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Randy Stoltmann #269
(Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)  
Randy Stoltmann
Randy Stoltmann was born 1962 in Vancouver, and grew up on the slopes of Vancouver's north shore mountains. Starting in about 1980, at the age of 18, Randy and his older brother Greg began simultaneously exploring mountains and looking for record sized trees. One of the first lists compiled by them was the 1980 list of all the big trees in Stanley Park, which was given to the Vancouver Parks board. At this time it was difficult to communicate the concept of "old growth forest values" with regards to the park. The concept of the time was to clear the undergrowth, and make a manicured European style forest. Previously in the 1920's many of the cedar trees were topped for "safety" reasons.

This interest in old growth forest proved to be a lifelong facination, and lead to the formation of a network of similarly interested people. In 1982, spurred on by rumors of a 28 foot diameter spruce tree in the Carmanah Valley, Randy and others flew in to attempt to verify the story. Although the elusive 28 foot spruce was never found, they discovered numerous beautiful spruce groves. Shortly after this visit, Randy began to do volunteer work for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, who became quite interested in the Carmanah Valley when logging plans began to threaten it. At that time, the Moyeha River watershed in Strathcona Provincial Park was the only protected watershed on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Carmanah, which flows directly to the open ocean, presented a unique opportunity to protect an undisturbed watershed on southern Vancouver Island. Randy was involved in laying out the trails, and he personally carved most of the original trail signs. Randy crafted the signs after a style he had seen in some US parks: a router to cut grooves in the wood, then the inside of the routed letters were blackened with a propane torch. This was a simple, low maintenance method of building signs. At the time, BC Parks were painting the signs with letters painted white, which didn't weather naturally, and often blistered and peeled. In 1992 after a lengthly battle by the Western Canada Wilderness Commmittee (WCWC), Carmanah was declared a park by the BC government.

At the same time as he worked with the WCWC, Randy and Greg became increasingly active in the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) and were frequent participants in all manner of trips, both weekend club trips and lengthy traverses. These trips include the Nitnat Canoe trip, the Garibaldi Park Traverse (1987), the Stein Divide Hike (1990), and the Megin River traverse (1991), and finally a ski traverse of the mountains around the Kitilope River, southeast of Prince Rupert (1994). Between these, almost every weekend Randy would be out on some sort of club trip - Spearhead Traverse, Glacier Peak, the vegetable rappels of Judge Howay...

Randy was also a trail constructor. He understood that by building and promoting trails, more people could share the wilderness and thus have a stake in its preservation. The project had been dragging on for almost 13 years, then in a period of two or three weekends, Randy and Greg joined in with Paul Kubik and Sev Heiberg and others, and pushed the trail completely through to its destination. At a point about 1800 feet overlooking the Squamish River Valley is a fallen log bearing a plaque, which the BCMC designated as "The Randy Stoltman Bench".

Randy was a prolific writer in the BCMC journal. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Randy and Greg's trips was the emphasis on describing and enjoying the lush undergrowth of the valley bottoms. At the time, the mainstream of mountaineering writing was mainly focused on the rock and snow of the peaks. Randy's trips combined his love of photography, wilderness exploration, interest in big trees, and his love of the mountains.

Randy also was a keen and systematic researcher, and spent many hours in various libraries preparing his environmental proposals, and advising other club members of historical facts. Randy was an unusual combination of different personalities: sensitive environmentalist, wilderness adventurer, and extreme skier. Along with his brother, he also produced a series of spirited 8 mm "action" films featuring various ski antics and 007 styled poker games.

In 1994, Randy created an extensive proposal to preserve an area he named the "Stanley Smith Wilderness Area". This area lies at the head of the Elaho River which is longest branch of the Squamish River, extending across part of the Pemberton Icecap. This area was later renamed the Stoltmann Wilderness Area, and the struggle continues to preserve it from logging.

In May of 1994 the news hit the Vancouver mountaineering community that Randy had died in an avalanche while on a several week traverse in the Kitilope area. Many people who regularly did trips with him only discovered all of his different personalities after his death. First there was a church memorial which overwhelmed the large west Vancouver church in which it was held. Tribute after tribute was delivered by people who knew the different aspects of Randy. By the time the musicians played Bob Dylan's "Blowin in the Wind", it was obvious that Randy had his place in the great scheme of things. A week later an equally large memorial was held at the Vancouver Planetarium, and by then Cabinet ministers had appeared, giving out awards and dedicating parks. "A great tree has fallen!"

Randy in trees beginning Kitilope Traverse, his last trip

In 1995, Carmanah's "Heaven Grove" was officially renamed the Randy Stoltmann Memorial Grove" in honor of his contributions.

Trip Reports Insert
70 1987.08.01 Garibaldi - Into the Wilderness
Feature Photos Insert
2 null North Pitt Glacier

Equipment Reviews Insert

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Discussions Insert