Monday, July 15, 2013

Where Eccentrics Abound: 3 of 3

Crazy, odd-ball characters are drawn to Squamish like sailers to a bordello. My three-day stay was brightened by encounters with the most unusual and delightful types. There was Crosby Johnston, a mountain guide, who climbs with his dog Suzie on his back. John Furneaux, who has scaled Mount Everest three times, hitchhiked from Newfoundland to Squamish at age 15 and then lived in caves, storage containers, cars and tents while training to become a mountain guide. (These two are described two posts ago.)

I bumped into Hevy, a local eccentric and a lifelong climber, as he was cycling to the local café. He was easily recognizable by his pink ponytail. He explained how he introduced slacklining, like walking a tightrope, to Squamish and every year hosts a slackline festival for this burgeoning sport.

But one character stood out above the rest: internationally renowned extreme sportsman, Tim Emmett. A formidable athlete, he is a daredevil
climber, BASE jumper, wing-suit flyer and ice climber. Oh, and he also excels at solo deep diving, surfing, kite boarding and much more. Over dinner, he bubbled with enthusiasm as he explained why Squamish is the world’s best place to live. “The Chief and mountains are terrific and I can pursue all my favourite activities here.” He avoided direct answers but the rumour mill says he’s  jumped off the Chief with his wingsuit and a parachute … several times. My jaw dropped as he described his next project: to paddleboard down the Little Nahani River in the Northwest Territories. One section consists of a narrow 18-km canyon with grade 3-4 rapids. En route he plans to climb and BASE jump from the Vampire Spires and the Cirque of Unclimbables. When asked about his training, he smiled and responded, “I went paddleboarding for the first time yesterday.”

I heard about Will Standhope, a young star climber who is so talented — and confident — that he often climbs solo. A climbing party was scaling a difficult wall using the usual ropes and protective devices when Standhope casually climbed past them without any rope, harness or protection. The climbers just about fell off in astonishment.

Jim Sinclair is a Squamish legend who put up many first routes on the Chief. Two years ago, at age 78, he suffered a heart attack while climbing and had to be rescued. Unperturbed, he continues to climb today.

Squamish is one crazy place. I love it!

Great Places to Nosh in Squamish
Pepe and Gringo's
Watershed  Grill
Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company:

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