- 1 Welcome to the Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC)
- 2 Useful VOC Jargon
- 3 Emergency Numbers
- 4 A Brief History of the Club
- 5 So, What Does Your Membership Give You?
- 6 How to Become a Full-Fledged Member
- 7 What is a Workhike?
- 8 VOC Trips
- 9 VOC Equipment
- 10 VOC Huts
- 11 Social Scene
- 12 The Climbing Wall
- 13 Publications
- 14 Awards and Competitions
- 15 Trip Rating System
- 16 The VOC List of All Time Classic Trips
Welcome to the Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC)
The Varsity Outdoor Club is open to anyone at UBC - students, faculty, staff, spouses and members of the greater community. Our club is dedicated to those who want to explore the outdoors here and anywhere else in the world. Some of the many pursuits our members actively pursue include: hiking, rock-climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, ski touring, ice climbing and "socializing". The club is about meeting people, making friends, learning and teaching. If you have a skill to share, please do so. If you wish to learn, please ask!
Useful VOC Jargon
|ACC||Alpine Club of Canada|
|BCMC||British Columbia Mountaineering Club|
|FMCBC||Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia|
|Hustlers Handbook||List of Members with Contact Information|
|VOCene||The VOC's weekly e-newsletter (also posted at the clubroom)|
|Wilderness Search and Rescue||1 800 567 5111|
|Canadian Coast Guard||1 800 567 5111|
|Forest Fire Reporting||1 800 663 5555|
Other Potentially Useful Numbers
|Weather/Marine Forecast - 24 hour||604 664 9010|
|Avalanche Bulletin (Canadian Avalanche Centre)||1-800-667-1105|
|Avalanche Bulletin (USA)||206 526 6677|
|Highway Conditions (Talking Yellow Pages)||604 299 9000 x7623|
|Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC||604 878 7007|
|Enquiry BC (Government Services Listing)||604 660 2421|
|Ferry Schedules||1 888 223 3779|
Also check out the web links setion of our webpage
A Brief History of the Club
The VOC had its start back in 1917, when the "Mountaineering Club" was formalized at UBC's original location (near present day VGH). In these days, potential club members were required to ascend a peak equal in height to Grouse Mountain to become members. It was rumored that women were often exempt from this qualification, being "weaker vessels"...
In 1920, the first club cabin was built on Grouse. In those early days, chaperones were present on mixed trips to "protect the honour of the fair sex". Alcohol was forbidden at all club activities well into the 70's.
By the 1930's, the club's expeditions had spread farther afield, including such exotic destinations as Golden Ears and the Lions (the latter accessed by boat). By the 1940's, there was exploration in the Garibaldi area. A VOC party made the first winter ascent of Mt Garibaldi in 1944.
The 50's arrived with an explosion of interest in skiing with the construction of a road up Seymour. As the number of capable skiers grew, a new tradition was born to the VOC. After spring exams, an annual pilgrimage would be made to the newly constructed Sphinx Hut, located on the terminal moraines of the Sphinx Glacier.
A desire to record the club's activities spawned the VOC Journal. First published in 1958, it was just in time for the numerous first ascents made by club members during the late 50's and 60's. Several major expeditions were undertaken, including Mt Logan ('59) and the Himalaya ('64).
In the mid sixties, the VOC constructed a large cabin in Whistler. It was intended to accommodate both downhill and cross country skiers. In time, the cabin grew too expensive to maintain, and the VOC turned over the rights to the cabin to the AMS. The money received (not without a fight!) from the handover was reinvested into new mountain huts, the first of which was constructed on Mt Brew across the valley from Whistler in 1982.
Most recently, the VOC has helped build and maintains a new hut in the mountains surrounding Birkenhead Lake. The Brian Waddington Memorial Hut is located at the headwaters of Phelix Creek and is used mainly in the winter as a ski touring base.
There are always more projects on the horizon, but these will have to take place before we can include them in the history section.
So, What Does Your Membership Give You?
Being a VOC member does not mean that you have to be a skilled outdoors person. The more experienced members offer introductory trips in rock climbing, glacier travel, ski touring, map use and navigation as well as many other topics. It is not even necessary to have all of your own technical equipment - as a member, you may borrow (with cash deposit) any of the gear from the clubs equipment lockers.
Other benefits of membership include: the VOC Journal - an annual publication containing accounts of many epic VOC trips from the past year as well as photos, poems, and the like (available free to all members in March); Access to the well stocked VOC library of guide books and maps; the Hustlers Handbook - a list of addresses and phone numbers for all VOC members.
Likewise, every week you will receive (via e-mail), the VOCene newsletter, which lets members know what trips are going out, what other members are up to and all sorts of other useful information. New for this year is the VOC website, where most of this information in posted. Check out www.ubc-voc.ca.
The club also gets great group deals on avalanche courses, first-aid courses and season pass lift tickets to our local mountains. Plus, of course, you get to meet all sorts of wild and interesting people.
How to Become a Full-Fledged Member
In order to become a full-fledged member, you must:
- Fill out an application form
- Pay the $35 membership fee
- Complete a "Work Hike" during the school year
What is a Workhike?
A workhike is where you help keep the club running smoothly by contributing a little of your time and energy. They usually don't involve a lot of time - anywhere from an hour or so to a day, depending on the task you land. At the same time they are a good way to get to know other club members and can even be kind of fun.
Some possible work hikes include:
- Lead a trip - This is an excellent way to complete your work hike and travel someplace interesting at the same time! Note that you don't have to be an expert paddler/climber/ wilderness guru to lead a trip. All you need are some organizational skills (come on, this is university) and some background research.
- Hut Maintenance/Construction - The VOC maintains several backcountry huts for the use of the outdoor community. There are always projects that need to be done, or supplies that need to be carried up.
- Equipment Maintenance - Wax our skiis! Sharpen our crampons!
- Trail Maintenance - we are responsible for maintaining the Brew Lake hiking trail, as well as a section of the Howe Sound Crest trail.
- Writing, Typing, Photocopying, etc. - Help with the production of the Hustlers Handbook, the VOC Handbook (too late this year) or the VOC Journal.
- Teach at our Schools - Sufficiently proficient members are always needed to help instruct at our various schools. If you can climb, ski, sleep in the snow or read a map, let an exec know. Student demand invariably overwhelms teacher supply at these events.
- Clean up after a party - We've got lots of gatherings going on throughout the year. We'll even let you attend the party first! Longhike and the annual VOC Banquet are the biggest social events of the year and they don't just happen on their own.
Don't wait for a work hike opportunity to be posted - talk to an exec member about things that need doing. The sooner you complete your work hike, the sooner you can use club gear.
The VOC is extremely (watch out for that X-word) active during the school year with one or two trips going out most weekends. These typically cover the whole spectrum, from novice day hikes to month long mountaineering expeditions. Some of these weekends include instructional sessions on mountaineering, rock climbing, ski touring or telemarking. Trips are announced each week in the VOCene and the information is typically posted outside the clubroom, on the message board, and/or on the wiki trip agenda.
Although the club is largely a climbing/skiing/mountaineering club, a number of other activities are also pursued, including hiking, cycling, canoeing and kayaking. The club is also active in the summer, when many extended trips take place, as well as weekend hikes and climbs.
Skiing is the main club activity during the winter, as most areas above 2000 feet are under substantial amounts of snow. Most trips go on skiis, although snowshoe and split board equipped snowboarders are starting to make their presence felt. Both modes of transportation are well suited to the steep terrain of the West Coast, although some of the flatter traverses go slower on snowshoes. The various huts the VOC maintains provide exceptional base camps to crank turns in virgin powder.
It should be noted that on all VOC trips, enthusiasm and determination will almost always make up for lack of technique. Beginners should not be deterred - most members of the club learned their outdoors finesse on this sort of trip.
There are usually ski trips to all of the easy objectives in the Squamish/Pemberton valley each year, as well as attempts on more advanced objectives. The Garibaldi Neve traverse, the Spearhead traverse, the Squamish-Cheakamus divide and the Pemberton Icecap feel the wrath of our floundering annually. The VOC huts serve as exceptional bases for tracking out backcountry slopes in some prime ski terrain.
New members and beginners are encouraged to coordinate their own novice trips as soon as possible. You will learn a lot from making your own decisions, and you will add to the range of available trips for less confident new members. If you need ideas, there are many guidebooks in the clubroom library, and the executive is always eager to suggest ideas.
There are quite a few traditional trips and schools that have become established over the years. The exact dates are rarely carved in stone - keep and eye on the VOCene or the trips board outside the clubroom.
- Longhike (September) - Rock climbing instruction or hiking on Saturday, huge party Saturday night followed by more climbing or hiking on Sunday. This is traditionally a huge event with 100+ participants.
- Glacier School (September) - Learn the basics of glacier travel with our crack team of snow fanatics. Crevasse rescue and snow climbing techniques are just some of the skills you'll be introduced to.
- Leavenworth (Thanksgiving Weekend) - This faux Bavarian town is surrounded by some of the best (and driest) rock climbing in the state of Washington. It's been conclusively proven that a healthy dose of dry rock improves midterm performance!
- Skaha-ha-ha (Hallowe'en Weekend) - Visit the sunny (spooky) Okanagan for BC sport climbing at it's best. Costumes are definitely encouraged.
- Smith Rock (Remembrance Day) - Head down to Oregon to climb in the sun. This trip has been going on for ages, and we've yet to get rained on!
- Christmas Trips - Lots of extended ski tours happen during the holidays. There's also the funny habit some people have of driving 1400 miles to the desert (Red Rocks, Joshua Tree, Zion) to find dry rock. Some of us are a little obsessive.
- Tele School (January) - Learn how to genufluct with the best of them. We also offer refresher courses in snowball fights and snow angels.
- Winter Longhike (February) - Ever wanted to sleep in a snow bank? We'll show you this, and more, all in a healthy, non-judgmental atmosphere.
- Sphinx Camp (April) - Although attendance has been dropping as of late, we're still keeping the spirit alive. Come April, the snow is still great for skiing up in the mountains. Corn snow is easily as good for final exams as dry rock is for midterms.
VOC Trip Guidelines
VOC trips can be posted on the wiki, online message board, real message board (outside of the clubroom) and/or included in the weekly VOCene. Make sure you attend the pre-trip meeting, as important information is distributed here and rides/food groups are often arranged. Talk to the trip leader about the physical and technical demands of the trip and decide whether or not you are fit enough to go. Don't be afraid to push yourself, but you don't want to be a drag. An easy weekend for some people is cruel and unusual punishment for others.
Notes for Trip Coordinators
Before the trip, leaders should consult maps, guidebooks, other knowledgeable club members, weather and avalanche forecasts. Advertise the trip and if necessary hold a trip meeting to organize rides, food and tent groups and made sure everyone has the necessary skills, equipment and fitness. During the trip, keep the group together and coordinate rest stops, route finding decisions or changes to the objective. Ensure that everyone makes it out at the end of the day.
The selection of equipment available through the club allows all members, novice and experienced alike, to safely try the sport of mountaineering without the financial commitment of purchasing their own technical gear. The equipment is available to members throughout the year on a first come, first served basis. There is no fee for this service - all we require is a refundable cash deposit. No Exceptions! All equipment is located in the clubroom in the basement of the Student Union Building. In September, the quartermaster posts the times at which equipment may be borrowed and returned. These are typically during lunch hour, although different times can usually be arranged by contacting the QM's.
Although the club has an extensive equipment inventory, there are certain time periods during the year when all requests cannot be fulfilled. In these circumstances it is club policy to give priority to participants in club-organized activities.
Gear borrowing privileges are conditional on completing a workhike - a volunteer task of some sort to help out the club. There are many possibilities including hut maintenance, trail maintenance, gear maintenance (ski tuning & waxing for example), instructing, leading a trip or creating new content for the website.
Some of the equipment available:
Basic rock climbing, mountaineering and glacier travel: Assortment of ropes, harnesses, rock shoes, ice axes, crampons, climbing helmets, pickets, carabiners and heavy (old) leather boots.
Skiing and winter travel: Avalanche transceivers, telemark skiis and leather boots, probes, snow shovels and snowshoes.
As a policy, the club doesn't provide ropes or rock protection for lead climbing. However, all our gear is readily available for top-roping.
To borrow any of the gear, meet the quartermaster in the clubroom during gear hours. Present your membership card, supply the necessary cash deposit and estimate your time of return. It's that easy. Failure to return the gear on time will result in the forfeit of the deposit, and quartermasters are carefully selected to be heartless and insensitive. You've been warned...
The club currently has in its charge four huts scattered around the local Coast Mountains. These are: The Sphinx (Burton) Hut, located on the SE end of Garibaldi Lake; The Brew Hut, located near Brew Mountain, across the valley from Whistler; the Harrison Hut, located near Meager Hot Springs, some 50 km NW of Pemberton; and the Brian Waddington Memorial Hut, located at the headwaters of Phelix creek, in the mountains surrounding Birkenhead Lake.
All these huts were built and are currently maintained by the VOC. All are open to the public free of charge, although we do request donations to the club to aid in the maintenance of the buildings. There are many trips throughout the year to the various huts, both for maintenance and more conventional uses. The relatively young Brian Waddington Hut is fast becoming the traditional locale of the VOC New Years Party. Information on locating the huts is readily available in the clubroom.
Over the years many traditional social events have been started and are still as popular today as when they began. Below is a list of some VOC social events. Many of the annual trips are also largely social events.
- Summer Reunion Party (September) - Slide show and potluck
- Hallowe'en Costume Party (October) - Complete with prizes, pumpkins and spooky creatures
- Slide Shows, Movie Nights, Disco Night, Swing Dancing, etc.
- Intramurals sports teams throughout the year, especially our dreaded Storm the Wall team
- Christmas Party (December)
- Christmas Trips Slide Show/Reunion (January)
- VOC Climbing Festival (February)
- VOC Banquet (March) - The VOC Banquet is a semi-formal affair to wind up the year. It is usually well attended by both current and old members and is a good opportunity to meet many of the people you've heard of or read about in old journals. There's a guest speaker, slide show, photo contest and the presentation of awards, both humorous and serious.
- Summer meetings and monthly barbecues - First Wednesday of every month at Spanish Banks, at the foot of Tolmie St.
- Thursday night climbing at Lighthouse Park (Summer)
- Weekday nights climbing at Cliffhanger (Year round) - Check the Cliffhanger Mass email thread on the board.
If you'd like to see any other social events arranged, please talk to the Vice-President, or go ahead and post your own trip sheet. Stay tuned for more details on all events via the VOCene and clubroom notices.
The weekly Wednesday meeting (12:30) is an important school year occurrence and is often overlooked as a social event. These meetings start the first week of classes and are run on the following format: As everyone settles into munching lunches, the President announces the weekends trips, introduces trip leaders to the general membership, makes special announcements and discusses general club business. After this there is a slide show, guest speaker or film. Any club members with suggestions for speakers, films or are interested in giving a slide show are encouraged to get in touch with the Public Relations Rep. The value of the meetings should not be overlooked as the place to meet active club members and find out about upcoming trips.
Equally important as a social centre is the clubroom (in the basement of the SUB). Crowds of members can be found there most lunch hours, but particularly Fridays when final plans for the weekend and impromptu trips are arranged. Remember: 80% of trips are arranged at the last minute - Friday at lunch. Feel free to come in to the clubroom and hang out.
When school's out, what do you do? Keep in touch with the VOC, of course! We're as active in the summer as we are in the winter, perhaps even more so. Let's face it, the weather during the summer is much nicer for many of our regular pursuits - hiking, climbing, mountaineering, cycling, canoeing and kayaking. In early May, a barbecue is held and is officially known as the first summer meeting. Thereafter, the VOC meets once a month at the Spanish Banks barbecue, 7pm at the foot of Tolmie. There is weekly rock climbing on Thursday evenings at Lighthouse Park. Access to equipment and books is maintained by electing a summer Quartermaster and Archivist, if necessary. Before you know it it's September (and time to redo the Handbook yet again).
The Climbing Wall
Members of the VOC lobbied for a wall on campus (following a long and glorious, if covert, history of "buildering" on structures all over campus) and were able to build a 22-foot high surface behind the SUB auditorium screen film screen. Our thanks to Mike Spagnut and others for their hard work on this project and the AMS for facilitating the construction. VOC members, once we are satisfied that you can belay safely, can enter during posted hours. In March of 1992, the first "annual" VOC Climbing Competition was held and was very popular. The climbing competition (Festival, of late, as it's rather non-competitive) continues to be held each spring and is open to members of all abilities. The focus is on having fun and cheering on your friends.
Other indoor climbing facilities around Vancouver include
- The Edge - 2-1485 Welch Street, North Vancouver, 604 984 9080
- Cliffhanger 604 874 2400
- The Rock House - 520-3771 Jacombs, Richmond, 604 276 0012
- Vertical Reality - Surrey
The club has published a number of books over the years which include: The annual "VOC Journal" (since 1958), "A Climbers Guide to the Stawamus Chief" (1967), "A Guide to Ski Touring in the Whistler, Garibaldi Park, Squamish and Pemberton Areas" (1983), and a number of songbooks (most recently in 1999).
The VOC Journal
The VOC Journal is our yearly record of the clubs' activities and our legacy to the record of outdoor adventures here and abroad. First printed in 1958, it records many first ascents and is an important historical record of the exploration of Garibaldi Park during the 1960's and 70's.
The old journals are a good source of information for planning trips and are very entertaining to read. They can be signed out from the VOC library or found in the UBC Main Library (GV 561 B7) and at several of our backcountry huts. The archivist has a limited number of recent journal back issues available for sale.
The VOC Journal goes to press in March and is distributed free to members at the VOC Banquet. To ensure receiving a copy, members should pick theirs up at the clubroom before the end of term. Photos must be submitted to the Journal Editor by the end of January and articles by the end of February (dates vary year to year). Photos can be submitted as either slides or prints, and will be returned after scanning. Articles should be submitted on disk along with a hard copy. The programs used for compiling the Journal vary from year to year, but plain text files of Microsoft Rich Text Format are generally preferred. If you have any questions or would like to help out, contact the Journal Editor.
VOC Grad Newsletter
Besides old VOC Journals, the VOC library contains Canadian Alpine Journals, books on hiking areas, climbing techniques, avalanche safety, geology, wildflowers, skiing and even a bike on bicycle repairs. The library is available any time there is an exec member in the clubroom. The Archivist also sells VOC T-shirts, old Journals decals, songbooks and the like.
Awards and Competitions
At the banquet, various awards are given out. They are divided into two categories, serious and humorous and are described below.
Awards - Serious
- Bronze Pin - Given to a member who has made a significant contribution to the club over the previous year. The first pin was awarded in 1995 - prior to that pins could be purchased. One is not necessarily given out each year.
- Silver Pin - Given to a member who has made a significant contribution to the club over a period of several years. The first pin was awarded in 1953. One is not necessarily given out each year.
- Gold Pin - Awarded to a member who has made an exceptional contribution to the club. Endorsement by 2/3 of the membership at a general meeting is necessary to approve this award. To date only five gold pins have been awarded:
- Ron Leslie, Club Treasurer (1950) - Building the Seymour Cabin.
- Karl Ricker (1966) - Planning, designing and building the Whistler cabin.
- Byron Olson (1966) - Planning, designing and building the Whistler cabin.
- Roland Burton (1970) - Planning and building the Burton Hut.
- Andre Zimmerman (1995) - Construction of the Brian Waddington Memorial Hut.
- Chris Michalak (2006) - Creating the VOC website and wiki section.
- Most Active New Member(s) - Usually this is a book prize given to the new member who has developed their outdoor skills the most during the previous year (not necessarily given to novices).
- Journal Awards - There are several awards given to contributors to the VOC Journal at the discretion of the Journal Editor.
Awards - Humorous
- The Broken Board - Originated in 1970 when a load of lumber destined for the Neve Hilton (a hut build on Mt Garibaldi, later demolished by snow creep) was destroyed after falling from a helicopter onto the only rock in a snowfield for miles around. It is awarded to a member who has broken something in an equally silly manner, or who has performed what is deemed to be the most spectacularly stupid act of the year. The Broken Helmet has joined this award lately, for those times when the stupidity required a team effort.
- The Loving Cup - An award cup designed to embarrass couples whose romance has blossomed during the past year OR to an individual who has tried repeatedly to engage other club members in relationships and failed.
- Goon Awards - A public warning about the stupidity of certain members, usually including a prop to help them extract themselves from embarrassing situations in the future.
The VOC holds a photography competition each year. Slides can be entered in one of the following categories: Landscape, flora and fauna, portrait, humorous and VOC activities. Prizes are presented at the banquet. Complete details are announced early in the second term.
Trip Rating System
To help people decide whether a trip is suitable for them, each trip is usually given a two-part code. The system used was invented to apply to mountaineering activities, but it applicable to ski trips as well. A brief written description accompanying the trip outline is always helpful.
The two-part code consists of a letter followed by a number. The letter indicates the expected strenuousness (strenuosity? Level of strenuization? Degree of stress?) of the trip. A rough guide is as follows.
- Difficultly rating:
|A||An easy day (less than eight hours)|
|B||A long day or easy overnight (greater than eight hours)|
|C||A strenuous weekend OR a three day trip|
|D||The Angel of Death shall reap a harvest of the weak|
The number refers to the degree of technical difficulty and applies to the most difficult part of the trip.
- For Mountaineering:
|2||Easy scrambling, sometimes off trails|
|3||Easy climbing (rope may be needed), includes glacier travel|
|4||Easy roped climbing, with belays but protection not necessarily required|
|5||Technical rock climbing, graded on a (quasi) decimal scale (ie 5.7 or 5.10b)|
- For Skiing:
|1||Easy ski terrain, marked routes or roads|
|2||Moderate ski terrain, some hills, some route finding|
|3||Advanced ski terrain, steep slopes, difficult route finding|
|4||Difficult and dangerous terrain, good skill needed|
|5||Slopes of 45 degrees and up|
- Hike up Mt Seymour A1
- Ascent of Black Tusk B3
- Spearheads Ski Traverse C3
- Slipstream (Ski Descent) D5
The VOC List of All Time Classic Trips
Recommended weekend outings (1 or 2 days), easily accessible and delightful places!
Hikes (A1 - B2)
- The Lions
- Diamond Head Trail
- Garibaldi Lake Trail
- Singing Pass / Russet Lake Trail
- Needle Peak
Rock Routes (B3 - B5)
- Mt Habrich
- Smoke Bluffs
- Angel's Crest
- Mt Slesse
- Vienesse Peak
- Blanshard's Needle
Alpine (ice/rock/snow, B4 - D5)
- Mt Redoubt - NE Face
- Castle Towers - NE Face
- Wedge Mountain - North Arête
- Mt Shuksan - Price Glacier or N Face
- Mt Atwell - S Ridge (winter only!)
- Tantalus - Standard Route
Mountain Rambles/Scrambles (B2 - C3)
- Mt Saxifrage
- Anenome Peak
- Tricouni and Cypress Peaks
- Helm Creek - Gentian Pass
- Mt Aspen (C4)
- Tenquille Lake and area
Ski Ascents (B2 - C3)
- Mt Ipsoot
- Mamquam Mountain
- Cayoosh Peak
- Mt Jimmy Jimmy
- Mt Callaghan / Powder Cap
- Mt Laughington