Reprinted from the Squamish Chief April 5, 2012
My name is Ed Cooper. In 1961 I — together with Jim Baldwin — made the first ascent of the Grand Wall of the Stawamus Chief. What an epic it was at the time, with almost daily newspaper reports. On one weekend, 12,000 cars jammed what is now called the Sea to Sky Highway in order to watch our progress. Sadly, Jim is no longer with us, but I am sure he would have been even more vociferous than I in opposing this egregiously flawed project that totally contravenes the public interest in favour of a commercial enterprise — the Sea to Sky Gondola Corp.
In 2004, the citizens in British Columbia rose up against, and defeated, a proposal to build a gondola in the heart of the Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls provincial parks near Squamish. They were supported in their efforts by citizens of other provinces and the United States. We all thought that put an end to the project. But no, it’s back again.
The Sea to Sky Gondola Corp. wants to build a gondola that will clear a 20-metre strip of land between the two parks for their gondola. Actually, the strip will be much wider than that because of the terrain, perhaps up to 50 or 60 metres wide, as is the custom for power transmission towers. The gondola and cleared strip will be highly visible, and the gondola will be close to the hiking trail up the Stawamus Chief, as well as the campground. Both climbers and campers use this trail. This project will also require the provincial authorities to hand over the land to this private commercial interest.
Although I live in the U.S., I compare this atrocity to building a gondola from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley to the top of Half Dome, an idea that was once proposed but quickly (and rightly) shot down. I have returned to the Squamish area many times over the last 50 years, including in 2011 when I gave a presentation at the Squamish Mountain Festival. I hope to have many more return visits sans a gondola!