I love flying in small aircraft. The views are always intimate and one’s whole relationship to space, air and landscape is refreshingly dynamic. So when Glacier Air presented an opportunity to cruise the glaciers, I leapt at the chance — as did my friend Iona.
Based in Squamish, 30-minutes south of Whistler, Glacier Air has been in the tourism and flight training business for more than 25 years, so they know every canyon, glaciated mountain top, and rocky crevice like few others. And prior to that, Glacier Air served the fishery, forestry and mining industries so back-country British Columbia is also their forte.
For this particular adventure, the four-seater Cessna 172 took us on a 20-minute flight that would whet our appetites for more.
On a beautiful, sunny day the views were spectacular – across to Diamond Head, Black Tusk and the Tantalus Range; eye level with Atwell Peak, a volcanic pinnacle, and easily as high as Mount Garibaldi (2,678 metres).
Our pilot weaved in between the natural gulley, skirted over glacial masses and crested mountains that suddenly plummeted into mossy valleys, green-blue lakes, or the Squamish River snaking through the grasslands.
We even flew over an solitary alpine hut perched on the west side of one particular summit …. an overnight stopping point for those hardy enough to have scaled there at all.
And seeing the Stawamus Chief from the air was a rare delight.
As the second largest granite monolith (behind Gibralter), the ‘Chief’ as it is affectionately known, is one of province’s most popular climbing destinations because it offers more than 300 routes that cater to beginner to expert climber alike. Within the Squamish region, however, total routes climb to nearer 1200!
The flight was over all too soon – no wonder they call it the ‘teaser’. But wow, just look at the photos we took.
Photos: Chris McBeath/Iona Douglas