Group of 66 women climbed up the Chief for a Chilliwack charity

Every year a group of women enjoy a climb focused on empowerment and bonding

It’s not every day you see 66 ladies in little black dresses take an empowering group photo atop Stawamus Chief Mountain in Squamish.

But that’s what other hikers saw that afternoon on July 9.

Operation Little Black Dress is in its sixth year, said organizer Angela Painter of Chilliwack.

They scaled the second peak on Stawamus in about two hours and celebrated with a sip of champagne.

The original idea for the climb came to Painter in a dream.

“I had a dream I was standing on top of the second peak of the Stawamus wearing a little black dress and drinking champagne,” Painter remembered.

Then she turned that vivid dream into reality with Operation Little Black Dress.

The first year she climbed the steep mountain with six other women, with black dresses and shoes tucked into their backpacks, along with water and food.

“When we made it to the top, we asked some random person to take a picture,” Painter said.

The second year 12 women did the hike, then there were 15 of them, then 24, 30, and this year — 66 women hiked the Chief.

They ranged in age from 20 to 73, and almost all of them were from Chilliwack.

Next year, they hope to have aerial photos taken with the help of a drone.

Last year they raised funds for Ann Davis Transition Society.

This year, Chilliwack Search and Rescue will be the recipient of the funds raised by the hikers. The group presented a cheque for $800 Wednesday night to Chilliwack Search and Rescue.

“That’s because I had read the book, Surviving Logan, (by Erik Bjarnason and Cathi Shaw) and at the back of the book the author, who is a really cool guy, asks people to please make donations to their local search and rescue teams, since these people work so tirelessly,” said Painter.

That was just the ticket. CSAR is the perfect cause, she said.

One of the benefits of organizing such a positive event is getting to meet so many good friends over the years.

“It isn’t all about fundraising as much as it is about having a really empowering day out for women,” said Painter. “We encourage each other. We laugh. It’s about bonding.

“Everyone leaves with a smile on their face.”