Page 1

Vol. 27, No. 1 | Spring / printemps 2012

Hiking the Austrian Höhenweg a daypack delight page 6

Team completes testpiece Great Divide traverse page 8

L’obélisque noir


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The Alpine Club of Canada

Publications Mail Agreement No. 40009034 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: The Alpine Club of Canada Box 8040, Canmore, AB Canada T1W 2T8

Phone: (403) 678‑3200 Fax: (403) 678‑3224

Executive Committee Peter Muir President Gordon Currie Secretary Neil Bosch Treasurer Selena Swets VP Access/Environment Zac Robinson VP Activities Carl Hannigan VP Facilities Isabelle Daigneault VP Mountain Culture David Foster VP Services Marjory Hind Honorary President Lawrence White Executive Director

Publication Lynn Martel Gazette Editor Suzan Chamney Layout & Production Marie-Andrée LeBlanc Translator Submissions Submissions to the Gazette are welcome! For submission guidelines, please e-mail the Gazette Editor with your ideas at Advertising Advertising rate sheet available on the website or by request. Please direct all advertising inquiries to Suzan Chamney, National Office by e‑mail to:

What’s Inside... Members

Mountain Culture / Science

Mountaineering / Climbing

Editorial / National News / Awards

4 Quick draws 5 Club celebrates member’s 100th birthday 16 What my ACC means to me 22 My favourite volunteer: Bill Scott 23 Mon bénévole préféré : Bill Scott 6 Hiking the Austrian Höhenweg a daypack delight 8 Team completes test-piece Great Divide traverse 10 L’obélisque noir 11 The Black Obelisk 20 Camp participants celebrate sore legs, lungs and livers 26 Bolivia climbs – high and beautiful

12 Book ends 18 Evelyn Reginald “Rex” Gibson 24 University initiative links mountain passions 28 ACC fund aids in conservation efforts 4 Short rope 19 Young climber exuded a special spark 25 Summer custodians 29 Routefinding 29 Recherche d’itinéraire 30 Open air: having fun is serious business


14 How to stay safely connected – to an anchor!

What’s Outside... Cover photo: Phee Hudson approaches a 3,000-metre pass via the Berlin High Trail, constructed by men of iron who laid a trail made of massive stones. Photo by Rick Hudson. Story on page 6. Inset photo: Carsten Moldenhauer, Edward McCarthy and Gerry Heacock enjoy the view from Niverville Col after a short boot pack before skiing down to their camp on day 15 of the Great Divide traverse. Photo courtesy Daniel Robb. Story on page 8.

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Club alpin du Canada



2012  3

Quick draws McColl wins Lead World Cup Congratulations to Sean McColl for taking top prize at the Lead World Cup competition climbing event in Kranj, Slovenia in late November. After finishing in second place at the Lead WC in Valence, France a week earlier, McColl, 24, was over the moon to earn his first ever win on the WC circuit. Currently living in Toulouse, France, the North Vancouver native and Competition Climbing Canada team member has risen to the level of the world’s elite climbers. To learn more, visit

Lynn skins up Grizzly Shoulder en route to some steep and deep turns in Rogers Pass in B.C.’s Glacier National Park. photo by Murray Houck.

Short rope by Lynn



ne morning in January, I was fortunate to be among several Alpine Club of Canada mem‑ bers invited to participate in a short film to promote the Club’s Library. With the camera rolling, each of us was asked to describe our favourite mountain book, and to elaborate on why we made the choice we did. Of course, you’ll have to watch the video when it’s all edited and polished and made available. Subscribe to the NewsNet, like the ACC on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter to find out when it’s released and to see which book I chose. Suffice to say however, the book I picked is one that celebrates the entire mountain environment—not just a cliff face or sprawling glacier or a sky-scraping summit, but a book that celebrates the beauty and the mystery of the inter‑ connectedness of the mountain landscape as a whole, and the many roles people play as they experience that landscape. On page 26 of this issue of the Gazette, you’ll read about a new initia‑ tive that was recently launched at the University of Alberta which aims to connect many diverse, yet wholly inter‑ connected, branches of mountain studies, including literature, glaciology, outdoor adventure and art, among others. The ACC is, of course, but one of several organisations that is partnering with the U of A on this exciting initiative.

4  Alpine Club of Canada


Spring 2012

Canadians reach podium at Ouray Canadian ice climbers showed their stuff in Colorado against an international field of strong climbers at the 2012 Ouray Ice Festival in January, with Southern Ontario’s Nathan Kutcher taking top honours in the men’s competition, and ACMG mountain guide and ACC Rocky Mountain Section member Jen Olson placing third among the women. Well done! Wolverine Watch’s first season a success The citizen science program that launched last winter with the help of the Alpine Club of Canada’s Environment Fund achieved considerable success after its first season of operation. More than 50 people signed up to volunteer, and more than 100 wolverine sightings were reported. Research team members skied more than 2,000 kilometres over an area of 6,000 square kilometres in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks surveying wolverines; 85 per cent of the project’s 48 hair traps were visited by wolverines. The team is taking this winter off from conducting the survey, but continues to collect observations. Backcountry users are encouraged to report their own observations by clicking on Report a Sighting at To view short videos about the research project visit If I think about it—and I just did— that’s what we at the Gazette strive for with each and every issue: to celebrate the interconnectedness of Canada’s varied and multi-layered mountain commun‑ ity. I say “we” because the Gazette is the result of a team effort, one that only comes together with the contributions of many people, including members of the ACC community who volunteer to write their stories, for which I am enormously grateful! And isn’t that the purpose of the ACC, to be a conduit of connectedness between Canadians and their mountains, and ultimately, each other? I think the stories in this issue help to illustrate the mosaic that is Canadian mountain and climbing culture, with articles that range from the first Canadian to win a World Cup climbing competi‑ tion to only the eighth team ever to ski the entire Great Divide traverse; from the tragic death of a young Canadian climber to the 100th birthday of a long-time ACC member; adventures ranging from hiking in Austria to mountaineering in Bolivia to

a remarkable second ascent of a Canadian peak; from books to wildlife studies to safety tips to river conservation projects. The mountain landscape is com‑ prised of soil and rocks, glaciers, icefalls and snowfields, trees, rivers and flower carpeted meadows, ravens, grizzlies and wolverines, as well as every other plant and creature that explores that world— including the most curious, original, mysterious, creative and entertaining of them all, the ACC Gazette reader. Enjoy!

ACC NewsNet Stay up-to-date on the latest climbing, access and environment news by reading the ACC’s weekly e‑Bulletin. To subscribe to the ACC NewsNet visit:

Club celebrates member’s 100th birthday by Fred



his year, the Alpine Club of Canada marks with deep appre‑ ciation and friendship the centen‑ ary of an outstanding member, a woman who has been a well-known figure in the mountains of western Canada, whose life and work has contributed much to the policies and public appreciation of our national and provincial parks, and who has been a climbing companion to hun‑ dreds and a naturalist guide to thousands. Aileen Harmon grew up in the Rocky Mountains. Her father was Byron Harmon, a pioneer mountain photog‑ rapher whose large-scale photo prints were well-known throughout North America and Europe in the first quarter of the 20th century, and who did much to create a popular image of the beauty of the western Canadian mountains. As a young girl, the trails of Banff National Park were the backyard play‑ ground for Aileen. As a teenager, she took part in several exploratory packhorse trips. In her 20s, she became an enthusi‑ astic, expert and tough backcountry skier at a time when few people, and almost no women, went far into the mountains in winter. Aileen entered the National Park Service in 1938. Her breadth of knowledge and interests, her contacts with guides and outfitters and visiting scientists, and her familiarity with hiking trails and ski routes made her an obvious person to organize and prepare, in cooperation with the Banff museum, the first nature programs and naturalist guidebooks for the mountain parks. As well, she set some essential standards for naturalist know‑ ledge for park wardens. For the following 30 years, in increas‑ ingly senior positions, Aileen was a key figure in the nature interpretation and communication activities of the moun‑ tain parks of western Canada, draw‑ ing upon experts from the Geological Survey, Dominion Botanist and staff, wildlife authorities, national museums and First Nations experts. To the Stoney Indians she became Iskawawew-wuche, “Mountain Woman”. Most of her work was anonymous, but she insisted on personal experience or expert knowledge of everything she wrote, and everywhere she walked or skied on the trails from

ACC Life Member Aileen Harmon celebrates her 100th birthday with friends from the Banff hiking group, “The Playgirls”, Peggy Leighton, Judy Mills and Marlene Langevin. photo by Julia Hutchings.

Waterton Lakes to Mount Revelstoke national parks. She played an influential role in the evolution of park wardens from “cowboy policemen” into “guardians for nature”. Then, she came to inter‑ national attention when she wrote the guidebooks and led the mountain field trips for the World Botanical Congress, which took place in Banff, for the first time in Canada, in 1959. Aileen’s influence and organising ability spread beyond the federal national parks to provincial parks, to naturalists’ associations and to clubs such as the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies and the ACC. She was a founding member of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), and through it she has continued to have an important influence in the development of protected areas policies and public support for wilderness conservation in Canada. She has played a part in the creation and policies of parks from Gwaii Haanas and Kluane to Grasslands in Saskatchewan. Although throughout her early career Aileen had much to do with the Alpine Club of Canada as an institution that used national park locations and amen‑ ities, and many prominent mountaineers of the time became personal friends who, as she said, “made me a maverick member of the Club”, her professional responsibil‑ ities precluded her participation in annual camps. She did, however, visit many of them on weekends, returning to her office on Monday. Immediately after retiring from the government service she became an “active” ACC member, and then an

accomplished technical climber. “Rather late for anything major,” she said, “But I gained wonderful new experi‑ ences and new friends to brighten my declining years.” Those who know her or watched her could not believe the word “declining”, for Aileen became a regular and vigorous participant in ACC events for the next couple of decades, always enriching the physical joys of climbing with the deeper satisfaction of knowledge of the flora, the animals and the significance of changes in the environment. At many camps she was a teacher and nature study leader. To her encyclopaedic knowledge of the mountains of Canada she has added an international perspective through more leisurely rambles among the mountains of Africa and Asia. Iskawawew-wuche, Mountain Woman, to whom we, and the climb‑ ers and mountain-lovers who will come after us, all owe so much for her role and influence and example in creating a public attitude and government policies for protection of our mountain herit‑ age, was honoured on Jan. 14 by repre‑ sentatives from the ACC and its Calgary, Vancouver, and Vancouver Island sections, provincial parks, CPAWS and numerous naturalists’ societies by a surprise party on her 100th birthday. Somewhat taken aback by all the fuss, Aileen put on her Tilley hat, made some humorous com‑ ments, and said, “Let’s go!” “Let’s go, Aileen!” The road is ahead. Vancouver Island resident Fred Roots is an ACC Life Member. Club alpin du Canada



2012  5

Hiking the Austrian Höhenweg a daypack delight by

Rick Hudson


hy are we going to Austria? Everyone knows the Alps are a zoo, and the possibility of quiet is about as likely as smokers in the Alpine Club of Canada Clubhouse. But we’re old friends and the agreement is that this year Bernhard is host. With his promise of fluent German and good beer in the huts, we are swayed from the more usual ranges. Our route lays along the AustrianItalian border, starting and finishing in Mayrhofen, a picturesque town in the Austrian Zillertal where the window boxes are ablaze with flowers, even in September. The hike is all within the Hochgebirgs Naturpark, and is known locally as the Höhenweg or Berlin High Trail because most of the region’s huts were built by the Berlin Section of the Deutscher Alpenverein, or DAV. There’s an excellent guidebook in English by Allan Hartley, Trekking in the Zillertal Alps (Cicerone Press, 2003) that calls it the Rucksack Route, but it’s not known by that name locally. Alas, our only copy is far away in Stuttgart, and none are available in the many outdoor stores in Mayrhofen. No matter, we plan to spend 10 days on a circuit hiking hutto-hut, and taking the occasional day to climb peaks along the way. The second day is our longest—a 10-hour epic—but we are saved by bad

weather and choose instead to hike into the park (free entrance) up the Stillup Valley, rather than battling steep wet slopes between the Edel and Kasseler hüttes. Good move; at midday it starts to sleet, so we spend a dry afternoon and night in the Grüne Wand Hütte while hail covers the meadows outside. The following morning delivers blue sky as we climb to the Kasseler Hütte at 2,200 metres. You have to love Austrian huts—there’s hot food and cold beer, the service is friendly and efficient, and the prices reasonable. We averaged €35 per person per day—cash only, no credit cards. The beer costs the same in Mayrhofen (and is cheaper than in Canada). Each hut has a mini cableway that brings food up from the valley, hence the competitive prices. Being a member of the ACC means 50 per cent off the accommodation—usually bunks in a private room. Bring your own inner sheet; everything else is included. The big unknown is the trail to the Greizer Hütte. We can see where it goes, but can’t really believe there’s a pass over that skyline. There is. These routes were laid out in the late 19th century, when trails were real trails and trail builders were men of iron. Actually, on the tricky bits there’s plenty of iron—steel pins in the rocks, cables for the hands, even the occasional aluminum ladder—known

At the end of a six-hour hike from the Kasseler Hütte, a hiker approaches the Greizer Hütte—and hot food and a cold beer. photo by Phee Hudson.

Climbing out of the valley from below the Greizer Hütte, Phee Hudson uses klettersteig to cross the steeper rock faces. photo by Rick Hudson.

collectively as klettersteig (or in Italy, via ferrata). The route is a marvel, and as day follows day we are constantly amazed at how the builders found a line across intervening cliff faces or over saddles where no sane route should logically go. It’s a treat. Each hut has its own charm and ambience. Often there are goats (that provide fresh milk for those mid-morning hot chocolate drinks) and chickens (fresh eggs). We usually choose “half pension” which includes a three- or four-course hearty dinner, and breakfast. Full pension includes a packed lunch. Most huts are owned by a mountain club section (usually of the DAV), and the room fee goes to that section. The board fee goes to the custodian. The huts are generally run by a family who works long hours for the four months they are open. They know it’s the food that attracts hikers, and make a big effort to ensure everyone goes away happy. Mind you, witnessing the amount of alcohol con‑ sumed each night, bar sales must be an important factor too! On the non hut-to-hut days, we climb a number of fine summits, most in the 3,000- to 3,500-metre range. Generally scrambling, we have axes, crampons, harnesses and hard hats. A light 30-metre

length of 7-millimetre rope gets us across the glaciers. The trails are well marked with red squares painted prominently on rocks along the way. All junctions are prodi‑ giously signed. And, to our surprise, none of the huts are full. The Berliner Hütte, the oldest in the region (begun in 1879, the same year construction started on the Canadian Pacific Railway) has accom‑ modation for 160, but is quiet. We don’t book ahead, although in the high season ( July-August) it might be wise. No one, however, is ever turned away, even when a hut is full. You just get floor rather than a bunk. On the trails we seldom meet anyone, except at technically challenging sections. The locals take their klettersteig seriously with full body harnesses and double cable clips, whereas we climbed with just an occasional touch of the iron hardware. On the peaks, we meet few or none at all. On popular peaks such as the Grosser Mössler above the Furtschagelhaus hut there are barely a dozen summitters the

From left, Brian de Villiers, Bernhard Steinbeis and Phee Hudson enjoy the summit of the Gigalitz (3,001 metres) with the Italian border on the skyline behind. The warm “foen” wind from the south creates a wall of cloud along the border, stabilising the weather. photo by Rick Hudson.

Sunday we climb it. One thing that becomes obvious is local content. Only once in 10 days do we hear English spoken. When paging through the visitor books at each hut, the furthest names I see are from Sweden and the Netherlands. This is not a well-known

region outside Austria and Germany, yet its scenic beauty, fine summits, hospitable huts and reasonable prices make it a nobrainer for those who enjoy hiking and climbing without a heavy pack. ACC member Rick Hudson lives in North Saanich, B.C.





Club alpin du Canada



2012  7

Team completes test-piece Great Divide traverse by

Carsten Moldenhauer, photos courtesy Great Divide team


hat am I doing here? It’s 3 a.m. My down booties, long johns, down jacket, hat and big gloves barely protect me from the cold. The yellow snow I produce refreezes immediately. But, the landscape is incredible. Before me lies the vast untouched Freshfield Icefield, illuminated by the moon. The cloudless sky is full of stars. I take a deep breath, ignore my grumbling stomach and stumble back to the tent. “Welcome to Canada,” I think, remembering the sign above the entrance to Calgary Airport that I passed a few short weeks ago. It all started with a simple idea before I was even born. In 1967, Don Gardner, Neil Liske, Charlie Locke and Chic Scott skied from Jasper to Lake Louise, estab‑ lishing one of today’s great test-pieces of ski mountaineering: the Canadian Rockies Great Divide traverse. Passing eight major icefields in about three weeks, it starts at the Tonquin Valley trailhead in Jasper National Park and ends about 350 kilometres south at Great Divide Lodge [formerly known as West Louise Lodge], 17 kilometres west of Lake Louise. Though sections of the traverse route see

lots of traffic each year, the entire trip has only been completed eight times. With the trip being on all our to-do lists, it was not difficult to assemble a team from the usual suspects: Gerry Heacock, Daniel Robb (both Alpine Club of Canada Edmonton Section members), Edward McCarthy and me (ACC Rocky Mountain Section). Preparations began in November 2010, and quickly resembled organising an expedition. Gerry, a gourmet cook from Nelson, B.C., prepared and dehydrated dinners for four people for three weeks. The continuous smell of dried tomato sauce in his apartment was hardly bear‑ able. Ed accumulated overtime and applied for unpaid leave, while I had to quit my job to get the required weeks off. By the end of March I flew to Canada from home in Berlin, Germany. Since the others were still tied down by work obligations, setting up the food caches was my task. To make the caches portable I had to be minimalist. We would never be too hungry, but certainly never full. We planned three food caches along the way: Fortress Lake, Alexandra River and one at Mistaya Lodge which was flown in thanks to lodge owner Dave Birnie.

Carsten Moldenhauer, left, and Daniel Robb wait out high avalanche conditions on the Freshfield Icefield in sunny warm weather.

8  Alpine Club of Canada


Spring 2012

In early April, after packing late into the night before, we were car-shuttled to the Tonquin Valley trailhead where family awaited us with freshly baked goods. A short farewell and we were finally off. Before long, our heavy packs started to slow us down and we realized that we would be on this trip for a long, long time, strapped to them. To cheer us up, we had brought cheese fondue and steak for the first night celebration at the ACC’s Wates-Gibson Hut. Once there, another group asked the usual question: where are you heading tomorrow? To their confusion and our amuse‑ ment, we proudly replied, smiling, “to Lake Louise.” Despite our intention to do the traverse in spring to take advantage of longer days and warmer temperatures with snow that wasn’t too deep, we encountered full winter conditions every‑ where. We didn’t even have to remove our skis in the valley bottoms. Trail breaking was regularly knee-deep and it seemed impossible to increase our average speed above three kilometres per hour on even absolutely flat glaciers. Hopes for warm temperatures were dismissed early in

Edward McCarthy enjoys the evening light from camp on the Freshfield Icefield in anticipation of overnight temperatures dropping below minus 20 C.

the trip. After skiing onto the Hooker Icefield during a sunny day wearing only t-shirts, bitter cold enveloped us that night with temperatures below minus 20 C. The first half of the trip was critical, since the route’s course is far in the backcountry with very long or no escapes. Due to stable weather we rushed forward and reached the Chaba Icefield after one week of continuous skiing. We all needed a rest day and with the weather changing to whiteout with heavy snowfall, we finally had our excuse to sleep and rest. Unfortunately, vanishing food supplies forced us to carry on the next day. The following evening had us cele‑ brating Gerry’s birthday with whisky and chocolate on the Columbia Icefield. The wind blew the clouds away and we caught a glimpse of the next day’s work, the traverse of the ridge below Mount Columbia. Separating us from the upper icefield, this ridge was a major crux of the traverse. After waking to clear skies, Gerry led the way through the difficult avalanche terrain. Reaching the upper icefield and looking over the vast white glaciers towards Castleguard Mountain, a feeling of relief overcame me. It seemed like we had passed the hard part of the trip. Little did I know. The next highlight awaited us at our second food cache. Gerry’s father, Edward, and our friend Kellen had made the trek into the wilderness to visit us for one night. This gave us a very welcome break from the everyday routine and we were welcomed with fresh grapes and grapefruits. The more we enjoyed their company, however, the harder it became to think about the morning’s departure. Making things worse, it started snow‑ ing the next day, creating route finding problems that brought us to an abrupt stop. Our motivation gone, we decided to rest and make camp. Everybody on the team had a bad day once during the trip, and this would be mine: I could not stop thinking of a burger and a real bed. Fortunately, the others helped with con‑ soling words. After half a day of rest we were ready to attack the 1,900-metre elevation gain up to the Alexandra Glacier to reach

Icefall Lodge’s Lyell Hut. There, we happily discovered four kilograms of spaghetti in the leftover food box. Three servings of pasta followed. The rest of the welcome surprise was added to our daily morning oatmeal-chocolate mix. Bad weather and deep trail break‑ ing on the glaciers slowed us down the subsequent days. By day 16, we were already half a day behind schedule when we were unable to reach the south slopes of Mount Lambe before noon. Unable to pass the sun-baked avalanche slope safely, we were forced to a rest day, running out of food 26 kilometres away from our last food cache. elcome to Canada. My stom‑ ach grumbles once again. Dinner consisted of only two packages of ichiban noodles, divided between four. Tomorrow, we have to get past Mount Lambe and ascend to Mistaya Lodge. Once there, it will become easier with only the gentle slopes of the Wapta and Waputik icefields ahead. I close my eyes and try to relax. After all, I am not alone and our friendship is strong.


Many thanks to all our families for their great support and help, and in particular, Dave Birnie for setting up a skin track on the approach to Mistaya Lodge, the ACC for its nice huts which we enjoyed, Chic Scott for an evening of stories and Ian Curran for giving me the idea of the trip. Edward McCarthy, left and Daniel Robb arrive at camp below a rock overhang after leaving their food cache and their friends at Alexandra River.

L’obélisque noir par

Paul Geddes


’air froid de la montagne nous a réveillés quand nous sommes sortis dans la nuit, sous un ciel rempli d’étoiles. Le sac de Matt contenait l’équipement d’escalade; le mien contenait la corde. Nous nous attendions à vivre à une journée très spéciale. Nous avons tout d’abord suivi l’un des sentiers du camp situé au pied du mont Tsar et, après deux heures de marche, nous avons atteint le front du glacier. Nous avons alors fixé nos crampons, pour arriver deux heures plus tard à la base de la face nord du mont Odell. Cette crête rocheuse m’avait attiré dès que je l’avais aperçu, une semaine plus tôt. Mes amis et moi venions d’atteindre, juste au sud, un sommet vierge que nous avions nommé mont Joyce à la mémoire de Wallace R. Joyce, ami de longue date et membre du Club alpin du Canada, récemment décédé. L’arête qui mène au sommet mono‑ lithique du mont Odell, situé à 3 146 mètres, semblait acérée comme un cou‑ teau sur toute sa longueur. Matt menait, piolet en main; il testait la roche et enlevait les pièces qui se détachaient. Des corniches de glace, encore là si tard en été, surplombaient la face est et fondaient sur les rochers plats au dessous. Sur la face ouest, des ravins profonds, la gueule remplie de neige, brisaient la crête avant de disparaître dans le gouffre. L’exposition de l’arête était extrême et présentait une cote de difficulté allant de bas à mis cinquième. Quelques kilomètres au nord-est, le mont Tsar culminait, à 3 424 mètres. Nous pouvions aussi apercevoir au loin les tentes du Camp général d’alpinisme 2011 au pied du mont Somervell et le difficile glacier Shackleton. Nous sommes alors arrivés à un faux sommet, qui n’était en fait qu’un long segment horizontal situé à mi-chemin sur l’arête. Nous avancions, une jambe de chaque côté de l’arête, entourant notre corde autour de cornes de roche. Il s’ensuivit une escalade des plus délicates. Certaines sections de l’arête étaient telle‑ ment acérées que nous devions les che‑ vaucher en nous appuyant sur nos mains, enserrant le roc avec nos bottes pour obtenir de la traction. Après avoir planté un relais sur pitons au bout de ce segment 10  Alpine Club of Canada


Spring 2012

The second ascent of Mount Odell was made via the right-hand skyline ridge at the centre of the photo, with Mount Joyce further away left of centre. photo by Paul Geddes.

horizontal, Marc a assuré mon passage. Nous avons continué à grimper sur plusieurs longueurs, sur un couvert de neige de plus en plus épais. Finalement, à midi quinze, huit heures après avoir quitté le camp, nous nous tenions sur le sommet enneigé du mont Odell, où nous avons bâti un cairn avec des roches exposées du sommet. Nous avons pris quelques photos en admirant la vue spectaculaire qui s’offrait à nous dans toutes les direc‑ tions; mais nous n’y sommes pas restés longtemps, car nous savions qu’il nous faudrait autant de temps pour descendre. Heureusement, le temps s’est maintenu. Cependant, de retour sur le glacier, les conditions météorologiques s’étaient dégradées à cause de la chaleur de l’aprèsmidi. Au lieu de marcher sur une surface glacée, nous nous enfoncions dans la neige à chaque pas. Ce fut une marche exténuante. Le soleil se couchait comme nous approchions du camp; quelques alpinistes sont venus nous rejoindre pour terminer avec nous les derniers kilo‑ mètres. Et lorsque nous avons traversé le ruisseau devant la tente repas, on nous a chaudement applaudis. Ce fut si agréable de pouvoir enfin s’asseoir dans la cuisine pour raconter notre longue journée de 16 heures. À cause de l’arrivée tardive de l’été dans les Rocheuses, la plupart des voies d’escalade étaient encore très enneigées, ce qui les rendait impraticables. Mais pendant les six semaines du camp GMC 2011, nous avons malgré tout réussi à escalader et nommer un certain nom‑ bre de sommets. Les sommets Wally, Louise et Andrew, ainsi nommés en l’honneur de nos chers amis, Wallace R. Joyce, Nancy Louise Guy et Andrew

Langford, maintenant disparus (voir « Remembrances » dans le Canadian Alpine Journal Vol. 94, 2011), ont consti‑ tué des buts d’escalade populaires pour les participants. Au cours de dix sorties, 86 participants ont escaladé un autre pic du GMC, le Little Odell, situé à 1,8 km au nord du sommet principal du mont Odell, qui culmine à 2 805 mètres. Le mont Odell fut ainsi nommé par A.J. Ostheimer le 8 août 1927 en l’honneur de Noel Odell (1890-1987), bien connu pour le rôle qu’il a joué lors de l’expédition britannique du mont Everest de 1924. Ostheimer avait été fort impres‑ sionné à la vue du mont Odell, qu’il avait pu admirer à partir du sommet du mont Tsar lors de la première ascension de ce dernier. Dans son ouvrage intitulé Every Other Day, il écrit : « Odell, un bel obélisque noir, très pointu » (traduction libre). Le mont Odell fut grimpé pour la première fois par Vic Bell et Doug Miller le 21 août 1992. Paul Geddes et Matt Mueller furent les deuxièmes à en atteindre le sommet, le 3 août 2011. Paul Geddes habite Vancouver et est membre des sections de Vancouver, de Whistler et de Toronto.

PSST! Avez-vous un récit d’aventure à partager? Une histoire à raconter? Nos lecteurs seraient ravis de vous lire! Contactez l’éditeur de notre revue Alpine Gazette à l’adresse suivante : afin de soumettre votre article, his‑ toire ou événement pour parution.

The Black Obelisk

2nd Ascent of 445E Mt. Odell 2011 Route

la cie r

Mt. Ellis

a cairn with some exposed summit rocks. Mt. A few pictures were 2011 G.M.C. Somervell Basecamp taken as we absorbed the spectacular views in 775N all directions. We didn’t linger, concerned that it would take us just as N long to down climb the ridge. Thankfully, the weather remained stable. Back on the glacier Tsar Mtn. conditions had deterior‑ 52°05’N ated in the afternoon “Louise” heat. Instead of walking 770N on a frozen surface, we “Little Odell” broke through as we r e iv R t “Peak 9700 ft” weighted every step. ske “Coprolite” ba It was an exhausting Mt. Odell trudge across the glacier. “Marco” “Peak 9100 ft” The sun was setting as “Polo” we approached camp, Mt. Joyce from where a few climb‑ ers came out to walk the final kilometre with us. We received a round of applause as ascent. In Ostheimer’s book, Every Other we crossed the creek in front of the tea Day, he wrote: “Odell, a fine looking, tent. It was nice to be finally sitting in the sharply pointed, black obelisk.” kitchen, recounting our 16-hour day. The first ascent of Mount Odell was As a result of the late arrival of sum‑ made by Vic Bell and Doug Miller on Aug. mer to the Rockies, most of the major 21, 1992. Paul Geddes and ACMG alpine routes in the area remained heavily guide Matt Mueller were only the second snow covered, rendering them unsuit‑ people to reach that summit on Aug. 3, 2011. able for climbing. A number of high Vancouver resident Paul Geddes is a points were named and climbed however, member of the ACC’s Vancouver, Whistler throughout the six weeks of the 2011 and Toronto sections; Matt Mueller belongs GMC. Wally’s Peak, Louise Peak and to the Rocky Mountain Section. Andrew Peak were popular climbing From Mount Odell’s summit, the summit of objectives for the participants—named Mount Joyce is behind Matt Mueller’s right after dearly missed friends Wallace R. shoulder. The ACC Toronto Section Camp of the Joyce, Nancy Louise Guy and Andrew previous week was located on the far side of Mount Joyce. photo by Paul Geddes. Langford (see Remembrances in the 2011 Canadian Alpine Journal Volume 94). Another GMC peak, 2,805-metre Little Odell, which stands 1.8 kilometres north of Mount Odell’s main summit, was climbed by a total of 86 participants over 10 outings. Mount Odell was named for Noel Odell by A.J. Ostheimer on August 8, 1927. Noel Odell (1890-1987), is well known for his role on the 1924 British Mount Everest Expedition. Ostheimer was impressed by the sight of the moun‑ tain, which he appreciated from the summit of Tsar Mountain during its first 2,970






r Tsa


British Columbia (83C/4)

Sh ac kle to nG

Paul Geddes



11 20

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11 20












Major Peaks Mt. Odell Peak Name Minor Peaks, Height in Metres 2,805 Glaciated Area Glacial Flow Direction Ridge Lake, River N.T.S. Grid Reference 764N 52°05’N Lat/Long




he cold mountain air of the star-filled night woke us up as we headed out into the darkness. Matt’s pack contained the climbing gear, mine the rope. We were anticipating a special day. We followed a camp trail below Tsar Mountain, reaching the snout of the glacier in two hours. We strapped on crampons and another two hours brought us to the base of the north ridge of Mount Odell. This rock ridge had been luring me since I laid eyes on it the previous week. My buddies and I had reached the summit of an unclimbed peak directly south of there, which we had named Mount Joyce, in memory of Wallace R. Joyce, a longtime Alpine Club of Canada member and friend who had recently passed away. Odell’s ridge appeared knife-edged for its entire length leading to the monolithic summit at 3,146 metres. Matt led up, ice axe in hand, testing the rock and pulling off loose pieces. Cornices lingering late into the summer hung over the east face of the ridge, melting onto the slabs below. On the west side steep snow-choked gullies broke up the rock ridge before disappearing into the abyss. The exposure of the ridge was extreme, the climbing ranged from low- to mid-fifth class. Towering to 3,424 metres, Tsar Mountain rose a few kilometres to the northeast. We could see the tents of the 2011 General Mountaineering Camp in the distant meadows below Mount Somervell with the complex Shackleton Glacier beyond. We gained a false summit, realising that we had only reached a long hori‑ zontal section mid-point along the ridge. Legs straddled the ridge as we wove the rope around rock horns. More delicate climbing followed, with sections of the ridge so knife-edged that it was handover-hand traversing while smearing our boots on the rock face for traction. Matt hammered in a piton belay station at the end of the horizontal section and belayed me across. We climbed on for several more pitches with ever increasing snow cover. Finally, at 12:15 p.m., eight hours after leaving camp, we stood on the snowy summit of Mount Odell, where we built

Odell Glacier Area Rocky Mountains


Ki n




RHW, as of October 17, 2011

Club alpin du Canada



2012  11

Book ends by Lynn


Alpine Ski Tours in the Canadian Rockies

Freedom Climbers

Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies

Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America

by Chic Scott and Mark Klassen Next to the skis, poles, boots, climbing skins, backpacks and avalanche safety gear of every keen Rockies’ backcountry skier is at least one dog-eared, page-folded edition of a Chic Scott ski touring and ski mountaineering guidebook. In this third, full colour edition of his best‑ selling guidebook, Scott’s impeccable research and writing talents are aug‑ mented by the snow safety and terrain savvy of ACMG mountain guide Mark Klassen. This newest Alpine Ski Tours provides an excellent supplement to earlier editions with the addition of new destinations as well as expanded, updated and in some cases re-written information on old favourites. Published by Rocky Mountain Books in print and e-book versions. by Andrew Nugara “Snowshoeing today encompasses a staggering spectrum of levels of exper‑ tise and abilities,” writes Nugara in the introduction to his newest guidebook. Illustrated with clear, enticing photos of wild, untouched snowy mountain landscapes, at first glance the reader might be astonished to realize the his‑ torically simple activity of using snow‑ shoes to travel from point A to B over a landscape buried in the snowy riches of a Canadian winter has evolved into a multi-faceted sport suitable for family weekends and determined mountaineers alike. With 61 wideranging route descriptions, this book provides enough informa‑ tion to hold the interest of the most intrepid Voyageur or casual winter walker through an entire Canadian winter. Published by Rocky Mountain Books in print and e-book versions.

by Chris Davenport, Art Burrows and Penn Newhard Dramatic chiseled summits, immaculate sprawling icefields, wind-sculpted cornices and needle-wide couloirs funneling between vertical rock walls—there’s much about ski mountain‑ eering worthy of large-format full-colour photography printed on high quality paper. Much richer than a mere run-down of tried and true mogul-infested slackcountry lines, this absolutely stunning coffee table book showcases a truly imaginative selec‑ tion complete with first-person descriptions of favourite descents by regional locals, including Canadian Rockies backcountry skiing guru Chic Scott and Golden, B.C.’s big mountain master Ptor Spricenieks who writes poetically about his and Troy Jungen’s first—and still only—ski descent of Mount Robson’s heartstoppingly steep north face. Published by Wolverine Publishing

Raising Kain: The adventurous life of Conrad Kain, Canada’s greatest mountaineer

The adventurous life of Conrad Kain, Canada’s greatest mountaineer

12  Alpine Club of Canada

by Bernadette McDonald Among the ingredients that dif‑ ferentiate a great book from a merely good one include not only an in interesting, compelling story, but the awareness on the part of the writer to fully recognize and deeply under‑ stand exactly which elements make that story great. Winner of the Banff Mountain Festival Book Competition Grand Prize, the Boardman Tasker Prize for 2011, and the 2012 American Alpine Club Literary Award, Freedom Climbers tells the intricate, fascinating and poignant story of how Polish climbers emerged from the bleakness of post-War Russian occupation to dominate high altitude climbing in the great Himalayan ranges through the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Deprivation, social dysfunction, poverty, violence and emotional darkness permeate the exploits of these exceptionally bold and driven characters. Published by Rocky Mountain Books.

by Keith G. Powell This historical novel tells the story of Austrian-born Conrad Kain, the first mountain guide to be hired by the Alpine Club of Canada in 1909. It follows Kain’s challenges as a poor Austrian leaving his home country to embrace adventures in Canada, which include more than 70 first ascents or new routes. Powell intertwines historical fact and black and white photos with colourful and imaginative fiction to create a fresh and entertaining account of the life of Canada’s most respected mountaineer and guide, even high‑ lighting the debate as to who could claim the actual first ascent of Mount Robson, which Kain accom‑ plished with ACC Honorary Member Albert MacCarthy and W.W. Foster in 1913. Published by Wild Horse Creek Press. 


Spring 2012

Should I Not Return

by Jeffrey T. Babcock This autobiographical novel tells the story of a 1967 tragedy on Denali, writ‑ ten by a man who was a member of the rescue team who searched for seven mis‑ sing climb‑ ers—ultimately finding three of their bodies. Sticking close to the truth of the events, the story is wrapped within layers of drama, includ‑ ing familial dysfunction, alcoholism, sibling rivalry and infidelity. Set in the coldest corner of Alaska’s vast wilderness, the book delves into extreme frontiers and their crossings. Among its characters is Frances “Freddie” Chamberlain Carter, an active Alpine Club of Canada member through the 1960s and ’70s who was the third woman to climb Denali. When reading this spine-tingling tale, cautions one reviewer, “wear your parka”. Published by Publication Consultants.

Freedom Climbers

Boardman Tasker Prize Kendal Mountain Festival

Freedom Climbers

Bernadette McDonald

American Alpine Club Literary Award

Grand Prize Winner Banff Mountain Book Festival

“It was felt, according to this year’s judging panel, to be one of the most important mountaineering books published in the English language for many years.” Frances “Freddie” Chamberlain Carter sits between author Jeffrey Babcock (left) and his brother, Bill Babcock. photo by Fred Radle.

—Lindsay Griffin,

ACC members receive

15% off the retail price! 403.678.3200 ext.1 www.alpineclubofcanada/store

Club alpin du Canada



2012  13

How to stay safely connected – to an anchor! by

Ernst Bergmann


he simple act of securing oneself to an anchor can become a safety issue with serious consequences. How to best do that, and especially, what not to do, has been the subject of quite a bit of discussion, triggered by some ser‑ ious and widely publicized accidents. During climbing, whether rock, ice or mountaineering, situations arise where one connects oneself to an anchor or a piece of protection for a short, or some‑ times not so short time. A common default to do this has become a short sling, girth hitched to the belay loop of one’s harness, and in turn clipped to the master point of the anchor via a locking carabiner. This is even done when climbers are still tied into the climbing rope. This often works sufficiently, but there are some inherent problems and potential dangers with this method. First, one should not climb even a little above the anchor point with such a setup. While it is not intuitive, climbing only a couple of feet above the anchor and slipping (being 60 centimetres above the anchor means falling 120 centimetres onto the anchor) can potentially break the tether and result in a fatal fall. To comprehend this it is best to revisit the definition of a “fall factor”; this helps to Figure X: Two climbers, represented by empty harnesses, are connected to a two-bolt anchor. Climber right (bottom) is directly tied into the climbing rope and clove hitched to a carabiner clipped into the master point of the anchor. Climber left (top) is clipped to the master point of the anchor via a Purcell Prussik girth-hitched to the belay loop of her harness. photo by Ernst Bergmann.

14  Alpine Club of Canada


Spring 2012

understand how a fall of a metre or less can have disastrous consequences. Second, much of the gear one sees being used in some of these situations was never designed for this application. Lightweight slings from materials such as Dyneema™ or Spectra™ were designed primarily for draws and never meant to be used in this situation. These are not very dynamic and easily break with very

short (a few feet), high fall factor falls. Similarly “daisy chains” were developed as a tool for aid climbing and not as personal tethers. The latter constitutes misuse. Through discussions within the Alpine Club of Canada National Safety Committee and with some of the guides who teach ACC leadership courses, we have developed some recommendations:

1) If it is possible and the climber is tied into the rope, use the rope to connect to the anchor. The preferred method would be a clove hitch or figure eight knot into a locking carabiner to the master point of the anchor. This should be the default method to attach to an anchor, unless it is not practical to do so because the rope needs to be re-rigged. For most transitions it is not only safer but also much simpler to do this. A clove hitch is advantageous because it can be adjusted easily and tied into an anchor with one hand. 2) Don’t climb above the anchor. Climbers slip and ledges can break. This has the potential to create high fall factors with potentially devastating consequences. 3) Don’t use equipment for applications it wasn’t designed for. Slings or cord out of the ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene materials UHMWPE (Dyneema™ or Spectra™) were not designed as a personal tether. Daisy chains are an aid climbing tool and should be used exclusively as such. 4) If you do need a personal tether use a nylon sling or cordelette of the correct size. Tie or girth hitch directly to your harness and clip with a locking carabiner to the master point of the anchor. Attach to the tie in points, or, if permissible with your harness, to the belay loop. (Most modern harnesses have belay loops that are more than strong enough.) Don’t use a second carabiner on your harness, or, if you have to, make sure it is a triple-action carabiner. 5) Don’t leave a sling or personal tether girth hitched to your harness all day while out climbing. It will create unnecessary and potentially dangerous wear on the har‑ ness. A very good personal tether is the medium length sling from a set of Purcell Prusiks. Carrying a set of properly sized Purcell Prusiks as an emergency ascender and for self-rescue is a good habit anyway. A Purcell Prusik consists of a Prusik knot tied onto its doubled self and defies a written description. Best to get instruction on how to simply tie one from a piece of nylon cordage. Girth hitch the single loop of the Purcell Prusik to the harness and clip the double Prusik loop onto the anchor. This also allows for some easy adjustment of the length. If you need more instructions or like to see details, the Internet has plenty of information on DMM’s drop test, onehanded clove hitches or Purcell Prusiks. Better yet, get instruction from an ACMG guide. The ACC’s National Safety Committee is comprised of: Ernst Bergmann, Chair, Edmonton Section: Peter Amann, Jasper/ Hinton; Félix Camiré, Rocky Mountain; Robert Chisnall, Toronto; Hai Pham, Ottawa; Frank Pianka, Thunder Bay; Selena Swets, Vancouver Island. Thanks also to ACMG mountain guides Cyril Shokoples and Marc Piché for valuable input.

Picture your family here this summer...

Photo: Tanya Koob


backcountry huts to choose from. | 403.678.3200

What my ACC means to me by W. John



remember labouring up the approach to the Peyto Hut in 1999, overloaded and struggling to keep up with the others on the first day of the Alpine Club of Canada’s summer Wapta Traverse, a classic week-long hiking and climbing trip linking four ACC huts across the Rockies’ Wapta and Waputik Icefields. My backpack was weighed down with way too much stuff and that’s not counting the added psychic weight of a stressed, hectic life accumulating things. It was my first Club trip. I had been a member since 1992 but always on the periphery of all its activities. I had joined as an occasional weekend hiker to take advantage of the Club’s extensive hut system in Rockies.

At some point I learned the ACC was always looking for custodians for week-long stints to look after some of their huts in the summer. In 1996, my family and I spent a week as hut custodians of the Wates-Gibson Hut From left, Chung-yee Loo, Deb Perret and Stephanie Andresen are all in Jasper National Park’s smiles at the Tsar-Somervell GMC in July 2011. photo Lilla Molnar. Tonquin Valley. It was an 18-kilometre hike into the The Wates-Gibson Hut stands on the hut. When my wife and I, and kids, shores of Outpost Lake in the spectacular then aged 13, 11, and 9, finally arrived, Tonquin Valley, where we spent a fun late and exhausted, at the hut, the only carefree week exploring. Art and Jack other people there were a couple of older would leave the hut early to climb, and American climbers, Jack Taylor and Art in the evening they would regale us with Maki. They welcomed us warmly. tales of mountaineering derring-do. Finally, in 1999, I looked again at the From left, W. John Andresen, his wife, Kim, daughters Marlaine and Stephanie (back), and son, Brendan ACC brochure for the Wapta Traverse. (front), enjoyed a week as custodians at the Wates-Gibson Hut in 1996. photo courtesy W. John Andresen. Beguilingly, it said it’s for beginners, too. I was a middle-aged guy who was never going to see my 40s again. I should have started this a long time ago, I thought. Had I waited too long? I recalled the words of baseball man‑ ager and philosopher, Sparky Anderson, who famously spoke of the futility of living in the past: “There’s no future in it.” I signed up. At the end of that week, my pasty office pallor gone, and sporting a week’s beard and matted hair, I asked our guide, Cyril Shokoples, “so what’s the next step?” “GMCs,” he replied. “General Mountaineering Camps.” I learned these climbing camps have been an ACC institution since 1906, and run each year in week-long increments over five or six weeks in July and August.

n’t ut! o D so s mi

In the Sir Sandford area of the Selkirk Mountains



Six week-long camps from July 7 - August 18


Spring 2012

Photo: Peter Amann

Photo: Peter Amann

16  Alpine Club of Canada

Photo: Conrad Janzen

Photo: Elizabeth Eckhardt

2012 marks the centennial of the first ascent of Sir Sandford (3,519m/11,545ft).

Aura 50 1_3SQ EN ACC Gazette.pdf

After the Wapta, I realized I needed to reboot. I changed my lifestyle. I started running to get rid of weight and for cardio, and that has evolved to running half-marathons now. The following year I was at the 2000 Fairy Meadow GMC. Since then, I think I have done 11 GMCs, and count‑ ing. I was proud in 2007 at the Mount Alexandra Camp, to fly in with my son Brendan and spend a week climbing with him. And last summer, at the TsarSomervell GMC, my youngest daughter, Stephanie, and I climbed together. Through the GMCs I gained confi‑ dence and started to look further afield. With the Club, I have climbed with Sylvia Forest in Mexico and Helen Sovdat in Ecuador. Those trips in turn gave me the skills and endurance to climb Mont Blanc in Chamonix, in fierce icy winds, from the Cosmiques hut in 2008. This past August, through some Facebook connections, I heard that at 80, Art Maki had climbed Mount Tsar. I got his address through his guide and e-mailed him, reminding him of our week at the Wates-Gibson long ago. Art sent back a gracious note. “These days, my climbing companions have faded away,” Art wrote. “Last year and this year I hired a guide to enjoy the Canadian mountains, one of the best decisions I have made in recent years.” I hear you Art, and now I am enjoying them too. If asked what the Club has done for me, I would answer; “In 1999, my life finally started to turn and the Club helped in the turning.” In middle age I needed to change to be healthier and happier. As I write this, I am packing for another ACC international trip, this time to Patagonia to climb Cerre San Lorenzo. My backpack is lighter now.



8:53 PM









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Summer Job Opportunities The Alpine Club of Canada is looking for team members to work and enjoy a memorable summer season as full time Custodians at the Kokanee Glacier Cabin in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park (early June to late October) and at the Conrad Kain Hut in Bugaboo Provincial Park (mid June to mid September). Ideal candidates will be: Honest and reliable Customer service oriented Experienced in backcountry travel Physically fit and healthy Mechanically minded and handy with tools Knowledgeable and passionate about the out of doors

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Applicants must also have standard first aid and CPR experience or capabilities. The jobs are scheduled on a week-on, week-off, or two weeks on, one week off basis. Custodians receive competitive pay, a car allowance and a performance-based bonus at the end of the season. The deadline for applications is April 4, 2012. Please submit your resume to: Rob Shears, Facilities Manager Box 8040, Canmore, Alberta T1W 2T8


fax: (403) 678-3224

Club alpin du Canada



2012  17

Evelyn Reginald “Rex” Gibson by Lindsay



velyn Reginald “Rex” Gibson was born at Hatfield Peveril in Essex, England in 1892. He was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset, and then at age 16 went to work in Paris at a private bank which belonged to his family. During WWI Gibson enlisted in Britain’s Artillery and after receiving his commission in late 1914, he saw action at Ypres, the Somme and Cambrai. After the War he returned to banking, work‑ ing in Cologne, Germany and Antwerp, Belgium for Lloyd’s, which had absorbed the family bank. In 1926, Gibson immigrated to Canada and the following year began farming at Winterburn near Edmonton. As a farmer he was able to arrange things so that he had his winters and summers available to climb and ski. Prior to com‑ ing to Canada, Gibson had made a few climbs in Switzerland, the notable one being a winter ascent of the Jungfrau. Once in Canada’s mountains, how‑ ever, he rapidly moved to the forefront of mountaineering with his unique ability and skills. He was instrumental in introducing many young boys to the mountains, especially through the Boy

Scouts, and was also a very strong and fast climber; if he so chose, very few could keep up with him. During his 30 years of mountaineering in western Canada he made more than 200 climbs, including many first ascents. Gibson was awarded the Alpine Club of Canada’s Silver Rope Award for Leadership in 1934. In 1936 Gibson climbed Mount Clemenceau and Mount Robson with Sterling Hendricks, which they followed in 1937 with ascents of Mount Columbia and North Twin. Gibson later wrote: It was a source of great satisfaction to Sterling and me that we made mountaineering history by being the first climbers ever to complete the ascent of all four 12,000-foot peaks in the Rockies. He also attempted Brussels Peak, considered the “last unclimbable” peak in the Rockies, but like a number of good climbers before him, the peak eluded him. In 1938 Gibson climbed Mount Forbes and South Twin and also made the first winter ascent of Mount Albert Edward on Vancouver Island with Ethne Gale, and Don and Phyllis Munday. In 1939 he visited the Coast Mountains and made several first ascents, including Mount

Rex Gibson surveys the view with his climbing partners on the summit of Big Interior Mountain on Vancouver Island during a 1953 ACC trip. photo: Syd Watts

18  Alpine Club of Canada


Spring 2012

Tiedemann. Then in 1946 he became the first Canadian since Conrad Kain to ascend Bugaboo Spire. Along with many ACC summer camps. Gibson played a major role in the development and man‑ agement of the ACC’s winter ski camps. Gibson enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1941 and was promoted to Major in 1944. During this period of service he was Canadian Military Representative with the U.S. Army’s Mount McKinley expedition in 1942, on assignment to test cold weather equipment. He instructed at the Little Yoho Military Camp in 1943 and also took part in the Lovat Scout training in Jasper National Park. Gibson was injured during the McKinley expedition, how‑ ever, and was discharged from the army with a pension. In 1948, at the age of 56, he married Ethne Gale and moved to Saanichton near Victoria. Together they climbed a number of peaks on Vancouver Island and also continued to attend ACC camps in the Rockies. In 1954 Gibson made his first attempt on the unclimbed Mount Howson in the Buckley Range near Terrace, but was unsuccessful and returned again in 1955 and 1956. On August 18, 1957, Gibson returned for the forth time with Sterling Hendricks and Don Hubbard. While cut‑ ting steps up a gully Gibson fell and pulled the others with him. When they eventu‑ ally came to a stop, all four of them were injured. Although he was semiconscious at the time, Gibson’s injuries would prove fatal. Hendricks went to get help, but by the time he was able to return two days later, Gibson had died. Just 64, he had been serving his second term as ACC President at the time. In July 1959 the ACC sent an exped‑ ition to build a memorial to Gibson on the mountain. After building a solid rock cairn housing a bronze plaque at the south col, Adolf Bitterlich, John Owen and Bill Lash turned their attention to Mount Howson, eventually making the first ascent to honour their fallen friend. Gibson’s close climbing friend, Bob Hind, wrote: Rex’s love for the mountains was more than a hobby; it became a passion which he was ever willing and eager to share with others.

Young climber exuded a special spark by Lynn



embers of Canada’s climbing community were deeply sad‑ dened to learn that Canmore resident Carlyle Norman had died as a result of being struck by a falling rock while climbing in Argentinean Patagonia on Jan. 15. Norman, 29, and climbing partner Cian Brinker were climbing Last Gringo Standing, a 13-pitch 5.11 on 2,558-metre Aguja Saint-Exupéry as a warm-up in preparation to attempt a new route on another spire, Aguja Bifida. At the 2011 Banff Mountain Film Festival, an exuberant Norman had accepted the John Lauchlan Memorial Award in support of their adventure. After caring for an unconscious Norman, who sustained serious head injuries, for two hours, Brinker made the wrenching decision to descend alone for help. The following day a volunteer search team aboard a Red Bull™ helicopter spotted her, but were unable to land. On Jan. 17 a strong team of experienced alpinists climbed into evening in an attempt to reach her, but stormy weather and rock fall forced them to retreat. Norman’s body was found at the base of Aguja Saint-Exupéry on Saturday, Jan. 21 by Bow Valley mountain guide Joshua Lavigne, who had flown to Patagonia with members of Norman’s extended family. It would appear Norman regained consciousness, unclipped from the anchor Brinker had secured her to and fell 450 metres to the mountain’s base. Lavigne gave his close friend a mountain burial. A highly trained yoga instructor and Kilimanjaro Africa’s Highest Mountain  5895 m / 19340 ft.

talented writer, Norman penned sharp, humorous blog posts for Highline magazine, and wrote insightful articles for the Canadian Alpine Journal. Having lost both parents to unrelated outdoor accidents by the age of nine, Norman was embraced by a “family circle” who nurtured and encouraged her, includ‑ ing long-time Canmore locals Marnie Virtue, Steve de Keijzer and Sharon Wood. Wood, who in 1986 became the first North American woman to Carlyle Norman savours a moment during one of her many happy days summit Everest, rec‑ in the mountains. photo by Joshua Lavigne. ognized in Norman a kindred spirit reminiscent of her younger Like her mother, who died in a climb‑ self. Thoughtful, deliberate and introspec‑ ing accident when Norman was only six, tive, Norman never wanted to be defined she made an impression on all who knew by her tragedies. As a climber, Wood said her. she showed grace beyond her years. “Carlyle could bring a bright spark of “She was just this picture of elegance light and laughter to any situation, but in motion, not wasting a single speck of she could also be serious and highly disci‑ energy on anything other than what was plined,” said Virtue, an aunt to Norman right in front of her nose,” Wood said. “At since she was 12. “She found great solace 29, to see that, you thought, she’s going in wild places. She was extremely happy somewhere.” that day in Patagonia.” Such a statement should come as The Carlyle Norman Memorial no surprise to Alpine Club of Canada Fund to benefit emerging young Toronto Section members who remember writers has been set up through the Norman’s mother, Judy Cook, whom Calgary Foundation. For informa‑ fellow ACCer Roger Wallis credited with tion on how to contribute, contact being, “The finest lady mountaineer to have ever come out of Toronto.”

DIK DIK H o t e l & To u r s Individual safaris in Tanzania Kilimanjaro climb & Safari Specialist Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Manyara Holidays in Zanzibar It is the Swiss family’s Vision & Commitment to provide top quality accommodation, food and service in a friendly atmosphere. Club alpin du Canada



2012  19

Camp participants celebrate sore legs, lungs and livers by Isabel



rom its very beginnings, the Alpine Club of Canada Calgary Section’s 2011 Mount Alexandra Camp was characterized by competition, perform‑ ance and extroverted excitement. With the trip not yet started, Danielle earned special mention for arriving only one hour late to Golden, B.C. (after success‑ fully circumnavigating a Highway 1 con‑ struction closure). Peter also impressed with a record-breaking ride to the helipad that saw his passengers hang on to their seats by their fingernails (no report was filed on the state of their pants). Upon arrival at the helicopter staging area, the Porcupine Defence League began its anti-terrorism work, which Brian won for employing the most unscrupulous approach, as he removed protective wire from a car belonging to an unwitting, absent and thus powerless owner. Soon afterward, the gravel sta‑ dium filled chock-a-block with spectators witnessed the first ever Highland Games performed at that location. Clear winner of the caber toss was Robyn, who deftly heaved a giant piece of wood, and whose love for all things Scottish would soon become even more evident. Fierce com‑ petitions in standing long jump and shot put ensued, as athletes from Scotland, the Netherlands, England and Quebec awaited the helicopter’s arrival. Once delivered to the backcountry site, Team No Regrets established its training camp at the stunningly beautiful headwaters of South Rice Brook. Given Isabel Budke heads back toward basecamp on the far side of an alpine tarn. photo by Marg Saul.

Gabrielle Savard takes in the view of Mount Coral from Mount Osprey. photo by Isabel Budke.

the stellar forecast for the next day, it was not difficult to convince everyone to seek the most coveted prizes first. At 5:15 a.m. Team Alexandra and Team Whiterose headed out together before diverging their separate ways at the col. The weather remained cooler than expected with long stretches of overcast skies, seeing our group climb the upper slopes of Mount Alexandra in near-whiteout conditions before reach‑ ing the top in sub-zero temperatures. As the clouds lifted on our descent, we spotted Keith, Brian and Sara spread along Whiterose’s “spicy” spine. After picking up Clarence, who had spent some contemplative time in his bathtub-shaped snow trench, we glanced back at the clean up-track our female trailblazers had set and then bum glissaded down the soft lower slopes—with biggest butts winning, of course! While Team Alexandra com‑ pleted their round-trip in approximately 11 hours, Team Whiterose had a slightly longer, yet equally successful and satisfy‑ ing first day. Day two dawned with even better weather and with not two, but three trips scheduled. They included Cowboy Couloir on Mount Queant by Keith, Peter and Sara, Whirlwind Peak’s southeast ridge by Robyn, Brian, Ian and Danielle, and a (could it be a first, we hoped?) traverse of Mount Osprey by Gabrielle, Marg and Isabel. Again, all teams were successful in reaching their

destinations, even if the southeast ridge remained somewhat elusive and Mount Osprey already had a cairn on top. The descents proved entertaining in different ways; while Team Hard Core hip-waded their way off Queant’s summit down 55-degree slush, the Hill Billies celebrated their unplanned reunion at the romantic tarn above camp with a group swim (for which clothing was, naturally, not an option). As the forecast for the next day was rather mediocre, the entire team fully embraced the scheduled evening activ‑ ity, which involved clutching delicate, mouth-blown bottles of high-end Tequila, guitars and noisemakers to invoke a Mexican fiesta that lasted into the wee hours. As a result some attrition was unavoidable, and only the hardiest climb‑ ers made it up Rose Petal the next mor‑ ning before rain beat them back to camp, where others had only recently awoken. The following day saw everyone sum‑ mit Mount Coral, after the Alexandra “B” Team gave up their summit attempt due to whiteout conditions. Several hot (and wet) butts were observed on the descent (another “tub” session and fric‑ tion on snow reportedly had something to do with it), accompanied by delightful yodels. The evening continued in a similar vein (wet and delicious), with a sampling of an assortment of quality wines that tingled taste buds and loosened tongues.

Alpine Club of Canada




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Photo: Peter Amann

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July 28 - August 4, 2012

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While forecasts for the following days proved too optimistic, our determined athletes were not deterred from seeking further summits: Cowboy Couloir was climbed a second time, although fresh snow, limited visibility and high winds beat Brian, Isabel, Ian and Danielle into retreat before reaching the peak. At the same time, Team Can Do, comprised of Peter, Keith and Gabrielle pushed a new route up Whirlwind Peak’s north ridge under slightly more favourable condi‑ tions. With a similar goal, Team Flower Power set out the next day in mediocre weather to conquer Rose Petal’s slabby petals, only to be turned around by its rotten ridge. Team Whirlwind “C”, meanwhile, enjoyed its bonding experi‑ ence in a blizzard on top, where they might have remained in cozy communion had they not been coaxed back to camp to partake in the week’s final and most important event... As the week of athleticism and performance had been opened by the Highland Games, so it concluded in style with a Scottish night, featuring special guests Glenlivet, Laphroaig and Aberlour, who had been flown in at great cost just for this event. To everyone’s delight, they did not disappoint and spirits soared, so to speak, to unprecedented heights that night. An improvised jam session involv‑ ing every possible musical instrument and kitchen implement revealed a multitude of secret talents. The show culminated in a bonfire celebration with riveting solo performances before musical stars col‑ lapsed, in haystack fashion, below their heavenly counterparts. Savouring the ensuing silence, we witnessed some of the wonders of the world and sent wishes with the falling stars. But what to wish for when bliss is now? Participants of the ACC Calgary Section 2011 Mount Alexandra Camp were: Front row, from left: Sara Mae Moore, Danielle Tardif, Clarence Kort, Isabel Budke. Middle: Gabrielle Savard, Peter Lloyd, Brian Kinzie. Back: Marg Saul, Robin Owens, Keith Sanford, Ian Combres. Vancouver resident Isabel Budke is a member of the Vancouver, Calgary and Rocky Mountain sections.



My favourite volunteer: Bill Scott by John Wade


ill Scott is a fine example of a cohort of senior Ottawa Section volunteers who have collectively sustained a busy calendar of activities year-by-year for much more than a dec‑ ade. In Bill’s case, new trip participants will get to know a soft-spoken individual who seems to have that gift of being “in the right place, at the right time, with the right words”, whether it is getting a nerv‑ ous group of first aid trainees into the groove for a hands-on scenario, or finding the best line for a bushwhack or off-piste descent. Bill has been volunteering as a trip leader and Ottawa Section Executive Committee member since almost the first day that he joined the ranks of the Alpine Club of Canada 15 years ago. With a particular focus on his passions of back‑ country skiing, alpine travel, climbing, safety and first aid, Bill seems to epitom‑ ize the Canadian service ethos: figure out what needs doing, decide how to do it best, and get ’er done. If you ask Bill what motivates him to volunteer so much of his time and efforts to the Section, he will tell you that he strongly believes that wilderness is a big part of the Canadian psyche and that the epitome of the wilderness experience is to be found in the alpine. For Bill, volunteering is a way of giving back and helping others to build the skills that will take them further along in their outdoor vocation. After a strong track record of giving avalanche forecasting clinics to members joining Club or personal trips that he was leading, in recent years Bill decided to act

on some ideas that had been germinat‑ Despite the many hours of his time ing ever since a serious incident occurred devoted to volunteering, Bill has man‑ during a Section trip in 2001. With the aged to get out and play in an enviable objective of building a cadre of Section range of backcountry ski destinations members and trip leaders with strong in Colorado, B.C. and the Chic-Chocs wilderness risk assessment, accident of Québec, as well as Canadian alpine prevention and first aid skills, the first climbing destinations. If asked to name a trial practise scenarios revealed that there favourite day in the big wild, he may be was a long way to go. This led Bill to coaxed to talk about bluebird days ski‑ prepare a pitch to the Section Executive ing at Fairy Meadow in B.C.’s Selkirks, for a formal program of training up persevering to summit Lady MacDonald to Wilderness First Aid level that was in the Rockies via the southeast ridge, approved and put into practise in 2010. or tagging the summit of the Bugaboos’ With a first generation of graduates up Pigeon Spire and being chased back and running following their first practise down by a storm. scenario in October, 2011, Bill’s vision So, if you ever get the chance, try to is well on the way to being realized. As sign up for one of Bill’s trips or clinics— an added bonus, several graduates have but be prepared to get in line. already put their new skills to use in “for ACC Ottawa Section member John real” situations, often to assist non-ACC Wade has volunteered as a trip leader and groups encountered in the field. Executive Committee member, with time Another fine example of Bill’s cap‑ out for parenting, since 1993. acity to shoulder the big loads occurred this summer with two back-to-back Section trips. The first, to B.C.’s Bugaboos, was led by Bill, and no doubt he was hoping to kick back a little as “only” a mem‑ ber of the subsequent trip to the Rockies. Unfortunately, that trip leader was forced to drop out at the last moment and Bill was asked to step in to the role, which he did with Bill Scott savours the sights of Rogers Pass landmarks Eagle Peak, Illecillewaet Glacier and Asulkan Valley in B.C.’s Glacier National Park from good grace. the summit of Avalanche Mountain. photo by David Foster.

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Become a member today. 22  Alpine Club of Canada


Spring 2012

Mon bénévole préféré : Bill Scott Par John Wade


ill Scott personnifie de façon exemplaire le groupe de bénévoles seniors de la Section d’Ottawa, qui ont mené collectivement un nombre impressionnant d’activités depuis plus d’une décennie. Ceux qui participent pour la première fois à un voyage du Club trouveront en Bill une personne qui n’élève jamais la voix et semble toujours être « au bon endroit, au bon moment, trouvant toujours le bon mot », qu’il s’agisse d’initier aux premiers soins un groupe de secouristes un peu inquiets dans un scénario d’intervention, ou d’ouvrir une voie de randonnée ou de descente hors piste. Dès ses débuts en tant que membre du Club alpin du Canada il y a 15 ans, Bill a agi en tant que chef de groupe et membre du Conseil d’administration de la Section d’Ottawa. Tout en se concentrant sur ses passions que sont le ski de randonnée nordique, les voyages d’alpinisme, l’escalade, la sécurité, et les premiers soins, Bill incarne bien l’éthique de service des Canadiens, qui consiste à identifier ce qu’il faut faire, décider du meilleur moyen d’y parvenir, et s’atteler à la tâche. Si vous demandez à Bill ce qui le motive à consacrer autant de temps et d’efforts à la Section, il vous répondra qu’il croit fermement que la nature sau‑ vage tient une place importante dans la pensée des Canadiens et que la quintes‑ sence de cette expérience en pleine nature est la pratique des activités de montagne. Pour lui, le bénévolat est une bonne façon de redonner aux autres et de les aider à acquérir les habiletés qui les mèneront plus loin dans leur pratique et leur amour du plein air. Avec à son actif un très grand nom‑ bre de stages de formation en prévision d’avalanches, donnés aux nouveaux membres du Club ou lors de voyages personnels qu’il avait dirigés, Bill a décidé au cours des dernières années de réaliser des projets auxquels il pensait, depuis qu’un grave accident s’était produit lors d’un voyage de la Section en 2001. Afin

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de constituer un groupe de membres et de chefs de voyage possédant de solides connaissances pour évaluer les risques, prévenir les accidents, et administrer les premiers soins lors d’activités de plein air, il a mis en oeuvre des scénarios d’exercice qui ont révélé qu’il restait beaucoup à faire en ces domaines. Ceci l’a conduit à faire une présentation aux directeurs de la Section visant à mettre sur pied un pro‑ gramme officiel de formation de premiers soins en plein air, qui a été approuvé et mis en oeuvre en 2010. Avec une première promotion de diplômés prêts à fonction‑ ner suite au premier scénario d’exercice d’octobre 2011, ce projet est en bonne voie de réalisation. Un autre avantage s’est d’ailleurs ajouté à ce cours, puisque plusieurs diplômés ont déjà mis leurs nouvelles connaissances à l’épreuve dans diverses situations réelles, en venant en aide à des groupes non membres du CAC rencontrés sur le terrain. D’autre part, un autre bel exemple de la capacité de Bill à ne reculer devant aucune responsabilité nous a été donné cet été, lors de deux voyages consécu‑ tifs de la Section. Après avoir dirigé le premier voyage dans les Bugaboos de la Colombie-Britannique, Bill espérait sûre‑ ment pouvoir profiter du voyage suivant dans les Rocheuses en tant que « membre seulement ». Mais malheureusement, le chef de file de ce deuxième voyage a dû se désister à la dernière minute et Bill a accepté de bonne grâce de prendre la relève. Malgré les nombreuses heures consacrées au bénévolat, Bill a réussi à effectuer des sorties personnelles dans un ensemble enviable de destinations de ski de randonnée nordique au Colorado, en Colombie-Britannique, et dans les Monts Chic-Chocs au Québec, ainsi que dans diverses destinations d’alpinisme au Canada. Si vous lui demandez de raconter l’une de ses journées de plein air préférées, il pourrait vous parler de journées passées à skier sous un ciel bleu à Fairy Meadow dans les Selkirks de la ColombieBritannique, de la longue ascension par la voie sud-est jusqu’au sommet Lady MacDonald dans les Rocheuses, ou de sa conquête du sommet du Pigeon Spire dans les Bugaboos, d’où il a dû redes‑ cendre, chassé par une tempête.

Bill Scott enjoys a beautiful Rockies view high above Kicking Horse Pass from the summit of Paget Peak in Yoho National Park. photo by Jim Whitteker.

En conclusion, si vous avez cette chance, inscrivez-vous à l’un des voyages ou stages de formation de Bill. Mais préparez-vous, il y aura sans doute une file d’attente! Depuis 1993, John Wade, membre de la section d’Ottawa du Club alpin canadien, s’est porté volontaire en tant que chef de voyage et membre du Conseil d’administration, tout en s’absentant pendant quelque temps pour vaquer à ses tâches parentales.

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2012  23

University initiative links mountain passions by Lynn



he pursuit of climbing mountains, says Zac Robinson, Alpine Club of Canada VP Activities and active volunteer trip leader, is steeped in a rich and varied connection to the physical sciences as well as to the creative arts and some of the finest adventure writing ever produced. “A lot of the early climbers were scientists, artists, writers, poets too,” Robinson said. “There is much about the mountaineering activity that is rooted in that aesthetic of romanticism and literature.” As the son of respected Manitoulin Island native artist Michael Robinson—a Métis whose aboriginal themed works are treasured in collections at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Royal Ontario Museum—Robinson is also keenly interested in the roles aboriginal peoples played in shaping Canada’s mountain history. For example, the eastern-based Iroquois’ sophisticated understanding of Canada’s mountain landscapes made them indispensable to the fur company explorers who would ultimately be credited for “discovering” many high alpine passes in the Rockies. It’s just such historical interests, com‑ bined with his role as assistant professor in the University of Alberta’s faculty of physical education and recreation, that led Robinson to join 24 other U of A faculty members in developing an initiative that celebrates their wide-ranging mountainrelated passions and fields of study. The recently launched Canadian Mountain Studies Initiative (CMSI)

From left, physical education and recreation dean Kerry Mummery, associate dean of research, John Spence and alpine historian Zac Robinson enjoy a moment of higher education on the summit of Mount Athabasca. photo by Zac Robinson.

brings together educators from four of the university’s faculties—agriculture, life and environmental sciences; arts; physical education and recreation; and science— with the ultimate hope of establishing the U of A as a internationally recognized centre for mountain studies. The key, explained English and film studies professor, Stephen Slemon, a parttime Rockies resident and “recreational mountain guy”, is to create cross-faculty learning experiences for educators and students that also incorporate the general mountain community. “There are lots of centres that look at mountain studies, but nobody has put together collective studies of mountains, a mountain centre dedicated to mountain activities in relation to one another, in combination with student training and

U of A students delight in the splendid sight of Mount Robson near the end of the 173-kilometre North Boundary Trail backpacking trip. photo by Zac Robinson. 24  Alpine Club of Canada


Spring 2012

community inclusiveness,” Slemon said. “The University of Alberta’s established capacity to work in Northern studies is something that applies easily to moun‑ tains and mountain culture and mountain activities.” The idea for the initiative—which the group hopes to evolve into a formal insti‑ tute—sparked in 2009, when the mem‑ bers realized that the university already had within its ranks a substantial number of faculty members from different fields who shared expertise and interest in vari‑ ous mountain related studies. “The glacier water guy was desperate to know about the human history of the mountains,” Slemon said. “Everybody was fine in singularity with what they were already doing, but we all find it so cool to see what the other guy is doing.” The subsequent Summit Series lec‑ tures, which ran through the 2009/10 school semesters, featured three present‑ ers from different study backgrounds at each of four events. “We lined up one physical scientist with a physical education faculty mem‑ ber with a mountain literature expert,” Slemon said. “The result was a love-in. People came from the community and got really excited. This just came alive.” Thus far, Robinson pointed out, the CMSI is an informal collective that is open and committed to collabora‑ tion with other individuals, groups and institutions. At the community level, Banff ’s Whyte Museum, the Eleanor

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Luxton Foundation, Parks Canada, the Banff Centre and the ACC are among a dozen committed partners of the CMSI. The recent website launch ( immedi‑ ately generated response from across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. For biologist David Hik, who par‑ ticipated in the Banff Centre-hosted International Year of Mountains confer‑ ence in 2002, the CMSI is a natural evo‑ lution that could have not only regional, but national value. “Ever since IYM I’ve thought we need to have a focal point in mountain studies,” Hik said. “Mountains studies are generally neglected in Canada. “There was an IYM for a reason; the United Nations didn’t just do it for fun. There was consensus around the world that mountain issues needed to be addressed, but what progress has been made? Are we close to finding better ways, to finding solutions?” Canadian mountain researchers are proportionally small compared to other mountains nations, with most science happening in the valley bottom where the people are concentrated, while very little is conducted in the higher mountain regions where freshwater originates. “That’s unfortunate, given the great significance of how mountain glaciers support agriculture, communities and cities downstream,” Hik said. “We just haven’t placed much emphasis on moun‑ tain studies.” The CMSI, Hik hopes, will strengthen the existing network of people in Canada who are already focussed on mountain studies by combining their knowledge. Toward that end, the CMSI is organising the Thinking Mountains 2012 conference to take place at the Edmonton campus in December. “We’re really excited to collaborate with anybody,” Robinson said. “That’s a big part of what we want to do, get this interdisciplinary conversation going. And there are big issues that connect us all— climate change, adaptation, indigenous agencies.” Within the U of A, many such con‑ nections are already established. For 17 years Hik has been taking students to the Yukon’s St. Elias Mountains to study

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plant-herbivore-climate interactions in alpine and tundra ecosystems. As part of the physical education and recrea‑ tion program, Robinson has organized extended backpacking trips throughout Banff and Jasper national parks, and also general mountaineering courses on the Wapta Icefield under the instruction of Association of Canadian Mountain Guides professional guides. He’s also col‑ laborated with Parks Canada staff, parks historians and managers and archivists. “Students have come from various disciplines across the campus, each bring‑ ing their own unique perspective to learn‑ ing process,” Robinson said. “It’s this type of interdisciplinary, hands-on, engaged learning experience that we’re seeking to

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formalize. We’re looking at taking that model and tweaking it into a full-borne certificate.” Through the CMSI, such in-the-field learning opportunities would be opened up to students from various faculties inter‑ ested in pursuing a certificate program—a small area of specialization embedded within a larger degree program. “We think we’re witnessing the birth of a discipline, and one that is too long in coming into being,” Slemon said. “We are really excited.” Stephen Slemon is an ACC Rocky Mountain Section member; David Hik belongs to the ACC Edmonton Section. Reprinted with permission from the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Summer custodians


e are currently seeking volunteer custodians for many of our backcountry huts throughout the spring and summer seasons. If you’re a passionate outdoor enthusiast and would like to discuss custodianship opportunities, please contact the National Office at (403) 678-3200 ext. 1 or at Volunteer custodians receive complimentary accommodation at the hut during the custodianship. Club alpin du Canada



2012  25

Bolivia climbs – high and beautiful story and photos by


Gordon Hopper

fter a somewhat unsuccessful visit to the Chilean Puna in January 2011, where we experi‑ enced a weather phenomenon known as the Bolivian Invierno (Bolivian winter), my wife Elizabeth and I decided to visit Bolivia at the beginning of their dry season—their winter—in May. Bolivia is a landlocked country in equatorial South America bordered by Chile, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Its geography varies from 4,200-metre altiplano with mountains up to 6,550 metres in the west, to savannah and tropical rain forest in the east. The mountain ranges are divided into four groups or Cordilleras; the Apolobamba in the north, the Real (largest), the Quimza Cruz, and to the west, the Occidental which extends along the border to where Bolivia, Chile and Argentina intersect. We limited our climbing to the Cordilleras Real and Occidental. Flying to La Paz from Miami at 5 a.m. we enjoyed tantalising views of the Apolobamba and Real Mountains in moonlight from the plane. La Paz, the world’s highest capital city, is built on a steep slope at the head of a deep valley between 3,300 and 4,000 metres. It has spread onto the surrounding altiplano to form the city of El Alto, each conurbation being about one million in population. We spent three days acclimatising in Copacabana, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, and in La Paz arranging transpor‑ tation and guiding assistance. Although one could climb these mountains

High camp from which the climbers reached the 6,330-metre summit of Parinacota, was located just below the col between the twin volcanoes of Parinacota and Pomerape.

unaided, it would be more difficult, timeconsuming and less safe as there are no rescue services. There are also few easy mountains in Bolivia. Our first ascent was 6,088-metre Huyana Potosi in the Sierra Real, a twohour drive from La Paz. After hiking to a refugio we promptly ran into stomach problems, so spent an extra 24 hours there to allow the Cipro™ and Imodium™ time to work. We set off around 2 a.m., but three hours later turned around halfway to the summit due to weakness and stomach pains. We rested a day in La Paz then drove for three hours to the village of Sajama to climb 6,330-metre Parinacota, one of the Payachatas, twin volcanoes on the Chilean border. An hour-long 4WD trip brought us to basecamp, from where we walked two hours to a high camp just below the col between Parinacota

The north half of Illimani’s summit ridge, at 6,439 metres, the highest peak in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real, is bathed in the golden glow of sunrise.

and Pomerape. Departing at 2 a.m., first on lava ash and rocks, then on frozen 40-degree snow, we neared the summit as dawn broke over adjacent 6,549-metre Sajama, Bolivia’s highest mountain and the Andes’ 15th highest. From the top we looked down into the 100-metre deep volcanic crater and viewed nearby 6,000-metre peaks, including the smok‑ ing Guallatiri, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes, and other 5,500- to 6,000-metre volcanoes stretching for 100 kilometres to the south. Our next objective was Illimani, which towers over La Paz. The highest of its several summits is 6,439-metre Pico Sur. A two-hour drive from La Paz along dirt roads clinging to the sides of deep, steep-sided valleys brought us to the vil‑ lage of Pinaya. From there horses carried our equipment to camp 1, a very peaceful spot called Puente Roto, near a 4,400metre pass. From there we climbed steep moraines then a rocky ridge to Nido de Condores (condor’s nest) at 5,450 metres, from where we viewed the extensive glaciers and hanging seracs of the moun‑ tain’s west side. Starting at 2 a.m. we ascended a ridge, quite narrow and steep at times, reaching the crux, a 25-metrelong 50- to 60-degree frozen snow slope. It was quite a slog in the dark at this altitude but eventually the angle eased off for the last 200 metres, reaching the summit ridge just as the sun rose over the Amazon basin. With no wind visibility was excellent, displaying a panorama of the Cordillera Real, Sajama, Payachatas and Quimza Cruz.

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As we belayed each other down the steep face, unbeknown to us at the time, an Austrian climber who had been to the summit with us slipped, sustaining bilateral leg fractures when a crevasse stopped her. This was also the site of Bolivia’s worst ever climbing accident in 1989 when six Chileans fell to their deaths. Back at Nido de Condores, our guides promptly returned up the mountain along with three American extreme skiers who’d been camped near us to retrieve her. From Nido de Condores local villagers used a short ladder as a stretcher to transport her to the road end at Pinaya where a 4WD ambulance took her to La Paz. With no Bolivian rescue facilities, had it not been for our guides and the American skiers, she would have died of hypothermia in the crevasse. On our descent, we were rejoined by our guides, one a native of Pinaya whose family had prepared a meal of sheep cooked in a pit of hot rocks along with locally grown potatoes and oca. After another rest day in La Paz, we returned to Sajama village to climb 6,549-metre Sajama, a very large strato‑ volcano which looked steep and difficult from all angles. Since we were well

acclimatised, we hiked from the village at 4,200 metres to high camp at 5,700 metres in one day, passing through the world’s highest forest of kenua trees. At our high camp perched on snow above a large rock outcrop, a condor circled us a few times before disappearing round the mountain. The whole mountain consists of unstable lava rocks with some large cliffs and a 100-metre thick ice cap. In the middle of the night we started up a 40-degree slope of frozen snow which soon became 50 to 60 degrees with a few short knife-edged ridges. We then followed a long 45- to 50-degree slog for 300 metres to the summit dome with a few narrow crevasse crossings. The Bolivian Mountaineering Association once hosted a soccer match on the summit but it quickly ended when the ball disappeared down the mountain. The summit was very cold with a brisk breeze and clouds blocking any potential warmth from the sun. After snapping summit photos with frozen hands we began rappelling and downclimbing the steep slope back to high camp. Hiking five hours back to the village, we indulged in a prolonged soak in a large •

natural hot spring pool and a delicious barbecued llama dinner. We spent our last two days purchas‑ ing colourful Bolivian cloths, sweaters, sheepskin rugs, scarves and wool blankets at bargain prices, and cycling down the thrilling Death Road from 4,700 metres to 1,200 metres on Cordillera Real’s east side. As per its name, we passed numerous crosses commemorating the 300 people who died annually driving the narrow track with vertical drop offs of several hundred metres. It is now bypassed by a completely new two-lane highway ascending an adjacent valley. We wanted to return to Huyana Potosi but time ran out. We very much look forward to visiting this beautiful country again. The ACC Mountain Adventures program offers rare chances for mem‑ bers to visit international alpine destin‑ ations with Canadian mountain guides. Plans are in the works for an exciting climbing trip to Bolivia in June 2013... those interested should contact Chelsea Club alpin du Canada



2012  27

ACC fund aids in conservation efforts

Volunteers from the Nature Conservancy of Canada spend a day along the southern Alberta Crowsnest River battling blueweed and mullein, two problematic invasive species threatening the area.  photo: Nature Conservancy of Canada. by


Kailey Setter

t is 11 a.m. on a mid-July day, and a heavy rain is falling in the Crowsnest Pass. But you know what they say, “If you don’t like the weather in Alberta, just wait five minutes.” At 11:05, the sun is shining from a clear blue sky. Since arriving in the Pass about two hours earlier, our group has already experienced almost every kind of weather imaginable, but no one seems to mind. We have been hiking along a scenic stretch of the Crowsnest River all morning on a mission to combat invasive species. This stretch of the Crowsnest River was conserved by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in 2000. For the past 50 years, the NCC has been working collaboratively with local organisations and landowners to protect and restore environmentally significant habitat all across the country. Since 1962, the NCC has conserved more than 2.5 million acres of land across Canada with more than 2,000 of those acres located in the Crowsnest Pass. Conserving lands rich in biodiversity is a challenging task which requires an ongoing dedication to stewardship. The NCC is dedicated to the long-term management of the proper‑ ties it secures, and relies on community volunteers to assist with on-the-ground

28  Alpine Club of Canada


Spring 2012

habitat restoration projects, such as the one our group is tackling today. On this day, our modest group of 11 has joined together to seek out and remove two of the most problematic invasive species in the area; blueweed and common mullein. Invasive species, which are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in the world today, are par‑ ticularly prolific in the Crowsnest Pass owing to the local geography and prevail‑ ing wind patterns which facilitate seed dispersal. A single blueweed plant can produce up to 2,800 seeds, while a single common mullein plant can produce more

than 100,000. Every plant we can prevent from going to seed today will bring us another step closer to halting the advance of these invasives into native habitat. So far today, our group has removed hundreds of blueweed and common mullein plants from a 2-kilometre stretch of the Crowsnest River where chemical control is restricted. Thanks in part to a grant received through the Alpine Club of Canada’s Environment Fund, we have joined forces with other local organisations and community members to spread out over a larger area and halt the spread of invasive species on multiple fronts. When this day draws to a close, we will join together to share a hot meal and swap stories of our small victories. Until then, our group will continue its trek along the hillsides and banks of the Crowsnest River in search of invasive species, heartily enjoying the sunshine that, for the time being, has finally decided to shine down upon us. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is a non-profit, non-advocacy organisation that takes a business-like approach to land conservation and the preservation of Canada’s biodiversity. Through strong partnerships and the stewardship efforts of our Conservation Volunteers, NCC works to safeguard our natural areas so that our children and grandchildren will have the chance to enjoy them. To learn more about the NCC and how you can take part in its conservation efforts, visit or Kailey Setter is NCC Conservation Volunteer Coordinator.

Dani Trudgeon tackles common mullein along the Crowsnest River, along with 10 other volunteers from the Nature Conservancy of Canada. photo: Nature Conservancy of Canada.



Peter Muir

have commented a couple of times in previous Routefinding columns about the Alpine Club of Canada’s adop‑ tion of strategic plan. I am now happy to report that the creation of this plan continues to provide focus to Board and staff efforts toward improving the Club. It certainly has been keeping them all busy. The plan has refocused board meetings and drawn out aspects where sections and members would like to see improvement. Two of those areas, combined by the modern age, are the need to improve our computer/communication technology and increase the availability of French services to ensure that the Club is indeed Canada’s national mountain organisation. Over the next two years, ACC members will see increasing access to French and more (or new!) user-friendly technology for such things as hut reser‑ vations and membership management. In fact, members who have recently had the opportunity to visit the Club website (many changes are noticeable at, the site can now be viewed in what my Francophone friends assure me is a pretty reasonable French interpretation of the origin‑ ally English text. Still some room for improvement, but still, I think, a positive move forward. Information technology, or “IT”, is a specialized area requiring specialized skills. Past president Cam Roe and Prince George Section Representative Will Cadell recently reviewed the Club’s IT program and concluded it needs tweaking and improvement before most of the stra‑ tegic plan “wish list” can be implemented. Over the next while, they and other committee members, Kory Fawcett and Jefferey Lockyer, will lend us their skills and expertise in the area to improve the Club. And that, after all, is the purpose of a strategic plan. But also, this serves to demonstrate that volunteer time, skill and effort are the strength of the ACC. So, on that not too far off day when you can book that forgotten, and therefore last-minute, hut reservation from your android, think kindly of these gentlemen, and should you cross their paths, I’d sug‑ gest buying them a Moosehead. Be safe and have fun out there. Peter Muir, ACC President.

Recherche d’itinéraire par

Peter Muir


ans ma chronique « Recherche d’itinéraire », je vous ai com‑ muniqué à quelques reprises mes commentaires au sujet de l’adoption du plan stratégique du Club alpin du Canada. Je suis heureux de vous informer que l’élaboration de ce plan continue de fournir aux membres du Conseil d’administration et à notre équipe un point central autour duquel s’articulent leurs efforts visant à améliorer le Club. Le moins que l’on puisse dire est que cela les a tous gardés bien occupés! Ce plan a permis de recentrer les objec‑ tifs lors les réunions du conseil, en plus d’identifier divers aspects que les membres et sections aimeraient voir s’améliorer. En cette ère technologique, nous devons amé‑ liorer nos technologies de l’information et nos communications, et fournir un meil‑ leur accès à des services en français pour que le CAC soit véritablement le club national d’alpinisme du Canada. Au cours des deux prochaines années, les membres du CAC auront de plus en plus souvent accès à des communica‑ tions en français et ils pourront utiliser des technologies plus conviviales (ou nouvelles !) pour réserver les refuges ou gérer leur abonnement. Si vous avez récemment visité notre site web, vous avez pu y trouver une traduction fran‑ çaise qui, selon mes amis francophones, rend très bien le sens original du texte anglais (voir ces changements sur notre site : Il y a toujours place à l’amélioration, mais

photo by Thierry Levenq


selon moi, c’est un pas dans la bonne direction. Les technologies de l’information (ou TI) sont une spécialité qui exige des con‑ naissances spécialisées. L’ancien président du Club, Cam Roe, et le représentant de la Section Prince George, Will Cadell, ont récemment examiné le programme de TI du Club et identifié les améliorations à apporter pour mettre en oeuvre la « liste de souhaits » du plan stratégique. En compagnie de Kory Fawcet et Jeffery Lockyer, qui font aussi partie du comité, ils nous feront profiter de leur expertise en ce domaine afin d’améliorer le Club. Cela correspond parfaitement à l’objectif du plan stratégique et montre bien que le temps, le talent, et les efforts fournis par nos bénévoles constituent la véritable force du CAC. Alors, dans un avenir rapproché, lorsque vous utiliserez votre téléphone intelligent pour effectuer cette réserva‑ tion de refuge que vous aviez oubliée, ayez une bonne pensée pour eux. Et si vous croisez leur chemin, pourquoi ne pas leur offrir une Moosehead ? Soyez prudents et amusez-vous bien en pleine nature ! Le président du Club alpin du Canada, Peter Muir. Merci de recycler cette revue ou encore mieux, passez la à un ami!

2012 TNF-ACC Summer Leadership Course Hundreds of amateur leaders volunteer their time at both the Section and National levels to ensure that other ACC members have a safe and enjoyable time in the mountains. The ACC is committed to the development and training of these trip leaders and camp managers. Every season ACC Sections across the country send 10 future volunteer leaders to The North Face – Alpine Club of Canada Leadership Course. Dates: July 28 – August 4, 2012 Location: GMC–Sir Sandford area Application Deadline: May 15, 2012 Club alpin du Canada



2012  29

Open air: having fun is serious business


by Lawrence White

AFFORDABLE HIMALAYA and ACONCAGUA 5% discount for acc members


photos by Todd Davis, Bori Shushan and Kevin Giles.

hile in our mid-20s my partner, Corina, and I decided it would be romantic to drive down to Big Sur on the California Coast for New Year’s. Well, to be fair, I thought it would be romantic and I convinced Corina of my romantic vision. Having read the Jack Kerouac book of the same name, along with other beatnik authors, the draw of the wild southern California coast seemed, I don’t know, hip. So we packed up the Volkswagen Jetta, left the dog with the parents in Vancouver and started off. I’d made one hotel booking; Lucia Lodge for three nights, 22 miles south of Big Sur. We had 12 days in total to get from Canmore to Vancouver, to Lucia, and back. But it looked straightforward enough. We’d just skip on down to California and hug high‑ way 101 all the way south, in winter. How hard could it be? The trip was a complete disaster. Big Sur is FAR! Miles are not kilometres. And highway 101 is like that treacher‑ ous B.C. section of the Trans Canada from Rogers Pass to Revelstoke, but for 600 kilometres. The rain was torrential and rockfall plenty. A huge portion of the road was closed—south of our final destination, thank goodness—due to a landslide (for more than a week, it would turn out). We saw several snowplows en route too, which were necessary to remove the Smart Car-sized boulders off the “highway”. Of course, I could have researched all of the distances and weather patterns and driving conditions and perils in general, but is that what Jack would have done? Did Jack do endless amounts of research

Lawrence White enjoys some serious fun in Kokanee Glacier Prov. Park. photo by Félix Camiré.

for his many adventures documented in On the Road? Did Jack, Corina pragmat‑ ically remarked, only have 12 days? When I want to go skiing or climb‑ ing, and certainly now, on holiday with Corina, I take the time to research and plan the trip. Doing so certainly makes the end result, the doing of the activity, if you will, far more safe and enjoyable (and keeps my relationship intact). So it goes with the Alpine Club of Canada. There is an enormous amount of effort that goes on both at the local and National levels to make sure the end result—the fun—happens as seamlessly, yet seemingly organically, as possible. There are people behind the scenes work‑ ing for free on behalf of all of us to ensure the ACC has things such as insurance, access, licenses, partnerships, outreach, funding, socials, equipment, research material, instruction and much much more. Our volunteers toil away, often deal‑ ing with huge bureaucracies and mounds of paperwork, to little or no acclaim, all because they recognize the need to plan and prepare towards a better end result; a more enjoyable activity or event. They too enjoy having fun. But having fun is serious business. Lawrence White is Executive Director of the ACC.

Climbing and walking trips for men and women, with Dan Mazur. All ages and abilities, expert to novice. Everest climbs and treks, Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Baruntse, North Col, Lhotse, Everest Glacier School, Island Peak, Muztagh Ata, Mera Peak. Charity Service Walks near Everest, Free (no charge) Seattle Glacier School. 360-570-0715

NOTICES Upcoming Meetings Executive Committee meeting: ●● April 14 - 15, 2012 in Canmore, AB Board of Directors meeting: ●● May 26 - 27, 2012 in Canmore, AB Annual General Meeting: ●● May 26, 2012 in Canmore, AB

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ACC ski week lotteries

Watch for the and mark the dates on your calendar:

Fairy Meadow lottery runs April 1-30, 2012 Kokanee Glacier Cabin lottery runs April 15 thru May 15, 2012

Details will be provided in upcoming NewsNets and on our website:

30  Alpine Club of Canada


Spring 2012


MEC is a proud partner of The Alpine Club of Canada.

ACC Gazette  

Spring issue 2012