In British Columbia, 2017
text by Craig Conley
images by James Conley
An ancient riddle of the Squamish people asks, what do you need to scale a mountain? The answer isn't ropes, picks, a backpack, or a tent. All you need is the mountain itself.
Overlooking the city of Vancouver and a very good part of British Columbia, Grouse Mountain is remarkable for many things, perhaps most especially its accessibility. Indeed, there's public transportation all the way to the spectacular views at the peak. Ferries and seabusses dock at Canada Place, where a free mountain shuttle and other public transit deliver guests to the base of the mountain.
Then a gondola makes the steep journey to the lodge, and chair lifts lead to the summit, home to a massive wind turbine with its own elevator to the ultimate 360° view. Not everyone opts to ski or zip line or hike to other magnificent peaks in the Coast Mountain range. Many are more than satisfied to dine at the lodge, whose southwest-facing windows maximize the views of the city, the sunset, and meteor showers. Even after the snows melt, there are still plenty of sparkles atop Grouse Mountain, as it literally does collect stardust. (You might even take home a meteorite as a free souvenir.)