount Limbo. It gets the spotlight in the documentary Jumbo Wild, screening Friday at Feathered Friends at a free event with complimentary drinks from Seattle Cider and Two Beers.
Jumbo Glacier sits in the Kootenay Rockies in the southeastern corner of British Columbia—this is right where the Columbia River begins. It's reportedly named for P.T. Barnum's elephant, but so far there's little circus or civilization in the remote alpine valley. Since 1990 developers have been scouting and surveying, planning 22 lifts and a resort village of chalets and time-shares. Think Whistler, but topping out more than 3,000 feet higher and covered with lighter interior powder.
But despite having a fancy webpage, Jumbo Glacier Resort doesn't exist—yet. It's no surprise that locals have resisted. “The evil developer coming to town to take a shit in the backyard, the woods, the wilderness. It’s a familiar narrative,” intones Jumbo Wild director Nick Waggoner.
The film traces decades of protest and picketing from locals, including First Nation tribes and grizzly bear biologists, as developers faced a lengthy environmental impact process. Jumbo Wild is a little bit ski movie, with the thrum of electronic music behind scenic helicopter shots of backcountry athletes, and part history lesson about how skiing tamed Europe's Alps. British Columbia, it suggests, is the only wilderness left.
"We look at the same mountain but don’t see the same mountain," says Waggoner. Developers claim they're bringing 800 jobs; locals say there are already 19 ski hills within a few hours drive and they don't want another. Sponsored by Patagonia, the film is undeniably on the side of the rag-tag locals who make homemade protest buttons and spray "Keep Jumbo Wild" on the snow.
Jumbo Wild screens Friday at Feathered Friends at 7pm.