Among the likes of Milan, Italy, Chile, Yellowstone, and other world-famous powerhouses of tourism and grandeur, Squamish, BC, the home of Quest University finds itself perched at spot #32 in the New York Times’ annual article of worldwide destinations. That’s a big deal, since our coastal mountain town ranked higher than #48 Rome, #46 Shanghai, and #45 Miami Beach. The article initially attributes this ranking to the newly constructed Sea to Sky Gondola, a tram that takes its passengers up 3000 vertical feet next to Howe Sound. Gradually, Squamish is becoming more and more recognized as a huge outdoor recreation destination, already dubbed the “outdoor recreation capital of Canada,” even before the gondola was built.
I can’t say I’m terribly surprised by this ranking. What I am surprised about, however, is the fact that the gondola is what seems to have become the tipping point in Squamish’s fame. While impressive, its certainly not the only thing we have to boast about. Squamish is world-class in many respects when it comes to adventure sports. Its Howe Sound is perfect for kiteboarding and windsurfing, while the Chief looms above it, almost begging to have its face summitted by rock climbers. Alex Honnold, who you might recognize from a National Geographic cover published a few years ago about his free-soloing antics in Yosemite, spent last Summer here in Squamish doing just that. For his 29th birthday, he climbed 290 pitches on the face of the Chief. That’s over 17 km or 10 mi. of total climbing in a single day. Without ropes or protection, mind you. But those two things barely scratch the surface. Go in any direction from town and you’re bound to run into at least a few of the top-notch mountain biking trails that snake through the surrounding forests. Backcountry skiing? We have that too, with Garibaldi Provincial Park sitting just a 10 km drive away from Quest. You actually have to drive through campus from Squamish in order to access the trailhead from the dirt road behind some of our residences. Hiking is also ridiculously proliferate here too, but that comes as no huge shock to anyone who’s poked around for any significant amount of time.
So its cool that Squamish is getting recognized. Its just a bit surprising that the Sea to Sky Gondola is what’s credited for its newly-found fame. Famous or not, however, Quest students will continue to reap the benefits of being positioned uncannily well for recreational opportunities.