AUC PROJECT - Minnewanka Plaque stair repair

Posted on 21. Aug, 2009 by Greg Mossfeldt in Minnewanka

THE BOTTOM STAIR AT LAKE MINNEWANKA NEAR THE PLAQUE SITE – has for a number of years been subject to erosion subsequently allowing the original fill of dirt and rocks to vacate leaving a potentially dangerous void.

Divers and visiting tourists have been precariously hopping or balancing on the existing framed structure of the bottom stair for some time. This condition has been recognized by the diving community for some time as we saunter up and down the stairwell with tremendous loads while taking our passion to the local aquatic environment. Repair or maintenance to the stairwell had been discussed as previously but it had not yet been “doctored “.

Cathie McCuaig and Brian Nadwidny of the Alberta Underwater Council are keen advocates in our diving community. Both Cathie and Brian participate at Lake Minnewanka and were aware of the situation involving the vacant fill at this access point. We had discussed repairing the condition and they were able to offer funding, courtesy of the Alberta Underwater Council in order to ensure the continuing safety in our community. The stairwell is a major access point for the divers so repair was cited to commence sooner rather than later.

On Friday, August 21st Steve Aaen picked me up early as per usual for diving adventure and we set out with not only our diving equipment in tow. We had in our company two bags of concrete, an empty container of Sofnolime we would use to mix the concrete with water, along with tools and a flagged barrier to allow our handiwork to set.

When we arrived at the site Dive Instructor Cal Duane teaching for Charlene Barker at AquaSport Scuba was already there with his students learning to dive in this popular area. They watched with curiosity as Steve Aaen and I carried the bags of concrete down the stairs along with our tools while we chorused with HI HO.

Steve had cut the top off our plastic rebreather scrubber container so we could add the concrete and water in order to mix the concoction. We cleaned the space on the stairwell for repair and began adding the newly mixed concrete. The two bags of concrete only filled half of our requirements which was not anticipated. We contemplated where we could purchase concrete in the local area and the toss up went to Banff over Canmore. We loaded up Steve's truck and asked Calvin if he could keep an eye on our construction project. It was then down to Banff and we stopped in at the first service station and asked for existence of a hardware outlet in Banff. We were directed to a Home Hardware on Bear St. which we discovered promptly and when entering were greeted by a cheerful salesperson. He had our concrete in stock and helped us load it into the back of Steve's new Toyota Tundra truck. It was then back up the mountain to Lake Minnewanka in order to complete our task.

Upon arrival at the Plaque site we thanked Mr. Duane and his class of neophyte divers for watching over our project. We made our way back down to the bottom stair to complete the mixing required for the final pour. I should also mention Steve Aaen (who is an Engineer) sprinkled small pepples and rocks on the surface of the concrete in order to help ensure positive traction year around. The repaired step now provides us with support and a leap of faith over the old eroded valley (so to speak) is now met with incredibly steadfast footing.

I would like to thank the Board of Directors including Brian Nadwidny & Executive Director: Cathie McCuaig plus our Calgary area AUC Directors: Axel Kollewyn & Tony Lamb at the Alberta Underwater Council for helping to support a project such as this. The Alberta Underwater Council (AUC) paid for all the material required to repair the step along with the fuel needed to travel to Minnewanka for the maintenance.

I would also like to thank Steve Aaen who extended a great deal of effort along with resources to ensure more safety within our Alberta diving community.