From Canmore to Vancouver...
...it is a very long and winding road. All in all it stretches out to a full 868 km. We had set our mind to visit the Arc´Teryx team placed exactly in that City far on the western coast, so the road of the Trans Canada Highway # 1 would be our destination for the coming day.
Warning: The following text is mainly a description of the many highlights on that way, interesting only for those, who love reading about some anecdotes along the roadside, which are NOT necessarily connected with ice- climbing ;-)
On Monday, November 20th at 5 in the dark morning hour we packed our rental car with food, a lot of water, Coffee and a map and set out towards the west coast. You actually don´t need a map, so. It´s just the one, never ending Highway leading through a changing, magnificent and wild scenery. First we entered the already well known Bow Valley with it´s endless forests, frozen lakes, towering mountains and rivers. I was actually sitting that one out, easily falling in sleep again as we were rolling through a deep darkness, sparkled with the glittering white of fresh fallen snow and giant snowflakes still swirling around. I awoke when we drove through Field. We had climbed “Pilsner Pillar” and “Carlsberg Column“ here four years ago at -30 degrees, and that had been quite an experience. But right now, they had barely formed.Temperatures seemed to be a lot warmer here than in Jasper National Park.
We passed the Ski area of Golden and stopped at the Mountain Resort of Revelstoke, where we fueled up.
Our next stop at “Craigellochie” happened by pure accident. Desperately searching for a place to stop we drove out, and literally stumbled over the historical site of the "completion of the Trans-Canada- Railroad": It was here precisly that the last spike was put in on November 7th in 1885 by Sir Donald Smith, a director of the CPR. Finally, the railway from the eastern to the western coast was complete. A historical mark not to miss, even when you are an ice climber with his mind set on a different direction.
We drove along Salmon Arm with it´s impressive view on the Shuswaw lake, it´s rolling farmlands, forested highlands and mountains.
At km 518 Kamloops appeared, located at the confluence of the South and North Thomson Rivers in the semi- arid grasslands.
“Kamloops is the anglicised version of the Shuswap word "Tk'əmlúps" meaning “meeting of waters". An alterate origin sometimes given for the name have come from the native name´s accidental similarity to the French “Camp des loups”, meaning `Camp of Wolves`” , I reported eagerly, finding that piece of information in particular quite intersting. I did not bother me when Matthias showed not any signs of enthusiasm. I had once attented a history seminar about the early canadian settlement and had found the subject quite absorbing. “Many early fur traders actually spoke French. Hence the possible second origin”.
A long way still awaited us, and since conversation ebbed, we turned on the music, listening to Iron Maiden, Lord of the Rings, Soulfly and Triglav.
We spotted many “Hoodoos”, erosional towers left in place, while the surrounding softer sediments where washed away over hundred thousands of years ago. They generelly form within sedimentary rock ( those consisting of layers with different sediment hardness) or volcanic rock formation. Wind, frost and rain shape them furthermore, building their amazing sculptures. We have seen many Hoodoos already on our way to climbs in Europe, especially in France, one of them when skiing up the way towards "Rapelle toi que tu est un homme" in the Val de Couleau. The french call them "demoiselles coiffées" so, which means "ladies with hairdos".
Then, finally the signs of “Hope” appeared, a small town located where the Coquihalle Canyon meets the Fraser River and where the Canyon walls open into the valley. It foremost grew in the old days of 1858, when gold was discovered in several areas further north up the Fraser River. But what made it really intersting for us, was it´s participation in the famous action movie “Rambo First Blood” with Silvester Stallone, about 30 years ago. Hope experienced gas station explosions, gun fire and stuntmen in those dramatic days. And since then many came to call it simply “Rambo town”.
Although not a desperate fan- tourist i couldn´t deny my interest for that topic, so we drove through the town and had a look at the "Rambo bridge" before hitting the Highway again.
Some hours later and we finally drove over the bridge to Vancouver.
Vancouver is an incredible beautiful and bustling town with a coastal seaport. There are 603 300 people in the City, making it the eighth largest City in Canada. With more than over 2,3 million residents it is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country. 52% of it´s population don´t speak english as their first language, making Vancouver a place of various origins and creating a very open mind attitude. It was voted "one of the most liveable cities worldwide" in various business magazines and driving through the clean roads spicked with golden trees on the roadside i might agree with that.
We arrive at Arc´Teryx at 17.30 o'clock. Seldom have i experienced a place, where so many inspiring, energetic and great personalities are assembled into one place. The atmosphere is just awsome. Nearly everyone working here has experienced the backcountry himself, and nearly everone is a dedicated climber, Skier or Alpinist him/herself. The building is buzzing with creativity, positive work attitude and friendly intercommunication. Matthias and me enjoyed every minute we would spend there this evening and the full coming day.
Our greatest thanx to Tony Richardson, Tom Fayle, Greg Grenzke, John Rockefeller, Ian Martin, Brian Goldstone, Tanya Hall, Trina Thompson, Laura Fergusson , Idita and all the others we met. You have been a true inspiration!
It had been an exeptional experience and we are very proud being part of the Arc´teryx Team.
Many thanks at this point also to Tanja Kulkies and Veronika Kraler, Team Arc´Teryx Europe, who are working in the same spirit. Thanks!