North Country’s End and The Rise of Renegade

For the first time in history, a tenure in the southern B.C interior has been cancelled directly related to the protection of critical habitat for Southern Mountain Caribou. Despite the loss, uncertainty and hardship faced – the family behind the business is committed to achieving their Powder Dreams.

The Penney Family

For several decades the Southern Mountain Caribou population throughout B.C has been on a declining trend that is challenging federal recovery objectives for self-sustainability of the species. In 2014 a Government Actions Regulation (GAR) order was approved to protect critical habitat of caribou throughout B.C, disallowing new tenure applications or amendments to further develop land in existing tenures encompassed by the GAR order. Tenures predating the implementation of this order are considered grandfathered in, so existing operators are able to continue as per their tenure management plan, subject to adherence to best practices and mitigation strategies outlined in the Wildlife Guidelines for Backcountry Tourism/Commercial Recreation in British Columbia.

The federal government has announced impending legislation to strengthen the 2014 plan to provide tighter and more effective guidelines for herd recovery. Government and independent biologists have identified local population units (LPU’s) to better analyze potential or imminent threats the species is facing, and the impact these threats have on population trends. The identification of localized threats and relative impacts on the LPU’s will allow for a very specific and effective recovery strategy to protect the species from extirpation within LPU’s, and in turn reflect the species as a whole.

Highland Powder Skiing

Highland Powder Skiing (HPS) was a 17,000 acre cat skiing tenure located in Meadow Creek, B.C. Kerry and Cassandra Penney discovered this tenure had not been used for almost a decade, and pursued HPS to purchase the company. Prior to acquiring Highland, the Penney’s conducted extensive due diligence with respect to caribou concerns and other issues relating to the non-diligent use, and the entire HPS boundary being within the CMH Galena Bay tenure.

The Highland Powder Skiing Tenure boundary.

The Penney’s had plans to build a lodge site and to develop new ski runs into a previously undeveloped area of the tenure – “Future Cat Skiing Terrain”. Although no guarantees were given – a positive direction was implied and the Penney’s felt confident that they could proceed. After a final assurance from the vendors stating there were no operational concerns and they had completed due diligence on their end as well, the Penney’s proceeded with the share purchase agreement. They took directorship of the company in October 2018.

The proposed lodge site of HPS.

The Penney’s retained consultation from industry professionals to assist them with their updated the tenure management plan associated with the operating area, proposing a lodge site and building a more extensive road system to utilize the entire tenure boundary. They conducted helicopter reconnaissance work to review the terrain, updated photos and touched down on potential lodge sites. They had full intention on making this a world class operation in the remote lodge, multi day cat skiing industry.

Kerry and Cassandra Penney with a view of a burnt forest in the “future cat skiing terrain”.

Central Kootenay LPU

In August 2019, the Penney’s submitted a preliminary plan to the province in an attempt to finalize what they could and could not do with respect to concerns raised by CMH. At this time, they were told that they had full capacity to operate as per the existing 2010 management plan, which included the developed half of the boundary. Further use would be subject to approval, which they already knew, but they definitely had to iron out any stronghold CMH had before they could lobby for an investor. The province was prepared to review their plans, cross reference the historical use CMH reported on the terrain in question, and advise the Penney’s of any major concerns on the overlapping terrain.

Within a span of 2 weeks this tone dramatically changed. The Penney’s were told CMH was the least of their concerns at this time. The habitat branch caught wind of the Penney’s application, and this became the beginning of the end.

The Central Kootenay LPU is very small – only 24 animals were counted in 2019 according to census and GPS collar data. This LPU is part of the Central Selkirk herd subpopulation. The data demonstrated 12-14 of these animals have been habituating in and around the HPS tenure boundary. It had became clear that without immediate intervention, achieving recovery objectives in this LPU will be highly unlikely or impossible. This LPU has declined by 67% in the past 5 years and by 32% in the last 17 years. The Imminent Threat Assessment for Southern Mountain Caribou describes the LPU’s throughout B.C, along with threats and recovery objectives for these populations.

The GPS collared and census data for the Central Selkirk Herd in the Highland Powder Skiing tenure and other mountains in proximity.

Over half of this LPU is encumbered with tenures, the largest being commercial heli-skiing, heli-hiking and cat skiing. These activities are known to occur within critical caribou habitat being high elevation alpine terrain with a deep snowpack including mature forests rich in aboreal lichen. Potential threats to caribou through direct or indirect human interference are imposed through these activities, even with mitigation strategies in place. In the case of the Central Kootenay LPU, these potential threats have become imminent.

Section 4.3

Section 4.3 is a clause in all approved license of occupations. It allows for government to amend, suspend or terminate the license, at their sole discretion, based on urgent circumstances. An urgent circumstance includes without limitation, public safety concerns, significant environmental concerns, or any other decision by them under which it is determined to be necessary in the public interest to restrict access to an area.

Based on collective information on the table, the study of GPS collared data with respect to their tenure and the critical nature of the LPU in question, the Penney’s were told that “any works” in this area would devastate the herd. After months of dialogue, research and referral to higher provincial and federal levels, the determination was made that it is not in the best interest for this tenure to continue. A termination agreement for Highland was signed in March 2020.

The Rise of Renegade

In March 2020, a termination agreement was signed, officially cancelling Highland, aka North Country Snowcats. The Penney’s could not give up on their dream they almost had. The province has also been very supportive of the Penney’s in their pursuit of a replacement cat skiing tenure, as they understand the devastating loss they incurred. Kerry began mapping, Cassandra applied policy and occurrences to these new areas – and the concept of Powder Renegade Lodge was born.

The Penney’s contacted their mentor Nick-Holmes Smith of Mustang Powder Lodge, who was keen to jump on board with the research and development of Renegade. The Penney’s and Nick share an enormous passion for developing cat skiing businesses, and by combining their skills, resources and collective passion – the Renegade application has officially been submitted to the Province.

Nick and Cassandra at Powder Renegade, May 2020

Powder Renegade Lodge will be the newest cat skiing operation in the Monashee Mountains, boasting over 21,000 acres with a lodge at 6400 feet. Guests will access the lodge via helicopter, direct from Kelowna. The company will be family owned and operated, focussed on delivering an exceptional guest experience.

Hard work, dedication and the refusal to give up has allowed this family to fail forward and push forward towards their dream. The Penney’s are committed to making this happen – stay tuned folks!

The 90 Day Year

Let’s talk about the 90 day year. Yes, you read that correctly. We all know a year has 365 days, but SO many things can change in that year that can affect multiple factors with respect to reaching your goals. Life happens! Your motivation and potential can be shifted based on personal circumstances, pressure, knowledge, growth, loss and change, along with a multitude of other concepts.

It is easy to write down a goal, and it is even easier to get discouraged and stray when you don’t see progress. It’s easy to procrastinate and get distracted, to say “tomorrow” or “someday”. If we are always living for tomorrow or someday, how are we actually going to be the person we want to be, and do the things we want to do? Goal setting and taking action is crucial in order to live your best life and be the person you want to be.

Say it is NYE, and you want to make some changes for the coming year. Tons of people do this, and it is the only time each year they spend the time to goal set and reflect. Typically, by the end of January most people have thrown it out the window, or put it off and will reconsider some new things again next year.

The goals may seem too large, unrealistic or most likely there is no path or accountability along the way to reach them which makes it easy to just not do it. However, by setting smaller goals focussed to attainable goals for the next 90 day period you will be more likely to succeed and stay committed to the overall goals.

The 90 day year provides more opportunity to self reflect and to continuously redefine that path, because paths like to bend, fork and twist. Instead of focussing on a straight line, long term goal for a full year the 90 day year allows adaptation to the turbulence of life, and to succeed at obtaining smaller, attainable goals to keep you motivated to reach your overall goal. These smaller goals are coupled with self reflection and evaluation every 90 days to see what you have accomplished in the last 90, and where you want to go with the next 90.

By breaking it down into increments you are creating small achievable steps to get there. You don’t have to be at the goal after 90 days, but you will be able to reflect and see how many little things that you have accomplished. You will actually feel like you are achieving something! This allows for a very specific-to-your-situation, self reflection on your past 90, and self evaluation for your next 90. Now that you have achieved these little steps, what about the next 90?

It actually makes logical sense that you are more likely to achieve your goals seeing continual productivity and overcoming the little challenges and changes you have set for yourself. It also allows for more dynamic goal setting and reflection as your life changes. The thought of “your life can be totally different in 6 months” is a very true statement. It is important to evaluate your goals – do you have the same goals you did 6 months ago? If so, how much closer are you to reaching them, and how are you getting there? If they are different, why, and how are you getting there?

It’s almost like creating sub goals in order to achieve the main one. It is pretty hard to complete a marathon without training. It goes the same way with goals – if you have big ones. Usually you have to take steps in order to complete the big picture. Like writing a book, you need chapters.

Twelve months is a long time to procrastinate, make excuses, get lost along the way and recover from mistakes. If we cut that down to a three month period, you are actually more accountable, there is less room to bargain with time, and resetting from mistakes can happen quicker. Looking back to the previous 90 days, you are more likely to recognize the little things that you are changing, which end up translating to the big things. Being able to break the big goal down into increments, it demonstrates that you ARE achieving things, maybe not the end goal, but you are making progress.

The 90 day year is a powerful tool to set achievable goals that can lead into the right direction of living your best life and becoming the person you want to be. Taking small actions can make a huge impact on the big picture, and being able to self reflect and evaluate multiple times throughout a twelve month year will really help make your goals and dreams come true!

Fail Forward

Let’s be honest here – we have all had a dream. It is a fundamental concept of human nature to have desire, to be curious, and to pursue what we feel is our destiny. Flashback to 5 year old you, chances are you wanted to be an astronaut, scientist, maybe a professional athlete or even a rockstar! It is one of the most creative zones of life we ever experience, a time where our brain is receiving information at lightening speed, gauging what needs to be retained and what is crucial to life itself. A time where we feel liberated and naive to the constraints life can put on us.

As we grow, we fall down and get back up, sometimes hurt and scared. We are told NO. We apply societal constraints to the dream and it starts becoming farther out out reach, even making it seem impossible. If our success is beyond our current measure, the work we have to do to get there is very intense and risky. We have to put it all out there on the line. We have to make others believe in us. And then the path to our dream looks different than we originally thought. Very different, maybe even uncertain, and uncertainty is uncomfortable.

The roadblocks and crashes can be so intense, coupled with the discomfort of uncertainty and failure, that the thought of staying on this path can scare you off completely. You can be so close to realizing your dream, only to fall down harder than you have ever before. The path to your dream has taken a complete fork in the road and threw a giant NO in your face. You have no idea which path you can take to get over or under this, even around it. You are scared shitless, because you had everything riding on this. EVERYTHING.

The only thing you can do is fail forward.

Failing forward is when you are forced to self evaluate and determine whether or not you want to continue on this dream. It is a phase where you can 360 change you life, identity, and hop on a new path to a new destination, or you can stay on the dream despite the failure encountered.

The fail forward stage happens because the path you were on was the incorrect way to get there. The failure happened to redirect your path to either keep walking in the same direction through your obstacle, or to go on a new path completely. This is a time where you have the opportunity to redefine, or refine yourself.

Failing forward is when staying on the path to your dream is at the hardest point it will ever be. This is because in order to get to the dream you must stay true to the process, even though you are encountering failure.

We can all have a step-by-step list or plan, thought web or structure on how to accomplish our dreams. What is overlooked is the concept of failing forward is the most important step in realizing one’s true success. It is at the fail forward moment when one truly embodies the dream they are trying to live, or they abandon it. It’s at this stage when one’s own self charter is put to judgement – and from that point – you decide if you are still that identity, or you become something else.

If you stay committed, this failure will help you walk over the next hurdle with strides. It will help you build knowledge of yourself, your capabilities, and most importantly, your strength.

When you fail forward and decide to stay on the same dream, you must take a bold approach to realize your goals and avoid the conflict of limitations. You must see beyond and reach beyond. Manifest strategies and methods to work through the obstacles you face and will sacrifice comfort and normal to get to where you want to be.

The inevitable chance of failing (possibly again) is still in the background, and some days you eat it alive. You question yourself and your choices, the places you’ve gone and where you are going. You are your worst critic. You wonder what influence you have on others around you, on your family and the life you are giving them. But still, you refuse to abandon the dream. You feel it in your soul that this is what you are meant to do.

When you fail forward, you have to recognize what you just learned and apply that knowledge to the future. You assess the critical steps that were overlooked, or under appreciated. Maybe the failure was out of your control. It still forces you to step out and look at what you can do better moving forward. It refines your process.

Some days the distress and uncertainty of your future scares the hell out of you, but you try to see that it can still improve regardless if you stay on this path or hop on a new one. You have fallen down again, but you are ready more than every to stand the hell up and charge even harder.

To fail forward and stay on the dream, you have to face it head on and go right through it. The fear of doing this can eat you alive until you decide how you want to look at it.

Fear: Face Everything And Rise. Fear: Forget Everything And Run.

It’s at that point when you fail forward and continue on with your dream, that true success is formed as you walked over the biggest hurdle in your journey. You stuck it out with your dream and followed through.

Fail forward. Achieve your dreams. And remember the path to your dreams coming true is often different than what we imagined it to be!

When You are the Village

It’s 4:21 am and my 2 year old wakes up crying beside me, for the 8th time tonight. My 5 year old is on the other side of the bed, in place of my husband who has taken shelter in hers to maybe capture a few hours of sleep. I finally give in and take her to the couch, turn on The Incredibles 2 (the movie we watch on repeat literally every day) – give her a few snacks and seek respite back in bed. Shortly later, she comes back in needing more food, and demanding my presence on the couch with her. Of course her sister gets up now too, and here we go again – exhausted and up at 5am. By 6:30am you are contemplating a third coffee, and the only reason you don’t do it is because you think MAYBE she will nap today, and I can try laying down too. What a magical thought!

They say it takes a village to raise a child, so what happens when that village does not exist in your world? You become that village. You physically and mentally are the two people in your child’s life that they depend on for food, love, shelter, playtime, sleep and literally every other part of life. Our family has moved A LOT for our businesses and love of skiing, so we have not been able to form long lasting friendships, or have met sitters we know and can trust with our kids. Overwhelmed yet?

When you are the village, you do not get a “break”. You definitely do not get a day or night off. Date night does not exist, and we don’t have friends to come over and break the cycle. Exhaustion eats you alive and your biggest dream is to have a full night of uninterrupted sleep. You fantasize about it, then realize it is a fantasy, and drop the delusion and accept that you will be getting up at some point through the night, and you’re actually dreading it so much that you lie awake in bed overtired just waiting to hear her cry.

We live a life that strays from the “norms” placed on society. We just got married last year after being together for 7 and having 2 children in that time frame. We do not own a home, we do not have careers with RRSP’s and pensions, and we do not have grandma a phone call away to help us when we are falling apart. We have moved 11 times, through 9 cities in Canada, in a short 8 years, and in 5.5 of those years we have had children in tow.

It is human nature to focus on what you DON’T have, and the constant focus takes over in our heads on how to obtain those “things” that will somehow make you normal and fit into society therefore making everything okay. What we have to stop doing is just that. You lose presence, you focus on past choices and future consequences of where you are, without taking action because the dwelling is so intense. Don’t get me wrong, reflection is crucial to growth – but unless reflection is accompanied by action, nothing happens but thought and loss of the present moment.

It’s time to shift our mindset. If we threw our problems into a pot, chances are we would pick our same problems back out in a second when you see the problems others face. For real. When you start focusing on what you DO have and what is good in your life, the internal storm settles and you actually feel good about the choices you are making – because guess what, this is YOU and that is OKAY. If you do not like the choices you are making, its time to self-evaluate and make the changes you want to see happen. NO ONE else will do that for you. Not your child, husband, mother, sister, friend, brother – NO ONE, but you.

This concept has taken us to a very critical realization. We have started focussing on where we ARE and where we can no GO. We are not “stuck” unless we choose to be. We can respect ourselves and the strength we have exhibited by raising our babies almost entirely on our own, whilst experiencing some of the most beautiful places in Canada, and creating/operating/managing businesses. The relationship my husband and I have is passionate on all fronts – parents, lovers, partners in business and creation. The village we carry is each other, and our babies. And that is beautiful.

When you are the village, you have one choice. You can feel sorry for yourself because you are overwhelmed, or you can choose to see the greatness and strength in what you are doing. Some days, it is SO HARD to see it this way. I have faltered before too many times to count. So impatient because you’re lacking sleep. You feel like you have lost yourself because you’re so busy doing things for everyone else, propelling them forward while you cook, clean and care. You question your purpose and don’t know how to get your break, even the thought of this overwhelms you.

Motherhood and parenthood change your life 360. Instead of focussing on how it was before and your “freedom”, focus on what you CAN do in your situation now to help yourself feel better. Focus on the little wins. Focus on how great your little humans are doing and know that all of your efforts are paying off. This is not a permanent stage, so although somedays it feels impossible, you have to somehow embrace it and own it.

It is time to make the choice to embrace the life we have and recognize how much worse it could be. Stop letting the norms of society define your life success. Everyone has different cards, and its what you do with the cards that can determine your outcome. If you have a great hand at crazy 8’s but keep trying to play poker, you will not succeed. Find how you can make your cards work for the win. Play that game. Make the changes you require to feel better. Change your mindset, change your actions, change your life.

Making a Skier

Little Shredder: We all have seen you. That little ankle biter flying down the hill at a neck breaking pace, charging past adults and making even intermediate skiers look bad. You rip, you jump and you LOVE being on the mountain. You are also 7 years old, and can ski like a champ. Let’s not forget how you got here little shredder, because to be a little shredder, you have parents who helped you get here – and they are real life superheroes.

Powder Princess Claire – 4th season, 5 years old at Fernie Alpine Resort

This is the pre-lesson era, because in order to take a lesson with an instructor, you have to be 3. Then, to get into a program you have to be 6. So let’s talk about the pre-program phase of life. The phase where your parents want so bad for you to experience the pure glory and love of skiing, that they sacrifice their season pass to spend hours on the magic carpet, harnessing babies and sweating full gear so that you can complain at the end of 2 runs being cold. Walking in ski boots is a learned thing, and then you do it carrying a child in full gear, in your full gear, carrying all the gear along with it – for a solid walk across parking lots, through the ski village, to the magic carpet.

Cassy and Claire, RMR Winter 2015/16.

Now that you are here, you are soaked in sweat, and little one can barely stand up in the ski boots (even though you carried them here), and you are strapping them in the harness and locking on the skies. Smile guys, you made it. And you also are making a skier.

You get 2-3 good carpets in and then they are so tired, its hard to keep going. And that is perfectly fine. Kerry and I strongly feel that making the skiing experience fun and enjoyable is the most important concept when it comes to skiing with babies.

“I got this Dad” – Claire Penney, 20 months old
Claire’s first day EVER on skies, Nov 28, 2015 – she was 18 months old, and by pure coincidence was also my 25th birthday 🙂
Claire ready for the legendary Revelstoke Powder.

Claire was 18 months when she had her first season pass at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. She was the cutest little skier I had ever seen in my life. The smallest boots we could find were still too big, and I vividly remember stuffing the toes with socks to fit her tiny feet.

Revelstoke has 2 magic carpets which we really loved. One at the base, and one at the day lodge. It is the mountain that we have the most time on, and the town itself offers a beautiful place to raise a family. Claire and Julia had their first seasons pass at RMR, so its a place that will always have significance to us, and them as skiers! One day we will be back with our Powder Princesses!

The Penney Family at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Winter 2017/18.

Julia was only 6 months old with her first pass – although she couldn’t walk, she was packed into the Deuter backpack and daddy carried her up and down the hill while I had Claire on the harness.

Little Julia heading up the carpet! Apex Mountain Resort Winter 2018/19.

As the parent, you are working SO hard, it actually feels insane at times. You literally spend THOUSANDS on season passes to spend the bulk of your season on the magic carpet. There hasn’t been a single experience until just now that we have not been questioning our sanity as we harness kids and pick them up as they fall down, pole drag them between cat tracks and chair lifts, with a backpack full of winter boots and changes of clothes, snacks and not really “skiing” ourselves. We could abandon the concept and go on our own, which here and there we do – but our family time at the hill is something that is so cherished for us, the bonding and relationship building is so amazing, that even though we are drenched with sweat ready to pass out carrying them back to the car at the end of the ski day, we would repeat in a second.

Julia’s second season pass at Apex Mountain Resort – first season skiing, 18 months old. Big sis and mom ready to coach.

I vividly remember the exact moment last season that we took Claire off the harness. Watching her go down without me either harnessing her or catch/releasing free skiing, or having her between my legs for the most incredible thigh work out EVER, was seriously one of the top 10 best moments of my life. It was so gratifying. All the effort and sweat put out from all of us to get her there was so worth it. We did a victory lap on the bunny hill, now Julia between my legs, but omg. All of us skiing together was incredible.

CLAIRE OFF THE HARNESS! Thumbs up for progress. Apex Mountain Resort, Winter 2018/19.

This season Claire is skiing green and blue runs independently, and she is 5 years old. She is so confident, and has never once complained about her ski boots – which is a huge win, because I still do! Its a true testament to all of the years before. It may not feel like much progress at the time – but it definitely is. Hearing their sweet little voices say “again!” at the end of a run is just the most amazing feeling. As a parent, you never want these moments to stop. You want to reach deeper and just absorb every second.

Cassy & Claire, Winter 2019/20 at Fernie Alpine Resort. No more carpet for this girl!

So parents of little shredders, I see you. I am you. I promise all of those sweaty days are worth it. You are not only shaping your baby into a skier/boarder – you are making memories that you and they will have for the rest of their lives. Enjoy it, and whatever you do, don’t stop!