The Inaugural MS.ca Training Course

Written By Jeremy Tam.

Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with quick access to the outdoors.  It is only a 20 minute drive from downtown to reach the north shore mountains.  On weekends and even after work many city dwellers flock to the mountains for fun, fitness, and just de-stressing. 

Unfortunately, every year, people get hurt and some people even die from not knowing how to navigate the terrains and survive in the wilderness.  This is especially so during winter when  intense cold can debilitate anyone lost or injured.  This fact prompted Vince Poulin, and 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group Outdoor Resources Advisor to set up training courses on mountain survival skills.

Courses include: mountain safety, winter camping, alpine mountain survival and special programs designed to meet the needs of youth groups, scouts and others keen on honing wilderness skills. Vince has spent a life time in the mountains working as a professional biologist/forester, hunting, fishing, mountaineering and wilderness trekking. His website is filled with some great information: www.mountainskills.ca

Nine scouters of our Rover Scout Group are inaugural graduates of the 1-day mountain safety course. Sophia Yip, Hazel Wong, David Yuen, and Jeremy Tam attended April 7, 2012, and Kevin Li, Vivian Chan, Simon Leung, Emily Wan, and Jonathon Tsang on April 14
, 2012.  The venue was Mt. Seymour Provincial Park in North Vancouver. They were action packed affairs.

The “Mountain Safety” course consists of:

  •          Essential gears and how to pack them efficiently
  •          Adjustment and use of snowshoes, crampons, ice axes and poles under various winter and terrain conditions
  •          Choosing the gear that is appropriate for the snow and slope conditions
  •          Where, when and how to walk safely on crampons while conserving energy by using proper technique and rest steps
  •          Recognizing avalanche conditions and avoiding them
  •          Group dynamics in leading and cooperating
  •          Ascending and descending slopes using techniques suited to the terrain conditions
  •          Learning  to preserve a leader’s steps or broken trail
  •          Ice axe self arrest on slopes up to 40 degrees steep
  •          Lunch and camaraderie
  •          Fitness training
  •          Having fun in the sun and fresh air

On April 7, John Wong came out as well for ½ a day to help Vince in the course delivery.

Here are some representative photos:

 Vince showing alternating footwork to conserve energy.

 Ace the axe!

  Climbing using preserved steps.

  Made it to the top!

How to go down without falling.

A well deserved lunch + ice axe self arrest after lunch.

 

The April 14 gang enjoying the sun and snow (photos by Vince & Kevin)

 

The April 14 gang enjoying the sun and snow (photos by Vince & Kevin)

We were fortunate that we had good sunshine on both days and not too cold. What we learned was invaluable and could one day save our life as we now have the confidence to go out to enjoy the mountains that made Vancouver famous.

We would like to thank Scouter Vince Poulin and Scouter John Wong for sharing their knowledge and experiences with us. Sliding down a 40 degree slope is almost as scary as it sounds!

 

Nick Pearson

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