An exploration into Electric Vehicles
As a professional adventurer, I am constantly searching far and wide for new challenges, new areas to explore. My happiness, my inspiration… essentially everything that fulfills me comes from nature. Yet I started to look at how I access these adventures and I realized that I am killing the world as it stimulates me. The truth was obvious, I needed to change my ways.
So I quit heli-ski guiding, sold my giant diesel truck, let my snowmobile rust and looked at different ways to travel to my trailheads. We are constantly reading about electric vehicles and how they are the future. Yet a part of me has been skeptical. Up till now most have had only a limited range, which makes them ideal commuter vehicles but useless for someone in Revelstoke. Revelstoke is a small mountain town, deep in the Canadian mountains 250-400km from major cities. I see them as being really practical for urban dwellers but unrealistic for rural adventurers. With cold winters, deep snow there are so many reasons to be scared of converting to electric. The sacrifices I need to make seem daunting but perhaps they are not as big as they seem.
So as explorers Chris Rubens and I, Greg Hill, went on an electric adventure. Our goal was to see if we could live our normal adventuring seeking lifestyle while being more sustainable in our mode of transport.
I rented a Nissan Leaf from Ecomoto in Vancouver, this car is a commuter vehicle with 100 miles (160kms) of range. It is far from my ideal electric vehicle, but if we could drive down the West coast of the USA, climb and ski a bunch of Volcanoes and make it back, we could prove to ourselves that electric access is the future. Especially with the newer farther reaching cars.
We met up and climbed and skied Mt-Baker with a group of friends and then began our true road trip down south. An app called “plug and share” would guide us to all the level 3 chargers, which take around 40 minutes to fully charge the car. This trip was ideal since the I-5 highway that goes south down Washinton, Oregon and into California was littered with these chargers.
Our first charging hurdle was getting up to Mt-Rainier. Since its trailhead is quite far inland and well away from any lvl 3 chargers. But luckily our app showed us a lvl 2 charger,that Phil had attached to his house for his Tesla. We arrived at the park boundary and started charging at Phil’s personal plug. The percentage slowly moved upwards but we had to hastily leave with barely 70% since the park’s gates were closing. Committed we drove upwards, as we climbed up to the 2000m trailhead our % dropped, and dropped. 40%...35% and then finally at 31% we made it to the trailhead. We parked and decided to deal with this lack of electricity when we returned.
A great couple of days had us on the 14 400 ft summit and then skiing down a heavily crevassed, super awesome run. Arriving back at the car we wondered if our first mistake was going to haunt us. Luckily the leaf has a ‘B” mode which allows the car to slow itself using the engine, which puts electricity back into the motor. So we drove down the 5500 ft and by the bottom our charge was back up to 50%. A few hours at Phil’s charger and we were off. Yeehaw, maybe this electric adventure was feasible.
Mt-Hood was our next objective and there were Lvl3 chargers right up to its trailhead. A great summit and silly ski had us driving south. Eventually the ease of charging had us pushing the battery percentage as low as we could go, extending each drive till the % disappeared and the Km’s left blinked out. We realized there was always extra battery left and we pushed it many times. Never “fully” running out of juice.
We made it as far south as Mt-Shasta in California, where there were less Lvl3 chargers and we ended up charging up at RV campgrounds. Which were lvl 2 chargers and would take 3-5 hours to fully charge. We were the oddball Canadians, camped amongst the behemoth Rv’s.
While we drove back north, hitting Mt-Adams on the way we pondered our experiment. We ended up traveling almost 3000 miles, we climbed and skied 6 volcanoes, we rock climbed 5 times, had some amazing adventures and camped in great places. Essentially we lived our lives as we normally would. With one major difference, we used 1 ltr of fuel during the whole trip; for our cookstove, instead of the 400+ ltrs we would have normally used.
Not being able to move quickly between objectives, made us more relaxed. Forced stops every few hours had us rethinking our Type A personalities. To me electric vehicles are the future, especially since climate change would affect our jobs so badly.
Since returning from this trip I have bought a Chevrolet Bolt and have fully jumped into the electric vehicle movement. I have dreams of sumitting 100 mountains and polluting zero emissions while doing so, a challenge I am calling electric adventures. I am 14 summits in, and I have run to some, climbed up others, and skied off those volcanoes, all with zero emissions. It is a great start and it feels so amazing to be part of the solution to our climate crisis. I will never be perfect but I can search out ways to be better.