By Bronwyn Scott
Published: July 17, 2013
Rappelling through waterfalls, cascading down rock walls and diving into pristine pools is what Damien Briguet and Francois-Xavier De Ruydts do best and De Ruydts’ movie Down the Line, set in Squamish, captures it all.
The 22-minute film is being screened on Wednesday, July 17, at the Eagle Eye Theatre as part of the Squamish Mountain Festival.
It documents De Ruydts and his friends’ canyoneering excursions through remarkable, previously unexplored, geological structures in Squamish.
Canyoneering is an emerging sport that involves hiking, climbing, jumping, swimming and rappelling down and through canyons.
It’s better established in the Alps and in Utah, and although recent publicity has triggered an interest, canyoneering here is an activity championed by a select few.
“It’s still top secret,” said Robin Rainer, an employee at the Sea-to-Sky Adventure Company.
But thanks to De Ruydts, that’s beginning to change.
The photographer from Belgium learned canyoneering in Spain and France.
He’d found his niche in cave images and was eager to transition to canyons, but didn’t want to explore them himself.
He sought to establish a community of local adventurers, with limited success, but then a chance encounter led him to a fellow explorer and immediate friend.
De Ruydts was getting footage at Cypress Creek, a canyon on the North Shore, when he heard something below.
“I see this guy splashing down the stream, and, hello?” he recalled, chuckling.
It was seasoned canyoneer Damien Briguet from Switzerland.
Seeing one another was a surprise. Only three or four others were canyoneering in Squamish when De Ruydts got started.
“Most of these people learned canyoneering in Utah, in dry canyons, and then they tried to reproduce that in B.C.” De Ruydts
Waterfalls, deep pools and strong currents define canyoneering here.
Unlike Utah or Europe, B.C.’s canyons are wild, said Briguit.
“They’re not easily accessible, some haven’t been descended or haven’t been equipped, so it’s different here.”
The thrill of the unknown led the pair to try to find a canyon at Monmouth Creek, opposite Squamish River. They’d seen pictures online and sought it out.
After their descent they noticed a trickling creek coming down the mountain. Taking a chance, they followed it up, and were amazed by their discovery.
“That was 100 per cent unknown and it turned out to be the most amazing canyon we’ve ever found,” said De Ruydts.
In places the water was 50-metres deep, and the smooth, water-formed rock was incredibly narrow, just two- or three-metres in places. It was steep.
Unsure if they had long enough rope or where the next turn might take them, they kept on.
Down the Line tells the story of their descent through Box Canyon and the challenges they faced along the way.
Tickets to the Mountain Film Festival, featuring presentations and movies, are $15 in advance and $18 otherwise. Doors open at 6:30 for a 7:00 start.
The film can also be viewed for free at the Squamish Adventure Centre theatre.