A Climber’s Guide to the Coastal Ranges of British Columbia by Dick Culbert (British Columbia Mountaineering Club). Alpine Club of Canada, 1965. Illustrations, sketch maps, route sketches and 8 area maps in separate envelope. $3.50.
This badly needed and newest of climbers’ guidebooks covers the entire Canadian west coast between the States of Washington and Alaska, an airline distance of 500 miles. The average width, including Vancouver Island, is about 200 miles; thus a total of roughly 100,000 square miles is covered, a large portion of which is mountainous and constitutes one of the greatest coastal mountain barriers in the world. The climbing history of this large area, with minor exceptions, began only in 1925.
The book is divided into southern, central and northern sections with ten, four, and eleven sub-sections, respectively. Members of the Alpine Club of Canada, the British Columbia Mountaineering Club and the Varsity Outdoor Club (University of British Columbia) performed most of the field work. The peak index at the end includes about 850 names.
The only peaks over 11,000 feet are Mount Monarch and those in the Mount Waddington group. A good many scattered peaks are over 10,000 feet. Many of the peaks rise directly from or near very deep valleys, in some cases only a few hundred feet above sea level. Long salt-water inlets penetrate the range for distances up to 70 miles and have much the physical appearance of the Norwegian fjords: many glaciers, some flowing from snowfields of several hundred square miles, extend down to less than a thousand feet above the sea. Most of the principal peaks have been climbed but many of the lesser peaks, including some over 10,000 feet remain virgin due generally to difficulty of access. The surname and initials of all members of first ascent parties are given as well as the location of the peaks and general route of ascent. A few of the more difficult ascents are described in some detail.
A good introduction including such useful information as: sources of information, general morphology, roads and trails (if any), brush, wildlife, weather, forest fires, names and elevations, abbreviations, climbing difficulty ratings, air transport and safety recommendations. Everything considered, the editor, Dick Culbert, and his associates, have produced a fine guide book containing a large amount of useful information in a still not fully known mountain area. The material is well organized and attractively presented. All North American climbers with a spark of fascination for new and extremely rugged country in their makeup should have this reasonably priced book on their shelves, except when it is with them in the field.
Henry S. Hall, Jr.