A national treasure

Behold! An empire of mountains and ice. Here in a vast international preserve, are most of the tallest peaks in North America and the largest icefields outside the polar caps. Over half the land mass is permanently draped in snow and ice – the remainder fosters forests and tundra with stable populations of eagles, grizzlies and other species often at risk elsewhere.

Dän Keyi (Our people’s land)

The impressive natural landscape of Kluane is part of the traditional territory of the Southern Tutchone people represented in the Kluane region by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and the Kluane First Nation. Today, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Kluane First Nation and Parks Canada are jointly responsible for the management of the park’s natural and cultural resources.

Cory Trépanier TrueWild: Kluane

Transcript

Parks Canada Logo

The video is introduced by a sequence of aerial and panoramic views. This is followed by an archival sequence of old expedition trips including various shots of Cory Trepanier hiking and painting the landscape.

Untamed, wild and free. The desire to explore remote, raw landscapes has lured people from all walks of life. Some look for adventure and challenge. Others seek discovery. And some like me set out into these places for one more reason yet... inspiration. Cory: My name is Cory Trépanier, I’m an artist and filmmaker with a passion for the Canadian wilderness. I chase views that take my breath away.
Then I try to capture them on canvas.
The wilder, the better.

A sequence of panoramic shots of the Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada continues and includes more recent footage of Cory Trépanier during his expeditions across Canada.

Over the years this quest has introduced me to some of Canada’s incredible National Parks, a vast system of protected lands. They’re a legacy that conserve some of Canada’s most significant natural places. My first National Park experience showed me Gros Morne’s wild coast and rugged mountains. Ontario’s Pukaskwa and Georgian Bay Islands came next, canoeing along ancient shores for months. Then it was off to the Arctic. For a trip through time in Ivvavik. To the grand canyon of the north in Tuktut Nogait. To feeling small in Auyuittuq’s giant mountains. To Sirmilk, a land of glaciers and polar bears. And finally, to the top of the world for the stark beauty of Quttinirpaaq. But there are many National Parks I’ve yet to explore and paint. Places that feed the soul with adventure, discovery and inspiration. In the years to come, it’s my quest to explore the wildest of these, connect firsthand with the raw inspiration, and put it to canvas. To do this right I need get out there. To live it and breathe it. Spend a month off the beaten path. And experience the truly wild.

The title of the video “TRUEWILD KLUANE” appears over a time laps of the Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada. The screen fades to black.

I’ve found just the place to explore next... Kluane.

A small commercial plane makes a landing at the airport in Whitehorse, Yukon.

After touching down in Whitehorse, Yukon, I get on the Alaska highway. I’m joined for the month by 25 year old videographer and adventure seeker Adam Greenberg. Together we head west toward Kluane’s looming peaks.

Adam Green berg is introduced into the video with a shot of him travelling in a car. A short video sequence shows one of his earlier expeditions in Alpine skiing.

Adam’s no stranger to wild places. On skies since he was 3, he has a passion for deep snow and mountain biking down scree slopes. I’m sure I’ll be learning a thing or two from him.

A mini animation of planet earth shows the location of Unesco World Heritage Site and Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada.

Located in the southwest corner of territory, Kluane National Park and Reserves is over 22,000 square kilometers, much of it dominated by mountains and glaciers. It’s part of a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans the Yukon, Alaska and British Columbia and contains parts of the largest non-polar ice fields on earth.

Various shots of scenic Kluane Mountains including Mount Logan, followed by views of rivers and trails are shown.

And at the height of 5,959 metres Kluane is home to the highest peak in all of Canada: Mount Logan. With rivers to raft, routes to hike and lakes to canoe, it’s a wilderness wonderland. I can’t wait.

Brian Jones is introduced as he presents the team with information related to the expedition on a map. His background experience is explained through a short slide show of prior exhibitions he has taken part in.

Leading the way on this first leg is Brian Jones. BRIAN: This is all south facing, I don’t know what’s above us here A mountain guide for years, he’s led expeditions up Mount Logan, Everest, Denali, Kilimajaro and many others. With massive crevasses and dangerous mountain conditions ahead, I’m in good hands.

Cory enters a Cessna airplane and after it takes off, various shots of the mountains taken from inside the cockpit are shown.

I board the plane at the Silver City Airstrip and we’re in the air, rising over the first row of mountains. The green growth at lower elevations gives way to the white of Kluane’s massive ice fields. It’s a whole new world. Cory: This is spectacular country guys

The movement of the aircraft on a map of the Cessna at Mount Queen Mary is shown through an animation. The team unloads their equipment and the aircraft disappears into the sky, leaving Cory and his team to their expedition.

We land near Mount Queen Mary to explore and paint the first few days. Then, I hope to relocate in the mountains for some more views in my quest to put this huge land on canvas.

A shot of Cory Trépanier with Mount Logan in the background is followed by scenic shots of the mountain.

Cory: We’ve arrived. The sense of scale here is just absolutely incredible. Right now it’s so quiet. Standing in front of the biggest mountain in Canada, Mount Logan.

Cory and his team put on their equipment and start the expedition.

I don’t know if there’s any way that I can do justice to what I’m seeing and what I’m experiencing here.

This is followed by various shots of the team preparing camp on a glacier for the night.

BRIAN: We’ve got to probe the whole perimeter of our camp. We’ve got a good three plus metres of snow sitting here. Cory: Will be sleeping on a glacier tonight.

Cory and Brian go for on a ski excursion in the surrounding mountains.

Spend the next few hours with Brian scouting the region around here so I can get some different vantage points. I can see why you’ve got that drive to go up these big mountains, because we’re just going up this little hill, and man the view just grows on you. whofth ! ? That is... pretty awesome wow

Once Cory finds the place where he wants to paint, he returns to camp to get his painting equipment and then goes back to the selected spot. He works on his canvas until sunset, and then returns to camp to sleep.

Well this is it. Got spectacular light... finally what I came here for. A chance to paint a glacier view of Mount Logan. This is one big scene. Just want to keep going wider. The sun’s gone down, there’s just a tiny little glint of light on the peak. It’s getting cold. First time I’ve ever painted on a glacier. It truly is amazing up here. It’s really more than I expected. About 12:30 now... maybe I should go get some sleep

An aerial shot of snowy mountains is followed by a pan shot where we see Cory envisioning a new canvas.

Only 2 days into my Kluane journey and I’ve have an incredible eye full. But much was yet to come.

Several time laps shots of the mountains and changing skis are cut together, including one of Cory and his team as they pack and ski on too new terrain.

7 more days brought experiences that I’ll never forget: Skiing through majestic landscapes. Cory: Ahh, what a view. Mountain weather that showed me who’s boss up here.

Again, we see Cory and his team skiing through the mountain, but this time with a restricted view due to poor weather conditions.

Cory: Everything‘s completely whited out here

The team is then shot at their next camp discussing and preparing equipment.

Making friends in ways that can only happen while in the wilderness, built on teamwork and trust. BRIAN: No way you’re coming off this.

There are various shots of Cory painting the views along with shots of the mountains at sunset where the sky casts a colorful glow on the peaks.

Finding views to paint like none other on earth. Cory: You’re actually looking down on huge mountains from up here. And chasing magical light that can only be found in the mountains.

Cory sets down his paint brush and admires the scenery in front of him.

Cory: Look at that afterglow. Sometimes you’ve got to put the brushes down and enjoy it.

There are several shots of the snow-capped mountains he is looking at.

In those 9 days, I got only a glimpse of the vastness out here. There is so much more yet to see. This has been a breathtaking start to my month-long Kluane journey. Now, it’s time to for a change of pace as I move on to the next leg the expedition.

A close-up skis gliding on snow transitions into a close-up hiking boots on a dirt trail.

Changing skiis for hiking boots, I’m heading to the Donjek Route.

There is a shot of a small plane as it flies over the mountains.

There are various bird’s eye view and scenic shots of the road to Donjek glacier.

The Donjek Route, Kluane’s toughest, longest hike, is next on the agenda. Over 100 kms long, it covers a wide variety of landscapes and at it’s midpoint brings one alongside the massive Donjek Glacier.

The screen is divided in two, with one side showing the animated path that Cory will take and the other showing related scenic landscapes.

The first 28 kilometers runs from the Alaska Highway to the park boundary.Then its on foot until we reach Big Horn Lake.

The camera cuts to various shots of Cory and his team preparing horses for a new part of the expedition.

Brian’s gone home now, and in his place Adam and I are joined by my brother Carl who will help carry the load for the next 9 days. To save time in getting to Klaune’s boundary, we meet up at 5am with outfitter Dave Dickson. It’s like a scene from an old western. Through the grey morning drizzle I see 10 horses. Some for riding. Some for packing.

Various shots of them riding on horseback turn into shots of Cory and his brother walking with equipment on their backs.

Cory: Well this has saved us a bit of work. ADAM: No this has saved us a ton of work. I’m pretty stoked to be on a horse right now. Cory: Now, the hills are starting, and we have to put all this weight on our backs. Let the real work begin. We cross our first river into a rocky landscape. Hours of heavy, steady climbing at last brings us to Hoge Pass.

This is complemented by panoramic shots of mountains.

Cory: Wow Magical light floods the land. Exhausted and exhilarated, we’ve arrived.

You can see Cory on the horizon on one of the peaks, being inspired by the landscape for a new artistic creation.

An overhead shot of Cory painting the landscape shows a great view over the valley unfolding on the horizon.

Cory : What a spectacular evening. Light came and filled the valley here and there and just really made for an incredible experience.

Silhouettes of mountains can be seen on the horizon and the glow of the setting sun illuminates the sky.

Am looking forward to tomorrow.

A sequence of shot show big horn sheep in their natural habitats.

What goes up must come down. Turns out the saying is true.

Various shots of Cory and his brother are shown as they go down the steep and dangerous paths.

It’s time to pay for the gorgeous views and descend the scree slopes. With our 90 pound packs full of painting, filming and camping gear, this will be fun. Cory: Man that was a long, long way Pushing for 2 more days over ankle twisting riverbeds and through deep forests brings us to the edge of the Donjek Glacier.

Various shots of the mountains are then seen from a lower angle.

What a treat. I started the trip on the top of the glaciers, and now I’m seeing them from the bottom. Cory: It’s massive. It’s about 15 -20 kms just to follow this edge back to Big Horn Lake.

This is complemented by other shots of the team crossing rivers and walking on rough trails.

All that hiking makes it tough to pull out my easel and paint. It can get pretty frustrating at times; being surrounded by such beauty and not being able to paint it.

There are then various shots of Cory painting the landscapes.

Despite that, I managed a couple more canvases along the way. Cory: Almost too much for one painting.

Shots of Adam and then shots of Carl coincide with each other.

Discovered more of Adam’s outdoor talents. ADAM: There a couple gulleys that we could go down that have some really decent scree in them. And I reconnected with my brother Carl in a place where memories made last a lifetime. CARL: I can’t believe I’m actually here. And just when we thought we’d reached the end, we found one more test.

A panoramic view of the Big River Horne is followed by shots of the team having difficultly crossing it because of the strong current and high water level.

Big Horn Creek. The largest river crossing by far, it was riding high and muddy. Cory: Took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to get across, and it’s nice to be on the other side.

This is followed by various shots of the lower Donjek glacier.

The Donjek route has lived up to its reputation. It’s been tough. But that only serves to make its beauty all the sweeter. Cory: Big Horn lake at last! The last leg back to the highway will have to wait another day though…

A seaplane lands on the Big Lake Horne, and then a shot is shown of the plane leaving with the men inside.

we’ve got a plane to catch. Carl’s going home. And Adam and I have some lakes to canoe.

A time laps at sunrise overlooking the lake, is followed by aerial shots of lakes Mush and Bates.

Tucked into the southern forests of Kluane National Park lie Bates and Mush Lakes.

The screen is divided into two parts. On the left side, we are presented with an animated map showing the path that Cory and Adam will take. On the right side, there are various landscapes corresponding to the indicated locations.

At 13 and 10km long respectively, I’ll be picking up a paddle and giving my back a break.

A truck with a canoe strapped to the top advances in to the woods.

Before we can float though, Adam and I first have to deal with a 22km stretch of backcountry road that leads to the bottom of Mush Lake. That’s where Kluane’s superintendent Sean Sheardown comes in. SEAN: I’m a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation and I’m a member of the crow clan.

There is a slideshow showing the ancestors of the super attendant of Kluane, and then the shot of the truck as it continued on its journey through the trails.

Our people would have wandered this place ever since the glaciers would have retreated back and maybe even before then. Loading up his truck, we begin the 3.5 hour adventure ride to our starting point until we at last break free of the deep forest

A shot gives the perspective of the moving truck from the beach and reveals Mush lake and the mountains that border it.

and find ourselves at the sandy edge of the beautiful mountain lined Mush Lake.

Shots of Cory and Adam are mixed with panoramic views of the lake taken from the point of view of the canoe.

With the weight of my world lifted from my shoulders the canoe slides me deeper in the park. Cory: Looks nice Cory : This will be the first time I ever portage a canoe in the Yukon. And here we go.

Cory puts the canoe on his shoulders and begins portaging.

A short portage, a few grayling,and some more paddling, and Bates Lake reveals itself.

Cory is then shown fishing and paddling the canoe and there are various shots of waves washing up on the rocky beach.

Cory: What a beauty ... and some more paddling, and Bates Lake reveals itself. A raw, windier and wilder looking body of water, Bates acts like a funnel for the winds coming down off the ice field.

A time laps of Cory and Adam setting up their tents on the edge of the lake is shown and there are mountains that can be seen in the distance.

We pitch camp and as I scan my new surroundings, I find a small island in the distance. Contrasting against the distant rugged mountains, it makes a perfect focal point for a new painting.

Cory paddles and scans the horizon.

But I find it hard to paint something I don’t really know. With good fortune the winds die down the next day, and I paddle out for a closer look. Now I’m ready to paint.

Cory sets up his easel and begins to paint.

Though only here for a few days, canoeing with Adam has been a wonderful change of pace.

Various shots of Cory and Adam shown eating and resting are intercut by panoramic views of the lake. This is followed by Cory paddling on turbulent waters and into a more quiet and peaceful part of the lake.

Shore lunches. Afternoon naps to the sound of lapping water. Floating in big open spaces. And even battling against the wind. All have allowed me to experience Kluane in different ways. But there’s still one more way to come.

There is a quick transition from Cory and Adam in a canoe, to them in a white water raft, followed by a time laps of their camp that night.

I’ll be on the water again, but this time on a raft. On a wild river.

Various aerial shots of the Alsek River complement an animated map that outlines the scope of the Alsek River.

Fed by the melt waters of the ice fields, the 250 km long Alsek River runs through spectacular primal wilderness. Beginning in Kluane, it flows through British Columbia then the US before spilling into the Gulf of Alaska. Along the way, there are glacier-formed lakes, icebergs and more spectacular vistas than I could ever shake a paintbrush at.

There are a series of panoramic views of the river and mountains that surround it.

In 1986, in recognition of its outstanding northern natural heritage, the Alsek was designated a Canadian Heritage River This is where I’m going to next.

Cory spreads out all his equipment for the next stage of the expedition and a presentation by Jill Pangman and Caelan show him and Adam how to inflate a raft.

Cory: Once again, we have spectacular weather. Adam and I meet up with Jill Pangman and her 15 year old son Caelan Cory: Caelan going to be showing me the ropes here as to how we inflate a raft. Keep’s going!

A slideshow of Jill and Caelan’s prior expeditions is shown.

Jill’s been guiding river trips in the Yukon for 25 years. Caelan, well he’s been on more rivers an mountains since he was 6 than I can dream of.

The team begins their journey by raft.

We push off into the flow, but we’re not on the Alsek quite yet

On the right side of the screen, there is an animated map that shows the rout they will take. The left side of the screen shows corresponding shots of their journey down river.

We’ve taken off near Haines Junction on the Dezedeah River. 27 kms downstream will take us to a point where the river swells in size. That’s when we’ll officially be on the Alsek. Another 46kms and the river grows again. This time we’ll be in Lowell Lake. Our last destination of the expedition. One day begins to melt into another as we float down the ancient valley. Signs of a massive flood 150 years ago can be seen along the mountain sides.

Caelan is shown filling his water bottle from a small water fall and once again we see the team floating down the river until they dock along shore to eat.

Caelan finds challenging ways to collect drinking water, sometimes getting more on himself than in the jug. Each campsite becomes another home away from home. A chance to gather around more great food. Places to share stories.

Cory is seen hiking then there is a series of scenic shots of mountains at dusk.

Each stop offers rare views for an artist who can never get enough.

Cory leaves his tent at dawn and goes to find a place to paint.

Cory: Brrr, a little chilly this morning. A bit of light up in the hills there. I better get moving.

Cory begins to paint and time laps shows the progress of his canvas.

Cory: One of the big things I’m hoping as a result of taking so much time up here, is that somehow by being immersed in it, that these blank canvases turn into something that have a little more meaning from having been here and experiencing it.

This is followed by various shots and camera angles of the artist painting in real time.

The sun has made it to this side finally. Crawling up over the scene there too. Cory: Lowell Lake is next stop. Time to pack this painting up and move on.

They continue along the river and come to small rapids that shake the boat, but soon everything becomes calm and Cory takes out his camera to capture the landscape.

Three and a half weeks into my month up here and we’re approaching our final camp site on Lowell Lake. Can’t believe it. But there’s no time to think about that right now. Cory: Back in there is Lowell Glacier and we got a few more rough ones to take care of first… before we get there. Woah! Cory: Everybody holding on back there? Cory: Had a fun ride coming in, and now, it’s just like the unveiling of the lake as we come through this narrow gap. Spectacular. Evening light spills out from behind Lowell Glacier. Ice sculptures float everywhere.

Various shots show icebergs floating on the water and one of them is particularly larger than the others.

And one iceberg in particular towers above them all. We’ve barely arrived, and I’ve already found my subject.

There are panoramic shots of the lake and mountains at dusk.

But it’s too late to paint. We have camp to set before it’s dark. A camp, with a view like no other.

The team grilles fillets of freshly caught fish and gathers around the campfire.

And a special dinner to go with it. And one more treat yet. Cory: What a way to end off the day here in Kluane. Finished dinner. Getting kind of ready to get tucked in and the light show began.

Once the fire is extinguished, the aurora spectacle begins.

Some incredible northern lights. Lighting up the sky.

A Time laps of moving ice bergs is shown and then Cory and his team go hiking through rocky and steep terrain where they fight strong winds. Once they reach their destination Cory settles in to start a new canvas.

Cory: We’re all set to go on what is the last official hike of my month up here in Kluane National Park. Taking me to the top of Goat Herd Mountain.

As we ascend the view quickly grows. Bigger and bigger and bigger. Finally, I can’t resist anymore. It’s time for one more painting.

Cory: Woah! Man the only challenge with painting up here is the wind! The expansive scene once again reminds me of just how big it is up here. I can see further up Lowell Glacier from this vantage point, and endless peaks beyond. But this is just the daily view for the Mountain Goats further up that go about their business, ignoring the temporary visitor with a paint brush.

There are various shots of mountain goats and then the camera returns to a focus on Cory’s painting.

Cory: Well, it’s been one heck of a windy painting session here. Time to get this stuff put together and see if we can’t find our way back to camp.

The team navigates through the icebergs.

My last day in the Kluane has come. I play among the icebergs and soak up this majestic place.

There is a series of shots displaying the iceberg previously admired by Cory.

Of all the bergs on the lake though, one keeps calling me. I saw it on arrival. I checked it out in midday light. I spotted it from on high.

The team takes the raft out to the iceberg that Cory wants to paint.

And now, in a stroke of pure serendipity, evening has come, and the winds have died down. What a way to end a trip. I couldn’t ask for more.

While visiting the iceberg, Cory and his team watch it collapse. Cory will not return to paint it.

Cory: Oh my gosh, That’s the iceberg I’m coming to paint. Cory: Ohhh, there goes my iceberg! Cory: That’s nuts! Cory: It’s all going, the whole thing is going. Cory: I guess I won’t be painting that one tonight.

Cory admires the scenery one last time before the team breaks camp and the helicopter picks them up for the return flight.

Cory: Well, can’t believe it. After almost a month in this spectacular place, Kluane National Park, taking down the tent for the last time.

Though I’m heading back to my studio, it’s here, out here, where it all begins.

A summary of the trip starts with the ski expedition and ends with rigorous hiking and the breath taking views that Cory has been painting.

In the wild. Experiencing nature on a grand scale. Getting my fill of adventure, challenge and discovery. And finding inspiration at every turn. Exploring Kluane has given me the chance to experience the real world and to get in touch with my wilder side. It has filled my mind with awe and wonder, which will be a part of me for the rest of my life. Yes, there may be some easier places to visit. But like most things in life, the greatest rewards come with some effort. Come out and get a taste for yourself. I believe you’ll find truth in the words of an unknown writer long ago: “To those who stay put, the world is but an imaginary place.”

An aerial shot of the mountains and the title "Performing with Parks Canada" adds a final note.

Title "Executive Producer, director, writer and narrator Cory Trépanier"

Title "Music George Cattapan"

Under "Mounting Justin Hall Cory Trépanier"

Title "Videography Adam Greenberg Cory Trépanier"

Sub title "Development Adviser Martin Lajoie"

sub title "Motion Graphics Darryl Spreen"

Title "Sound editing George Cattapan"

Scrolling text, "Thanks to contributors TrueWild project:”

Air North

Asolo

Canada West Mountain School

Chaloria

Cinevate

Daler-Rowney

Fotiou

Foodsaver

Goal Zero

HD Source

Leki

Manfrotto

Mountain Hardwear

Nature Valley

Numa Sports

Parks Canada

Rocking Star Adventures

Sila Sojourns

Sony Canada

Spot

Steripen

Streambox

Total North

Travel Alberta

Yamnuska Mountain Adventures

Yukon Tourism

Followed by, "Thanks to the following people for their assistance:”

Cory fine's collectors art

Andie Trépanier

Anne Morin

Brian Jones

Caitlynn Moriarty

Carl Trépanier

Denise Sutherland

Jamie pilot at Rocking Star Adventures

Janet Trépanier

Jill, Caelan and Bruce Pangman

Jim Greenfield

John & Sylvia Ostafhek

Lloyd & Virginia Freese

Marten Berkman

Sean Sheardown

Sian Williams and Lance Goodwin

Sydney Trépanier

The Dickson Family

Title "A production"

Animated "campside PRODUCTIONS"

Animated text "www.truewild.ca"

Cory Trépanier Copyright 2014 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Cory Trépanier's first expedition for TrueWild took him on a month-long journey to the Yukon's Kluane National Park and Reserve, where he painted and filmed Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada, hiked the Donjek Route, canoed on Mush and Bates Lakes and rafted the Alsek River.