Romancing and getting rad: this is the story of two mountain lovers who met their match at the ACC's General Mountaineering Camps.
Frenchman Cap GMC, 2014 – Meeting
I met Colin on the first day of my first ever General Mountaineering Camp at Frenchman Cap in 2014. I had signed up on the recommendation of my mother, who had been an ACC member in the 1970’s. Colin had been pointed there by Frank Spears, an ACC board member who he had met at a climbing gym in Prince George. Because of the way the camp schedule worked out we didn’t climb together through most of the week. I had seen him around camp and in the dining tent, but we didn’t talk much. I had an impression of him as a nice guy, but very quiet.
We had both had our own amazing times at the camp learning skills, climbing beautiful mountains and generally falling in love with the place. We met many wonderful people including Robin Sutmoller, the camp doctor who became a great friend of ours.
On the last climbing day of the camp we ended up in the same party and on the same rope. I quickly learned that my first impression of Colin was way off, and that we had a lot in common once we got past the initial shyness. We could both feel there was a real connection, something that we wanted to continue to explore, but our camp was at an end. We parted ways in Revelstoke and returned to our hometowns - me to Duncan, Colin to Prince George.
Stockdale GMC, 2015 – The adventure continues
We knew there was an instant connection up in the mountains but we resisted the idea of a long distance relationship for as long as we could. We arranged to go back to the GMC the next summer, this time in Stockdale Creek. We had another beautiful time in the mountains and not long afterwards Colin moved from Prince George to Nanaimo, very close to Duncan, to attend Vancouver Island University.
Sorcerer GMC, 2016 – Surprise engagement
For our third annual trip to the GMC we went to camp with our mothers. After hearing of our experiences they were keen to check it out and it made for the perfect set up for Colin’s proposal. I later found out that everyone in the camp knew he was going to propose, except me.
On Monday, August the 8th, Colin and I climbed Goldstream South. The day was significant as it was two years to the day from our first adventure together. I remember that it was a wet day with poor visibility and climbing that was made harder by the slippery, wet black lichen.
We were the last of three rope teams to make our way to the precarious and rather tiny summit. Before I knew what was happening, Colin had retrieved the engagement ring from Robin Sutmoller, the camp doctor from our first week together at Frenchman Cap. Robin had been chosen to be the trusty ring bearer so there was no chance that I would stumble on the ring in Colin’s pack. With a full party of mountaineering folk as witnesses, Colin was on his knee asking me to marry him. My answer was of course a heartfelt yes!
Everyone at the camp was excited to hear over the radio that the proposal was a success and we were heading back to camp to warm up and dry off.
Thank you to the whole ACC team who makes this magical camp happen every summer. It will always be a place that we will return to year after year to celebrate love found in the mountains.
Update on Natasha and Colin's GMC story - Feb 2017
We are both doing very well and are currently living in Duncan, BC. Colin and I are still happily in love and spending lots of time leading trips for the ACC Vancouver Island Section members. We have booked a return journey to week five at the 2017 Hallam Glacier GMC and both of our mothers are joining us again. Wedding plans are in the works for the summer of 2019. We have been joking that we should try to tie the knot up at the GMC that year so we can come full circle! In any event, we are hoping for a small wedding of immediate family up in the mountains. I am sure that wherever we are, it will be a simple and perfect day.
— Natasha Salway
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The ACC's General Mountaineering Camps
The first organized venue for the ACC's General Mountaineering Camp was in the Yoho Valley. Since then, the camp has been located in a multitude of wild and spectacular locations in the Canadian Rocky, Purcell and Selkirk Ranges.
The GMC has always been about shared mountain experiences with friends old and new. It is about learning mountain craft. It is about telling and listening to stories. It is about meeting and climbing with people that are new to the mountains, as well as those who have made the mountains their lives for sixty years or more. Whether you are an experienced mountaineer, or someone just beginning to try your skills in the mountains, you will have a grand time at the GMC.
Learn more about the concept and history of our camps.