Sean Easton is the kind of guy who just wants to hang around. He has climbed up and hung from one rock face or another since he was a teenager. For the past 15 years the expert mountaineer has called Squamish and the Stawamus Chief home. Easton’s career trajectory is similar to that of a growing number of local residents who moved here for the outdoor lifestyle and have turned their recreational pursuits into a thriving business.
His personal philosophy is uncomplicated: “You spend most of your time working, so do what you enjoy doing; make your money in a job that is fulfilling.”
Easton is a certified Canadian mountain guide, a motion picture safety and special effects affiliate, and a swift water, air, and high-angle rescue specialist. He is also the managing business director of Global Mountain Solutions (GMS), a start-up he and his partner Ben Firth launched in 2008. Easton runs the Squamish end of the operation while Firth administers the office in Canmore, Alta. Like Easton, Firth is a professional climber and guide with extensive experience on every continent except Antarctica.
Their company is leading the way in seismic exploration, rope access, and rescue services in Canada and has penetrated markets as far afield as the Middle East, China, Europe and South America, venturing into some of the world’s most high-risk terrain, where clients face challenging logistical and safety considerations.
Last summer the company hooked up with the Discovery Channel to help produce an episode of Best Trip Ever, documenting gold medalist Jon Montgomery’s post-Olympic exploits, including a slack-line traverse in the canyon between the Second and Third Peak of the Stawamus Chief.
This past January, GMS conducted extensive mountain safety support on a seismic project in Oman. It also accepted a slope stabilization scaling and anchoring project for another client in the Middle East. Last year the GMS team completed helicopter long-line rescue training with heli-ski operators in Revelstoke and joined with Blackcomb Aviation Ltd. to create the Mountain Safety Team.
Global Mountain Solutions is making full use of local facilities. On one of the coldest days in February, a group of climbers in search of certification rappelled from the rafters inside the thermally warmed confines of the West Coast Railway Heritage Park’s CN Roundhouse and Conference Centre under the watchful eye of GMS supervisor Jeremy Smith.
Like many knowledge industry start-ups, the company combines the hands-on experience and training of its principals and their employees with an array of IT support, including IPods, Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as a sophisticated website that has recorded thousands of hits from more than 50 countries.
Sean Easton and Global Mountain Solutions represent a new wave of young entrepreneurs ready to help shoehorn this community into the next major economic era. An inspiring landscape, attractive business opportunities and proximity to Vancouver via the upgraded Sea to Sky Highway are rapidly rendering Squamish a good bet for consultants, IT remote workers, and other participants in the budding knowledge/service economy.