Edible Vancouver Island January/February 2024




I t was a pretty cold Christmas Day (okay, it was a record-breaking cold snap), but with beautiful blue skies, heading on an adventure didn't feel unreasonable. After a lovely morning with family, I exchanged a slew of text messages with friends Casey and Laura, where plans soon crystallized to trek deep into the Whistler backcountry to seek holiday cheer in the newly constructed Kees and Claire Hut.

guiding light, the skin track, suddenly faded as we entered the windswept alpine. Donning every extra layer, we pushed on step by step, when the beautiful glow of the glorious mountain refuge finally came into view. We clambered into the gear room entrance, and then shivered with relief knowing that our smooth ascent could have quickly become disastrous with any form of gear or human malfunction.

Entering the main room, we were welcomed by 35 other hut guests, who evidently thought it was better to brave the cold by daylight. After that epic trip in, I sure wasn’t planning on packing out 12 veggie burgers and 12 buns–so it was time to take full advantage of the exceptionally well-equipped kitchen and start churning out burgers to share.

After that epic hike in... it was time to take full advantage of the exceptionally well-equipped kitchen and start churning out burgers.

In the winter, my avalanche safety gear is always meticulously packed and ready to go. So, with the addition of my sleeping bag, a few extra puffy jackets, two headlamps, 12 buns and 12 hand-crafted gourmet veggie burgers (after all, it was Christmas, which requires a feast!), I headed north to Squamish.

Together, the three of us had shared dozens of adventures in a wide range of conditions, so the memory of a team self-rescue from frostbitten toes 10 months earlier had almost started to fade as we began our five-hour hike. We began on the beautiful Singing Pass Trail from Whistler Village, spirits bright and vibes running high, when the deep winter night aggressively descended upon us. Having successfully navigated to the hut at night two weeks prior, I felt somewhat confident of the route ahead. Climbing higher, we pulled out our phones to verify our GPS track, but the low -20°C temps rendered them too cold to use. One by one, headlamps died, while mine hung on by a thread of a lumen. Our final

Now, "veggie burgers on Christmas?" you ask with raised eyebrows. These weren’t just any veggie burgers, but 12 Coastie Craft Burgers–handcrafted, organic veggie burgers made with premium local ingredients. Producing and selling these gourmet burgers was my business at the time, and I was proud to share the abundance with fellow hut-goers. While the business is no more, the burgers live on in memories (and likely buried deep in a few lucky Vancouver freezers).

Born and raised in Burnaby with Island roots, Matt Wiebe is a restaurant manager, mountaineer and twice-attempted food entrepreneur, who loves making feasts for himself, family and friends.

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