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Dentalia Shells
These thin, tubular mollusks formed the currency of commerce throughout the Pacific Northwest as long as 3000 years ago. Pre-European civilization is often considered a barter economy, with, for instance, coastal tribes swapping oolichan grease directly for prized Oregon obsidian. Commodity traders, however, could rely on this wampum to close a transaction when interest in the goods was decidedly one-sided. Called hykwa in Chinook jargon, dentalia shells possessed all the necessary attributes of money, being portable, recognizable and durable but rare and desirable enough to foster trade. Being available in a variety of sizes, the tusk-like shells were even divisible into small change. Professional traders are known to have tattooed measuring lines on their forearms as a handy calculator of individual shell values. Only a handful of groups, including the Nuu-chah-nulth in the vicinity of Tofino, possessed dentalia in quantities sufficient enough to make them wealthy. Harvesting the deep water mollusks was no easy undertaking however. From a dugout canoe a long, broom-like apparatus was thrust straight down into the muddy sea bottom then retrieved. With any luck a shell or two would be trapped amongst the stiff twigs at the end of the handle. Dentalia were also ostentatiously displayed as symbols of wealth and power in the form of body adornments. Perhaps most recognizable are the breast plates invariably worn by cheesy Hollywood Indians.
Illustration by Manami Kimura
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07
Feb
2007
argaiv1791
Garibaldi Park: Panorama Ridge E-mail
(5 - user rating)
Written by Brian Grover   

Level: Moderate
Distance: 15 km r/t
Time: 5½ h
Elevation Change: 630 m
Season: June to Oct
Access: See previous hikes.

If the scenery from the top of Black Tusk was not enough then gaining the summit of Panorama Ridge will more than satisfy. Follow the same route from Garibaldi Lake to where you zigged left to the Tusk. Zag to the right instead, this time, continuing along the main trail. The trail forks again at the divide between two watersheds with the right fork leading up to Panorama Ridge itself. Either before or after mounting the ridge be sure to leave enough time to explore the geological wonders along the left fork as well.

West-Facing North Face: Black Tusk dominates the view from a cliffside condo perched high atop Panorama Ridge.
View of Black Tusk from Panorama Ridge

This route leads over the divide, across the cinder flats, then steeply down to the cable car across the raging Cheakamus River. Follow it past Helm Lake to Cinder Cone, a tiny, 200 metre tall, extinct volcano at the foot of Helm Glacier. On a hot day the cool air and eerie blue light inside the ice caves below the glacier will provide respite from the sun. Backtrack now to the junction leading to Panorama Ridge where you'll begin climbing almost immediately. The route follows a shoulder southward up to the east-west running ridge.

From the summit gaze south across azure Garibaldi Lake to the appropriately named Table silhouetted against the glaciers clinging to stately Garibaldi Mountain in the distance. 2049 metre Mount Price and Clinker Peak off to the right are extinct volcanos, as are 2675 metre Castle Towers and Phyllis Engine directly east. Look north to take in a panorama -- thus the name --- that encompasses Black Tusk, Cinder Cone and Helm Glacier. From the top of the ridge retrace your steps back to camp. Experienced and well-equipped mountaineers may want to continue following Panorama Ridge in a circuit that sweeps across the eastern arm of the ice field along Gentian Ridge to 2145 metre Helm Peak before descending steeply to the foot of Helm Glacier. This route is not for the inexperienced however as some climbing is involved. Be sure to rope your party together before venturing on to the ice field, Tom.

bearpaw

 

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