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Tracing Squamish's climbing history

Ourom hoping to shed light on sport's legacy in Squamish

A lifelong fascination with climbing and history led to a natural fit for North Vancouver resident Anders Ourom.

For the past several years, Ourom has been gathering information, research and documents about the history of climbing in Squamish and plans to discuss some of his findings at a presentation put on by the Squamish Historical Society next Thursday ( (March 8) at 7 p.m. at the Adventure Centre.

"I started climbing when I was 14, and was climbing in Squamish not long after that in 1972," Ourum said. "I've done quite a bit of writing and reporting for magazines, journals and websites to do with climbing in Squamish and I thought maybe it's time we start working on some sort of history of climbing out here considering its been going on now for over 50 years."

Ourom said the death of early climber Tony Cousins in 2008 prompted his desire to get the project going. Ourom never got the chance to interview Cousins and made it his goal not to miss out on any other potential anecdotes or information from veteran climbers.

"I'm in the process of gathering information but you can never tidy up every single loose end," he said. "So far people have been very helpful and co-operative and quite happy that someone has been taking on this project. I've actually begun to interview subjects on video camera so the footage can be available later for archival or documentary purposes in the future, not just for me."

He said it's hard to pick a favourite story but points to the first climb of the Stawamus Chief as an important moment.

"It's still amazing to me that the young man showed up at the base of the Chief in 1961 and decided to do a route right up the middle," he said.

Ourom said the talk will see him discuss the project, show pictures he's gathered and relate everything he's learned to Squamish. He admitted that the first recorded climb locally was in 1957, but that climbing may have been done before then.

"Who knows what the first people were doing long ago?" he said. "I've been talking with elders about that and learning what I can. They may not have done it in quite the same way but it might still have been pretty impressive."

He said that the late 1950s saw the highway to Vancouver open, as well as the railway to Horseshoe Bay completed, which led many more climbers to Squamish.

"There's some circumstantial evidence that there was some stuff going on before 1957," he said. "I don't know if it's possible to track that down but maybe the historical society can help with that."

He acknowledged that Britannia had a climbing community of sorts in the 1930s and that the first recorded climb at Mount Garibaldi was 1907, so climbing has been a fixture in the Sea to Sky Corridor for a long time.

"There's talk that people at Britannia used Murrin Park as a recreational climbing area," he said. "It wouldn't be surprising but we may never know. Who knows? Maybe some of these people have kids or grandkids who have stories of that happening and might give us some leads."

Ourom said he hopes to produce a book documenting his discoveries in the next two years and that anyone with information can email him at

"I think this talk might be fun for people that have been living in Squamish and always knew there were scruffy climbers around but didn't pay much attention to them," he said. "They might learn a bit about what we were up to all of that time."

Admission to next week's talk is by donation.

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