#HikeFest Highlight: Meet the Guides at the Sea to Sky Gondola

For Hikefest we wanted to give our readers a sneak peek of the activities offered at the gondola this Sunday, as we celebrate all things hiking. In this post, our Sea to Sky Gondola guides share why they chose to be guides and their passions around hiking in Squamish.

Nadine Beckham

Nadine has been with the Sea to Sky Gondola since it first opened. She does regular guided tours, is a first aid responder onsite and has a passion for talking about geology. Nadine is also very active in the Squamish community and is part of Squamish Search and Rescue.

Sea to Sky Gondola:
What do you enjoy the most about being a guide at the Sea to Sky Gondola?

Nadine:
It’s fun meeting people from around the world who are interested in learning more about the area, so they come on one of the daily-guided tours.  Having the great views and interesting geology to talk about makes it easy for a guide. What I like most though is pointing out to visitors all the little things we miss when we concentrate on the grandiose.  Like when we understand how important the ground cover is to all that feeds and grows from it I believe we appreciate all of nature much more.  

Sea to Sky Gondola:
What is one of your favourite memories from guiding?

Nadine:
I can’t think of a favourite memory from guiding but the sub alpine and alpine zones on a mountain are my favorite places to guide.  It’s very diverse up there. On one hand, there are fewer trees but abundant wild flowers that grow among the rocks and along the creeks, the water is clear and clean, and walking in wide-open terrain is freeing. It is where I feel most in the present, as staying warm, dry, feed, and watered, is all that really matters and all you can do anything about. 

Sea to Sky Gondola:
What's your favourite Squamish hike?

Nadine:
My favourite hiking trail around Squamish goes into Pinecone Burk Provincial Park. It is a remote location and the access takes some effort. It is only about 30 km from down town Squamish but very few people go there. The reward for the effort is views of large peaks; Robie Reed and Judge Howay, and Pine Cone and November Lake at Mamquam Pass, the head of the Mamquam river. 

Stephane Perron

Stephane has been with the Sea to Sky Gondola since construction and is our regular guide for our free daily General Tours at 11am & 2pm, as well as one of the trail patrols and first-aid attendants. He is a thirty year resident of Sea to Sky Country and has owned and operated a nature guiding company in Whistler for many years before moving to Squamish ten years ago. When he's not working, he likes to sail, hike and ski. He has two boys who are becoming strong backpackers and his entire family speaks French and English with equal ease.

Sea to Sky Gondola:
What do you enjoy the most about being a guide at the gondola?

Stephane:
I really enjoy being an interpretive guide at Sea to Sky Gondola. I find it very rewarding to share my knowledge of the area with our guests. We have visitors from all over the world, but we also have a lot of local people. People are very interested to know more about where we live, our mountains, ocean, First Nations and wildlife. People are very appreciative of the knowledge they gain from my tours. Even the locals tell me they learned a lot they did not know about where they live!

Sea to Sky Gondola:
What is one of your favourite memories from guiding?

Stephane:
There are a lot of rewarding moments between a guide and his/her guests. One memory that comes to mind is when I was with a lady in an electric wheelchair on Panorama trail and we got to see a young bear. Gondola patrols had been seeing this bear for the last week, feeding relentlessly on berries, not showing any signs of conflict with humans. She was just metres away from the bear. She was so excited, and I was thinking to myself how special it was that the Gondola was allowing this woman to be in bear country in her wheelchair.

Sea to Sky Gondola:
What's your favourite Squamish hike?

Stephane:
I hike whenever I can on my days off work. All the hikes around here are so great and varied. My favourite one tends to be whichever one I did last. A few weeks ago I hiked the North end of the Howe Sound Crest trail. The views of mountain ranges on one side, and the islands of the Howe Sound on the other, were simply amazing!

 

Arron Vickery

Arron's love of nature and exploration attracted him to his current a job at the Sea to Sky Gondola. He holds a BA in Outdoor Recreation Leadership, is an Accredited Canadian Mountain Guide, a first aid attendant and is a strong community member and proud dad.

Sea to Sky Gondola:
What do you enjoy the most about being a guide at the Sea to Sky Gondola?

Arron:
There are so many awesome things to see up here, and when I get to take people to one of our amazing view points,  it's so fun watching their face light up as they see for the first time what I still get excited about on my 100th time.

Sea to Sky Gondola:
What is one of your favourite memories from guiding?

Arron:
I guided 3 reporters from Toronto up peak one of the Chief. While they were physically fit people, our mountainous terrain was a whole new experience for them. While it took a bit of encouragement and coaching about 3/4 the way up, their total sense of awe and accomplishment on the peak made it all worth while. As guides we tend to do these experiences repetitively and they can become routine. But when we get to revisit the experience through our clients' eyes, it becomes brand new again and reminds us of why we got into guiding in the first place.

Sea to Sky Gondola:
What's your favourite Squamish hike?

Arron:
The hike up to Elfin Lakes is mind-blowingly beautiful. With not too much effort, you get world class mountain vistas and a crystal clear lake to swim in -- can't beat it.

For more information about HikeFest, please visit our HikeFest event page. If you have not registered for the free guided hikes, come up anyway! Check in with our Sea to Sky Gondola tent at HikeFest on September 13th between 10am-4pm in our Summit Plaza to see if we have any openings for our free guided hikes OR for advice on where you should go hiking.