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09.29.07 - Rise Above Barriers In The Media

Rise Above Barriers is getting some media coverage. Please stay tuned to the following:

  • Times Colonist on Monday, Oct 1st. [view]
  • CBC Radio on Monday, Oct 1st at 8am on 90.5 FM [listen]
  • CHEK TV on Monday, Oct 1st at 5pm on channel 6

09.28.07 - In Memory Of Viggo Holm (1932-2007)

Rise Above Barriers Society is honoured to be named a beneficiary of Viggo Holm after his sudden passing. Viggo was committed as both a professional and volunteer to the wilderness of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. If you are interested in making a donation to Rise Above Barriers Society in the name of Viggo Holm, please click here.

HOLM, Viggo Angus Viggo was born on January 6, 1932 in Edmonton, Alberta, and unexpectedly passed away on September 10, 2007 after a car accident on the Port Alberni-Tofino highway. Viggo, his wife Judith and friends were en-route to climb a relatively unexplored west-coast peak to catalogue the distribution of local plants. Viggo was raised on Vancouver Island, though his career brought him to many places in BC and the world as a surveyor and, later, as an engineer. Viggo spent much of his career with the BC Ministry of Forests. He found his true love, Judith, a little later in his life, and from that point forward his family was his greatest joy. Viggo is survived by his wife of 35 years and children, Kris (Shannon) and Katy (Kelly). Following retirement, Viggo and Judith devoted much time to hiking, cycling, skiing, kayaking, and sailing adventures both near home and around the world, including some requiring a rather positive attitude towards dense, soggy bushwhacking. Viggo had many, many good friends, particularly through volunteer efforts with the Alpine Club of Canada. The family is truly grateful for the tremendous outpouring of friendship and support. Dad, Viggo, we love you so very much and will miss you forever! A celebration of Viggo's life will be held at 2 pm on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Flowers gratefully declined; however, donations to the Rise Above Barriers Society ( or Karun at 250-383-6252) would be greatly appreciated.

Published in the Victoria Times-Colonist on 9/22/2007.

09.24.07 - RIV Newsletter For September

Rise Above Barriers is featured in the September 2007 issue of the Recreation Integration Victoria Newsletter!

Click here to check it out!

09.10.07 - Volunteers Needed - Sunday, September 16th

Rise Above Barriers Society has been named the Charity of Choice for the Subaru Vancouver International Half Iron and Sprint Triathlon.

In return for this opportunity to raise awareness about accessibility and Multiple Sclerosis and motivate others living with disabilities to pursue similar outdoor adventures, Rise Above Barriers Society needs to supply 25 volunteers for different activities on the race day.

Our team is small, so we are requesting the assistance of others to help us fill this requirement. Please click here to learn how you can get involved!

09.05.07 - Whistler Hiking Weekend

Labor Day weekend saw the team assemble for three days of hiking and team building near Whistler.

Our first hike was an uphill slog through seemingly endless switchbacks on the way up to Garibaldi Lake and was an excellent test of teamwork and endurance. The view of the lake and surrounding mountains was spectacular!

The next day was wet and soggy - a perfect day to dawn our raingear and hike to Cheakamus Lake. Pip wore her fashionable bivy sack, which kept her warm and dry despite looking like a giant "Glo Worm"! Other than a few puzzled looks (some hikers thought we were conducting a mountain rescue), the hike was a terrific success.

Finally, our last hike was in the Whistler Interpretive Forest. It was a nice end to a great weekend.

We all arrived home sore and exhausted but also very grateful for the opportunity to get to know our team mates. Everyone pulled together on and off the trail with a big dose of hard work accompanied by great conversation, food and drink!

Special thanks to Paul and Christine Suter for their generous hospitality and their hard work on the TrailRider. Thank you also to Greg, Gabi, Paul, Erica and Kara for hiking to Garibaldi Lake with us.

08.16.07 - A New Way To Donate Online!

Online donations to the Rise Above Barriers Society will now qualify for a tax receipt through the Victoria Integration Society. Please click here to make a donation.

08.15.07 - Modifying The TrailRider

Team MS Fits' Karun Thanjavur and Derek Emmerson, a volunteer with the Tetra Society of North America, have taken on the task of getting the TrailRider ready for our three week trek in the Nepal Himalaya. These two professional engineers have made additional modifications to the TrailRider to make it easier for the team to move it and to ensure that it can withstand the riggers of the trip to Everest Base Camp.

Derek has installed a longer handle to the back of the TrailRider to reduce arm strain while going downhill. He is also attempting to make the bar adjustable so it can be moved out of the way when it is not needed or set at a different angle depending on the terrain. Eyelets have also been added along the length of the TrailRider so that ropes can be readily attached to facilitate safe movement. An additional brake is being installed on the TrailRider to increase braking power and provide redundancy in case one fails.

Thank you to both Karun and Derek for all their hard work on the TrailRider.

07.28.07 - Mount Work

On Saturday, July 28th the team decided to ascend Mount Work from the Willis Point trail entrance. The mountain lived up to its name and gave us all a great workout!

The weather was warm and sunny as we climbed steadily up the rocky trail. It was definitely one of the more challenging hikes that we have attempted with the TrailRider and required solid teamwork. There were many tricky sections but thankfully we reached the summit in one piece, where we enjoyed the amazing panoramic views of Victoria and the Saanich Inlet.

Afterwards some of us rewarded ourselves with a refreshing swim in nearby Pease Lake!

Special thanks to Jan, Machiko and Hildegard who came to help out and did more than their fair share of pushing, pulling and lifting!

07.08.07 - Let's Toast!

The July 7th-8th weekend was very special indeed as family and friends met in Lake Louise, Alberta, to celebrate Becca and Mark's wedding at Station Restaurant. On Saturday we enjoyed a stroll along Lake Louise before heading up and over the "BeeHive", much to the chagrin of some. We had to bid adieu to Pippa and Penny at the lake but we knew that the next day we would all be hiking in the alpine together.

At Helen Lake, Pip finally got "high" into the Rockies for the first time since she has been wheelchair-bound with Multiple Sclerosis. This was made possible by the TrailRider and more importantly by the helping hands of the wedding party, including the bride and the groom. High above the tree line and surrounded by breathtaking mountain vistas we toasted the newlyweds with champagne.

The area brought back some good memories for Pip of a past full of backcountry skiing and long hikes: "The TrailRider and the team made it possible for me to see the alpine meadows again. The brilliant colours of the small, tough Indian Paintbrush, the Pasque flowers, and the Heather growing on the soft moss, against the stunning snow-covered mountain background, will stay with me forever."

To top off an already perfect day, we were treated to the sight of a black bear grazing in a valley on our way down.

Thank you to all those that gave their support and "muscles" to hike with Pip that day.

07.05.07 - It Was A Family Affair In Kimberley

July is turning into one giant road trip for Pippa and Penny with the TrailRider in tow. First stop was Kimberley, BC, to visit with friends and family. With the sun setting on a warm summer day, the TrailRider was put together and a small but mighty gang rolled out of the Happy Hans Campground. Trusty member of Team MS Fits, Doreen, lead the way with her son, Russ, daughter in-law, Denise, her mother Ilene, and Penny, all contributing to the pushing and pulling of the TrailRider. Doreen's two year old grandson, Rylan, and Oscar the dog were both along for the ride too!

Doreen has been on a strenuous healing and training program after a long recovery from a broken leg so that she can be physically prepared for our trek in the Himalayas. Her journey so far has been one of the toughest of anyone's on the team. As Pippa puts it, "I often think of her in Kimberley training in a 'vacuum' far away from the support and enthusiasm of the rest of us. But she proved that it's working as she pulled her weight - actually my weight - out on the trails last week."

06.23.07 - East Sooke Regional Park

On Saturday, June 23rd, Pippa, members of Team MS Fits and friends decided to put the TrailRider to the test at East Sooke Regional Park. Starting from the Aylard Farm parking lot we followed the Arbutus lined Coast Trail to view the Petroglyphs before venturing into the forest. The view of Becher Bay was astounding and we were fortunate enough to spot an Orca whale in the distance making its way between a scattered collection of fishing vessels. It was an incredible site to witness the large dorsal fin cut through the surface of the water followed by a spray of mist each time it came up for a breath of air! For Pippa, it was the first time she has been able to enjoy East Sooke Regional Park and she was very happy to finally see what all the fuss is about.

We soaked in the tranquility of our peaceful surroundings as we sat down to eat lunch. We then took the Interior Trail to Cabin Point. The park challenged us with its hills, exposed rocks, and tight corners.

We were able to test a climbing harness used to pull or slow down the TrailRider. The harness can be attached to the front of the TrailRider with nylon straps or rope so that a person can assist in pulling. This was very helpful on the uphill sections. In addition, the harness can be attached the back to help slow the TrailRider on downhill sections to ease the load on the brake. We plan to use multiple harnesses on future hikes.

Clockwise from left: Robyn, Tim, Penny, Karun, Peter, Zeke, Cynthia, Jon, Aysha ("The Dog Whisperer"), Jasper, Pip and Bow.

05.27.07 - Mount Finlayson

Pippa reached the top of Mount Finlayson along with members of Team MS Fits, family and friends on May 27th. The summit of Mount Finlayson sits at 400 metres. Everest Base Camp is only another 5,000 metres higher so we are well on our way!

The forecast called for a typically gloomy day in Victoria. Thankfully it was wrong and the group was greeted by sunny but breezy weather for the tough uphill slog and tricky descent. There were many slippery roots, rocks and stairs to scramble over.

Pippa said she felt completely safe and relaxed, although perhaps a little guilty as she joked, "I sat, like 'Lady Muck', being taken up to the top by the sweat of others."

Reaching the summit of Mount Finlayson was a high in every way. Eagles were gliding in the sky above us and the view from all directions took our collective breath away.

The team at the top: Jon, Robyn, Judy, Jazz, Myla, Nick, Jasper, Judith, Cynthia, Lady Muck, Penny, Shawn, Karun and Mary Lue.

05.06.07 - Thetis Lake

Team MS Fits, friends and family were greeted at the beginning of May by rainy skies for their first hike using the TrailRider. But the bad weather did not stop them from circumnavigating Thetis Lake which, until now, Pippa has only been able to experience from the beach!

"The outing was a dream come true and lucky me, the first of many to come", said Pippa. "We covered the type of trail that has been inaccessible to me for 15 years. I felt very safe and comfortable. So much so that I was able to relax and enjoy every view, plant, bird and smell along the way. The scent of the pine trees and the pungent damp moss were all made so much more intense by the rain. In addition to the superb TrailRider training from Karun, we had experts in the group who were able to tell us about the birds, the flora and the fauna."

Thanks to all of you that pushed and pulled that day!

A happy bunch of wanderers: Aysha, Jasper, Mary Lue, Peter, Wendy, Tim, Penny, Nicki, Karun and of course D’Arcy. Not pictured: Jenny.

05.01.07 - RIV Newsletter For May

Rise Above Barriers is featured in the May 2007 issue of the Recreation Integration Victoria Newsletter!

Click here to check it out!