CMH Peak Personality: Paul Lazarski
Everyone who spends a summer vacation with CMH comes away with at least one (if not many) 'favourite' guide. No doubt many of them develop this attachment with CMH Summer Adventures Guide Paul Lazarski. I had a conversation with Paul last week that I'd like to share today. You'll soon learn why he's a favourite!
JC: Paul, you’ve been a hiking guide with CMH for a number of years now. When did you start with CMH and what lead you here?
PL: I stared guiding with CMH in the mid-90s. I knew the Bugaboos well, having hiked and climbed here during the summers of 1988 and 1989. At that time, my passion was photography and I was able to combine my love of mountains with my fascination with mountain landscapes. I made numerous trips into the spires, would camp or bivouac on the highest pinnacles and wait for the magic of sunset and the subsequent warm glow of morning light. My first working trip as a guide was as the tour leader for a my own photographic expeditions in which I would bring my guests into the area, take advantage of the lodges and spend the time teaching photography. It was on these first few cooperative endeavours with CMH that I fell in love with the lodges and the area. I started working for CMH the next season, and as they say 'the rest is history'. Its truly amazing how time passes so quickly when you do something you love in a place that you love.
JC: I’ve known you for a number of those years and I know you are very passionate about the geography and human history in the Columbia Mountains of Western Canada. Can you share here one or two gems that fascinate you?
PL:I think passion for an area comes through knowledge, the more you explore, the more more you learn, the more you realize your place within an environment, the greater your natural fascination and excitement will become.
I've always been impressed by, and strive to understand how peoples in the past experienced the same place that I am experiencing. When I think of the early Bugaboo mountaineers, with their hemp ropes, long ice axes, canvas & woollen everything and the occasional iron spike to hammer into the mountain for protection, I can't help but wonder that they may have felt exactly the same thing for these peaks that I do today. I like to think that they didn't see them as something to fear but did what they did because they valued what I value. The simple timeless humanity of that gives me comfort.
I'm also facinated by geology. Often thought of as the most boring class in school, geology out here is a living lesson in creative visualization. Here you can imagine great ice sheets filling now vacant valleys, hold a shiny golden cube of iron pyrite or have lunch atop a house sized boulder reminiscent of those carried into the Great Plaines by massive walls of ice.
JC: Why do you feel it is so important for people to visit these mountains? What are the big lessons mountains can teach us that we can take back to our every day lives?
PL: The best way of me answering that is to say what matters most to me and hoping that, if I've been successful as a guide, I've been able to impart some of those things to my guests. If they take away something of what I care about then I've accomplished something valuable. At the very least mountains can teach us how important the process of growth is in our lives, whether it be challenging ourselves physically, learning some new subtleties of Nature, gaining an alternate perspective on life, or the simple fact that everyone has a personal story to be proud of. To me what we do actually has little do with mountains themselves. Its the awe-inspiring power of trying something new in a place that takes one outside of their regular lives that's makes the CMH experience incredibly special. I can honestly say that every guest I've guided has discovered something, that if they are open to it, can greatly enrich their lives.
JC: Thanks for sharing, Paul. Where can we find you this coming summer?
PL: I'm looking forward to returning to the Bugaboos. I've worked in the Adamants and Bobbie Burns as well and love both areas equally. There is something very special as a guide, however, in returning to an area that you know intimately well as I do the Bugaboos. Really knowing an area allows you to better choreograph the hiking experience for your guests. It also gives you the opportunity to explore the many hidden gems that lie at the margins of our more regular hiking terrain. That's one of my greatest contributions to the Bugaboos I think, to continually expand the hiking terrain & routes by connecting the areas I know well. This keeps my excitement alive and greatly lessens our impact on the environment by spreading out our use. To be honest, I just love exploring and the varied terrain of the Bugaboos allows me to continue to do that.
To share your your summer vacation with Paul and his colleagues at CMH Bugaboo Lodge this summer, call one of our Summer Adventure experts at 1-800-661-0252 or to receive our brochure, e-mail us.
photo by Paul Lazarski