"It's easy to want to distill the Jumbo story into a pretty classic case of good versus evil,” said filmmaker Nick Waggoner. “But this is really about different value systems, and how so many different people have different dreams for the exact same place."

For four months last winter, Waggoner, of Sweetgrass Productions, embedded himself in one of the most contentious issues affecting the North American ski industry: the proposed development of Jumbo Glacier Resort in British Columbia’s Purcell Mountains. He sought out to make a film and earned access to emotional opinions on different sides of the story, producing the most definitive film on the subject.

A 24-year saga, the proposed Jumbo development pits a good-versus-evil narrative, with characters like Italian Oberto Oberti and his partner Grant Costello trying to build their dream of a European-style resort in terrain Waggoner calls “Little Alaska.” Meanwhile, environmentalists, conservationists, the Ktunaxa FirstNation, and an imprecise number of backcountry skiers and locals in nearby Invermere and the Columbia Valley oppose the “mega-resort” for several reasons—most notably, to retain the pristine beauty and what the Ktunaxa refer to the area as Qat’muk, the sacred home of the grizzly bear spirit.

This scalding debate is not exclusive to a 5,000-person town, or province, or country. It’s happening in your own backyard, in disparate scales, across North America and beyond right now: to retain wilderness, or enable more to experience it? What is the answer?

“The face value story has been told, regurgitated over and over again,” said Waggoner. “But the really human stories have not. So how do you communicate emotions that are very meaningful to different groups of people in a government that doesn’t qualify or calculate emotions?”

In “Jumbo Wild: The Movement,” this exclusive seven-minute preview of the full-length film, Jumbo Wild, Waggoner tells the story of British Columbia skier Leah Evans and how her parents told her long ago that she must protect this place.

Who decides the outcome of one of the most spectacular lots of land on this planet?

Words by John Stifter | Photography by Garrett Grove/Patagonia

Waggoner describes the Jumbo terrain as a “Little Alaska.” Photographer Garrett Grove, who spent 60 days shooting in the area, said it would be like putting a resort atop Rogers Pass, but it’s more akin to the wild alpine environs of Chamonix.
A tour of the full-length film, Jumbo Wild, premieres in Invermere, British Columbia, October 6, and runs through November 2 in a ski town near you.
For a full tour schedule, go to


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