Pushing my skis along the skin track third in our group of four, I shuffled my way up the slope. Passing winter-naked larches standing tall and majestic, I remembered how their golden needles glistened against a powder blue autumn sky on my only previous visit to Jumbo Pass.
On this April day, the sky was a powder grey, with light flakes fluttering down adding to the late winter snowpack. Climbing higher above the forest, an expansive view gradually opened up. Cradled with pointed rocky peaks and snow-covered summit ridges, the end of the valley curved before us like a giant horseshoe cradling kilometres of fresh powder slopes. A light breeze brushed my cheek as I skied past fresh pine marten tracks imprinted on the snow surface.
After riding on the back of a snowmobile for an hour on a spring track made bumpy with repeated freezing and thawing to arrive where we began our ski ascent, the silence was exquisite. With no motors, no machines and not a man-made structure or any other people for kilometres, the sense of wilderness was all encompassing and life giving, like oxygen itself.
As I look out I imagine what this might look like in the coming decades for after a 22-year process the Jumbo Glacier ski resort is set to take it's first steps as an operating business this summer — on May 21 the third reading for zoning of the Farnham Glacier portion of the Jumbo Glacier resort was proposed and passed by the newly created Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality. In the coming years ski lifts, gondolas and lodges will become part of the landscape. While the government has given it the thumbs up there has been opposition from numerous different stakeholder groups, many of whose members fear they are more likely to be saddled with a white elephant than a great white powder dream.
With so many questions around the Jumbo plan I decided to explore the local communities' reactions to the plan and some of the behind-the-scenes controversy.
It's called Jumbo for a reason
At full build-out — estimated to take 40 years — the $450 million Jumbo Glacier Resort (JGR) would consist of 5,500 bed units (plus 750 staff accommodation beds), vacation homes and condos, shops and amenities. It would also include up to 23 ski lifts capable of accommodating an average of 2,700 skiers daily. Overall, the development would cover an area of about 60 square kilometres.
It will, promises the JGR, be unlike anything existing in North America, as gondolas carry visitors of "all fitness levels" into the heart of the high alpine amidst a wonderland of 3,000-metre peaks and sprawling glaciers. Its lifts would be the highest in Canada, rising to 3,415 metres, and would be expected to attract international tourists as a complement to the Canadian Rockies' national parks.
Winter or summer, the view would indeed be splendid. Throughout its website and Master Plan, JGR compares the potential of Jumbo to the highly developed alpine regions of Europe's Alps, and the large numbers of visitors who would enthusiastically spend money to see such a grand development in B.C.'s mountains. At the same time, however, JGR promises the scale of the resort to be small in comparison to existing B.C. mountain resorts, such as Whistler.
Facilities offering splendid high alpine views are nothing new to Western Canada's mountains — Jasper's Tramway operates in summer only, while year-round Banff's Sulphur Mountain Gondola, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Fernie Alpine Resort and Golden's Kicking Horse Mountain, are all within a few hours' drive of Invermere (the closest town to Jumbo). For decades, hundreds of thousands of tourists have ridden snow coaches onto Jasper's Athabasca Glacier, stepping on the ice and filling their water bottles.
Jumbo, however, promises more, with four "accessible glaciers," reached by a gondola stretching across the landscape. According to the Master Plan, skiing will mainly take place on Glacier Dome, the summit of which reaches 3,000 metres, and whose inaccessible east flanks drop in sheer cliffs down to the Lake of the Hanging Glaciers.
For Whistlerites however, one item on the JGR website might stand out a little more than others, as the project claims to be "the only year-round ski resort in North America." Whistler Blackcomb has run a summer program for decades, hosting a dozen groups and camps on Horstman Glacier between late June and late July. Open to the public, Whistler's "longest snow season in Canada" offers two T-bars and a terrain park.
When asked to clarify its "only year-round skiing" statement, JGR senior vice-president Grant Costello replied, "I think you can best describe Jumbo Glacier Resort as providing the opportunity for year-round skiing and sightseeing."
In numerous magazine and newspaper articles, JGR has repeatedly promised the focus will be on skiing and sightseeing, and not real estate development.
The promise is that the resort would bring economic development to the Columbia Valley region, with spin-off visitation expected to fill hotels, B&Bs and restaurants in neighbouring communities including Invermere and Radium (15 minutes' drive north). With the province having given final approval to the project in March 2012, followed by officially designating Jumbo a mountain resort municipality last November (despite the fact it has no citizens), Costello said he was excited that this summer JGR would be open to the public.
Sightseeing will be offered daily through the summer, with cat skiing on the weekends and race training for all alpine team disciplines offered from July 1 thru Nov. 5, all of which will take place on the north slope of Farnham Glacier. All support facilities, such as hotels and restaurants will be provided in Radium, 55 kilometres from the Farnham site. From there, access is via the gravel Horsethief Forestry Road and a rougher side-road up Farnham Creek.
When asked why he believed developing the Jumbo resort would be good for the Columbia Valley, and for B.C., Costello replied, "It's about building the economy. It's about creating jobs."
"That results from investment and that's what strengthens the economy."
Why develop Jumbo at all?
Hikers, mountaineers, backcountry skiers, trappers, outfitters and snowmobilers have been enjoying the solitude of this undeveloped area for generations, dating back to legendary mountain guide Conrad Kain who made the first winter ascent of Jumbo Peak on snowshoes — in 1919.
In his lifetime, Pat Morrow has photographed and filmed mountain ranges and the people and cultures inhabiting them all over the world. In October, 1982, he became the second Canadian to stand on the highest point on Earth two days after his teammate, Laurie Skreslet, planted Canada's flag on Mount Everest's summit. Four years later Morrow made his own unique mark on history as the first person to climb the Seven Summits — the highest point on each continent.
A Columbia Valley resident who has explored countless peaks and valleys in B.C.'s Purcell Mountains, Morrow credits the Jumbo area for providing him an experience in his youth that inspired a deeper love of high alpine wilderness.
"One of my early memories is of a wonderful multi-peak circuit I did around 1976 with my friend Willi Schmidt," Morrow recalled.
"The trip took us into the heart of the Jumbo area. The prospect of having that whole skyline compromised by a gondola line stretching across this magnificent landscape just makes my heart sink."
In that sentiment, Morrow has plenty of company throughout the East Kootenay region, including the District of Invermere, the Ktunaxa First Nation, numerous conservation groups including the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society, the West Kootenay Coalition for Jumbo Wild, Olympic athletes, NHL star and Cranbrook native Scott Niedermayer, musician Bruce Cockburn and numerous other environmental advocates and community groups.
They, like Morrow, ask "why develop Jumbo at all?" As inch by inch, wilderness areas around the world are developed, does it not make better sense for B.C. to protect the unpopulated and undeveloped corners of its backyard?
"If chairlifts and gondolas are what people want to see, they can go to Europe or any of a number of other ski areas in this region, if what they want to do is get up high," Morrow said. "In the Alps you just don't have that kind of pristine terrain experience. It devalues the experience if you put gondolas and buildings there."
First Nations have spoken out as well. For the Ktunaxa First Nations, Jumbo — or Qat'muk in the Ktunaxa language — represents the home of the grizzly bear's spirit. In November 2010, four dozen Ktunaxa (pronounced k-too-nah-ha) travelled to Victoria to present their Qat'muk Declaration before the B.C. Legislature. The declaration states: "The Ktunaxa have never consented to the developments and desecrations that have occurred within Qat'muk" and asserts, "We will not agree to any further development or sale of land associated with Qat'muk that would result in irreparable and irreversible harm to this sacred place and our spiritual connection with it."
The Jumbo resort team was quick to counter the declaration, saying the Qat'muk Declaration lacks credibility, citing "competing viewpoints and the long history of consultations with First Nations prior to Jumbo Glacier Resort's final approval."
"The Ktunaxa didn't reveal any special 'sacred' significance to the project area for 20 years, despite lengthy and repeated consultations," the JGR website states.
Last November, the Ktunaxa Nation filed an application for judicial review of the resort's approval in B.C. Supreme Court.
Wildlife is also at risk from the development — especially the iconic grizzly, according to bear expert Michael Proctor. He is one of two Canadian biologists participating in the Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project, an international group of biologists working to recover the trans-border threatened South Selkirk and South Purcell/Yahk grizzly bear populations. Both of these populations are legally designated as threatened by the province of B.C. and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
In July 2010, Proctor sent an open letter to B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office. "Backcountry road densities associated with the adjacent human populations appear responsible for depressed Purcell grizzly bear populations being close to or below the threatened population threshold."
Building an all-season resort in the middle of the Central Purcells, Proctor stated, would "likely begin and stimulate the detrimental process of fragmentation of that core sub-population."
Moreover, Proctor's letter urged the province to think beyond the local picture and immediate generations, and to think long-term.
"Keeping our natural systems in a state where they can adapt to climate change may be the most important consideration," Proctor wrote. "Grizzly bears are an umbrella species that in many ways represent a wider array of species and ecosystems."
Invermere's mayor, Jerry Taft, who was elected after serving two full terms as councillor, stands opposed to Jumbo on two grounds — the resort as a concept; and the appointment of a municipality and council with no population.
"There's substantial opposition from the local residents," Taft said. "There are quite a few concerns about the potential environmental impact of the proposed development, about the economic impact and the social impact. And also the road."
His opposition on the second ground, he said, is philosophical.
"We believe that land use decisions should be made by elected officials who have actual constituents," Taft said. "To declare a piece of land a municipality and appoint a mayor and council is a bastardization of the land zoning process. It's sort of a pretend democracy."
The Environmental Assessment Approval, Taft said, stated that land use had to be decided by local government, but the B.C. Liberals have "circumnavigated that part of the agreement."
While everyone who supports JGR says it will bring much-needed jobs to the region, and potentially shine a bigger spotlight on B.C. on the world stage, Taft says neither he, nor many valley locals, are convinced the whole project adds up.
"A lot of people are suspect of the financial capacity of the developer to actually get it built," Taft said, explaining that B.C.'s government has essentially given the developer free land, a situation that creates the potential for B.C. taxpayers to be on the hook should the project fail.
Phase 1 is predicted to take 10 years, and would include the installation of a gondola, two chairlifts and some base infrastructure.
"If that is successful, then we'll make the decision to invest in further lifts," Costello said.
But, asks Taft, what if it isn't successful?
"Things change, ownership changes. Financially it might be cheaper and more profitable to build 50 luxury homes at the site," Taft said.
When asked to name any of the Jumbo resort's investors in response to Taft's concerns Costello said; "They can believe whatever they want. We don't talk about our investors."
"They get intimidated. The investment has always been there, we have a company that's fully invested. We've met every hurdle that's been put in front of us. This project is going ahead this summer. End of story. Just watch us go."
Despite these assurances the concern remains alive in the community — add to that the fact the site is far from anything, and Invermere already has a dozen ski resorts within less than three hours' drive — six between Calgary and Jumbo — which, like resorts across Alberta and B.C., are generously staffed by young adults visiting on international work visas. While Cranbrook's airport is a shorter drive, flying there requires a change of aircraft from Vancouver or Calgary's international airports.
Some Invermere District residents might be more supportive, Taft suggested, if they actually believed the project could work as it has been pitched.
"If they knew there were actual backers — but a lot of people just don't believe they've got the support," Taft said. "Plus, no-one is going to drive from Jumbo down to Invermere for dinner. It just doesn't seem logical; it doesn't make sense. The idea that this project will benefit the small business operator in this valley is a bit of a stretch."
If you build it they will come
Opting to stay out of the politics or any questions as to the potential viability of the project altogether, when news of Jumbo's approval was announced last year, the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce issued a public statement that it was pleased that after 20 years a decision had finally been made.
It also added that it recognized some individuals would not be pleased, but promised to support all of its members in any way they might chose to take advantage of opportunities the development might offer.
"Having this impact our community in such a negative way and dividing the community for more than 20 years, we recognize that the indecisiveness has been taxing everyone," said president Rose-Marie Regitnig. "It's really divided our community for so long. As long as it's done in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner, then as a chamber we'll help our members take advantage of any opportunities."
Listed on the JGR website under "testimonials" is Whistler Blackcomb. Whistler Blackcomb, said Stuart Rempel, senior VP of marketing and sales, supports the Jumbo resort plan, and all ski resort development in B.C.
"B.C. is known world-wide as a great destination for skiers," Rempel said. "Heliskiing was born in B.C.; we're the world capital of heliskiing."
WB supports the Jumbo plan, Rempel said, because if it is a sound plan, it will be good for skiing in B.C., and as such, be good for B.C.
"If they have a sound plan to get people to their resort, and they have a real, unique product that's additive to B.C.'s offerings, that's good, that's great," Rempel said. "If it is unique, and additive, it will be successful, and it will attract more people to B.C."
Whether the plan is sound enough to fulfill those plans, he continued, "remains to be seen."
Whistler had many factors lined up in its favour, Rempel explained, including an existing through road, a strong U.S. dollar driving tourism and proximity to two major urban centres, Vancouver and Seattle. Building the road to the Jumbo site and attracting people to the area will be a challenge, he said.
"We had a lot of things going for us, for sure," Rempel said. "The stars were aligned. Those factors don't exist today. We have to work very hard, and it took us 30 years. Those are some of the hurdles Jumbo will have to overcome. They don't have seven million people within four hours' driving range."
Over the years, one of Jumbo's most steadfast supporters has been the Invermere-based Shuswap Band, (a branch of the same Ktunaxa First Nation, which has filed papers for a judicial review of the project.The Shuswap moved into the area just 150 years ago, and were accepted into the Ktunaxa First Nation). The Kinbasket Development Corporation, which operates as a corporate extension of the Shuswap band, lists JGR as one of several businesses operating on its land.
When, on the third try, the Pique spoke to Dean Martin, CEO of the KDC, he declined to comment, saying after 20 years he's tired of answering questions about Jumbo.
"Just go to the website, you'll find your answers there," Martin said. "I'm not interested in making any other comments on Jumbo."
The only reference to Jumbo on the Shuswap website www.shuswapband.net lists JGR as a business operating on Shuswap Band land, with a direct link to the JGR website.
Another long-time supporter is Kootenay East MLA, Liberal Bill Bennett (who easily won re-election on May 14), whose riding is south of the region and includes Fernie. It was Bennett's Community Development Ministry that formally created the Mountain Resort Municipality of Jumbo Glacier and appointed Deck as mayor, despite there being no citizens to represent.
Attempts to reach Bennett were unsuccessful.
The 'real' business
Often forgotten in the on-going coverage of the Jumbo as a political event is the story of those who will be affected on the frontline by the building of such a massive endeavour.
One of those companies is rk heliski, based at Panorama.
"I've skied in the Jumbo area more than anyone in the world — I know that for a fact," says Rod Gibbons, an internationally certified ACMG/IGMGA mountain guide and who, for the past 23 years has been operations manager for rk heliski. Gibbons makes no secret of being steadfastly opposed to the Jumbo plan.
"It would be devastating," said Gibbons. "Where the village is being proposed, that's our bad weather skiing. The terrain they are potentially taking away represents where we ski 65 per cent of the time. There's not a business in the world that can expect to survive that — not in any way that's recognizable."
Like all glaciated areas, Jumbo does get its share of sunny, bluebird, skier-friendly days. But, like all glaciated areas, Jumbo is regularly pummelled by fierce storms — the same forces that created and maintain the glacier in the first place. In addition to whiteout conditions that make helicopter flying — and any glacier travel — unsafe, broad flat glaciers such as Jumbo, generate powerful winds. Heli-ski operations choose different runs every day, not only to ski fresh snow, but because crevasse and avalanche conditions are constantly changing, thus dictating safety considerations. Glaciated heli-skiing terrain is balanced with a calculated amount of lower elevation forest or glade skiing.
Helicopter skiing was born just 45 kilometres north of Jumbo, in B.C.'s world-renowned Bugaboos, in the mid-1960s. To skiers around the world, heli-skiing in B.C. is a holy grail of powder nirvana. rk has been operating in its tenure — which includes the land JGR has staked for its project — for 43 years.
One look at a topographic map shows Jumbo Glacier to be flat for the most part, except for the northern snout, which drops into steep ice cliffs above Lake of the Hanging Glaciers. Very little of the terrain from the summit of Glacier Dome is actually glaciated. While Commander Glacier appears to offer a desirable pitch for sweet skiing, it is riddled with crevasses. Those glaciers are smaller today than when the Duncan Lake 82K/7 map was printed in 1979.
"Commander has ski terrain, it's a nice pitch, but it's unbelievably wild with crevasses and serac fields," Gibbons said. "To be honest, the main Commander Glacier hasn't been skied with clients in probably 10 years because of its brokenness. It's not normal commercial heli-ski terrain."
As for using snowcats to fill in crevasses, Gibbons said machinery has historically been used in the Jumbo area to fill in crevasses on Farnham Glacier. During the 2007, '08 and '09 summers, rk provided the safety contract for the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) as Canada's alpine ski team trained in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler. The team has not returned to the site since.
"I can tell you from experience, Farnham is as benign as it is because of all the excavator work CODA did there," Gibbons said. "The excavator ran countless hours. What I learned from that is if you want to tame a glacier, you use an excavator. That's what they do in Europe."
While JGR's Master Plan promises not to use salt to prolong the life of the Jumbo area glaciers, salting is common practice in Europe and was used by CODA at the Farnham site.
Logistics aside, Gibbons said he's extremely disheartened to know a long-standing business could be so readily displaced by the government, despite having spent thousands of dollars and countless hours in its defense, including a lengthy response to a report commissioned by JGR, which rk insists contains "numerous factual errors."
rk tried to overturn Jumbo's environmental certificate, but the BC Court of Appeal dismissed the case in 2007.
"It makes me feel sad and angry that a long-time existing business — 43 years — with a signed tenure can just be put out because someone has a grander proposal," Gibbons said. "Remember we are an existing and established business paying our bills, hiring staff — most of them not at (low) ski area wages, contributing to the community — plus the economic spin-off bringing heli-skiers to this valley — and not just a proposal on paper. This approval clearly sends a message by government that one, we are not going to listen to the people of B.C, and two, that if you do come and invest in B.C. we may just take it all away and shut you down. No one has been able to explain. And rk is an established business. We're not a proposal. We're real."
This summer will see the first "real" Jumbo tourists at the site on the Farnham Glacier. The plan is to have ski teams train there on weekdays, and on weekends the runs will be available to the public by reservation. The whole operation will be done out of Radium. Sightseeing cat tours will operate daily in the afternoons. According to the Jumbo Facebook site bookings are to be done through email@example.com. Summer cat skiing and snowboarding will cost $1195 per day with a minimum of six runs. Sightseeing, a seven hour day including lunch and transportation is $245.
With the current challenges in the global economy, the on-going struggle to grow the ski business and a vocal and active opposition to Jumbo it might be a long hot summer for B.C.'s latest resort municipality.
Lynn Martel has been writing about the people, places and culture of western Canada's mountains for 20 years. She's published two books, Expedition to the Edge: Stories of Worldwide Adventures and Tales and Trails: Adventures for Everyone in the Canadian Rockies, both with Rocky Mountain Books. www.lynnmartel.ca. She is also contracted by the ACC to edit its thrice-annual Gazette newsmagazine. During research for this article Martel learned that the ACC has written to the B.C. government objecting to the Jumbo project.
Jumbo — from dream to reality
For Oberto Oberti, Jumbo resort represents more than a ski hill — it's a life dream to create the "best mountain resort project." With a master's degree in architecture, Oberti designed Vancouver's first condominium high-rise and the first hotel in Whistler's North Village expansion.
In 1990 he was invited by Japanese-based Nikken Canada Holding Ltd. to design a ski resort for them to develop at the Jumbo site. For inspiration Oberti turned to his native Italy and Europe's Alps where lifts carry skiers up one mountainside to ski down to the next, linking villages along entire valleys.
Thus began Oberti's climb up a mountain of paperwork to gain approval for the project.
He submitted his first proposal to the province in March, 1991. In 1994, JGR was issued an East Kootenay Land Use Plan supporting commercial tourism and resort development. The requisite Environmental Assessment Act Review was initiated in 1995, and in 2004 Oberti was granted his certificate by the ministers who promised the decisions would be left to local government. The following year the draft Resort Master Plan was reviewed under B.C.'s All Seasons Resort Policy. In 2006, as the consultation process continued, the Ktunaxa First Nation was promised that a master development agreement would not be concluded with the proponent until consultation was completed.
In 2007, the province approved the Master Plan, and two years afterward the EA certificate was extended for a further five years. The following year JGR was granted a 10-year license for skiing on Farnham Glacier. Later that year, JGR signed an Impact Management and Benefits Agreement with the Invermere-based Shuswap Band around how the resort would impact the community and what benefits the band could expect from the project.
In 2009, the Regional District of East Kootenay voted eight to seven to ask the province to legislate the proposed Jumbo Resort site as a Mountain Resort Municipality — a request that would skip over the rezoning and public consultation processes. Despite demands for a new vote on charges that the public review process had been inadequate and previous directors' vote undemocratic, there was no second vote. In Nov. 2010, the Ktunaxa presented their Qat'muk Declaration to the province at the Legislature declaring the area sacred to the grizzly bear and their culture.
Then in March 2012, after making specific changes to Bill 41 to facilitate creation of a "mountain resort community," B.C.'s government announced the Jumbo Glacier Resort project was approved. Last November, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Bill Bennett announced Jumbo would be officially incorporated as a mountain resort municipality. In February, a mayor and two councillors were appointed by the province to oversee a municipality with a human population of zero, and with $260,000 of taxpayers' money to get started. The decision was roundly slammed by the Union of BC Municipalities and resulted in the West Kootenay Eco Society launching a lawsuit, arguing the appointment of municipal councillors without any electors violates the constitution and various provincial statutes.
Like Whistler, which was developed as an alpine ski area beginning in the 1960s, the plan for Jumbo is to build a resort from the ground up. Unlike Whistler, which had already been home to a popular fishing lodge since the early 1920s, there are no existing structures at the Jumbo site. Although the Jumbo area was once home to a sawmill, the only evidence remaining today is a clearing. Located just 125 kilometres from Vancouver and its international airport, Whistler was already accessed by a road that continues on to Pemberton, Lillooet, Cache Creek and beyond to destinations north, east and south.
The nearest international airport to Jumbo is four hours away, in Calgary. From Invermere, the Jumbo site is accessible by a paved road for the first 18 of 55 kilometres. Beyond Panorama Mountain Village, the road is a single-lane B.C. Forest Service gravel road that dead-ends at Jumbo. In winter the gravel road is ploughed for 18 kilometres beyond Panorama as far as the former Mineral King Mine site — mostly used by pickups hauling snowmobiles. The remaining 17 kilometres is unmaintained and only accessible to snowmobiles or backcountry skiers. The Columbia Valley Hut Society, whose members oppose development of the Jumbo Resort, operated a basic eight-person self-catered hut at Jumbo Pass a few kilometres from the proposed village site. Access to the hut is by hiking or backcountry skis.
According to the JGR plan, an additional three kilometres would have to be added to the existing road to reach the proposed Jumbo Village site. Between the Mineral King mine site and Jumbo Villages sites, there exist 22 identified avalanche paths, several of which block the road almost every winter. Making the road safe for public travel, says a report by the B.C. avalanche consultant commissioned by JGR, would necessitate "road closures during hazardous times and artificial release of the avalanches by explosives (probably best by dropping explosive charges from helicopters)."
In summertime — after the snow and avalanche debris melts out — the public can drive the narrow, twisting route that follows the rushing Toby and Jumbo Creeks through remote B.C. forest, a road JGR describes as "one of the easiest mountain access roads in Canada."
According to B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, JGR is responsible for upgrading the road to a provincially approved standard of 60-kilometres per hour, typical of B.C. ski hill access roads. All costs for upgrades including paving the road as traffic volume increases, will be the responsibility of JGR, according to the pace and scale lined out in the Master Plan. Once the developer's requirements have been fulfilled, "Road maintenance activities and future rehabilitation work would be funded through the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in the same manner as other rural roads throughout the province."
The three-kilometre shuttle road from the resort base to the Glacier Dome Lodge would be within the Controlled Recreation Area (CRA), and "the responsibility of the resort, under its permit."
Locals, however, are skeptical about their government's or JGR's assurances. In 2008, armed with permission to ski on Farnham Glacier, JGR began bulldozing a new road with Caterpillars west from the Farnham Glacier site in attempt to reach another nearby glacier without any road construction approval. A blockade manned by volunteer supporters lasted for eight weeks until the equipment was withdrawn.