Vanmore, pay up and beer
We’ve entered the season of Vanmore, which means a steady stream of RVs, Sprinters, mini-vans, jimmy-rigged motorhomes, 1974 Ventura trailers, 1973 Bolers, truck campers, beaver-panelled station wagons and campulences (an ambulance turned camper) will be rolling into town for the next six months. Some of them will stay for a night en route to lush west coast parking locations, some will stay for a weekend, but most will stay for the summer.
With the American border likely closed forever, we won’t see many from-the-south plates. But cars from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes will be rolling down Main Street, bumper-to-bumper, with toque-wearing drivers peering madly into full parking lots hoping to catch a spot during turnover. They’ll have to be careful not to hit the dozens of tourists holding steady, jammed on corners, waiting for walk signals with dogs and babies a plenty.
And where will they park? Well, pretty much anywhere they can. Two years ago, Canmore came up with a pay-to-park-and-camp plan, which I thought was pretty cool. Covid messed a lot of plans up and I’m not sure what’s in the works for this summer, but I’m guessing that many of those incoming vehicles are hoping the parking area between Elevation Place and Canadian Tire will be open. The area has become known as Vanmore, and it gets pretty gross.
Dirty outdoor people, much like myself, park next to train tracks, piled into their living space on wheels, hoping to be the first ones awake and lined up at the nearest coffee shop for a morning dump. While the majority of the riff-raff are likely nice enough, I’ve heard of a few stories that would make you think twice about walking through at night.
I think it’s great Canmore allows climbers, campers and the peak-bagging-FKT-obsessed to park for free, as long as they depart early in the morning; before tax payers show up for their groceries. It’s important because not everyone has the means to pay a small fortune for a hotel, AirBnB or rent a room (not like there are cheap rooms for rent), and I believe everyone has the right to play and adventure in the Bow Valley.
Be prepared for the new parking rules at Lake Louse. I’m not sure what will happen if you arrive at 3 a.m. for an alpine start up a mountain. Will you get a ticket? Something to look into before heading out.
Local climber Jim Elzinga is the founder of Guardians of the Ice, which has teamed up with Banded Peak Brewery in Calgary for a 12-beer series that will focus on the Columbia Icefield. The first beer, Mount Columbia West Coast IPA, will launch this week with a livestream talk (find it online) with Dylan Cunningham, who became the third skier to drop down the north face of Yexyexéscen (Mount Robson). I tried the IPA, it’s delicious and two dollars from each go toward saving the Icefields. Drink beer, save glaciers… love it.