Adventure Grant Recap | Sound Water

Inspired by a curiosity and respect for Howe Sound, Drew Copeland and Jon Chiang embarked on a journey to capture the story through photography and film about the water that flows into Howe Sound, after being awarded a MEC Adventure Grant in 2018.

Get a glimpse into their story below, check out the trailer for their film Sound Water here, and be sure to catch their presentation and film premiere at the MEC Canadian Adventure show as part of our 22nd Annual VIMFF – program coming soon!

After weeks of preparation: scouring topos, researching past trip reports, sourcing equipment and food, arranging the heli, assessing suitable camp locations, lines to ski, and beautiful vistas, we were ready. The last-minute packing and sorting of gear built excitement in the last few hours leading up to departure.

Our team of eight made for the Elaho Range, the Headwaters of the Squamish River and the top of the Howe Sound Watershed.

Our team was: Jon Chiang, Drew Copeland, Tyler Eardley, John Gill, Yuki Kuroda, Jacob Lagercrantz, Kathleen Lane and James Worth. We were skiers, climbers, film makers, and generally curious to explore the region.

A trip like this starts as a fantasy. Slowly, with a lot of intention, a bit of gumption, it becomes a vision, and eventually with a little luck, a reality. The heli lifted off and we were there. Six days to enjoy an infrequented piece of the Coast Range.

This ski trip to the Elaho Range – the first portion Sound Water – went incredibly well. We were a stellar 8-person crew who all got on great. We had clear weather, good food and positive vibes. We managed to tag all of the objectives we had outlined, with summits of Mittelberg Mountain, several unnamed peaks, a traverse of the Elaho Summit Ridge, skiing some aesthetic descents, and much shenaniganry.

We also made a three day trip out of heading across the Elaho Glacier and into the Manatee Range, where members of the team made the ‘sit start’ of the North Buttress of Remora Peak (the first known ascent of this variation), initially climbed in 1984.

Such an experience in a remote landscape can leave a person filled with more questions than answers. Being free of the struggles of keeping up with the work life, and our digital connections, our minds and spirits felt open to new curiosities about this space and our place in it.

Back and safe from the exciting week in the alpine, film makers carried on with a deeper dive of exploring the question of what it is to be in Howe Sound. We followed the course of water from its Headwaters into the Ocean.

The inspiration for this film started with a simple question, ‘Where does the water come from?’ Which in turn, led to a more complex series of questions, ‘What does our connection to water mean? What about our connection to nature?’

We found our way along the Squamish River to the Squamish Estuary and into Howe Sound to Bowen Island.

In the next two chapters of Sound Water, filmmakers connected with Squamish Nation Councillor Deanna Lewis; and author and playwright, Pauline LeBel. Deanna has spent her life in and on the water in Howe Sound. She is now raising her family here and is a spokesperson for the Squamish Nation.

Pauline LeBel now resides on Bowen Island and spent the last five some years writing, “Whale in the Door,” which encapsulates the biological resilience of Howe Sound and explores the community who now struggles to build the vision for this place and it’s future.

Both Deannan and Pauline provided valuable perspectives on water that inspire us to think more critically about our connection with nature.

*****

Through our adventure, we hope to find a closer relationship with nature and ourselves.

This trip would not have been possible without the general support Blackcomb Helicopters, Squamish Terminals, Climb On Squamish, Backcountry Brewing, Kate Fearnall, MEC and VIMFF. We would not have been able to participate in these adventures, nor to make this film without your support.

The hugest shout out to Deanna and Pauline for sharing their stories and helping us to better understand the meaning of adventures to the hills.

*****

Howe Sound is an incredible fjord, Atl’Kitsem is an incredible body of water.

Be sure to check out @Storiesandsnaps  and @jonchiang for more incredible stories, photos and videos.

Photo credits: Drew Copeland @storiesandsnaps & Jon Chiang @jonchiang