What's it all about?
Have you ever imagined going up a huge mountain. Well if you have, you might never have imagined going up on that same mountain on a train! It might sound impossible but the physical environment and the climate around it makes it so much possible. This attraction's name is HITRAVATOR. It is a 3 in 1 bumper offer. You can hike, ride the train and use the elevator drop at the same mountain. In order to reach the railway station, you will need to hike up the mountain for about 15 minutes. After that, catch a train that will take you all around the mountain till the top. Once you reach the top, the view of the entire mountain range, plateau and the ocean is breath-taking! You will be able to see and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Cordillera. After that, you can dine in at our At-The-Top restaurant which serves only the delicious local delicacies! Once you have completed your trip, the descend down is not through the railway again but through an elevator drop! The elevator will cover the entire distance from the top to the bottom in less than 50 seconds! Doesn't that all sound so exciting? Let's find out about how the region supports this amazing attraction!
The Natural Landscape Of The Region
The Western Cordillera is located on the West Coast region of Canada, along the Pacific Ocean. It is comprised of a series of mountains and plateaus. There are 3 major parts that make up the Western Cordillera: Coast Mountains towards the west coast, Interior Plateau in between and the Eastern Mountains. The HITRAVATOR is located in the Coast Mountains. Since these mountains were born in the Mesozoic-Cenozoic eras, they are young and as a result are very tall and have sharp-pointed peaks. The mountains travel in a north-south direction, and thus are a hurdle to ground locomotion. The surface of the mountains is very rugged and bumpy, making transportation difficult. This might pose a difficulty while constructing the railway.
In the Coast Mountains, there are glaciers to be found at higher elevations, the very few to be still present. Therefore, HITRAVATOR must be built on a 'non-glacial' mountain as the railway track cannot be built through the glacier. The Coast Mountains contain extremely tall mountains and among them, there is Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak (5959m). Along the Pacific coastline, numerous fjords make their way through the mountains that look like tree roots from up top. When constructing HITRAVATOR, we must make sure that we don't disrupt or damage the fjords and alter the environment.
As the Coast mountains lie on the edge of the Pacific Rim Of Fire, there are many volcanoes located among these mountains. Almost all of them are dormant, which means they are asleep, but might explode without prior notice. From the At-The-Top, tourists can view 2 different types of landscapes as they will be seeing the windward and the leeward slopes of the mountain. On the windward slope, there are lush green forests of coniferous trees whereas on the leeward slope, it is mostly warm and dry.
Climate Of The Region
The climatic features of this region vary, depending on altitude, place and the slope of the mountain. The western coastline has the highest precipitation levels. This is because of heavy relief precipitation going on in this region. The wind masses coming from the Pacific Ocean are forced to climb over the Coast Mountains, where they can no longer hold the moisture and therefore precipitate. As we mentioned above, there are temperate rainforests in this region as a result of this heavy precipitation. The windward side is very wet and lush with trees whereas the leeward side of the mountain is very dry. This is because the air that comes over the mountain has lost most of its moisture content and when it reaches the ground, it is warm and dry. As a result, the vegetation in this area is nothing like the other side. It contain small shrubs, bushes, cacti etc.
The image below shows the amount of precipitation in different regions of B.C. HITRAVATOR is located at the eastern edge of the dark green region, towards the west coast. At this location, tourists can experience 2 different types of weather conditions. When the tourists catch the train, it starts off from the leeward side. As it goes around, it goes over to the windward side. In this process, tourists will see the dry, warm part of the mountain and also see the wet, green part of the mountain. This specialty of the mountain will attract more tourists, increasing the popularity of HITRAVATOR.
Being so close to the Pacific Ocean, the temperature is extremely altered. HITRAVATOR experiences the Pacific Maritime temperature. Here, the summers are cooler and the winters are milder. This is because of the nearness to the water. The difference between summer and winter temperatures is very small(short temperature range). As you can see in the picture below, the closer you are to the water, the warmer it gets and the farther away you get from it, the cooler it gets.
The temperature is not only affected by the water but also by the elevation of the mountain. Increase in elevation means colder temperatures. HITRAVATOR does a very good job in giving tourists different temperature experiences. When they hike from the bottom, it is very warm. When they take the train, it is still warm but as it catches altitude, it starts to get colder. When the train reaches the At-The-Top, it very cold and dry.
Vegetation And Soils OF The Region
In the Western Cordillera, there are 2 main vegetation regions: the Cordilleran Vegetation and the West Coast Forest. Since HITRAVATOR is located in the Coast mountains, it will come under the West Coast Forests. The vegetation in this region varies greatly due to different soil types and different elevations. Also, as there is a difference in climate on both slopes of the mountain, vegetation will be different as well. As we talked before, the heavy rainfall and mild coastal climate provide excellent growing conditions for trees. The entire region is covered in lush coniferous forests. Trees such as Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce, Red Cedar and Western Hemlock are abundant. The Coast Mountains also contain Canada's only temperate rainforest, which supports numerous species of wildlife. These forests contain extremely tall and gigantic trees such as the Douglas Fir trees shown below. These trees are more than a meter in diameter and 50 m high.
Due to heavy precipitation, there is lot of leaching occurring in this region, making the soil a bit less fertile. But due to a lot of plant life, there is a lot of organic material to make humus which is really vital for plant growth. All this will greatly impact the HITRAVATOR as it will be constructed on such natural scenic beauty which will help draw more tourists.
All this was only on one side of the mountain but there is an entirely different scenery on the other side (leeward). On this slope, vegetation is much like the prairies. Because it is mostly warm and dry and has little precipitation on the leeward side, grasses, shrubs and cacti grow on the surface of the mountains. As it will be much difficult to hike through a forest full of tall trees, tourists can choose to hike through the other side instead as it will be faster and easier than the other side.. Also, less vegetation in this area will make the construction of the railway/station easier as trees will not be a hurdle anymore and they don't have to be clear-cut to make land, conserving the forests.
Map Of The Region
This map shows where major cities are located in the Coast Mountains as well as the rest of B.C. It also shows major roads and highways connecting to each city. It also indicates where some of the major National Parks are in the province.
Human Activities In This Region
The Coast Mountains are a place where you can enjoy any type of recreational activity you want in either summer or winter! This gives tourists a lot of options to choose from and makes HITRAVATOR enjoyable throughout the year, regardless of the season. In the summer, tourists coming to visit HITRAVATOR can not only enjoy the actual attraction, but can also do many other things. People can set up camps on the base of the mountain and enjoy the beautiful night sky of British Columbia. Due to the trails in the forests, cycling can be a wonderful option if you want to go out exploring. If you like the rugged and bumpy surface of the mountain and want to have some exercise done, then you can go mountain biking. Since the mountains are so high, it provides an opportunity for people to experiencing thrilling adventurous activities such as skydiving, parachuting and paragliding. .
The winter is also as much fun as the summer in the Coast Mountains. As the mounatins are very tall and steep, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice climbing, tubing, back-country skiing, heli-skiing and dog-sledging. Although the train is most likely going to be closed during the winter due to snowfall, the mountain is always open for the activities listed above.
Aside from seasonal sports, the Pacific ocean offshore is always an option for tourists to enjoy in. Water activities might be more enjoyable if done in the winter because the water is warm then. You can go fishing, kayaking, swimming, canoeing, boating, river rafting, diving, whale watching, surfing etc. The video clip below highlights the different types of sports and activities enjoyed during the winter.
Impact Of Climate Change
Climate change has been a global issue for a very long time. Rising sea levels, change in climate, higher CO2 levels, decreasing arctic ice etc are some of the many problems caused by climate change. Most of these problems have been caused and induced by humans and human activities.
Climate Change In The West Coast
The biggest problem that we are facing today is warming temperatures. Since there are some glaciers in some of the Coast Mountains, the increasing average temperatures may melt them, resulting in erosion and flooding. If this occurs, then it may be dangerous for HITRAVATOR as the train and elevator may be flooded with water and cause significant damage to property. The continuing melting of sea ice and glaciers may cause sea levels to rise and flood coastal regions. This can result in erosion of soil, damaging trees in the West Coast, decreasing greenery.
Warming temperatures may decrease snowfall and melt the snow on the mountain. This could reduce opportunities such as skiing, snow boarding etc for tourists. Reduction in winter sports will also reduce the number of tourists visiting the attraction as there will not be much to do in the winter then. As the temperature gets warmer, winter time will decrease and summer time will increase. This means that even though tourists cannot enjoy winter as much, they can enjoy summers more. HITRAVATOR is usually closed in the winter due to snowfall, but if snow decreases, then it can be open year round for tourists. The image below shows the relationship between rising sea levels and temperature increase. It shows that as the temperature is increasing over the years, sea and glacial ice is melting more rapidly and adding to the rising sea levels.
Risk Of Natural Disasters
The Coast Mountains come under part of the Pacific Rim Of Fire. This region of the Pacific Ocean is the most earthquake prone zone due to the constant movement of the tectonic plates. The West Coast is one of the very few places where the plates slide past one another, collide against each other as well as diverge. So many different movements in the plates cause the West Coast to be the most earthquake prone zone in Canada.
How It Is Formed
An earthquake is a sudden trembling of the earth's surface. This is caused by the continuously moving tectonic plates. The earth's surface is made up of these plates like jigsaw puzzles. The point where they meet or connect is called a plate boundary. These plate boundaries are made up of many faults as shown in the diagram below. Since the edges of the plates are rough, the plates get stuck to one another on the fault line. While the edges of the faults are stuck together, the rest of the plate body keeps moving.
The pressure around the fault line keeps building up until it can no longer be stuck to the other plate. When this happens, all that energy that was being stored up is released outwards, towards the earth's surface. This energy radiates in the form of seismic waves from the fault. The point from where it originated is called the hypocenter and the point directly above it on the surface is called the epicenter( diagram below). When these waves reach the surface, the ground trembles and shakes, destroying everything that is on it.
The Risk It Presents To HITRAVATOR
Most earthquakes that occur are gone unnoticed. Earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or higher can cause significant damage to infrastructure, houses, properties, roads, railways, monuments etc. Tourists coming to visit HITRAVATOR may experience tremors caused by earthquakes as the Coast Mountains are greatly affected by it. If an earthquake big enough to cause damage strikes HITRAVATOR, then it would cause a lot of damage, resulting in a huge loss of money. The railway tracks and the station can break and fall of the mountain. The elevator might be reduced to rubles as it may fall of such a great altitude. HITRAVATOR can be shut down, resulting in less tourists visiting the region and losing popularity.