The Alpine Club of Canada

Access and Environment

Through the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC (FMCBC) we work together with other mountaineering and outdoor clubs in BC to improve access to trails, climbing areas and the backcountry, and to resolve land use issues that have an impact on our skiing, hiking and climbing activities. All our members are also members of the FMCBC and receive the FMCBC ‘s publication “Cloudburst” with access and conservation updates from around the province.

In its activities our club is guided by the Wilderness Code of Ethics and the Access and Environment Policy. For more information on the ACC’s efforts to reduce our own impact on the mountains check out our national ACC’s environment webpage.

Do you know of an issue that the ACC Vancouver Section should know about? Please let us know by contacting our Access & Environment Chair.

Below is a list of major Access & Environment issues that our club is involved in:

Trails Strategy
Backcountry Access from Whistler Olympic Park (Callaghan Valley)
Access to Lake Lovelywater trail
Heli-skiing in the Waddington Range
Garibaldi at Squamish resort
Coquihalla Pass resort
Skaha Bluffs access
Sea-to-Sky LRMP

Trails Strategy for British Columbia
The BC government has released a draft trails strategy for BC (2MB pdf). There are public information and open house sessions across the province in the next two months. If there is a massive show of interest in recreation trails as a result of these open houses, it will ensure not only that adequate funding for trails gets approved sooner but also that recreation trails become an issue in the May election. There are two information sessions in Greater Vancouver: one in North Vancouver 12 January, 6:30 to 9:00 pm at the Holiday Inn, and one in Langley 13 January 2009, 6:30 to 9:00 pm, Holiday Inn Express, 8750 204th Street, Langley.

It is important that non-motorized recreationalists have a strong turnout at this event. The intent of the strategy is to have clubs adopt certain trails and take on the role of stewards. Please take the time to turn out to this event! In the Nanaimo meeting a reported 70% of the turnout was motorized. It would be great for our club to show a strong interest.

A few potential concerns with the strategy include:

  • A focus in the document on trails being ‘inclusive’ which may include motorized vehicles. Feedback that needs to be given is that some uses are not compatible (i.e. hiking and atvs) It will not benefit hiking clubs to maintain trails without a designation that restricts motorized activities on the trail. The trails strategy largely glosses over potential user conflicts which are an key point for hikers.
  • The need for clubs to carry insurance for trail use to deal with liability issues.

To see an ongoing discussion on the trails strategy please see this thread.

Backcountry Access from Whistler Olympic Park (Callaghan Valley)
We’ve been working with all involved and the following are new guidelines for accessing the backcountry from Whistler Olympic Park. Click here for a printable pdf of the guidelines and a map.

Please follow the rules below or we may lose access privileges. In particular, don’t get caught skiing on a XC trail without the $6 ticket.

  1. All backcountry skiing or snowshoeing parties must register at the new Day Lodge in the morning to get a special parking pass. This pass will allow you to park overnight, and/or leave through the gate after normal hours. The parking pass is free.
  2. There is a $6 per person fee if you want to use the XC trails for backcountry access. To qualify you must be on AT or Tele gear (no skinny XC skis). For safety, you must follow the same rules as XC skiers on one way trails. If you want to ski the backcountry around Madeley Lake, this is the best way to get there.
  3. If you want to access the backcountry without using the groomed XC trails, there is no fee. However, you still have to sign a waiver and get the parking pass. Please be careful when crossing XC ski trails and always yield to XC skiers. There are 3 suggested BC access routes that minimize XC trail crossings: from the day lodge climb the hill north of the ski jump to Hanging Lake or Sproatt, from the biathlon parking skirt the XC trails heading east to Hanging Lake, or from the biathlon parking drop down a short hill to the west and turn up Beverley Creek. For now (Nov 2008) there is no signage. During competitive events, one or more of these routes may be closed. Be sure to check with staff at the Day Lodge when you get your ticket.
  4. If you happen to arrive before the day lodge is open, there may be a sign-in book near the door. Sign yourself in with your destination, and leave a note on the dash of your car.
  5. The XC ski trails and the 21 mile creek watershed (Rainbow Lake) are closed to dogs. This clolsure includes the ski touring loop from Hanging Lake over to Beverley Creek and ascents of Rainbow Mountain from the south and west.

Access to Lake Lovelywater trail
The ACC Vancouver Section supports efforts to secure a long-term agreement with the Squamish Nation regarding the use of their land for access and parking on the east side of the Squamish River. On the west bank of the river, a transfer of Crown land to BC Parks and re-routing the lower part of the trail away from the privately owned land would ensure future access to the trail in Tantalus Provincial Park. Our club sent a letter of support for this plan to BC Parks.

Heli-skiing in the Waddington Range
The BC government granted a commercial heli-skiing tenure in the Waddington Range. However, for Mt. Waddington and the immediate surroundings the FMCBC is negotiating a no-fly zone for heli-skiing.

Garibaldi at Squamish resort
The proposed resort at Brohm Ridge in Squamish encompasses 25 ski lifts, two golf courses and 5,739 housing units. The ACC Vancouver Section sent comments on recreation impacts to the Environmental Assessment Office during the public comment period. Some points of concern about the proposed development:

  • Displacement of snowmobilers from their traditional territory on Brohm Ridge. This will increase the likelihood of snowmobiling in the remaining very small non-motorized areas in the Sea-to-Sky corridor or in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
  • Backcountry access restrictions due to the resort blocking normal access route via Brohm Ridge into Garibaldi Provincial Park. Increase in out-of-bounds skiers in Garibaldi Provincial Park due to the proximity of the resort area.
  • Long-term threats due to expansion of the resort into Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Coquihalla Pass resort
The proposed resort would be an all-season located halfway between Hope and Merritt by the Coquihalla Highway. The resort would consist of a base village, golf course, ski lifts and alpine trails. It would be located next to Zoa Peak and near other popular backcountry skiing, hiking and climbing destinations. The ACC Vancouver Section sent a letter to the Environmental Assessment Office regarding the Draft Terms of Reference for the Environmental Assessment of this resort application.

Skaha Bluffs access
The Land Conservancy of BC and Skaha rockclimbers have been working hard on this issue, with support from Mountain Equipment Co-iop, the Access Society, and others. The land has been purchased and an easement agreement for a new access road is in place. For updates on access to Skaha and other climbing areas, check the Climber’s Access Society.

Updated February 19, 2009: The old car park for Skaha Bluffs in Penticton, BC is closed. The new car park and access road was completed last fall on property jointly owned by the Province, The Land Conservancy, and Nature Conservancy of Canada. There will be a fee for parking at the new lot but details are not yet available. The new car park is reached via Smythe Drive which is 3km south along the East Side Road from the old turn off and is on the same level as the top of the old steps and less than 600m from both the Daycare and East Face of the Fortress. More information. Good work to all involved in making this happen!

Sea-to-Sky LRMP
Agreements on land use planning have been reached between the provincial government, the Lil’wat Nation, the In-SHUCK-ch Nation, and the Squamish Nation. The non-motorized zoning of the Upper Callaghan Valley for the 2010 Olympics has had a knock-on effect on snowmobiling use in other areas in the Sea-to-Sky, including Mount Sproatt and Phelix Creek valley. The ACC Vancouver Section strongly supports the winter recreation zoning agreement reached by the Sea-to-Sky Backcountry Winter Sharing Forum.

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