American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

The Alpine Club of Canada

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1956

The Alpine Club of Canada. The Club conducted two very successful camps during the period under review—an eight-day ski camp during the Easter vacation and the usual summer camp—the 50th such camp to be held by the Club in the Canadian mountains. The ski camp was held at Glacier, British Columbia, based at the Club’s cabin in Rogers Pass, erected in honor of the late founder of the A.C.C., Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler. Just over 30 members and friends attended, and although the weather was generally not very good a number of extended trips were undertaken, notably to the Asulkan Pass and over the Illecillewaet Névé. Our good friend Ira Spring attended with a large assortment of photographic equipment and obtained some very fine shots of the wintry scenery, both inanimate and animate.

The summer camp was held from July 25 to August 7 at Mt. Robson, where the Club had not conducted a camp since 1924. We moved in just at the end of a three-week spell of fine weather, but, too good to last, the weather broke badly on the very day the camp opened. Although we had established a high camp at 8,800 feet, above Kinney Lake, on the standard South face route, we were unable to get any Club parties to the top due to fresh snow conditions. The mountain did not again become safe to climb until several days after the camp ended. In spite of the bad weather, however, a great deal of climbing was accomplished, and Club parties ascended Mt. Resplendent (11,240 feet), Mt. Phillips (10,660 feet), Lynx Mountain (10,471 feet), and many others. Dr. Frank Gaebelein conducted divine service on Sunday with an inspiring address. An unusual feature was the visit from a helicopter which brought in Harry Rowed, the well- known Jasper photographer, in a mere 11 minutes from the Hargreaves’ ranch near the Canadian National Railway. The same trip partly by car and partly on foot took about eight hours.

Many Club members took part in private expeditions, and the Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria Sections were especially active.

A number of first ascents was made in the Coast Range of British Columbia, and some further exploration of the Howson Range in north central British Columbia was undertaken by a party of four led by the writer.

Training programs were carried out at summer camp, where snow, ice, and rock-climbing schools were conducted. Special emphasis was laid on safety in climbing, good route finding, and rescue techniques.

At the end of November the Vancouver Section entertained Sir Edmund Hillary who was passing through their city en route to the Antarctic where he is joining the Expedition which is to cross the Antarctic Continent in connection with the forthcoming geophysical year. One of our local members, Paddy Sherman, was able to persuade Pacific Western Airlines to fly Sir Edmund over the Coast Range, which he was especially keen to see. The flight was done in a de Havilland Beaver Float plane, and Mrs. Phyl Munday, one of the pioneers of the Coast Range, was along. They had fine views of the whole Waddington group, and the climax of the trip was when the pilot actually flew the plane between Waddington’s two peaks at about the 13,000-foot level.

The safety record in the Rockies was marred again last summer by a most deplorable tragedy on Mt. Temple (11,636 feet), in which seven American schoolboys aged from 13-16 years lost their lives. They were attempting this long climb too early in the season. They were also inadequately clothed, poorly equipped, and had no adult leadership on the upper part of the climb where the accident happened. They were also not on the correct route, which though long, is quite easy—a long walk up scree slopes on which a rope is really not necessary. They had also omitted to obtain the usual permit from the local Park warden. After being caught in a snowslide at about the 9,500-foot level, in which two boys were actually buried and in which some of the others suffered fractures, they were unable to stand the exposure. No fewer than five of the victims died of exposure and shock before help could reach them. Their condition was also aggravated by an adverse change in the weather after the accident. The need for education of the climbing public in safe methods of mountaineering is once again emphasized.

E. R. Gibson, President

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