Hank Van Weelden is a well seasoned adventurer and Edmontonian who grew up in our river valley. From learning to ski during winter, to running, climbing and biking throughout the summer, Hank has made good use of the river valley, throughout all of the seasons.
This September Hank, along with teammates Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson and Marianne Shalewa will compete in the River Valley Alliance’s River Valley Park Trek. This event which celebrates Canada’s 150th anniversary and the recent opening of several RVA supported projects across the river valley, will see the trio kayak, run, bike and ride across 165+ kilometers. The River Valley Park Trek will coincide EPCOR Riverfest, a three day festival happening across the river valley from September 15th-17th.
Using the river valley as a launching pad, Hank has committed to a lifetime of adventuring. By age 11, Hank began participating in overnight ski tours. Afterwards, his list of adventures includes participating in expeditions to Nanga Parbat (the world’s biggest and ninth tallest mountain); climbing on Everest; working as a tour guide in Nepal and Tibet; teaching survival and outdoor training skills to schools and kids camps over many years; and being a member of Edmonton’s Overlander Orienteering club for over a decade. Last year, Hank even attempted a solo cycling trip from the South Pole to the coast of Antarctica.
In addition to Hank’s numerous adventures, he has also been an active member in the local community. Hank is active volunteering with Crossroads, a harm reduction centre for inner-city sex trade workers. A passionate climber, Hank previously ran the Campus Outdoor Centre at the University of Alberta, and built the first climbing wall in the city (at the Butterdome). Professionally, Hank is the current CEO of Alta-Fab Structures, a manufacturer of modular housing.
Hank has been married for 27 years to Denise, a fellow adventurer and urgent care nurse who also serves as the chair of the Edmonton Native Healing Centre. The couple have three children in their 20s who, like their parents are active climbers and adventurers. The family resides in Laurier, overlooking the river valley.
We are a non-profit organization with the mission to preserve, protect, and enhance the Capital Region River Valley. Visit rivervalley.ab.ca to get involved with the River Valley Alliance. To find out more about EPCOR RiverFest please visit EPCOR Riverfest.ca
Story by Mackenzie Nugent