Sunday, June 5, 2011

Vancouver 100km

Final words of encouragement from Vicky(crew)

Crossing one of the many creeks on the Baden Powell trail

Coming up the Hollyburn Ski Runs with Yak Traks on our shoes and poles

Beautiful blue skies with a jet's contrail

The dodgy snow bridge - first passing.

Another snow bridge - deep snow!

Climbing up Black Mountain from Cypress Bowl

A view from where the snow started.

Top of Black Mountain - Yak Traks and poles hid in the bush for our return journey

Coming down the boulder field on Black Mountain

Crossing a log on our way to the turn around at Nelson Creek - 50km complete.

Climbing back up Black Mountain - almost at the top!

At the top of Black Mountain - the sun is starting to set - snow camper in the background

Coming down the ski runs with head lamps and warmer clothes.

Finished! 26:54 - a long journey! The chairs felt really good!

Earlier this year we decided that Neil was going to run West Highland Way on his own. We have experienced the journey together for the past two years and I have truely appreciated his commitment to be my companion out there. We decided to do a different ultra together prior to WHW and chose Vancouver 100.

This is a year of record snow fall on the local mountains which meant miles of trekking through very deep snow. The Vancouver 100 goes from Deep Cove on the Baden Powell trail to Nelson Creek (Horseshoe Bay) and return to Deep Cove with 16,300 feet of ascent and 16,300 feet of descent. We have spent many weekends training on the course checking out the different sections and planning what type of equipment to bring to assist us through the snow sections. Craig, the RD and friend Marla decided to enter as well. We all agreed Yak Traks and poles seemed to be the simplest and best way to go with the current conditions.

On Saturday June 4th we started at 5am in Deep Cove on the best weather day yet this spring. The temperature was forecast to reach close to 30C. The skies were brilliantly clear. Vicky was our crew for both Craig and Neil, Marla and I. We had planned to do the journey together. Wendy was coming out to help out at some point during the evening. We predicted aprox 24 hours for the event but with the ever changing snow conditions we really didn't know.

Despite the snow, the weather conditions were perfect for the night journey so we were determined to complete the 100km's. Neil, Marla and I were a good team. Marla handed out electrolyte tablets regularly, Neil kept reminding us to drink and I tried to keep us focused on what we needed at our next crew stop. We made the first quarter to Cleveland well under 5 hours. We put on our larger packs with our Yak Traks and warmer clothes for the upcoming snow sections. The significant snow on the trail appeared at the top of the Hollyburn Chute. We came upon a back packer Andrew who was planning to go to Mount Hanover on the Howe Sound Crest Trail. Andrew continued with us throughout this snow section until the top of the Bluffs. We were heading to Nelson Creek and Andrew decided to take a food break and then carry on to Horseshoe Bay. We made it to the turn around at Nelson Creek 50km feeling quite good.

The climb up Black Mtn on the return journey was nasty. It felt so good to reach the top. Good news...text messages from Marilyn, the Vancouver Canucks won! I'm sure if we listened closely we could have heard the roar from the celebrations in the city below. On Black Mountain there was now a group of winter campers. They told us they were in awe of us - I told them I was in awe of them sleeping in a tent up there over night. They too reminded us that the Canucks had won.

Craig was with us for the next section through the snow. We came into Cypress feeling a bit chilled and decided to put on some warmer clothes. I opted for a few layers, toque and gloves. It felt really nice heading out being all warm and cozy. With the sun now setting we anticipated it would be cold coming down the ski runs and we were all prepared.

On this section from Cypress we had to cross a snow bridge which was looking dodgy on the way out and we knew it would be in rough shape from people going over it and the warm temperature throughout the day. When we arrived at the snow bridge I could tell that Neil and Craig were a little concerned. Sure enough it was looking thin and not weight bearing. Craig went first and dug a ledge with his heels and showed us what we needed to do to get across. We had to do a standing jump and land on the other side high up on the slope. Neil went second and demonstrated it again. This was serious - Marla and I could not get it wrong or to put it bluntly we were gone! I passed my pole to Neil and found the notches in the snow for my feet, dug in and from a standing jump thrust myself across the bridge. I recall landing on the side of the slop of snow looking up at Craig asking for help. You might pull me down I recall him saying - he dug into the snow grabbed my hand and got me up the slope. Repeat for Marla and we were all over it safely. The adrenaline rush carried us out to the ski runs.

This was a highlight for me - running down the ski runs with the twinkling lights of Vancouver below. It was a long way down. We planned to take the Yak Traks off where we put them on earlier. Funny thing since the day had been so warm the snow had melted meters - they came off sooner! It felt great to get them off our shoes. Wearing them for hours they were starting to irritate our feet.

Next section was the Hollyburn Chute which was rocky with patches of snow. Craig slipped and cracked open his head lamp - Marla saw the battery disappear down the creek. Craig, being prepared for such adverse events, had a spare head lamp in his pack. The temperature was warming up as we came into Cleveland Dam - off with the toque and jackets. What a pleasant surprise to see Marilyn and Wendy greeting us on our approach to Cleveland Dam. We had all previously ordered burgers and fries for this stop. Although I was feeling well I didn't think I could eat it. The others gulped the food down. I had a couple of bites and that was all I could get down.

We changed our shoes, socks and packs and then headed out for the last quarter. Wendy guided us up Nancy Green Way to Grouse and lead us through the gnarly section here in the dark to Mountain Highway. A couple of rolled ankles and trips but we were all still moving forward. Neil, Marla and I made our way to Deep Cove with the assistance of Vicky at regular stops. It hurt, I felt nauseated but we kept it going. The sun came up and that always somehow provides energy to carry on. We arrived at Deep Cove just before 8 am for a total of 26:54. What an incredible day, or 2 days! - now that was great endurance! Congratulations to all who participated. WHW in 2 weeks...hmmm...Go Neil Go!


  1. Wow! Great pictures and report. See you next weekend. Yikes! Debs xx

  2. Well done .... sounds a great run.

    See you very soon.

    BTW .. any chance of some paragraphs to make your report easier to read??

  3. Unbelievable people you all are. Congratulations. Hope to see you all soon again.

    Slpperman Mike

  4. Mike - that was the Knee Knacker Twice! With a few miles of snow in the middle!
    It was a great journey!