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Selkirk Tangiers celebrates 40 years with retrospective photo exhibit

Founder Peter Schlunegger says he never thought it would last this long
One of the photos exhibited at the 40th anniversary celebration. Dan Stewart took this photo two days after quitting his job as a full time locomotive engineer to start running the photography program at Selkirk Tangiers. Pictured here is guide Pierre-Etienne Gagnon, photographed during pre-season guide training. (Dan Stewart/Selkirk Tangiers Heli-skiing)

Fourty years after starting Selkirk Tangiers, the venerable Peter Schlunegger stood in a room of about 50 people at La Baguette on Wednesday night and looked like a proud father.

The swiss native was one of the first to access ski terrain in a helicopter nearly 50 years ago.

In all that time a lot has changed in the sport of skiing. But one thing that hasn’t, he said, is the sheer love of skiing and its central role in this community.

“This is the snowbelt. The terrain around here is amazing. We have two national parks. We have several heli-ski outfits, and it is central to the culture,” said Schlunegger, with a cheerful smile over a glass of wine at Selkirk Tangiers 40th anniversary celebration, which showcased photographs from the heli-ski outfit’s archives and photography program.

In 1978 when Schlunegger started the heli-ski outfit the helicopter itself was still a novel thing. Most of Schlunegger’s contemporaries would have associated it with war and not with making the dreams of a very few who were even expert enough skiers to ski in that kind of terrain a reality. But Schlunegger said the skiing and not the flight was what really stuck in his memory.

“I really just remember the skiing,” he said.

Though the mountains Schlunegger grew up surrounded by were an ocean away, Revelstoke had always been on his radar.

Growing up his parents had shared with him their memories of his great-grandfather, who over 100 years ago helped the Canadian Pacific Railway navigate Rogers Pass.

In 1967 Schlunegger came to spend a season in Banff, and like a lot of people who decide to devote their lives to time spent exploring outside and within, he never left Canada.

But this evening is about far more than just him, he says.

Assembled in the room are members of the community and staff members of the organization, and pasted all over the walls are photos of the powder-filled dreams Schlunegger devoted his life to.

“We wanted to do something special for the community,” said Marie Duchesneau, Selkirk Tangiers day-heli coordinator.

A lot of the photos on the wall were taken by Dan Stewart who in 2008 quit his job as a locomotive engineer to run Selkirk Tangiers’ photography program.

He said he has to pinch himself most days. He is living his dream.

“I never thought this would happen,” said Stewart. “I feel really lucky.”

Stewart’s images, and some photos from the Selkirk Tangiers archives, will be on display at La Baguette for the rest of the month.


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Eriks Suchovs, Selkirk Tangiers general manager and lead guide, addresses about 50 people at La Baguette