Journey through the mountains - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Journey through the mountains

Mountain guide Francisco Medina rock climbing above the Bow Valley in Alberta (supplied photo)

The importance of connecting with — and learning about — nature

Francisco Medina is from Santiago, Chile, where his passion for nature began in childhood. By 18, he was on a climbing trip in the Alps where his love for mountains matured. He then became a certified mountain guide with the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) in France.

Now based in Canmore, Alberta, he spends his winters leading an avalanche control program, and his summers on the glaciers and mountains surrounding Banff National Park.

As owner of Paramount Guides, he helps Canadians and international travelers alike experience mountaineering expeditions, climbing, skiing, and more, while educating them on the importance of responsible outdoor recreation.

In an interview with Y2Y, Francisco shares his thoughts on what it means to experience nature, the importance of being mindful about our impact on ecosystems, and why he supports Y2Y’s work to help people and wildlife share space.

Francisco Medina is the owner of Canmore, Alberta-based Paramount Guides. He supports Y2Y’s work in advocating for responsible recreation. Photo courtesy: Francisco Medina

How did you learn about Y2Y?

“I have lived in Canmore for 17 years and crossed paths with Y2Y many times. When seeing your team members speak in the Three Sisters Mountain Village development meetings about protecting nature, Y2Y’s mission resonated with me. I’m in nature all over the region due to my work, so I see it shrinking every day. Y2Y is key to preserving natural spaces.”

Why do you support Y2Y?

“The Y2Y team is knowledgeable, well prepared, and approaches the technical side of wilderness conservation in a way that helps people connect to nature and understand how the issues impact animals, the natural environment, and society. We need to preserve nature and live sustainably, or we will lose species. This needs connectivity between places to happen. Y2Y works on the scale that nature needs.”

“People and wildlife alike are on an adventure when in nature, and we need to be respectful of their habitat.”

Francisco Medina, certified mountain guide and Y2Y supporter

Why does your work focus on responsible recreation?

“I was inspired by Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner’s values of moving away from using mountains solely as physical support for sport to appreciating what nature provides for us. This shifted my mindset about nature: it is not a climbing gym for us to use and leave however we please. As outdoor enthusiasts, our time in the wilderness helps us find ourselves and find peace in nature. We’re able to discover who we are and why we’re here, and so we have a role to play in conserving nature.”

What advice do you have for new nature enthusiasts?

“Your experience of nature depends on where you’re coming from and where you are going. Be honest about how much knowledge you have, go for attainable goals, and educate yourself, whether it is on what clothing to wear or how to interact with wildlife to minimize risks. People and wildlife alike are on an adventure when in nature, and we need to be respectful of their habitat.”

We’re studying recreation in the Yellowstone to Yukon region

Right now, Y2Y is studying recreation to better understand how we can make more room in the outdoors for both humans and wildlife to thrive. We’re grateful for supporters like Francisco, and you, who are helping increase awareness about responsible recreation.