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Technical Tour

Tour: Geotechnical Engineering in Mountainous Terrain – Opportunities and Hazards
Date/Time: Thursday, July 20, 7:00 am – 5:30 pm
Meeting Place: Westin Bayshore Lobby
Cost: $175

What are some of the engineering opportunities and hazards associated with living in, or even just travelling through, mountainous terrain? Join us on this scenic bus tour from Vancouver to the world-famous resort of Whistler, British Columbia and find out!

The spectacular Sea to Sky Highway winds its way through British Columbia's Coast Mountains from Vancouver to Pemberton, passing through Squamish and Whistler. The highway travels along precariously steep rock slopes above Howe Sound, then along the raging Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers, past stunning waterfalls and glacier capped peaks. 

Historically, the highway corridor has been susceptible to frequent landslides, channelized debris flows, and structurally controlled rockslides, sometimes with devastating consequences, prior to recent highway upgrades. The tour will include stops at several landslide mitigation features, including a debris flow flume, retaining structures, sections of extensive rock slope stabilization and drapes. We'll also take the beautiful Sea to Sky Gondola to gain a wider perspective on the regional geomorphology, as well as majestic views of the Howe Sound fjord.

In recent years, significant highway improvements were undertaken to widen sections of the highway from two lanes to four and to improve safety. Given the extreme topography, much of the highway was built on steep slopes along Howe Sound. Innovative foundation solutions were required to overcome the constraints of steep rock slopes above the road, steep slopes below, and the existence of a CN railway line at the base of the slope. On top of all that, the road had to remain open to traffic throughout construction.

Our tour will include stops at several points along the highway illustrating typical foundation solutions, including rock anchorages for piers founded on steep rock to support cantilevered sections of road deck, concrete starter walls anchored to the steep rock to support MSE walls, and MSE walls founded directly over existing rock fill slopes.

At our turn-around point in Whistler, we'll stop at the Fitzsimmons Creek Debris Barrier and the Fitzsimmons Creek Hydroelectric Project, both innovative designs incorporating a number of fascinating solutions to geotechnical hazards and hydroelectric opportunities.

If you want your fill of beautiful, natural British Columbia all in one day, you really can't do better than this tour!

Tour includes:

What to wear: Comfortable clothing and walking shoes, plus rain gear, depending on weather.

PHOTO BY Thom Quine