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Squamish climbing history project #2242
Back To Discussion List Written: 2009.03.02 by: Glenn Woodsworth

I'm posting the following for Anders Ourom. Please direct private comments to him (address at bottom. General discussion here is, of course, welcome.

T think this is a great project. The recent death of Tony Cousins points out that none of the early climbers at Squamish are getting any younger. Tentatively, any profits would go to Climber's Access Society and / or the local clubs.

Glenn ____________________________

Hello! I have begun work on a project to publish a history of climbing at Squamish. This note is to let you know of the project, and to ask for your input and help. The goal is to publish something that we can all be proud of, that celebrates and records climbing at Squamish since its beginnings.
  Climbing at Squamish began just over 50 years ago. Apart from the 1980 guidebook, magazine and journal articles, and guidebooks, there has been no real history of climbing at a place that is special to all of us. It's time that changed. Not only because it's worthy of being recorded, but because none of us are getting any younger - as Tony Cousins' death last summer showed. So I'm sending this to about 100 climbers who were active at Squamish from the 1950s onward (most still are), and some others, to see what interest there might be. The project may of course never happen, or will happen in a different manner than outlined - that's writing, and publishing. But I intend to do my best with it, and would much appreciate your help.
  I've been thinking about this project for years, given my interest in climbing, Squamish, writing, and history. Over the last year, I finally found time to scan some slides, and write up some stories of climbing at Squamish in the 1970s. They are at It's a somewhat personal account of those times, but with intimations of broader themes, particularly history, and some context. Others such as Tami Knight, Dave Harris, Rick LeDuc, Don Harder, Greg Cameron and Andy Cairns have also contributed, and I've heard privately from a few. (Most posters have pseudonyms - I use Mighty Hiker, because in scouts I was anything but.)
  I'm now talking with prospective publishers. The project will take a lot of work, and I'll need lots of help - interviews, feedback, stories, photographs, etc. It's really a community project, and I thought that it was time to inform and involve others - none of us "owns" something like this. (I have already received helpful advice from some long-standing members of our community.) Input at this stage should lead to a better product. Here's some background information, summarizing plans to this point:
  General Outline Publication date: Late 2010 or early 2011. Primary market climbers, but of definite interest to others. (See below.) Length: Perhaps 200 pages. Somewhat similar publications: Camp 4 (Roper), Black Cliff (Wilson), Yosemite Climber (Meyers), the Yam (Scott). Focus: History, stories, people, photos. More than just a narrative, which is what so many climbing "histories" are - something with context and perspectives. Time frame: from the start (mid 1950s), with contextual information about Squamish and a bit about the evolution of mountaineering and climbing in B.C., carrying through to the 1990s or later. Probably including modern developments, and retrospectives. (See below.) Research: Interviews with all key climbers from 1950s - 1990s who are available, and some from later. Review all journals, magazines, guidebooks, archives, etc. Obtain perspectives from outsiders. Given the nature of the project, seek supporting grants from clubs, corporations and others. Professionally edited. Possibly an "add on" DVD or website, with interviews, extra photos, scanned documents and guidebooks, etc. Include things like drawings, cartoons, poetry, and excerpts from older guidebooks. Questions Can you help? Interview, photos, stories, all the myriad of things that would need to happen? Should it go through to the late 1990s, which seems to me a natural break, or later? If so, to when? Even if it mainly went to say 2000, it would include some subsequent events, and retrospectives, e.g. modern pictures or accounts of "old" routes, "where are they now" tidbits, and recent key events - the gondola battle of 2003, Cobra Crack, Cannabis Wall free... It would be difficult to do a true history for the last ten years or so - not enough time has passed for any real context or perspective. But it would certainly be possible to provide something of a record, with photos. Just covering Squamish and its immediate vicinity, or a bit wider in scope, e.g. rock climbing in southwest B.C., at least early on? Book format, or larger format? That is, something like "Camp 4" (15 x 23 cm), but with more black and white as well as colour photos, or something like "Yosemite Climber" (22.5 x 28 cm), but with more text? Either way, with lots of pictures, but the latter would feature more large format and colour photos. Or a coffee table book - lots of pictures, not much text, oriented to the general and tourist market, of less historical and climber interest? How to use technologies - web, DVDs, etc? There will probably be a lot of material that will be interesting and useful, but won't fit in a book. It should be recorded and available somewhere reasonably permanent. A project like this involves a lot of work, and lots of help. It also involves balancing many factors. Assuming it comes together, it seems unlikely the project will make anyone much money, although one never knows. My share of the proceeds from the 1980 guidebook went to the B.C. Mountaineering Club, and should this project make money, I intend that at least some of the proceeds go to the Climbers' Access Society, to support its work on behalf of B.C.'s climbers.
  I look forward to any and all thoughts, suggestions, and contributions regarding this project, and to your help. Thanks!
  Anders Ourom Vancouver, B.C. (604) 228-1798