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Letters to the Editor for the week of March 10th

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Spearhead should have a Ricker Hut

Congratulations to the proponents of the Spearhead Huts project for receiving their park use permit to build a trail and hut system through the Spearhead Traverse.

It was a lot of hard work, but the result is an amazing, world-class opportunity to show off B.C. at its best, as well as an incredible resource for climbers, hikers, backcountry skiers and boarders, and anyone else who likes to venture out beyond the boundary lines.

I understand from a post on the proponent's Facebook page that the naming rights for all of the new huts are open to sponsorship. It's a big project after all, and that could certainly help to raise some funds.

It's also kind of a shame. l was proposing to name one of the huts in honour of Karl Ricker.

For starters, Ricker was part of the original four-member UBC Outdoor Club expedition that completed the Spearhead Traverse for the first time in May 1964, a year-and-a-half before Whistler Mountain would open to the public. It was an eight-day expedition involving a lot of trial and error when establishing the route, as well as a lot of bushwhacking through wilderness to access the alpine.

It was also Mr. Ricker and crew who officially named most of the peaks in the traverse in official submissions to the Government of Canada. For example, the Tremor, Shudder, Shatter complex was named after an earthquake that the expedition members experienced along the traverse. The expedition also overlapped the 400th anniversary celebration of William Shakespeare's birth, which was the origin of Shakespearean names like Mt. Iago and Mt. Macbeth.

It's also worth noting that it was Karl Ricker who made the official application to rename Whistler Mountain after it was mistakenly called "London Mountain" in a 1928 government map — despite the fact that locals had always called it Whistler.

There are many other reasons why Mr. Ricker should be honoured when naming the Spearhead Huts. One of them is the fact that Mr. Ricker has himself helped to build, maintain and restore countless famous alpine huts throughout B.C. and Alberta as a member of the UBC Varsity Outdoor Club and Alpine Club of Canada.

He has also logged an incredible number of first ascents in this area, and throughout our local ranges (I don't know the exact number), always following up with naming submissions that honoured others for their contributions to the alpine community.

As we seek to understand and fight the forces of climate change in the region, Karl Ricker has also made an important contribution to the collection of local glacier data. He assisted, and later led, the collection of glacier data from Wedge Glacier since 1975 and from Overlord Glacier since 1986.

As a devoted naturalist, Mr. Ricker has also been actively involved in local bird watches and bird counts, always sharing his time and insights with the public, and the data with the larger North American counts. Although he was a geologist by trade, in many ways Mr. Ricker has also been an educator, always seeking to further our local knowledge of the natural world.

One of my favourite pieces featuring Mr. Ricker was a definitive list of our local peaks and ranges, and their geological histories — thereby correcting all the mistaken references reporters such as myself and others would occasionally make to the "Coast Range" and other geographic waypoints. You can do a search on the Pique website for a piece called "Just where are we, anyway?"

There are a lot of other reasons why the Sprearhead Traverse should have a Ricker Hut, notwithstanding the fact that his daughter Maëlle Ricker won a gold medal for Canada in 2010 in snowboardcross, and is one of Canada's top winter athletes of all time.

This list of accomplishments is hardly comprehensive, and doesn't do justice to the thousands of hours that Karl Ricker has given to the alpine community and community of Whistler over the years.

I'm not a member of the alpine club personally, and have never been ski touring. I do think that the people who put so much effort into this excellent project should have the final say on details like the naming of the huts. If it's a matter of sponsorship, please email me at admitchell@hotmail.com to let me know if you would support a crowdfunding campaign on Mr. Ricker's behalf and I will initiate it.

This letter is only for the public's consideration, a request to finally recognize all of Mr. Ricker's contributions to Whistler and the alpine community over more than 50 years — something Mr. Ricker is far too humble to ever ask for himself. For all of his first ascents, expedition reports, and submissions to Canadian Geographical Names, you won't find a single peak named "Ricker" in all of B.C.

Andrew Mitchell

Backbone needed for this fight

Finally, at least one ski-industry journalist has the gumption to take an ever-so-tentative poke at our head-in-the-sand ski culture's delusional attitude to climate change ("POWer to the Athletes," Pique, March 3).

On one hand, no one should be more immediately aware of the current effect and the blisteringly obvious potential of climate change than modern snowsports culture.

Yet aside from a very few Jeremy-Jones-type efforts, there is almost zero political leadership from the real industry leaders. In our country that would be Whistler Blackcomb, CMH heliskiing, Canadian Avalanche Association, Canada West Ski Areas Association... you name it, they are all mostly missing in action.

All might make a few ineffectual mumbles of acknowledgement, or take some low-risk adaptation measures to protect their operations, but when it comes to political backbone — making real assertive demands of our public policy leadership to halt the march of global warming — there is nothing.

At last year's Paris climate conference, 40,000 flatlanders defied a terrorism inspired command to stay meekly at home, to not show up to a planned demonstration to demand climate action. Creatively, they avoided violent retribution from the riot squad by leaving 40,000 pairs of shoes in a public square as a symbolic statement. They actually showed up.

Meanwhile, over in apathetic British Columbia, a similar well-publicized demonstration in Vancouver could hardly generate 3,000 participants — at the same time the Whistler ski slopes were filled with the usual weekend throng. That was the extent of our cultural creativity and vision — another day of slush, fogged-up ski goggles and zero thought for our kids' future!

Just imagine if at that time, the Whistler town council, (and) every employee... had the fortitude and vision to shut the hill for a single day and actually do something bold and assertive, such as simply show up.

To say that it would be noticed is a gross understatement. To say that their actual absence was duly noted is now a matter of historical record. 

We are already committed to no significant skiing in the Sierras, Stevens Pass, Cypress Bowl, Mt. Washington and anything below mid- station on Whistler.

Unlike most flatlanders, snowsport culture has the ability to actually see climate change in motion, yet judging by political action, you'd never know it. If even snowsport culture can't acknowledge the writing on the wall, why would we expect anyone else to?

As the Pique feature writer, Aaron Teasdale, notes: "If we can't get climate change under control, two terrible things will happen: Skiing as we know it will cease to exist, but skiing will be the least of our worries."  

Jeremy Jones's protectourwinters.org has been around for a while and as anyone can see with a Google search, its actual political power is squat. But at least that stellar individual has the moral fortitude to act, which is a damn sight more than the real institutional leadership can say.

Bruce Kay

Squamish needs parking committee

After the speaking to Gary Buxton (general manager of Development Services and Public Works at District of Squamish) about the growing parking issues in downtown, the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association (DSBIA) has conducted a survey to support its claims.

While the survey is still ongoing, in the past (few) days we have received 302 responses. The results show that 69 per cent of respondents believe there is a significant parking problem downtown.

The survey also includes some very thoughtful responses about the issues with supporting comments from the public on how to deal with them.

As a result, the DSBIA formally requests that a joint committee between the District of Squamish and DSBIA be formed immediately with a commitment to addressing parking downtown in the short and long term. We believe that some quick wins can be implemented in the next few weeks and look forward to developing a plan moving forward.

The results of the Downtown Parking Survey and comments can be viewed here: www.surveymonkey.net/results/SM-M7XLFLJW/.

We look forward to working together to improving parking in Downtown Squamish.

Nancy McCartney
Chair, Downtown Squamish BIA Parking Committee

Bianca Peters
Executive Director, Downtown Squamish BIA

Balloon bouquets of carnival thanks

Thanks to everyone who came out Feb. 26 and made our annual Spring Creek Community School Family Night fundraiser a record-breaking success!

You danced, you ate the delicious Big Top buffet items and bake sale, you cake-walked, you devoured candy floss, you played games, you volunteered, you had fun with your kids and other families, and we all had a Carnival of good times. This will be a strong memory of the incredible contribution, community, spirit and fun at Spring Creek that our kids will take away with them — we have such a wonderful school community.

Huge thanks to the Spring Creek PAC wonder team — Tracy Higgs, Tanya Ewasiuk Goertzen, Christine Zucht, Angela Morris, Adele Ferguson, Andrea Legge, Kerri Fletcher and Caralynn Haasen.

Special thanks go outto teacher librarian, Sara Leach, for running the Cakewalk, to Jackie Jackson for the organizing the SCCS Spa, her always creative husband Tom Jackson for the Carnival Spin Wheel and their daughter and friends for running the spa,to Andy Anderson for the Toilet Toss, to Helen Bradley, Chrissy Robinson and Nenna Craythorne — our brilliant Fortune Tellers,to Jeff Isert and Adele Ferguson for donating the candy floss machine and spinning it all night,to Martin White, Penny MacLeod, and Michele Stalker — our ticketmasters, to Toby Mayo and Alex Tengvall for helping with set up, to Sarah McQueen and class for painting the photo board, to Dan Wilson for discussing ideas for school ground enhancement and to our fearless principal, Lisa Bartlett, for her support of the chaotic Carnival fun.

Many hands helped in the kitchen with Tyla Emde and lots of parents helping with bake sale and fruit kebabs — far too many to list — but we could not have done it without you. Each person that participated made the night the huge success that it was.

And to our prize donors, your donations bought on smiles, shouts of surprise and joy, encouragement to play and participate, and in turn, helped to raise many more dollars for our school.

Thanks to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Skiis & Biikes, Armchair Books , Source for Sports, Bounce, Crepe Montagne, Green Moustache, McDonald's, Mac's Convenience Store, Cows Ice Cream, Samurai Sushi, White Spot, Scandinave Spa, Tim Hortons, Whistler Dental, Love is in the Hair, Great Glass Elevator Candy Shop, Whoola Toys, Rocks and Gems, Subway, Jono Hair, Dups, Dairy Queen, Oros Gymnastics, Slopeside Supply, Kahuna Paddleboards, Coast Mountain Mechanical, Nesters Market, Upper Village Market and our grand prize sponsor — Copper Cayuse Outfitters.

Christine Zucht


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