Features & Images » Feature Story

Higher education

British Columbia Mountaineering Club turns 100



“The task of making these mountains known has been a heavy one. Unstinted toil and unflagging perseverance have been called for; and the financial demands on the members have been heavy. With absolutely no aid from government or any outside quarter, they have carried on a work of great public importance from year to year, finding their reward in the doing of it.”

— J. Porter, Editor, Northern Cordilleran, 1913

By Andrew Mitchell

Heavy leather boots lashed to rusted iron crampons. Sturdy wooden ice-axes with iron picks. Wool and flannel inner layers to keep in the heat. Treated leathers and canvas outer layers to keep out the wind and moisture. Coils of fibred rope for safety, kerosene lamps if it should get dark.

The year is 2007. Despite numerous advances in materials and technology, a group of six mountaineers will attempt to ascend Mt. Garibaldi (2,678 metres) this Canada Day long weekend using a variety of old school climbing equipment from the early 1900s. Among the climbing artifacts traveling with the group is the actual ice axe used by J.J. Trorey, one of the first mountaineers to ascend the peak in the summer of 1907.

Trorey was also a pioneering member of the B.C. Mountaineering Club (BCMC), and has a peak named after him on the Spearhead Traverse. You can see it from the shores of Russet Lake.

The 100 th anniversary of this ascent will mark the centennial of the BCMC itself, as the club celebrates 100 years of exploration, advocacy and education.

In many ways it’s also the story of the Sea to Sky region, which hugs the western flank of Garibaldi Provincial Park — protected in 1919 and formalized as a park in 1927 after years of lobbying by the BCMC’s passionate founders. The park’s northern boundaries were later expanded after more lobbying, and it now sits at close to 200,000 hectares — stretching to Pemberton in the north, to Squamish in the west, to Lillooet in the east, and bordering on Golden Ears and Pinecone Burke Provincial Parks in the south (both also BCMC projects).

Past and present members of the BCMC are true pioneers, climbing the highest and most inaccessible peaks throughout the province, traversing vast alpine ice fields, and filling in the blank spots on maps. They have a legacy of built trails and alpine cabins, of guiding innumerable trips into remote alpine areas, of making countless first ascents, of embracing their sport with so much dedication and intellectual fervor that it transcends mere recreation. The BCMC has always been just as concerned with the why, what and how of B.C.’s backcountry as with the more obvious who, when and where.