On Revelstoke: Taking the challenge, one step at a time

Revelstoke Review editor Alex Cooper tries out the firefighter stair climb challenge.

From left: James Macdonald

This weekend, a group of Revelstoke volunteer firefighters are heading to Vancouver to take part in the 15th annual Climb the Wall: The Stairclimb for Clean Air.

The climb sees hundreds of people tackle the 48 floors of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel. Over the years, it has become a bit of a testing ground for firefighters from around B.C., who join the public to push themselves up the 150-metre-high hotel.

The difference is they’re carrying an extra 25 kilograms of equipment, from their heavy firefighter uniform, to their air tanks and masks.

On Sunday, Feb. 21, James Bacon, James Macdonald, Russ Brackenbury, Jeff Acton and Glen Cherlet will be representing the Revelstoke fire department at the Sheraton.

Last Thursday, Feb. 11, they invited me and EZ Rock’s Shaun Aquiline to train with them up and down the tower stairs at the Revelstoke fire hall.

I went into it with a little trepidation and considered bowing out for no particular reason other than a lack of enthusiasm for running up and down stairs — I prefer my exercise to be outdoors. My excuse was going to be the knee injury I experienced skiing in early December, but considering the amount of skinning, boot packing and skiing I’ve done in the past month, I knew that wouldn’t fly, so I manned up and got up from my comfy office chair..

I showed up at the fire hall where the two Jameses suited up me and Shaun in a pair of heavy boots, pants, and jacket, with a steel air tank strapped to our backs, and a face mask. They spared us the helmet. I managed to negotiate my way into a pair of supportive road-rescue boots instead of the bulky, rubber firefighting boots. I’m pretty sure that helped immensely for the challenge to come.

We entered the stair well and Bacon led the way up. The stairs at the fire hall consists of a dozen flights with seven steps each. In total, it climbs about 15 metres until you come out to the top, with a view over downtown Revelstoke and the Columbia River as your reward.

My thought was this was like boot packing to the sub peak at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, but with much bulkier clothing — and in a way less scenic environment.

We jogged up at a steady pace, taking it one step at a time. We got to the top, paused for a quick breath, then went back down. We went back up a second time, at which point Shaun hit his breaking point.

For me, the hardest part was breathing. I consider myself in reasonably good shape, if not by Revelstoke standards, at least by Canadian standards, but I struggled with breathing inside the air mask. It was constricting and threw off my rhythm.

Bacon and Macdonald talked about the challenge of doing the climb, and then engaging in that kind of workout while battling a fire. It’s an intense activity in a stressful environment and they’ll go through a full air tank in about eight minutes.

I ran a third lap, this time without the mask, then we all did a fourth with an additional 30 pounds on our pack in the form of a fire hose. Finally, I went back down to get my camera, and back up to take a picture.

Five laps is half what the firefighters will do at the stair climb. Plus, I got to take breaks here and there, and ran a few without the confining face mask. Could I do all 10? Probably, but I wouldn’t enjoy it. Could I exert that kind of energy while fighting a fire? Once again, probably, but I don’t know. I got a small taste of the firefighter experience, but I didn’t have to face an actual fire or pull someone out of a mangled wreck. How do you know how you’ll react?

I have utmost respect for the volunteer firefighters who train hard and go out at all hours of the night to help people for only a small stipend. If you want to support them for the stair climb, visit tinyurl.com/zhsl9k4.


Just Posted

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Aug. 21

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Aug. 21

Two musical acts playing The Last Drop on Aug. 24

See John Michael Lind and She Hangs Brightly

Community Calendar for Aug. 21

Karaoke Night Wednesdays, 9 p.m. River City Pub Join us every Wednesday… Continue reading

Love the Revelstoke markets? Visit the other 145 across the province

There’s a new online guide and each market has a different flavour

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

Civil claim filed over motocross track west of Summerland

Track was constructed on agricultural land around 2016

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Most Read