Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Hope Slide - Canada's Largest Rock Slide

 The Hope Slide was one of the largest landslides ever recorded in Canada. Early in the dark morning of January 9, 1965, a small snowslide forced four people to stop their vehicles a few miles southeast of the town of Hope, B.C. (two hours east of Vancouver), on a stretch of the Hope-Princeton Highway below Johnson Peak. As those people contemplated waiting for clearing crews or turning around, a small earthquake below the mountain triggered the main slide, which obliterated the mountain's southwestern slope.
The slide buried the victims and their vehicles under a tonne of rock, mud, and debris 85 m thick and 3 km wide, which came down the 2000-metre mountainside . This mass of debris completely displaced the lake below with incredible force, throwing it against the opposite side of the valley, wiping all vegetation and trees down to the bare rock, then 'splashed back' up the original (now bare) slope before settling.
That summer, when I was 8 years old, my family and I were driving across Canada to move to our new home in Vancouver. We had just left Winnipeg and the Prairies. Never having seen even a mountain before, and hardly recovered from the awe and no little bit of fear of just having driven through the Rockies - our little black 1957 VW Beetle loaded up and stuffed to the rooftop with suitcases had just managed to make it through Rogers Pass........And then there we were, in the face of the Hope Slide.........
Its only on driving across the highway, and viewing the debris field, that you can truly appreciate the hopelessness of anyone caught in the slide's path, the massive size of the Slide being reflected in rocks the size of semi's...
Rescue crews only found two of the four bodies-the others have remained entombed in the rock, with their cars, since 1965. The slide, it has been decided, was caused by water eroding the connective soils to the rock base.

Years later my family and I moved to the neighbouring Sunshine Valley - and we had a view of the Hope Slide practically out our front yard.......We drove past the markers and memorial on almost a daily basis - and its never failed to cause us to pause and be reminded of the power of Mother Nature.......and the fraily of Human Life...
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