Mountain Skills for Life

By: John Wong

I’ve been a Scout since I was 11 years old and one thing that attracted me was the great outdoors.  The Vancouver Northshore mountains has nurtured my body, mind, and spirit to this very day.

Metro Vancouverites are so fortunate that most are only 15-30 minutes away from the mountains as weekend warriors or an to escape from hustle and bustle of concrete jungle living.  In contrast, the forest is beautiful, calming, and refreshing.  The proximity to Nature is a big factor in being selected as one of the top liveable cities in the world.

Yet with 2.5 million population in Metro Vancouver, the mountains and back countries are relatively quite deserted except for the ski hills during the weekends.  One of the reasons is because once you are off the main trails, the country is wild and can be confusing and treacherous.  Every year, people on the Northshore mountains get lost, get hurt, and some have even died.

Being couch potatoes watching TV or playing computer games have not served us well.  Obesity is rising along with all the ill health that goes along with it.  Now, with so much evidence of fitness leading to better health, it is no wonder the hills are getting more and more crowded along with its attendant problems.

The 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group, founded by John Chow, focuses on leadership and management which is perfect for young adults between 18-26 years old studying or looking for work.  The Integrated Outdoors Program (IOP) was specifically created to give balance to the mental discipline.  As an IOP coordinator, I saw the opportunity to link the Scout Group with my hiking buddy, Vince Poulin, an expert in outdoor survival skills.  His training program was set-up to give the basics of snow travel and avalanche safety to avoid tragedies on the mountain.  Afterwards, the graduates have the opportunity to participate in one or more of Vince’s mountaineering trips to Mt. Baker and beyond.  The freedom of the hills is invigorating!

The course material covers the various mountain terrains and dangers, weather patterns, clothing, food and hydration, the 10 + 9 essentials, gear and most importantly, how to use them correctly with practice on the slopes with snowshoes, crampons, poles, ice axe, and rope if time permits during an 8-hour training period on Seymour Mountain.  More details can be found in the website. See: or:

If you are ever going into the back countries, I highly recommend you take this course.

In 2011, we had two graduating classes:


Jeremy Tam, Sophia Yip, David Yuan, and Hazel Wong with Vince Poulin at the middle (2011)



Kevin Li, Vivian Chan, Simon Leung, Emily Wan, and Chris Cheng (2011)


So, to enjoy the great outdoors with confidence and fun, why not sign up now!
You can let me know or sign-up directly with Vince on his website.

See you on the trails,

John Wong
Advisor | 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group


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