North America, Canada, Rocky Mountains of Canada, First Ascent of Mt. Lilliput

Publication Year: 1945.

First Ascent of Mt. Lilliput. In July of 1940, Dr. Alvin Cox and I drove over the newly opened highways from Revelstoke to the Athabaska Glacier. The weather was pretty continuously unpleasant—lots of rain and low-lying clouds, but we did make a few climbs in between, including the first ascent of Mt. Lilliput (9500 ft.) on the Wapta Icefield. We backpacked up to the head of Sherbrooke Valley, camping apparently at the place where the unfortunate contretemps with the bear and Christian Häsler and companion occurred the preceding fall. The warden was reluctant to let us go— they were still looking for the bear and rode up several times to see if we were O.K. We saw plenty of traces of bear but no bear— however, several fine elk and moose. The first attempt was defeated by a particularly violent and bitterly cold storm which became so bad on the icefield that we were hardly able to turn back. By the time the weather turned for the better, our provisions were out, but on very short rations, something like four prunes apiece and a can of tomato juice for the 24 hours, we finally completed the trip in excellent weather. We contoured around Mt. Niles, crossing the col between it and Mt. Daly. From here there is a drop of 1000 ft. or more and it must be 6-7 miles across the icefield to Mt. Lilliput. The icefield was in a miserable state for traveling, being in an advanced honeycomb stage—sharp narrow spines and troughs knee-deep sometimes. It certainly was laborious to have to lift each foot so high with each step and slip around on the uneven footing in the troughs. We had intended to combine the climb with Mt. Balfour, but this was effective persuasion to leave that mountain alone. We climbed up broken rock to the ridge leading up to the Balfour col—no difficulty. On the other side the peak drops off very abruptly, as also on the Bow side. We lay on the warm rocks and watched it storm over the Louise and Ottertail groups and then built a cairn and left a record. We completed a rather strenous day by breaking camp and backpacking down to the road.

H. F. Ulrichs

[The writer of the foregoing, our only member thus far in the Merchant Marine, sends his letters from the South Pacific and adds: “It is quite a change from the mountains to the sea, but give me the former any time. It has been my first trip to the tropics and it has all been very new. I have seen 14,000 ft. peaks from the ship, but the climate in spite of it being fall is continuously hot and humid and not very conducive to physical exertion. It is strange not to see even a crystal of snow on peaks of that height—the vegetation appears to go right to the top. There are said to be some higher, 16,000 ft. ones that are perpetually snow-capped, but I have not been able to see them. There has been no temptation to get far from the beach on account of snipers.”]