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BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

In the heart of the Canadian Rockies Outram, James, Sir, 1864-1925 1905

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    THE UNIVERSITY OF
BRITISH COLUMBIA
H LIBRARY 1 IN  THE  HEART  OF THE
CANADIAN  ROCKIES  I  IN   THE   HEART
OF THE
CANADIAN   ROCKIES
JAMES OUTRAM
WITH MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS
"Mountains are the beginning and end of all natural scenery."
— RUSKIN.
Nefo gfltfc
THE  MACMILLAN  COMPANY
LONDON : MACMILLAN & CO., Ltd.
I905
AU rights reserved  APOLOGY
The writer owes and most sincerely offers an apology for
the existence of this book. Its inception was due to kindly
pressure, only yielded to with great reluctance, and its completion has been effected under serious difficulties. The brain
collapse from overwork, which first impelled him to the mountain heights for mental rest and physical recuperation, has
throughout hampered clear thought and steady composition.
A basis of a few magazine articles has been built upon by
scraps of work at odd half-hours, and thrown together without
the opportunity either to weld the fragments into literary form
or polish the resultant in a manner that would justify its
presentation to the public.
As there is no pretence to literary merit, so there is no
attempt at a scientific treatment of any of the geological,
zoological, or botanical features met with in the Canadian
Rockies, interesting as each undoubtedly is and deserving of
the attention of specialists. These characteristics are dealt
with merely en passant as they strike a very ordinary mortal,
with less than an elementary acquaintance with these sciences.
The only claims to consideration the writer can put forward
are those of an enthusiast : first, as a lover of Nature and her
infinite Creator, who has had the privilege, during a long
period of compulsory abandonment of all his wonted mental
occupations, to spend a part of three summers in the most
attractive region it has been his lot to visit ; and, secondly, as
a mountaineer, to whom, as to Childe Harold, " high mountains
are a feeling," and who can say with him,
"Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends."
His endeavour has been to combine some of the most striking narratives of others with a considerable fund of new experiences, gained in the exploration of hitherto untrodden peaks
vu Vlll
APOLOGY
and passes, and, from an intimate acquaintance with almost all
of the loftiest mountains and most lovely scenery along the
chain of the Divide, from Mt. Assiniboine to Mt. Columbia, —
the highest peak in the Dominion as yet conquered by the
mountaineer, —to present some account of all the more notable
" First Ascents," together with a description of the chief points
of interest and beauty massed in the mountain fastnesses.
Thanks are most heartily given to the publishers of The
Century Magazine, Outing, Leslie's Monthly, The English Illustrated Magazine, and Appalachia for permission to incorporate
articles which have already appeared. Also to Professor C. E.
Fay, editor, for kind permission to make extracts from numerous papers published in Appalachia, amongst which his own are
most valuable : to Mr. W. D. Wilcox for permission to quote
and refer to his delightful book, "The Rockies of Canada,"
and to Messrs. Stutfield and Collie for similar favours in connection with their work, " Climbs and Exploration in the
Canadian Rockies." The writer would also express his indebtedness to the following gentlemen for permission to use
photographs : Messrs. A. H. Cowan (4), H. W. Du Bois, C. E.
Fay, J. Habel, I. Langmuir, H. C. Parker, E. R. Shepard, and
W. D. Wilcox, and the Detroit Photographie Company ; to
Mr. E. Deville, Surveyor-General of Canada, for maps published by the Dominion Land Survey, and to the Royal Geographical Society and Professor J. N. Collie for the latter's
valuable map, which has been almost exactly reproduced, with
an extension from Mr. W. D. Wilcox's map. For any variations from these originals the writer is solely responsible.
Finally, the writer desires to express his special thanks to his
friend, Mr. Harrington Putnam, for most valuable advice and
assistance during the progress of this volume through the press ;
and earnestly hopes that some of the readers of its pages may
not only while away a passing hour pleasantly, but be drawn
into a new or closer intimacy with the mountains, which may
enrich their lives in future years. CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
The Mountains and their History   .
Banff the Beautiful   ....
Mt. Assiniboine	
Lake Louise	
The Tragedy on Mt. Lefroy
The Valley of the Ten Peaks •
Fdzld and Mt. Stephen
The Yoho Valley ....
The Ottertatl Group ....
The Valley of the Upper Bow .
The Sources of the North Saskatchewan
Mt. Forbes   *	
The Mountains of the West Branch
Mt. Bryce	
Farther North	
APPENDICES
A. The Selkirks	
B. Accident on the Glaciers of Mt. Gordon
C. Hints on Outfit	
D. Record of "Fïrst Ascents"    .
Index	
PAGE
I
27
38
72
99
124
144
189
234
269
294
335
362
404
429
441
445
448
449
453
IX  ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE
Lake Louise.   The First Glimpse .....     Frontispiece
A Baby Rocky Mountain Goat  11
Mt. Sir Donald  23
Banff.    {Photo, by Detroit Photographie Co.)  33
Cascade Mountain  36
Mt. Assiniboine from the North.    {Photo, by H. W. DuBois)      .       . 39
Mt. Assiniboine from the South-west.    {Photo, by W. D. WUcox)        . 58
Summit of Mt. Assiniboine  ......... 67
Lake Louise and Mt. Lefroy.    {Photo, by A. H. Cowari) 73
Lake Louise and Mt. Victoria.    {Photo, by A. H. Cowan)    ... 82
A Glacier Table.    {Photo, by C. E. Fay)     .        .       .       .       . 91
Comice on the Summit of Mt. Habel    ....... 103
Mt. Lefroy and Victoria Glacier    .       .  113
The Mitre.    {Photo, by A. H. Cowari)  124
Mt. Temple.    {Photo, by E. R. Shepard)  129
Mts. Hungabee, Deltaform, and Biddle.    {Photo, by H. C. Parker)      . 134
Field and Mt. Stephen        .        . 145
Mts. Stephen and Cathedral  156
The Natural Bridge  166
Cathedral Spires  173
The Yoho Valley  180
Emerald Lake  188
Yoho Lake   ............ 194
The Takakkaw Fall.    {Photo, by A. H. Cowan)  195
The President Mountain  205
The Takakkaw Fall  216
The Twin Falls  218
Glacier Cascades  228
The Balfour Ice Fall  232
The Ottertail Group  235
xi
èl Xll
ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE
Mt. Goodsir.   {Photo, by I. Langmuir)       •••••. 249
Mt. Vaux     ..  265
Bow Lake     ......•••••. 292
Pyramid Peak       ......•••■• 296
The Middle Fork of the North Saskatchewan       ..... 309
Howse Peak.  317
The Freshfield Glacier                 •       • 320
Mt. Forbes   ............ 343
Mt. Saskatchewan        .  365
Mt. Alexandra  368
Mt. Columbia from the North-west.    {Photo, by J. Habel)   .       .       . 380
View to the North-west from the Summit of Mt. Lyell .... 391
Mt. Bryce  405
Watchman Peak   .        ..       .       .  409
Mt. Columbia from the South-east .       •       •       •       •       •       «415
The Illecillewaet Glacier  443
MAPS
The Neighbourhood of Laggan and Field
The Yoho Valley Region
The Canadian Rocky Mountains   .
to face page
k in the heart of the
canadian rockies  IN THE HEART OF THE
CANADIAN ROCKIES
CHAPTER  I
THE MOUNTAINS AND  THEIR HISTORY
«
Westward the course of Empire takes its way "
There is a wonderful fascination about mountains.
Their massive grandeur, majesty of lofty height, splendour of striking outline—crag and pinnacle and precipice— seem to appeal both to the intellect and to the
inmost soul of man, and to compel a mingled reverence
and love.
More especially" is this the case where snow and
glacier combine to add a hundred fold to all the other
charms and glories of the peaks. Their inspiration
almost overwhelms one as he gazes on their
"Stainless ramps, . . .
Ranged in white ranks against the blue — untrod,
Infinite, wonderful — whose uplands vast
And lifted universe of crest and crag,
Shoulder and shelf, green slope and icy horn,
Led climbing thought higher and higher, until
It seemed to stand in heaven and speak with gods."
Who can wander unmoved in the calm shelter of
some verdant valley, a foaming torrent swirling tumultu-
ously at his feet, or beside the placid waters of a moun-
B I 2        IN THE HEART OF THE CANADIAN  ROCKIES
tain lake, reflecting mirror-like the darkly sombre slopes
of pine that lead us onward, upward to those
"Palaces of Nature, whose vast walls
Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps,
And throned eternity in icy halls
Of cold sublimity; where forms and falls
The avalanche — the thunderbolt of snow !
All that expands the spirit yet appals
Gathers around these summits, as to show
How earth may pierce to heaven, yet leave vain man below."
But the fascination of the peaks permits no quiet
acquiescence in this suggestion to remain in passive
admiration at their base. The spell is on us — not of
wonder only or of awe, or even love that can be satisfied with distance. A closer, fuller intimacy must be
ours ; gained by a reverent study of their character
and form and nature, penetrating their reserve, breaking
down barriers, till from point to point we pass to learn
the fulness of their being, and on each soaring crest
learn from itself and its environment new glories and
fresh beauties in the world and its Creator.
Such is the spirit of the mountaineer, and to gain
this is at once his keen endeavour and his highest joy.
No toil is too arduous for him to undergo ; the very
difficulties constitute an added charm; it is a science,
loved and studied long and patiently, which in pursuit and ultimate achievement brings invariably a full
reward.
The tiny land of Switzerland is famed throughout
the civilized world for the splendour of its mountain
■ THE  MOUNTAINS AND  THEIR  HISTORY
scenery. In the tremendous effects of absolute elevation and extent, wild desolation and rugged immensity,
it cannot, of course, compare with the huge chain of
the Andes or the vast summits of the Himalayas, but
for variety and charm, as well as accessibility, it has
well-grounded claims to the title of " The Prince of
Playgrounds." The rich valleys, threaded by icy torrents, adorned by frequent waterfalls, clothed with dark,
sheltering forests, or brightened by cultivated fields and
vineyards, dotted with picturesque chalets, and eloquent
of peaceful, healthful home-life, are invaluable complements to the magnificent lakes, the towering cliffs,
majestic glaciers, and stupendous, ice-clad peaks, which
form the crowning glory of that favoured country unique
in scenic grandeur as in history.
But though its scenery is unchangingly beautiful and
the familiar Alpine monarchs retain forever the affection
of the mountaineer, yet his soul will crave — and rightly
so — the chief joy of the climber's ambition, a "first
ascent." He turns most naturally, therefore, to the great
continent of America, where he expects to find plenty
of new things and generally finds them on the largest
scale. The United States, with its enormous area and
limitless array of Nature's mightiest works and treasures,
might well expect to possess some counterpart to
Europe's pleasure-ground. But, hunt as we may amid
the upland solitudes of Colorado's sea of lofty mountains, the noble peaks and canyons of the Californian
Sierras, or the icy fastnesses of Mt. Shasta and the
Cascade Range, the more closely they are studied, the 4        IN  THE  HEART  OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
more intrinsically are they found to differ from Switzerland. Each contains some of the splendid features that
are all combined within the scanty limits of the little
European Republic, but the wondrous glacial fields, the
massing of majestic ranges, the striking individuality of
each great peak, the forest areas, green pasture lands,
clear lakes, and peaceful valleys, are nowhere found
harmoniously blended on the western continent until
the traveller visits that section of the Rocky Mountains
which lies within the wide domain of Canada.
Following the Continental watershed from Colorado
northward, the ranges of Montana begin to display the
characteristic features which culminate in the Switzerland of the Western Hemisphere. The rounded or
gabled summits here give place to broken pinnacles,
precipices rise in frequent grandeur, enormous seas of
ice sweep from the alpine heights into the verdant heart
of pine- and spruce-clad valleys, gemmed with emerald
and turquoise lakelets, and silvery waterfalls and sparkling rivulets unite in producing a series of absolutely
perfect mountain pictures.
Two variations from the European prototype are
certainly conspicuous. The one, that in this country of
superlatives the ranges and peaks are multiplied tenfold.
The. area is vastly larger and the mountains are more
closely packed together ; but, as a consequence, the individual peaks, with some notable exceptions, are scarcely
so strikingly characteristic as their Helvetian relatives.
The other obvious difference lies in the wildness of the
Rocky Mountain region.     Except where  the  railroad, THE  MOUNTAINS  AND  THEIR  HISTORY
with its intruding whirl of civilization, has caused the
springing up of one or two small hamlets and an occasional section-house, even along the highway of transcontinental traffic there is but little sign of man. The
graceful chalet, the climbing herd of cattle, the musical
tinkle of whose bells chimes faintly through the distance,
the sturdy toiling peasant, here are not. Nature alone
holds sway, rugged and wild and beautiful. And yet
the seeker of these temples of Nature, whether to worship from afar or to explore with strenuous foot the
innermost recesses of the wooded valley or the topmost
pinnacle of some white summit, whence a bewildering
panorama of matchless mountain scenery is unfolded
before his delighted gaze, need not endure a single privation or discomfort in his quest. In all the luxury of the
modern sleeping-car the traveller is rapidly transported
into the very heart of the mountain world.. Much of it
may be enjoyed without passing from the sight and
sound of the great railroad artery, where charming hotels
and rustic chalets keep him in comfort during his stay,
and combine with the unsurpassed scenery to lengthen
it to the utmost limit.
But to view the grandest mountains and obtain the
finest climbs, it is necessary to camp out for a short or
long period, and as this mode of life is one of the most
delightful of experiences, the necessity enhances the
pleasure of one's holiday. It adds to all the varied
charms of scenery a free and healthful life, long journeys
through primeval forests, scented with the sweet fragrance of the balsam-fir, the fording of great rivers, and IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
the enjoyment of the numerous attractions, human as
well as scenic, of a roving life.
The Canadian Rocky Mountains form the northern
portion of the great Cordilleran chain, which spans the
Continent of North America from Mexico to the shores
of the Arctic Ocean. The characteristics of the range
vary largely in its long-drawn sweep from sunny south
to icy north ; the structure and the scenery change from
time to time as one passes from one section to another
along its mighty length. The farther north the latitude,
the more the mountains in general diminish until they
die down into insignificance.
But, though the highest individual peaks and the
greatest mean elevation are found south of the Canadian
border-line, the general character becomes more abrupt
and rugged, more alpine in its vast areas of glacier and
striking grandeur of pinnacle and precipice, till, in the
region between the 50th and 53d parallels, the only real
counterpart of the Alps is found. The culminating
point is reached in the centre of this section, where, just
north of 52° north latitude, the huge Columbia ice-field,
containing an area df about 200 square miles of solid ice,
at a mean elevation of nearly 10,000 feet above the sea,
forms the hydrographical centre of a quarter of the Continent, and supplies the head-waters of streams that flow
to three different oceans: the Athabaska, via the Mackenzie River, finding its outlet in the Arctic Ocean ; the
Saskatchewan flowing into the Atlantic at Hudson's
Bay ; and the Bush River, a tributary of the Columbia,
reaching the  Pacific. THE  MOUNTAINS AND  THEIR  HISTORY
The Canadian Rockies are mainly composed of strata
ranging in age from the Middle Cambrian to Lower
Carboniferous, and having a minimum thickness of
20,000 feet. But few traces of igneous rocks are found,
the outcrop in the Ice River Valley being the most
important. The mountains rise abruptly from the great
plateau that forms an approach more than a thousand
miles in extent, and form a series of parallel ranges, with
deep intervening valleys, running in a general direction
from south-east to north-west. East of the Divide, the
Lower Carboniferous strata are often overlaid bv beds of
Lower Cretaceous, with so imperceptible a break that,
in spite of the wide difference in age, they are frequently
indistinguishable were it not for their fossils ; demonstrating that prior to the last great upheaval, to which
the present form is due, little disturbance and no folding
or crumpling of rocks occurred to any appreciable extent.
The later disturbing agencies produced, in the eastern
parts, very regular but complex flexures, usually at high
angles from the axis of the range and sometimes completely overturned, resulting in a general appearance of
vertical cliffs and long, easy slopes. In the centre the
strata are fractured and upheaved rather than bent, and
present a massive, cubical aspect.
Two interesting features are specially noticeable.
One, perhaps unique, where great longitudinal valleys
divide the several ranges, running parallel to the main
line of the watershed and forming the principal watercourses, which zigzag from one to the other through
narrow defiles broken through the intervening mountains. 8
IN THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
The other is that the course of the watershed gets farther from the plain as it trends northward ; the sources
of the eastern rivers near the boundary being in the first
range ; the Kananaskis rises in the second ; the Bow in
the third ; the North Saskatchewan in the fourth ; and
the Athabaska in the fifth ; each in turn forcing its way
through the remaining parallel ridges to the great
plateau.
Another characteristic which strikes even the most
cursory observer is the great wealth of glaciers,
"Those silent cataracts of frozen splendour
Singing the eternal praise of God,"
not only in the vast extent of certain ice-fields, such as
the Waputik and the Columbia (perhaps the largest outside the fringe of Arctic territory), but also in their number, scarcely a peak 10,000 feet in altitude being without
at least one, many possessing more than one, and sundry
lower mountains also contributing their quota to the
wonderful array.
The width of the Rocky Mountains proper averages
about sixty miles, but the whole mountain system, often
designated loosely by the same title, stretches from the
plateau of the North-West Territories to the Pacific
coast, a distance of nearly ten degrees of longitude.
Included in this wider system are the Purcell and Selkirk Ranges (frequently referred to under the latter
name alone), the Gold and the Coast Ranges, running
roughly parallel to the line of the Divide.
The Selkirks, separated from the Rockies by the low-
fr THE MOUNTAINS AND THEIR HISTORY
lying valley of the Columbia River, are wholly different
in structure and considerably older. The rainfall is
much greater, the vegetation richer, and their mineral
capacity is considerable. Their elevation is somewhat
lower than that of the Rockies, only two peaks over
11,000 feet being known, and Mt. Selwyn, near Glacier
House, 11,038  feet, the highest accurately determined.
The highest peak known in the Rockies is Mt.
Robson, near the 53d parallel of latitude, a short distance
west of the Yellowhead Pass, estimated by the Dominion
Land Survey at 13,500 feet. The Mt. Columbia section, sixty miles farther south, has, however, a higher
mean elevation, and contains the grandest peaks and
glaciers, forming the culmination of the chain ; it is dominated by Mt. Columbia and Mt. Forbes, the former
about 12,500 feet in altitude, the latter somewhat over
12,000 feet. Near the railroad the loftiest mountains
range from 11,000 to nearly 12,000 feet and average
almost 1000 feet lower than the northern group. Still
farther south, with the exception of Mt. Assiniboine,
11,860 feet (the highest summit south of Mt. Forbes),
the mountains do not rise more than a bare 10,000 feet.
The line of the Divide, which marks the boundary
between Alberta and British Columbia, is extraordinarily erratic during much of its explored length, and
is broken by numerous deep and sharp-cut passes, which
are remarkably low in comparison with the altitude of
the peaks, which often tower 6000 to 7000 feet above ;
whilst from many of the valleys the summits lift their
heads 1000 to 1500 feet more in almost sheer precipices. io      IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
The timber-limit stands at about 7000 feet, though
in sheltered aspects and on the Pacific slopes fair-sized
trees may be met with 500 feet higher. There is little
variation from the jack-pine, common spruce, and balsam
fir, at an elevation of more than 5000 feet, though
in certain localities Lyall's larch, the cedar, and the hemlock will be found. Cottonwoods abound from 5000
feet downward, alder and willow chiefly keeping them
company in the upper valleys. Flowers are abundant
and remarkable for the brilliancy and variety of their
colouring. I collected over seventy kinds during a
single summer in my wanderings, though never once
hunting for them. Many of them can be gathered at
any season through the year, excepting winter, by following upward the
" Living flowers that skirt the eternal frost,"
and late in September large and varied bouquets can be
gathered in the higher altitudes.
The Canadian Rocky Mountains are not remarkable
for a great profusion of animal life, though big game in
abundance.wall reward the skilful hunter, provided he is
accompanied by a guide who is acquainted with the habits and the habitat of the noble denizens of these grand
mountain haunts. But unless hunting or research into
their ways is the specific object of him who penetrates
these wild recesses, few animals are likely to be seen.
They are too shy and wary, as a rule, to allow human
beings to get very close, and as the valleys are almost
invariably thickly wooded in their lower portions, there THE MOUNTAINS AND THEIR HISTORY
ii
is ample opportunity for effectual shelter. Most of
them, therefore, are invisible unless some lucky chance
enables the traveller to run across one near the water's
BABY ROCKY   MOUNTAIN   GOAT
Captured by C Bobren and C Hâsler
edge or on the shingle flats  that are characteristic of
many of the river-beds.
Their tracks, however, are of frequent occurrence and
sometimes very recent The mule-deer, caribou, and
occasionally moose, wander along these picturesque valleys and up their rugged sides, especially in the late fall, 12      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
and fur-bearing animals are fairly plentiful. Bears in
considerable quantities inhabit the woods: the grizzly
and silvertip, as well as the black and brown and cinnamon, falling victims to the prowess of the hunter or the
trapper's wiles. Mountain goats are still almost common, and on numerous occasions I have come across
them singly or in small bunches, and once to the number
of over fifty in one herd. The mountain sheep is much
more rare and more restricted in his habitat.
Of smaller game the lynx, coyote, wolverine, musk-
rat and marten are most common. Few, if any, beaver
now remain. Descending to the humbler walks of life,
we find the marmot, whose wmistle often breaks the stillness of the upland solitudes ; the " fretful porcupine " is
often met with waddling along in anxious haste to find
a temporary refuge amongst the branches of a kindly
spruce; a cheerful red-squirrel, with bushy tail erect, a
chipmunk, with its bright-striped coat, or a more soberly
clad gopher will sometimes dash across the trail or make
remarks from the security of a snug retreat.
A few ptarmigan and grouse (nicknamed | fool-hens n
locally) and a rare duck or two represent all that can
be classed as game. Ordinary bird life is restricted to
the whisky-jack, a finch or two, and smaller birds (I once
saw a golden-crested wren by the side of the Kicking
Horse River). The whisky-jack is the most familiar,
especially to campers, as he is a regular camp-follower,
always looking out for scraps and seldom troubled by an
excess of modesty. His name is a corruption of the
Indian " Ouiscachon," which passed from whisky-john to THE  MOUNTAINS AND  THEIR  HISTORY
*3
the more familiar whisky-jack. Fish-eagles are by no
means rare, as are fish-hawks, and golden eagles, too, are
sometimes seen.
Fish usually abound in the glacial streams and lakes,
rainbow trout predominating, and they have been caught
as large. as six pounds in weight. They are extremely
good eating, as the flesh is firm, owing to the coldness
of the water, and the flavour excellent.
From the grand rocky obelisk of Mt. Assiniboine,
which has been styled the Matterhorn of North America, to the pure, snow-crowned heights of Mt. Columbia,
it has been the writer's privilege to journey, skirting the
lofty ridge-pole of the Continent for about two hundred
miles, and making frequent ascents to the most prominent of the splendid summits that rise in all the majesty
of glacier and precipice along the line of the Divide.
Twenty of these climbs were "first ascents" of peaks
over 10,000 feet, and a dozen more of points slightly
below that altitude; and it is of this region, the most
beautiful as well as the most accessible portion of the
Canadian Rockies, comprising all the loftiest known
peaks, except Mt. Robson, that the present volume
treats.
This territory may be divided into four chief groups,
severed by low passes easily available for horses. The
first and last of these groups are subdivided by higher
passes, likewise possible for animals, but may be conveniently dealt with singly.
The southernmost is dominated by Mt. Assiniboine,
and extends from the White Man  Pass (6807 feet) to i4      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
the Vermilion Pass (5265 feet), a distance of about forty
miles. Until Simpson Pass is reached (6884 feet), no
peak challenges notice, but beyond, Mt. Ball (10,900)
and Storm Peak (10,330) introduce us to the mass of
peaks that form the Bow or Laggan Group. This is not
more than twenty miles in length, and is bounded on the
north-west by Hector Pass, crossed by the Canadian
Pacific Railway at an elevation of 5296 feet above sea-
level. It includes the famous mountains of the Valley
of the Ten Peaks and Lake Louise, the loftiest of which
are Deltaform (10,905), Hungabee (11,305), Lefroy
(11,290), and Victoria (11,400), on the Divide, and,
higher than all, Mt. Temple (11,637), jutting eastward
from the watershed. To the west, the mass of Cathedral
Mountain and Mt. Stephen points to the Ottertail
Group, well off the line of the Divide and most-conspicuous with its three noble summits, Mt. Vaux (10,741), the
Chancellor (10,780), and the magnificent triple-headed
Mt. Goodsir, said to be nearly 12,000 feet in altitude.
Returning to the watershed, the area between
Hector Pass and Howse Pass is occupied by the Wapu-
tik Range, the only one of the four main groups to bear
an official title ; but, whilst it contains vast ice-fields and
numerous glaciers, no peak exceeds 11,000 feet, the
loftiest being Howse Peak and Mt. Balfour, each about
10,800 feet, which are supreme in the northern and
southern halves. At Howse Pass there is a sudden
drop from Howse Peak to 4800 feet, and a right-angled
bend which brings us to the outposts of the culminating
section of the Canadian Rockies.    Here are combined THE  MOUNTAINS  AND THEIR HISTORY
15
the striking and lofty peaks that characterize the
Laggan Group and the great snow-fields that mark the
Waputik ; and both are on a vaster and a grander scale
than heretofore.
Strange to say, this enormous area of mountains,
more than sixty miles in length and containing nearly
twenty peaks of very conspicuous elevation, has no
distinctive name, and, except the section nearest to
civilization, none of the subdivisions has been singled
out for designation. The watershed is most eccentric,
eight or nine sudden zigzags, often almost right-angled,
marking its course from Howse Pass to the head-waters
of the Athabaska River, and adding probably fifty per
cent to the air-line distance.
Continuing from Howse Pass, we first come to the
Freshfield Group, composed principally of peaks named
after distinguished members of the Alpine Club. Beyond it, standing by itself, off the line of the Divide, is
Mt. Forbes, a huge massif^ surmounted by a striking
pyramid. Next comes what may be called the Lyell
subdivision, taking in Mt. Lyell, Gable Peak, and Mt.
Alexandra. These three sections combine to form the
southern half of the great group, and Thompson Pass
(6800 feet) connects the deep valleys of the West Branch
of the North Saskatchewan and the East Fork of Bush
River, which cut the group in two. Mt. Bryce (11,750
feet) rises isolated to the west, projecting over the Bush
Valley, whilst Mt. Saskatchewan (11,000 feet) is a conspicuous   vis-à-vis   on   the   eastern   side.     Thus   we
1 The entire block of a mountain, including buttresses and spurs. 16      IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
approach Mt. Columbia, the monarch of the region,
from whence three ranges strike out: eastward, to the
Dome (11,650) and Mt. Athabaska (11,900); northward,
into the forks of the Athabaska River, where the Twins
and Mt. Alberta may exceed 12,000 feet, and Mts. Stutfield and Woolley and Diadem Peak are very little
lower ; and to the north-west, along the curving watershed, a land as yet unknown in detail.
Such is a cursory survey of the chief features of this
fascinating region, some of the interesting points of
which are described particularly in the following pages.
In earlier days the glories of these mountains lay
unnoticed or unknown. Stray bands of Indians passed
along the wooded valleys and across the flower-strewn
alps in search of the abundant game whose haunts were
in these mountain fastnesses. But the peerless peaks
that towered above, the lovely lakes enshrined amidst the
rich forest growth, the sparkling cataracts and foaming
streams, were unconsidered items of their wonted
environment, useful alone as a habitat for their accustomed prey.
As time went on, the pioneer of Anglo-Saxon
civilization, pushing his resistless western way, reached
the great barrier of ice-clad peaks and penetrated here
and there the lower passes that link the richer lands of
the Atlantic and Pacific slopes, meeting and trading
with the Indians at various points. One of the most
notable of these is the Kootanie Plain, near the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan, where something
approaching to an annual fair was held. THE  MOUNTAINS AND  THEIR HISTORY 17
In 1793, a dozen years before the famous Lewis and
Clark expedition across the States, the first recorded
journey from ocean to ocean was made by Alexander
Mackenzie, whose name will always be perpetuated by
the mighty river of the Great North-West. He crossed
the Rocky Mountains at a point far to the north of the
vast alpine world just described, travelling up the Peace
River to its source and reaching the Divide in latitude
540 24" north, where the altitude was only 2000 feet
above the sea. Thence he proceeded to the coast,
returning just two months later on his homeward march.
Sixteen years later, in 1809, Simon Fraser, Jules
Quesnel, and John Stuart crossed the Rockies farther
south, and voyaged down the Fraser River under the
impression that it was the Columbia. In 1817, a most
ill-fated expedition under the leadership of Ross Cox,
consisting of eighty-six persons of various nationalities,
journeyed up the Columbia River from Astoria and
crossed the Athabaska Pass, 52° 27'north latitude, many
perishing of starvation on the way, and only a remnant
escaping with their lives.
This same pass was crossed in the same direction in
1827 by David Douglas, the botanist, after whom the
Douglas fir is named, and his account of the two guardian mountains of the pass, called by him Mts. Brown
and Hooker, and estimated at 16,000 to 17,000 feet in
height, has brought these peaks, now shown to be no
more than 9000 to 10,000 feet, seventy long years of
spurious fame, which still is hard to combat. Between
the two peaks  lies the famous "Committee's   Punch- i8      IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
bowl," a little circular tarn about twenty yards in diameter, having an outlet at each end, one of which runs
towards the Atlantic and the other to the Pacific. The
reputation of the two mountains has been responsible
for several expeditions in later days, and the conflicting
accounts, which, however, were unanimous in steadily
reducing the gigantic altitudes ascribed to them by
Douglas, provoked the humorous prophecy that they
would eventually be found to be only holes in the
ground.
The earliest account of a journey across the range
in the immediate neighbourhood of the present transcontinental highway, dates from 1841, when Sir George
Simpson, in the course of the first overland journey
round the world from east to west, traversed the pass
that bears his name, a few miles west of Banff. His
approach wTas by the Bow River, now the best-known
route into the heart of the Canadian Rockies.
Then came the news of gold, and an immediate rush
ensued from east to west to seek the treasures of the
hills: both north and south of the great culminating
mass of glacier-bearing peaks, passes were sought and
conquered, and rough wagon trails constructed by the
immigrants. This influx of inhabitants and the stir of
gold excitement led to the expedition sent by the British
Government in 1857, headed by Captain Palliser. His
party, chief amongst whom was Dr. Hector, perhaps the
best known of all the explorers of the Rockies, investigated five passes across the Continental watershed,—
the  Kootenay, Kananaskis, Vermilion,  Kicking  Horse THE MOUNTAINS AND  THEIR HISTORY 19
(now called Hector), and Howse Passes, — besides three
lesser passes between important valleys on the same side
of the Divide,—Bow Pass and those from the head-wTaters
of the Kootenay River to the Beaverfoot and the
Columbia. An immense area of country amongst the
mountains, in the foothills, and on the plains was also
thoroughly explored.
Simultaneous with this expedition was Lord South-
esk's visit to the Rockies, and a year or two later Viscount Milton and Dr. Cheadle made an extended journey
through the mountains, sport being the main incentive
in these two latter trips.
Next came the Railroad, rendered a necessity by the
formation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, and the
union of British Columbia with it four years later. The
barrier of the mountains severed the newly admitted
province so effectually from the rest of the Dominion
that its only outlet for commerce was through the States,
and self-interest must of necessity have driven the inhabitants, however loyal, from their allegiance, had not that
far-sighted politician, Sir John A. Macdonald, recognized
the inevitable result before it was too late, and promised
a Government railroad across the Rockies to unite the
interests and commerce of the entire Dominion. Numerous passes, etc., were surveyed, many of them new,
and finally, in 1885, after the enterprise had been handed
over to a corporation, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, the route was constructed as at present.
The Dominion Land Survey and Geological Survey
did most valuable work in  the.  eighties;    Dr8 G.  M„ 20      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
Dawson's expedition of 1885 and the work of Mr. J. J.
McArthur being specially notable, and the tatter was the
pioneer of mountain-climbing in the Rockies, his ascent
of Mt. Stephen calling for particular commendation.
This paved the way for the exploitation of the mountains for their own sakes. The railway gave easy access
to the hitherto unknown or far too distant peaks, glaciers,
and valleys. These now became the opportunity for
those in search of fresh fields and pastures new, in which
to spend a pleasant and profitable vacation. The charm
of the unknown, the fascination of the peaks, attracted
the amateur explorer and the mountaineer.
No sport appeals to all the aspirations of complex
manhood in so satisfying a degree as mountaineering,
besides the great advantage it possesses in having practically no age limit. All the artistic instincts are
aroused by the wondrous beauty and grandeur of such
scenery as Switzerland or its American counterpart, the
Canadian Rockies, so lavishly display. Hundreds of
pictures, exquisite in form and composition, variety and
colouring, charm the eye of the climber amidst the lofty
ice-bound peaks, the jagged ruined crags, the glittering
glaciers, the dense dark forests, flower-strewn meadows,
sunny lakes and streams and waterfalls, that everywhere
abound. The scientist finds in the structure of the
mighty ranges and the fascinating phenomena of the
desolate glaciers a constant source of interest. The
botanist has his trees and shrubs and flowers, and a
limitless and untried field before him. The fauna are
fairly numerous and uncommon.    The athlete, pure and THE MOUNTAINS AND  THEIR HISTORY *i
simple, finds scope for all his energies and love of conquest in the battle against snow and ice, precipice and
pinnacle, cornice and avalanche. The more formidable
the foe, the greater is the joy of conflict; the more numerous and serious the difficulties, the greater the attraction for the true mountaineer and the more complete
his satisfaction if skill and patience can surmount the
obstacles and win a way to the desired goal. It is a vast
mistake to think that danger as danger lends any enchantment to the climb: what the mountaineer delights
in is bringing skill and science so to bear upon the difficulties that would be dangers to the less gifted or experienced, that their hazards are eliminated. Finally,
the panoramas from the lofty summits are overwhelming
in their comprehensiveness and sublimity. And, added
to all, in Canada there still exists that chiefest charm of
novelty and adventure, the thrill of climbing virgin peaks,
of traversing untrodden valleys, of viewing regions never
seen before by human eyes.
To the Selkirks belongs the honour of earliest alpine
fame, and the names of the Revs. W. S. Green and
H. Swanzy, members of the Alpine Club, head the roll of
climbers, with the year 1888 standing out as the date
of the birth of mountaineering in Canada; and the
former's book " Among the Selkirk Glaciers " had much
to do with the first awakening of interest in the American Switzerland. Two years later, Messrs. Huber and
Sulzer, of the Swiss Alpine Club, made the first ascent
of Mt. Sir Donald, the most conspicuous and noted peak
of the Selkirk  Range.     The same summer two more 22      IN  THE  HEART  OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
English members, Messrs. H. Topham and Forster,
explored a portion of that district, but still the loftier
Rocky Mountains proper remained untouched.
In 1893, however, Messrs. W. D. Wilcox and S. E.
S. Allen, both Yale students, commenced the valuable
series of explorations in the neighbourhood of the
Divide, which opened up a vast area of new ground
and introduced the rope and ice-axe with conspicuous
success. The splendid work of Mr. Wilcox during
a number of years, from Fortress Lake in the north to
the head-waters of the Kananaskis River in the south,
and his charming book, place him in the forefront
amongst those who have in modern days brought into
prominence this magnificent mountain world, though
he makes no claims  to  be a mountaineer.
The next year was signalized by the appearance of
the members of the Appalachian Mountain Club, of
Boston, headed by Professor Charles E. Fay, and to the
Club, and preeminently to the Professor (just reelected
to the Presidency for the fourth time, and the first President of the American Alpine Club), no tribute of praise
and admiration can be too lavishly bestowed by all
who love the peaks and other noble features of this wild
home of Nature's grandest works. The names of Philip
Abbot, C. S. Thompson, and G. M. Weed shine specially forth amongst the numerous members of the Club
who have contributed to the long list of first ascents
and new discoveries; and as pioneers, without previous alpine experience or the benefit of guides, the value
of their achievements is enhanced tenfold. •***»*•''
MT. SIR DONALD
23
rJ^^™T  THE  MOUNTAINS AND THEIR  HISTORY
1896 stands forth in melancholy prominence as the
year that witnessed the first, and happily the last, fatal
accident that tarnishes the otherwise singularly bright
escutcheon of the record of Canadian mountaineering.
The foremost climber fell in the hour of victory, amongst
the peaks he loved so well, leaving a memory that has
been an inspiration to many a climber since.
1897 also is conspicuous amongst the years of alpine
chronology in Canada, by the arrival of the first professional Swiss guide to bring to bear upon the problems
of Canadian peaks the experience and skill evolved in
his native Alps. Peter Sarbach came over with Professor Dixon, Professor Collie and Mr. G. P.^ Baker, of
the Alpine Club, and inaugurated the long series of
successful climbs which has now grown to most imposing proportions.
The name of Professor J. Norman Collie is writ
large upon the tablets of Canadian mountain exploration : no less than four times has he, in company with
members.of the Alpine Club, journeyed all the way to
Canada from England, and he has opened out the
splendid northern region to the world, his map being
the only one in existence covering at all adequately that
important section of the Rockies ; and as a mountaineer
he holds the foremost place.
Two other names there are which cannot be omitted
in any resume of mountain history, though many more
deserve inclusion in the list. The late Mr. Jean Habel,
a veteran alpinist of Berlin, to whom is due the opening
up of  the Yoho Valley, amongst other useful explora- 26      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
tions, was an enthusiast on the subject of the opportunities and the delights of the Canadian Rockies, and his
untimely death in 1902 has been a blow to the cause of
the peaks. Mr. Edward Whymper, another veteran of
world-wide fame, spent six months in 1901 amongst
these summits and returned to England full of enthusiasm and admiration for the immensity of the
alpine area, the grandeur of the peaks, and the sublimity
of the scenery throughout the entire region, and they
have drawn him yet again across the ocean to pay
another visit to their neighbourhood.1
Such is the great chain of the Divide, for a brief
section of its long-drawn line ; such is an incomplete
and all too bald epitome of its history. The everlasting
hills, the peerless valleys, which have fascinated thousands in the past and called them back time and again
by their enchantments, remain to cast their wizard spell
on countless thousands more. Year by year new
beauties are still being discovered far and near, whilst
yet more distant regions, with untrodden peaks and
glaciers, await the enterprising traveller, who, with
camping outfit and string of pack-horses, plunges still
farther into the unknown to enjoy the unspeakable delight of discovering for himself new scenes that in some
future day thousands will be seeking beyond the limits
of the present round of famed resorts.
1 It is interesting to note that Dr. Hector (now Sir James) revisited
some of the scenes of his early explorations in 1904, 47 years after his first
expedition. CHAPTER  II
BANFF THE BEAUTIFUL
The usual approach to the Canadian Rockies is
from the east, and by a happy chance the great transcontinental route of the Canadian Pacific Railway, constructed along a line selected solely on engineering
grounds, passes through by far the most attractive section of the mountains, both in the Rockies and the Selkirks. This has the double advantage of providing an
infinitely finer outlook from the cars than any other
transcontinental road and also enabling the traveller to
visit the most exquisite mountain scenery in North
America with the utmost comfort and convenience.
The Canadian Pacific Railway enjoys the distinction
of owning more miles of line than any other railroad
company in the world (upwards of 10,000), and of
possessing the only trains which run from end to end
of the Continent without a change of cars, 2906 miles
from Montreal to Vancouver, 500 miles being through
a continuous panorama of the grandest mountain views
visible from a railroad track.
The history of the Railway dates from the admission
of British Columbia as a province of the Dominion in
1871. The work connected with the survey was tremendous.    The rocks and lakes  and rivers of the eastern
27 28      IN  THE  HEART  OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
portion, the unknown stretches of vast prairie land, and,
most formidable of all, the barrier of the mountains, 500
miles across, presented difficulties almost insurmountable. But in 1875 the work of construction was begun
as a Government enterprise. The herculean nature of
the undertaking, the difficulties occasioned by changes
of ministries, and other causes of delay, resulted in the
surrender of the work to a private company, and in 1881
the Canadian Pacific Railway Company was organized :
1920 miles remained to be constructed, and the Company
agreed to complete the line within ten years. So marvellously rapid, however, was the progress made (the
prairie section being built at an average daily rate
of more than three miles), that on the 7th of November, 1885, considerably less than half the contracted
period, the last spike was driven at Craigellachie, 351
miles from the western terminus, and the longest continuous line in the world was finished.
It is by this romantic route that we set out from
Montreal on board the well-equipped " Imperial Limited," and for three days the constantly varied scenery
holds our attention almost without a break even before
we reach the crowning glory of the Rocky Mountains.
First the valley of the Ottawa River is traversed for
upwards of 300 miles, mostly beside the broad waters of
that noted lumber highway. Beyond, a wild territory of
forests, lakes and rocks is entered, stretching to the shores
of Lake Superior. For nearly 200 miles the waters of
this huge inland sea are skirted, rock cuttings, viaducts
and tunnels frequently occurring along the rugged in- BANFF THE  BEAUTIFUL
29
dented coast. At its western end the enormous grain
elevators of Fort William introduce us to a new realm
and mark the gateway of the world's foremost granary.
A picturesque country next succeeds, bold and rocky, a
network of lakes and waterways, clothed with abundant
timber, until the limits of Manitoba are entered on and
the first prairie lands appear in sight.
Almost exactly half-way across the Continent stands
Winnipeg, only a few short years ago no more than the
little trading-post of Fort Garry, but now the flourishing
metropolis of the vast grain area of Western Canada.
Numerous lines branch out in all directions across
the rich wheat lands, bringing thousands of acres of
grain into close connection with the markets of both
hemispheres.
The train rolls on through miles and miles of almost
unbroken fields of waving wheat, with neat and prosperous homesteads, gradually ascending the long steppes
of the great North-West. Soon the farms become fewer,
the wild, undulating expanse more and more free from
signs of human encroachment. Far blue hills occasionally break the wide level range of the horizon. Herds of
cattle dot the landscape, antelope scour the plain, a stray
Coyote lopes leisurely along, cranes, ducks, geese, prairie
chickens, snipe and swans may be seen in this paradise
of game. Here and there the smoke-stained cone of a
tepee indicates the presence of the ancient owners of the
soil, buffalo wallows and trails proclaim the numbers
of the now departed millions that once ranged the
limitless  expanse, and  the  red  coat  of a member  of 3o      IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
the North-West Mounted Police tells of the new
regime.
Farther west the ranching region is approached. The
winters are much milder than in the wheat belt, and the
warm " Chinook " w7inds melt the snow at frequent intervals, enabling cattle and horses to forage for themselves.
The Bow River traverses this territory and is now
followed almost to its source in the heart of the Rocky
Mountains, which already, in clear weather, may have
been seen, white and distant on the horizon, as far away
as Tilley, 150 miles from their base.
The prairies, wearily monotonous to many, have yet
a fascination all their own and hold a potent sway over
the lives of countless devotees. Whatever other claims
they may possess, there is no question that if one has
the good fortune en route to witness a characteristic
prairie sunset, there will be few more lasting and entrancing memories in the most richly endowed experience.
At Calgary we enter the low foothills, the last stage of
thé 1400 miles of gradually rising steppes; the snow-clad
peaks rise closer and frowning precipices loom grand
and lofty in a seemingly unbroken wall, rising abruptly
5000 feet directly from the plain. The foaming river
swirls beside the track, and suddenly we swing between
the giant portals of a narrow gateway and are engulfed
in a moment by the mountain mass. It is a fitting
introduction to the superb scenery that holds one
enthralled for the next 500 miles.
From the first moment of entrance striking peaks
give earnest of the galaxy of kingly summits of the main BANFF THE  BEAUTIFUL
Continental range. Prominent on the left are Pigeon
Mountain, Wind Mountain, and the effective group of
the Three Sisters ; right in front rises the majestic form
of Cascade Mountain, 9875 feet above the sea, 5500
above the railroad track, though seeming in the clear air
not more than half the height. At its base we turn
sharply to the left, rounding the little insulated Tunnel
Mountain, and, passing a huge corral where a herd of
buffalo is kept, besides antelope and other small game,
we arrive at Banff, the first of the three mountain centres
of the Rockies at which it is imperative to stay.
We have now entered the first of the great National
Parks, set apart by the Government to preserve and
enhance the natural beauties and resources of these
unrivalled mountain fastnesses. The Rocky Mountain
Park stretches from the great wall that overhangs the
foothills to the Divide, where it is joined by the almost
equally extensive Yoho Park Reserve embracing a vast
tract on the Pacific slope. The two contain upwards of
4500 square miles, whilst in the Selkirks another smaller
Park has also been reserved.
Banff the Beautiful is an alliteration that is not misapplied, and to appreciate the appropriateness of the
title, Tunnel Mountain, a strangely isolated rocky mass
1000 feet above the valley, should be ascended, — our
first ascent in the Canadian Rockies, — and the view will
never be forgotten.
We are not yet in the land of giant peaks, only a
single one in sight surpassing 10,000 feet, though square
Mt. Massive has some alpine features ; but the restful 32      IN   THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
beauty of the valley, gemmed by the ruddy waters
of the Vermilion Lakes, threaded by the lazy river
with its contrasted colouring of rich translucent green,
and completely circled by a wall of sheltering peaks,
strikes home to the heart and remains enshrined there
as a joy for ever. Mt. Rundle's overhanging precipices
commemorate an early missionary, and from thence the
eye travels past the deep wooded cleft of the Spray Valley
to the Bourgeau Range and Mt. Massive, severed by
Simpson Pass, across the Bow River to the serrated
Sawback Mountains and the impressive mass of Cascade
Mountain ; then, turning eastward, the long line of the
frontier ranges stretches as far as eye can reach beyond
the placid waters of Lake Minnewanka, Mt. Aylmer,
10,333 feet in altitude, standing out preeminently.
At our feet the river, suddenly swerving to avoid
the little mountain thrown across its path, forms a picturesquely foaming cataract — Bow Falls — and, again
turning abruptly at its confluence with the Spray, cuts
its way between the lofty cliffs of Tunnel Mountain and
Mt. Rundle and swings round the latter's base towards
the Rocky Mountain Gap and onward to the plains.
Banff is a place for leisure rather than the strenuous
life. Pleasant drives and rides and walks abound ; the
river invites laziness in a canoe, and many a delightful
hour may be spent amongst the shallow lakes or threading the narrow waterways amidst the trees and bushes.
Weird little Sundance Canyon, the wooded valley of the
Spray, Lake Minnewanka, and various minor altitudes
can  easily be reached by trail,  and  the Hot Springs D
33  BANFF THE  BEAUTIFUL
35
demand a visit and a swim in the warm aerated
depths.
For the aspiring mountaineer Banff offers but little
immediate attraction except for training and an introduction to the topography of the Rockies, although it is
the starting-point for Mt. Assiniboine, one of the most
famous and fascinating peaks in Canada.
Quite a little interesting rock-work can be obtained
upon Mt. Edith (9154 feet), first climbed by Professor
Collie and Fred Stephens in 1900, and likened by the
former to the Little Dru from Montanvert in miniature.
Up to the col1 connecting Mt. Edith with the next peak
to the north, the climbing, writes Professor Collie,2 " was
steep and somewhat rotten, but not very difficult. . . .
On reaching the col, ... it seemed impossible to climb
direct to the summit ; so, crossing the col to the western
side, a series of traverses and climbs through holes in the
ridge were made : we next crossed some very sloping
slabs overhanging dizzy precipices; then climbed up
excessively rotten gullies, first one way then another,'
but always getting higher, till we emerged quite unexpectedly on to the top."
My brother and I selected Cascade Mountain as our
training-ground, and the wearisome and arduous ascent
gave us all the exercise we wanted for one day, although
the climbing presented not one single difficulty. Marvellous  tales  were  told   the  previous   evening   of   its
1 A notch or pass.    A large number of technical mountaineering terms
are taken from the French.
2 " Climbs and Exploration in the Canadian Rockies," p. 220. 36        IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
tremendous problems, — how even with a guide (a native, — not, of course, a Swiss guide) two dâîys should be
devoted to the task; how certain enthusiasts had dared
to go alone and had got lost and wandered for I dare
not say how many days and nights, till rescued by a
search party, and so forth.    Doubtless the main object
CASCADE MOUNTAIN
of these harrowing stories was to secure for some lazy
man a well-paid job on easy terms. If so, it failed
entirely, and in spite of dire predictions we preferred to
trust to our own estimate of the mountain's character
and were most fully justified. Starting across the
buffalo corral and up Forty-mile Creek, we traversed
to the long main ridge of the peak and by it directly to' BANFF THE BEAUTIFUL
37
the top. The descent was made right down the straight
incline, across the creek and home over Stony Squaw
Mountain in ample time for dinner, without the slightest
hurry.
Out of condition, on a scorching August day, it was
a toilsome undertaking, as the slope is long and tedious,
encumbered by an embarras de richesse of loose rough
stones. But it was well worth while enduring all for
the sake of the view, our first extensive survey of the
" Promised Land," and it was here that I obtained my
first glimpse of Mt. Assiniboine, at that time the most-
talked-of peak in the Canadian Rockies, christened
"the Matterhorn of North America," and deemed as
inaccessible as its prototype was forty years before.
Little did I dream, though it then stirred every
mountaineering impulse in my being (and there is a
considerable number of them there), that twelve months
later I should have the opportunity of disproving the
truth of this distinguished reputation, and not only
visiting the famous mountain, but standing on its topmost pinnacle. CHAPTER  III
MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
Three chief causes have combined to bring Mt.
Assiniboine into special prominence among the peaks
of Canada. First, its remarkable resemblance from certain aspects to the world-famed Matterhorn; though
perhaps the Dent Blanche is more nearly its prototype
in the better-known Swiss Alps. Secondly, the exquisite photographs and fascinating descriptions of Mr. W.
D. Wilcox, the principal explorer of that region and the
mountain's earliest biographer. And, lastly, the fact
that it has repelled more assaults by mountain-climbers
than any other peak in the Canadian Rockies, and
gained a reputation at one time of extreme difficulty or
even inaccessibility.
Its massive pyramid forms a conspicuous landmark
from almost every considerable eminence for scores of
miles around, towTering fully 1500 feet above its neighbours, and by its isolation no less than by its splendid
outline commanding attention and admiration.
It enjoys the proud distinction of being the loftiest
mountain south of the railroad, 11,860 feet above sea-
level, and is situated on the Continental watershed;
and its mighty mass, with five huge spurs, covers an
area of some thirty square miles and harbours fully a
38 39  "^^âfc^
MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
4i
dozen picturesque lakes within the shelter of its giant
arms.
The peak is grandest from its northern side. It
rises, like a monster tooth, from an entourage of dark
cliff and gleaming glacier, 5000 feet above the valley of
approach; the magnificent triangular face, barred with
horizontal belts of perpendicular cliff and glistening
expanses of the purest snow and ice, which constitutes
the chief glory of the mountain, soaring more than 3000
feet directly from the glacier that sweeps its base. On
the eastern and the southern sides the walls and buttresses are practically sheer precipices 5000 to 6000 feet
in vertical height, but the contour and character of the
grand northern face more than compensate for the less
sheer and lofty precipices.
The mighty monolith was named in 1885 by Dr. G.
M. Dawson, of the Dominion Geological Survey, from a
tribe of Indians inhabiting the plains, but he and his
party only viewed it from afar. The first white men to
explore the immediate vicinity, so far as can be learned,
were Messrs. R. L. Barrett and T. E. Wilson, who, in
1893, made an expedition to the mountain's base. The
latter is a famous pioneer of the Canadian Rockies, with
probably a greater knowledge of them than any man has
ever yet possessed, and his store of yarns, drawn almost
entirely from personal experience or that of his immediate associates, is as full of interest and valuable
information as it is extensive. He and Mr. Barrett
crossed the Simpson Pass and followed down the
Simpson  River to  the mouth of a tributary flowing
1 42      IN  THE  HEART OF THE CANADIAN  ROCKIES
straight from the direction of Mt. Assiniboine. Ascend-
ing this with infinite difficulty, they crossed over to the
North Fork of the Cross River and thence upward to
their goal.
The ensuing summer Mr. S. E. S. Allen visited the
northern side by the same route, and the next year both
Mr. Allen and Mr. Barrett again succumbed to the
fascinations of the neighbourhood and were found once
more encamped under the shadow of the monarch of the
southern Rockies. The latter traveller was accompanied by Mr. J. F. Porter and Mr. W. D. Wilcox, who
made some careful observations for altitude, and has
given us a charming and instructive description of his
wanderings in his magnificently illustrated book, " The
Rockies of Canada." Messrs. Barrett and Wilcox with
Bill Peyto completed the circuit of the mountain on foot,
a laborious but interesting undertaking which occupied
them a fraction more than two days. Beautiful valleys,
heading in glaciers and adorned with lakes, alternated
with rough and precipitous intervening ridges, each in
turn having to be crossed. A large portion of the first
day was spent traversing a valley devastated by a huge
forest fire; the denseness of the charred and fallen
trunks, sometimes piled ten or twelve feet above the
ground, rendered progress painfully slow and toilsome,
and, on emerging "black as coal-heavers from our long
walk in the burnt timber, seeking a refuge in the rocky
ledges of the mountains, and clad in uncouth garments
torn and discoloured, we must," writes Mr. Wilcox,
"have  resembled  the aboriginal  savages of this wild
k MOUNT ASSINIBOINE 43
region."1 Finally, by following a tiny goat track, discovered on the face of a dangerous-looking ridge, they
reached the valley of the North Fork of the Cross
River, falling in with Messrs. Smith and Allen, encamped in that pleasant spot and bent on similar
investigations, and early next morning regained their
camp on the shore of Lake Assiniboine.
Amongst the many valuable results of this complete
inspection of the massif from every point of the compass, much information appealing particularly to the
mountaineer was obtained. The contour of the main
peak was shown to be very different from the symmetrical cone anticipated by the view from the north; the
previously hidden southern ridge was found to extend
a considerable distance at a comparatively easy angle to
an abrupt and absolutely vertical precipice, and broken
only by a deep notch that transforms the southern extremity into a sharp subsidiary peak. The eastern face
defies approach to the summit from that direction, as
does the southern buttress, but the south-western side
developed a more practicable line of ascent and one
that offered every prospect of success.
Not until 1899, however, was any attempt made
to scale these attractive heights. That summer Mr.
Wilcox returned to the neighbourhood accompanied by
Mr. H. G. Bryant, of Philadelphia, well-known to those
interested in Arctic exploration, and Mr. L. J. Steele,
an Englishman. These two were the first to attack the
formidable citadel, and  narrowly escaped   losing   their
1 "The Rockies of Canada," p. 89. 44      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
lives in the attempt. They ascended the north-west
arete1 to an altitude of about 10,000 feet, when they
were compelled to desist after several hours of hard
climbing, an approaching storm assisting to hasten their
descent. " They had just come to the top of the last ice
slope, when Steele's foothold gave way, and he fell,
dragging Bryant after him. There was but one possible
escape from a terrible fall. A projecting rock of considerable size appeared not far below, and Steele, with
a skilful lunge of his ice-axe, swung round to it and
anchored himself in a narrow crevice, where the snow
had melted away. No sooner had he come to a stop
than Bryant shot over him from above and likewise
found safety. Otherwise they would have fallen about
six hundred feet, with serious, if not fatal, results."2
Another year went by, and a far more serious climbing expedition was fitted out to try to conquer the now
famous mountain. Two brothers, the Messrs. Walling,
of Chicago, with larger enthusiasm than experience in
matters mountaineering, took with them three Swiss
guides to force a way to the tantalizing summit. Camping, as usual, by the side of Lake Assiniboine, they followed Steele and Bryant's route to the northern glacier,
ascending thence directly towards the apex by rock outcrops and snow-slopes. So far so good, though progress
was extremely slow even on such an easy task ; but
when they came to the lowest belt of vertical cliffs the
retreat was sounded and for the second time victory
rested  with   Mt.  Assiniboine.
1 Ridge. 2 W. D. Wilcox in " The Rockies of Canada," p. 109.
È MOUNT  ASSINIBOINE
45
On the return to Banff the shortest route (geographically) was taken, by White Man Pass and down the
Spray Valley, but through some mismanagement or
worse, the guides went on ahead, the Wallings were
lost and, so the story goes, reduced to slaying a horse for
sustenance before they were discovered by a search party.
But the whole proceedings of the climb and the return
were never very fully given to the public.
Thus far the north-west àrete and the north face had
been unsuccessfully approached, but Mr. Wilcox, mindful of the easier appearance of the south-western side,
in 1901 made a determined effort to achieve victory
from that direction. Mr. Bryant and two Swiss guides,
E. Feuz and F. Michel, completed the party.
The main difficulty of this route was the approach
to the mountain's base with a camping outfit, my more
recent plan of access never having been deemed worthy
of consideration as even entering the region of practicability. So eventually, after a long and toilsome march,
they found themselves encamped in the deep gorge
beneath the huge steep mass of the great peak. I shall
have more to say concerning this side and their line of
ascent later ; suffice it now briefly to chronicle that, after
attaining an altitude of 10,850 feet (just 1000 feet below
the top), the avalanching appearance of the snow, the
difficulties beyond, the lateness of the hour, and the
overburdening of Feuz (Michel having had an accident
on the way out), combined to drive them back.
Thus the fortress still remained inviolate; the eastern side a precipice, the southern equally impossible, the nr
46      IN  THE HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
northern and south-western faces, if possibly accessible,
yet strongly guarded, each holding a record of an attack
repelled. The glacis had proved too much for the
first party of assailants, the solid rampart of the first
line of fortifications beat back the next assault, and on
the opener, more vulnerable side, alpine artillery had
to be brought into play in order to defeat the last
attempt. Who should be the next to storm the citadel
and what the outcome?
This question was uppermost in many minds when
the disappointing news of the last failure became known,
and the pros and cons were most exhaustively debated
around Mr. Whymper's camp-fire in the upper Yoho
Valley, where I was having a glorious time amongst the
untrodden peaks and glaciers of that delightful region.
Peyto, our outfitter, Mr. Wilcox's companion on the circuit of Mt. Assiniboine six years before, added much
fuel to the already consuming desire to examine and
if possible ascend the mountain, but the distance and
expense placed the enterprise beyond my reach, and I
had sadly given up the whole idea when Peyto, asserting
that for experienced mountaineers there was absolutely
no question of a failure, pledged himself that if I would
go and see and conquer he would undertake to get me
there within two days from Banff and bring me back in
less; and he proved even better than his word, although
the journey had never previously been made in less
than three days.
At the end of August, therefore, the weather being
fine, though showing indications of the inevitable break
Be MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
47
which comes each year about this date, bringing a snowstorm to usher in the Indian summer of September, the
opportunity arrived. It was " now or never ' for this
season, so I resolved to make a dash for the peak before
the snow should render it impossible, and, Peyto being
ready, a start upon the 31st was hastily arranged.
Thanks to the ready and able cooperation of Miss
Mollison, the incomparable manager of the Hotel at
Field, provisions, blankets, etc., were rapidly collected,
and on the afternoon of the 30th Christian Hâsler,
Christian Bohren and I were in the train bound for
Banff. Here we were met by Peyto and conducted to
our tent pitched amongst the bushes near the bank of
the Bow River. Our object was kept entirely secret, and
scarcely a soul knew of the starting of the expedition
at all.
The next morning was occupied in final arrangements, making up the packs and loading up, and
eventually at half-past one the procession set out. First
the cavalry; Bill Peyto, picturesque and workmanlike,
led the way upon his trusty mare, then followed four
pack-horses, the fastest and most reliable of Peyto's
bunch, laden with tents, provisions, and our miscellaneous impedimenta ; and Jack Sinclair, our assistant
packer, also mounted, brought up the rear, to stimulate
laggards and maintain the pace. Then came the
infantry, comprising the two Christians and myself.
Both the guides were tried companions, especially
Hasler, who had already made several first ascents with
me. 48      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
Mt. Assiniboine is only distant from Banff twenty
miles in an air-line, yet by the shortest route it cannot be
reached in twice that length of march; the trails are
rough and often blocked with fallen timber, and no small
amount of climbing is involved. But all of us were keen
and determined each to do his best to make the journey
to the base a record and the expedition a success.
The afternoon was sultry, with a haze about the summits and a look towards the west that boded rain ; but
the barometer stood well and hope was high.
At first we passed along the dusty road, with the
cool, peaceful Bow eddying alongside, hemmed in by
green banks, with overhanging branches dipping lazily
in the current. Then we turned off into a winding trail
that meandered among alders and small timber, with
fallen logs and an occasional morass to vary the monotony. Close by, an eagle's nest hung in the branches
of an isolated tree, the memorial of a domestic tragedy.
Earlier in the summer Mr. Whymper had discovered it,
had the two fine parent birds shot as specimens, each
measuring over six feet from tip to tip of wing, and sent
the baby to the aviary at Vancouver.
Behind us rose the impressive walls of Cascade
Mountain; on our right, across the valley, the sharp
pinnacles of Mt. Edith pierced the sky; and wooded
slopes flanked us on the left and rose to the fine summit
of Mt. Massive right in front.
Soon we reached Healy Creek where it emerges
from a narrow gorge, and crossed its double stream, the
pedestrians having to clamber up behind the horsemen MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
49
to make the passage dryshod. Leaving the broad, level
valley of the Bow, and with it every trace of civilization
for some days to come, we plunged into the ravine beside
the swift, translucent river, until we mounted a very
steep trail through thick forest and emerged high above
the creek in a fine valley whence the retrospective views
were very beautiful.
Our path led through a tract of burned and fallen
timber to more open ground, trending steadily towards
Simpson Pass, above which stood a gabled mountain,
with a small glacier cradled on its bosom, against a
gloomy, ominous background of dark and lurid clouds.
The valley narrowed before us, well wooded near the
torrent-bed. On one side rugged summits rose abruptly
from the thickly timbered slopes ; on the other, the more
open alps, interspersed with belts and groves of trees,
bare cliffs and rocky terraces, merged into castellated
peaks, the topmost crowned with snow.
As the evening shadows lengthened, before our camping-ground was reached, strong gusts of wind came
sweeping down the gorge, with driving rain beating pitilessly in our faces, but we pressed on until we found a
pretty and fairly sheltered spot among the woods, where
we pitched our tents.
A busy scene ensues. Peyto and Sinclair unload
and attend to the horses; the guides are energetically
employed cutting and collecting fuel ; fire and water, the
opening of boxes and unpacking necessaries are my
allotted share. In an incredibly short space of time the
tents are up, the packs made snug, supper is ready, and 5o      IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
we are all gathered round the blazing fire fully prepared
to do ample justice to the bannocks and bacon and the
huge .saucepan full of steaming tea, under the black
canopy of pines and almost darker sky.
Next morning we were off at half-past seven, in fair
weather, though the trees and undergrowth were dripping. We crossed the stream and, after twenty minutes'
gradual ascent, diverged from the main trail to Simpson Pass and followed a steep pathway to the south
through thick firs up a narrow rocky canyon till we
arrived in a beautiful open park. The carpet of luxuriant grass and mossy turf was sprinkled gayly, although
September wTas upon us, with a wealth of flowers, dark
groups of trees bordered the rich expanse and crowned
the knolls that broke its surface here and there, and,
on either hand, the green slopes, broken by picturesque rock outcrops, culminated in a line of rugged
pinnacles.
The timber-line is passed soon after, and we mount
steadily to a breezy, undulating alp, green and flower-
strewn, skirting the Continental watershed, and bearing
frequent pretty lakelets in the sheltered hollows. Ever
and anon a deep gorge dips sharply towards the east or
west, giving a glimpse of larger, wooded valleys, where
Healy Creek and Simpson River run to join the Bow
and Kootenay, and finally sink to rest in the waters of
the rival oceans.
This upland route was taken by Mr. Wilcox on his
second journey to Mt. Assiniboine, and it is undoubtedly
the finest way as well as probably the easiest and quick-
w MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
5i
est, in spite of a terrific 1500 feet of descent to the
source of the Simpson River.
About ten o'clock, from a lofty ridge some 2000 feet
above our camp, we caught our first glimpse of our objective peak, bearing from this point a remarkable resemblance to the Swiss Dent Blanche as it loomed through
the slight haze, fourteen or fifteen miles away, dwarfing
all the other points and ranges. An hour later, from the
highest point upon our highland trail, about 7700 feet
above the sea, we obtained a still better view of the noble
pyramid, towering above a blue-black ridge hung with
white glaciers, which lay between us and its base.
Crossing and recrossing the "backbone of the Continent," we skirted the walls of an imposing natural fortification, fully 2000 feet in height, and, passing under its
frowning ramparts close to the shores of two or three
small lakes, halted for lunch near a round pond, from
which some ducks flew off at our approach, and which,
from the numerous tracks leading into and out of it, we
christened " The Bears' Bath-tub."
All this time the going had been good, and Peyto
made the most of it, leading at a tremendous rate, with
Sinclair driving on the pack-animals, we poor two-legged
tramps having to do our utmost to keep pace with them.
After lunch a new experience began, where we in
turn had a conspicuous advantage, — a tremendous drop
(1500 feet in 55 minutes, pack-horse time) into an extraordinarily steep, weird valley, narrow and fire-swept, its
serried ranks of bare and ghostly poles backed by slopes
of scanty grass and a tumultuous expanse of rough gray 52      IN  THE  HEART OF THE CANADIAN  ROCKIES
rocks and tongues of scree. Towards the lower end an
intricate maze of fallen logs was encountered, through
which Peyto steered the horses with marvellous skill and
rapidity, until we gained the valley of the chief source of
the Simpson River, barren and boulder-strewn, divided
into rugged sections by great ridges traversing it from
side to side. Bare, burned trees reared their gaunt stems
about us, or, fallen, littered the valley-bed, where strawberries and raspberries, gooseberries and blueberries,
grew in wild profusion.
Crossing several of the strange barrier ridges, we
soon arrived at the head of the valley, a cul-de-sac, with
a grand amphitheatre of precipices and abrupt acclivities,
300 feet or more in height, blocking our way and towering above the rich green, flat, on which we halted for a
brief well-earned rest beside a tree-girt lakelet, fed by a
fine cascade that leaped from the rim of the great cirque
above.
A zigzag track conducted us to the lowest point of
this imposing barrier, and a scene of indescribable bleakness burst upon our gaze. The sun was hidden by the
gathering clouds and the leaden sky formed a fit background for the rock-bound basin at our feet, hemmed in
by gray, ruined towers, from which wide belts and tapering tongues of tumbled scree streamed down among the
bare poles of the stricken pines, with a tiny tarn, sombre
and forbidding, in its depths.
It was a fitting prelude to the long valley on which
we now entered. Here was the acme of sheer desolation.    Green-gray rocks   and  stones  were strewn  and
Re MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
53
piled in wild confusion amid sparse, stunted pines and
firs; crumbling, drab-coloured side-hills were lost in
jagged, broken ridges and shattered pinnacles, that
loomed in sullen dulness against the mournful sky, while
a light drizzle bathed the scene in gloomy haze. Here
and everywhere along the route the dreary silence and
the strange scarcity of living things — a notable characteristic of the Canadian Cordilleras — were very striking.
The whistle of the marmot, the rare whir of grouse, a
hawk or eagle, and a little bird or two, with the occasional tracks of bear or deer, marten or mountain goat,
alone betrayed that the region is not quite bereft of
life. -~fp |
Thus we swung on mile after mile, till the melancholy conditions began to change: grass and light
undergrowth appeared, the clouds broke, and, as we
neared a rocky lake, Mt. Assiniboine came into view
once more, about five miles ahead, grander than ever,
and, in spite of evening gloom, showing some detail
of its horizontal belts of cliff and smooth, shining icy
slopes.
Then came park country, rich green pasturage and
dark forest belts, with a winding coal-black stream-bed
meandering in the most abandoned manner through it
all; and above, on either side, sharp, serrated ridges,
severed by wide passes to the Spray and Cross Rivers,
converged in the mass of Mt Assiniboine.
Still on we tramp, weary but buoyed up by the
knowledge that the goal is near. Darkness falls apace
and
i 54      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
" Far along
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,
Leaps the live thunder!    Not from one lone cloud,
But every mountain now hath found a tongue."
A most impressive welcome from the still unconquered
mountain, but more sinister than those whose hopes
depended on fine weather quite appreciated.
At length, at 7.20, our chosen camping-ground was
reached, sheltered by a grove of trees, beside a trickling
rivulet with the dark waters of Lake Assiniboine just
visible beyond.
This lake, one of a dozen or more that nestle close
under the precipices of the giant peak, is nearly two
miles long, and, like many others in the neighbourhood,
is without a visible outlet. The waters seem to drain
away through the loose limestone strata, and in some
valley far below suddenly burst forth from a mysterious
subterranean cavern, a full-grown stream. This we were
able to observe for ourselves at the source of the main
Simpson River, at the head of the cul-de-sac, some miles
from the nearest body of water at a higher altitude
sufficient to produce so large^ a flow.
The night was none too promising — warm arid
cloudy, with light showers at intervals and distant muttering thunder; and, although later on the stars came
out, ominous clouds still hung heavy round the horizon.
The silence was broken again and again by the rumble
and crash of falling ice and stones from the glacier a
mile away, which aided the anxiety concerning'weather
prospects to drive the slumber from our wearied frames. MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
55
Nevertheless we were early astir. The moon was
shining fitfully athwart the clouds and lighting up our
noble peak with silvery brightness. As the sun rose,
we had an opportunity of studying the mountain. Our
camp, at an elevation of about 7200 feet, lay near the
shore of the lake, a long mile from the cliff over which
the northern glaciers of Mt. Assiniboine descend abruptly;
3000 feet above the glacier rises the mighty monolith, a
relic of the Carboniferous age. Two jagged ridges trend
sharply upward from the outlying spurs, until they meet
in a dark rocky apex just below the glistening, snowy
summit ; between them lies the formidable northern
face, set at a fearsome angle, and banded with almost
horizontal strata, which form an impressive alternation
of perpendicular cliff belts and glassy slopes of ice.
The lowest band is specially remarkable — a spectacular,
striated wall of brilliant red and yellow rock, running
apparently entirely round the mountain, and particularly
striking where the erosion and disintegration of the
ridges leave a succession of coloured spires and pinnacles, radiant in the glowing sunshine.
By the advice of Peyto, the only member of the
party who had ever been near the peak before, we determined to make our attempt from the south-western
side ; but, instead of taking the horses by the long and
arduous route adopted by Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Bryant
on the occasion of their last attack, I conceived the plan
of crossing the outlying spurs at a high altitude on foot
from the usual base camp, believing that some way, for
practised   mountaineers  at least, could  be  discovered 56      IN THE  HEART OF THE CANADIAN ROCKIES
whereby the farther side might be reached and an open
bivouac be made a starting-point next morning, if it
proved too long or difficult a task to gain the summit in
a single day.
Being wholly unaware of the character of the mountain on the hidden side, and anticipating considerable
difficulty in getting to the south-western ridge, by which
we hoped to reach the point where the last climbers were
compelled to halt, we had little expectation of being successful on the first day, particularly as the nights were
closing in at a comparatively early hour. So off we
started at six o'clock, — Peyto, Hâsler, Bohren and I, —
laden with two days' provisions, minor changes of raiment, blankets, and a light tent for the night, besides the
usual camera and sundry other paraphernalia.
Twenty minutes' walk along the green flat brought
us to the first snow, and a steep pull up hard snow-
slopes and a craggy wall of rock, followed by an awkward
scramble over loose debris, landed us at half-past seven
on the ice above. The glacier, covered with congealed
snow and thin moraine, stretched away before us at an
easy angle, with the great peak towering aloft upon our
left. As we moved rapidly along I took the opportunity
to scan with interest and curiosity the peculiar characteristics of that remarkable face, but the result of my
observations was locked securely in my breast, and not
revealed until, on the following afternoon, we stood
upon the crest above.
Forty minutes of quick walking took us to the
summit of the sharp ridge which forms the sky-line to   MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
59
the west and merges in the main north-western arete.
Two hundred feet below us lay another glacier, and
away to our left a second pass, at the base of the great
western ridge. Dropping down to the ice, we followed
up the glacier, zigzagging to avoid the large crevasses1
to the narrow little pass, which we reached at nine
o'clock and found ourselves about 9600 feet above the
sea and 2400 feet above the camp.
From this point the lower portion of the unknown
side of our mountain lay in full view, and, to our joy, we
saw that the anticipated difficulties were non-existent.
A comparatively easy traverse, along narrow but ample
ledges covered with snow and debris, across the ribs and
stony gullies which seamed the south-western face, would
bring us, with scarcely any loss of elevation, to the
south-west ridge, whence the climb proper was expected
to begin. Each of the gullies seemed to be a much-used
channel for stones and ice and snow, and was of excessive steepness, so no inducement was offered to try an
upward route nearer than the line that Mn Wilcox took
in his ascent from the valley. Below the horizontal
ledge of the proposed traverse the mountain shelved
steeply down in long expanses of loose stones and snow,
with not a little ice, into the depths of the contracted
valley far beneath, containing the inevitable lakelet.
To counteract, however, this piece of unexpected
good fortune, the light fleecy clouds, wrhich had been
hovering over the lower western peaks and growing
larger and denser every hour, were blotting out the view
1 Fissures in a glacier. 6o      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
and soon enveloped us in their chill embrace. With
little hope of a successful ascent, we nevertheless made
our way to the ridge, where we cached1 our blankets,
tent, and the bulk of the provisions, and, after a second
breakfast, continued our upward progress at about half-
past ten.
Our circle of vision dwindled from one hundred yards
to fifty at the most ; a steady drizzle, mingled with sleet,
began to fall as we climbed cliff and ledge and gully,
loose rocks and slopes of debris, as each appeared
through the mists in front of us ; and every few yards
we built a little pile of stones to guide us in returning.
At length, at about 10,750 feet altitude, out of the
gloom a mighty wall, seventy or eighty feet in height,
loomed before us, its top lost in the clouds. The face
seemed sheer, and actually overhung in places. None of
us had ever seen this side of Mt. Assiniboine, excepting
Peyto, who had left us a short distance below to prospect
for minerals, and we knew not where the summit lay.
Of course we went first in the wrong direction. Imagining that this belt was as unbroken here as on the
northern face, we sought a cleft up which to clamber and
skirted the base to the right till we were brought up by
a tremendous precipice some 6000 feet in depth. We
had suddenly reached the edge of a gigantic buttress,
where its converging sides met at an abrupt angle. Before us, and on either hand, was empty space, and at our
feet a seemingly unbroken drop thousands of feet deep.
Behind rose the  sharp edge of rock like polished
1 Hid.   A trappers' term. MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
61
masonry. Below the stony ledge by which we had
approached, the mountain-side shelved to the south in
rugged steepness into far-distant gloom ; and as we
peered with caution round the angle, the farther side
disclosed a most appalling face of black, forbidding
precipice, one of the finest and most perpendicular it
has been my lot to see.
Here for some moments I stood in solemn awe,
perched like a statue in a lofty niche, cut in the topmost
angle of a vast, titanic temple, with space in front, on
either side, above, below, the yawning depths lost in
the wreathing mists that wrapped the mountain's
base.
Our progress in this direction barred, we now retraced our steps and spied a little rift by which, in spite
of a fair overhang for the first twelve or fifteen feet,
thanks to firm hand and foot holds, we were enabled to
scramble to the summit of the cliff. Working to the
left by a steep succession of ledges and clefts, we reached
a narrow, broken ridge running upward from the west,
with a sheer drop upon the farther side. We thought
that we had struck the main western arete (for it is very
difficult to locate one's self in a dense mist, especially
upon an unknown mountain which we expected to find
a regular three-sided cone) and followed its lead, till in
ten minutes, to our great amazement, we found ourselves
upon apeak ! Narrow ridges descended to the east and
west, the steep face of our ascent lay to the south, while
upon the northern side a mighty precipice fell away virtually perpendicularly for thousands of feet, broken only
~~M 62      IN  THE  HEART  OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
by a short buttress, with equally sheer walls and edged
with jagged pinnacles.
This | Lost Peak " was to us most mysterious. It
seemed a genuine summit, narrow and pointed though it
was, in altitude a trifle over 11,000 feet. Yet where
upon the mass of Mt. Assiniboine was such a peak ?
We had imagined that the giant tooth rose more or less
symmetrically on every side and judged the back ridge
by the two that we had seen. Hâsler at first insisted
that we were on the veritable summit, but the elevation
and configuration of our whole environment demolished
such a theory. We strained our eyes ; but, though the
breeze kept the thick clouds in constant motion, we
could not see more than about a hundred yards ahead.
We shouted in this direction and in that ; but our voices
died away into space until at last held by some loftier
mass, which echoed back an answer from the direction
whence we had just come ! Then we knew that we were
standing upon the south-eastern ridge, which must be
longer and less steep, at any rate in its upper portion,
than any of the others, and possess a distinct minor peak,
separated from the main summit by a considerable break.
Such proved to be the case. After an hour spent in
the cold and wet, striving to pierce the clouds, hoping
some stronger current of wind might waft them off, and
thus enable us to see the top and give us some idea of
its character and how we might approach it, we built a
I stone man | to commemorate our visit, and, at half-past
one, returned along the west arete until a chasm yawned
beneath our feet — how deep we could not tell (it proved MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
^
about 200 feet) — and forced us to descend by our cliff
route and down the crack to the base of the big wall.
A few minutes' going in the opposite direction brought
us to a broad snow couloir,1 where the cliff receded and
trended upward to the gap into which we had been gazing from above not long before, and away upon our left
stretched the steep face of the great peak itself.
It was now too late to think of climbing farther, so
we descended rapidly and rejoined Peyto near the cache.
Here, during a meal, we held a council of wrar, and came
to the unanimous determination to shoulder our packs
and return to camp; feeling that, if the morrow were
wet, we should be better off there, and if fine, it would
take but little longer to come round in light marching
order from the north than to make the ascent thus far
with heavy packs from the tree-line. In spite of a very
speedy return, night fell upon us before we had quite
descended the cliff wall below the northern glacier, and
we stumbled into camp in black darkness about a quar-
ter-past eight.
The clouds had begun to dissipate towards sunset:
later on the moon rose in a clear, star-spangled sky ; and
the chill of frost augured favourably for our second
campaign.
September 3rd, a notable date for us and Mt. Assiniboine, dawned brilliantly. At ten minutes past six our
little party of three set out from camp in the best of
spirits, encouraged by the hearty good wishes of the
packers,  and made   rapid   progress   by  the   route   of
1 Gully. 64      IN THE  HEART  OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
the previous day. In two and a half hours we were on the
second pass, enjoying this time a wide view to the south
and the north-west of an expanse of indented mountain
ranges and deep yawning valleys, with a little lake far
below in every gorge. A brief halt here, and then on to
the south-western ridge, reaching the cache three and a
quarter hours from the start. Upward, past the coloured
belt, to our great cliff of yesterday. There, at half-past
ten, we turned off to the left and crossed the couloir, full
of deep snow upon an icy basis.
Beyond it lay the final thousand feet of the great
mountain, its steep and rugged face a series of escarpments broken by tiny ledges and occasional sharp pinnacles, and rent at distant intervals by clefts and crevices
nearly vertical. Slopes of solid ice or ice-hard snow,
demanding arduous step-cutting, intervened below each
wall and ledge and filled each cavity. The rocks were
very brittle and extremely insecure, and to the ordinary
difficulties there was added that abomination of the
mountaineer, verglas, the thin coating of ice upon the
rocks from the night's frost after the rain and sleet of
yesterday.
The general line was diagonally across the face, but
frequent minor consultations were required, the problems
of immediate procedure being numerous.
Steadily onward the little party made its cautious
way across these difficult approaches : ever on the alert,
hand and foot alike pressed into service ; each hold fully
tested before the weight was trusted to it. A slippery
ledge demanded an ignominious crawl ; a series of gym- MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
65
nastic efforts were required to surmount some of the
straight-up rocks and buttresses, where holds were few
and far between. Detours were frequent to avoid impossible conditions ; all sorts of cracks and crevices had
to be utilized; and icy rifts were sometimes the only
avenues of access to the tops of smooth, unbroken cliffs.
Thus step by step the advance continued, till, after a
final scramble up a gully lined with solid ice and almost
as steep and narrow as a chimney, we stood triumphantly
upon the south arete, the summit in full view not more
than 300 feet above, reached by an easy ridge of snow,
and Mt. Assiniboine we knew was ours.
The strangest feature of the ascent lay in the fact
that now for the first time we saw the actual summit, as
the cliffs rose so steeply during our approach that we
could never see more than a short distance beyond us.
White, vaporous clouds had been slowly drifting up
for the last hour, and, fearing a repetition of the previous
day's experience and the loss of the view, we hurried to
the top, pausing only for a few moments to enjoy the
panorama, to renew our acquaintance with our I Lost
Peak," now 500 feet below us, and to take a picture
through the mist of the white summit, with its splendid
eastern precipice.
A quarter of an hour sufficed to complete our victory,
and at half-past twelve we stood as conquerors 11,860
feet above the sea (Government survey altitude from
distant bases), on the loftiest spot in Canada on. which
a human foot had then been planted.
The summit is a double one, crowned with ice and
F 66      IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
snow, the two points rising from the extremities of an
almost level and very narrow ridge 150 feet in length, at
the apex of the sharp arêtes from north and south. On
the western side snow-slopes tilted downward at a very
acute angle, while on the east a stupendous precipice
was overhung by a magnificent succession of enormous
cornices1 from which a fringe of massive icicles depended.
One at a time — the other two securely anchored —
we crawled with the utmost caution to the actual highest
point, and peeped over the edge of the huge, overhanging crest, down the sheer wall to a great, shining glacier
6000 feet or more below.
The view on all sides was remarkable, although the
atmosphere was somewhat hazy and unsuitable for panoramic photography. Perched high upon our isolated
pinnacle, fully 1500 feet above the loftiest peak for
many miles around, below us lay unfolded range after
range of brown-gray mountains, patched with snow and
sometimes glacier-hung, intersected by deep chasms or
broader wooded valleys. A dozen lakes were counted,
nestling between the outlying ridges of our peak, which
proudly stands upon the backbone of the Continent, and
supplies the head-waters of three rivers, — the Cross, the
Simpson, and the Spray.
Far away to the north-west, beyond Mt. Ball and the
Vermilion Range, we could descry many an old friend
among the mountains of the railway belt, — Mt. Goodsir
and the Ottertails, Mt. Stephen and Mt. Temple, with the
1 Overhanging shelves of snow.
& MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
67
giants of the Divide, Mts. Victoria, Lefroy, Hungabee,
and a host of others, a noble group of striking points
and glistening glaciers.
SUMMIT OF MT. ASSINIBOINE
The main ridge northward, after a sharp descent of
fifty feet, falls gently for a hundred yards or so, and then
makes a wild pitch down to the glaciers at the mountain's base. When we arrived at this point (only
through my most strenuous insistence, for the guides
were anxious to return at once by the way we came), we
29H
 iTM 68
IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
looked down on the imposing face that is perhaps
Assiniboine's most characteristic feature.
On the right the drop is perpendicular, a mighty
wall with frequent overhanging strata and a pure snow
curtain hanging vertically beneath the crowning cornice.
But the north face, though not so sheer or awesome, is
perhaps still more striking and unique. The shining
steeps of purest ice, the encircling belts of time-eroded
cliffs, sweep downward with tremendous majesty. Between the two a ragged ridge is formed, narrow and
broken, like a series of roughly fractured wall-ends.
As we gazed, the scheme that had been simmering
in my brain since I looked upward to these heights th||
previous morning, seemed more than ever practicable
and at last found utterance : I Could we not manage to
get down this way?" and the hope of crowning the triumph by a traverse of the mountain, conquering its reputed inaccessible ramparts (and that, too, in a descent),
together with the prospect of an absolutely first-class
climb, decided the reply in the affirmative. True, at
least three great bands of rock lay there below us, any
one of which might prove an insurmountable obstacle and
necessitate a retracing of our footsteps, with the probable
consequence of a night out, at a considerable altitude,
among the icy fastnesses ; but we had found some crack
or cranny heretofore in their courses on the farther side,
and — well, we would try to find an equally convenient
right of way on this face, too.
So, after a halt of nearly two hours, at 1.40 we embarked upon our final essay. MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
69
Well roped and moving generally one at a time, we
clambered downward foot by foot, now balancing upon
the narrow ridge, 5000 feet of space at our right hand ;
then scrambling down a broken wall-end, the rocks so
friable that hand-hold after hand-hold had to be abandoned, and often half a dozen tested before a safe one
could be found; now, when the ridge became too jagged
or too sheer, making our cautious way along a tiny ledge
or down the face itself, clinging to the cold buttresses,
our fingers tightly clutching the scant projection of some
icy knob, or digging into small interstices between the
rocks ; anon, an ice-slope had to be negotiated with laborious cutting of steps in the hard wall-like surface ; and
again, cliff after cliff must be reconnoitred, its slippery
upper rim traversed until a cleft was found and a gymnastic descent effected to the ice-bound declivity that fell
away beneath its base.
For close upon 2000 feet the utmost skill and care
were imperative at every step ; for scarcely half a dozen
could be taken in that distance where an unroped man
who slipped would not inevitably have followed the rejected hand-holds and débris, that hurtled down in leaps
and bounds to crash in fragments on the rocks and
boulders far below.
But with a rope a careful party of experienced mountaineers is absolutely free from danger; and, though it
took our usually rapid trio three and a half hours to
descend some 1800 feet, our confidence was fully vindicated, for nothing insurmountable obstructed our advance, and, after a brief  halt below the last cliff wall 7o      IN  THE  HEART  OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
(where sundry relics of the Walling expedition were
observed), a gay descent, on snow that needed no step-
cutting, brought us soon after six o'clock to easier, continuous rocks, where we unroped.
A speedy spell swinging down rocks, with an occasional glissade, landed us on the glacier in forty
minutes, and an hour later, in the gathering darkness,
we approached the camp, after an absence of thirteen
hours and a half, greeted by shouts of welcome and congratulation from Peyto and Sinclair (who had seen us
on the summit) and strains of martial music from the
latter's violin.
Before turning in, we took a last look at the splendid
obelisk above us, radiant in the moonlight against the
dark star-strewn canopy of heaven. A last look it
proved; for next morning we awoke to a white world,
with nothing visible of Mt. Assiniboine but an occasional glimpse, through sweeping, leaden clouds, of its
steep flanks deeply covered with the freshly fallen snow.
The return journey was begun at one o'clock that
afternoon, and Desolation Valley was traversed in the
snow and rain, our chill encampment being made in the
flat pasture at the head of Simpson Valley.
Next day we made a most tremendous march in the
teeth of a driving snow-storm. The valley, with its
gaunt, spectral tree-trunks, was drearier and more, weird
than ever; the blackened timber, outlined against the
dazzling snow, showed in a mazy network ; the bushes,
with their load of fruit, peeped out forlornly amid their
wintry environment, and every flower bore a tiny burden MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
7i
on its drooping head. The steep ascent of 1500 feet
was made in ever deepening snow, and on the alp above
we met the fierce blasts of the keen north wind, sweeping across the unprotected uplands. Wearied with our
forced marches and two long days of arduous climbing,
the tramping through soft, drifting snow, the steady
upward trend of our advance and the hard conflict with
the driving storm, it was with deep relief that we
crossed the final ridge and could descend to calmer
regions through the dark, snow-laden pines. Still on
we went, down Healy Creek to the Bow Valley, where
the packers camped with their tired horses, and the
guides and I tramped on two hours more to Banff,
arriving there just five days and five hours from the
time of our departure.
Our toils were over. In spite of adverse weather
conditions, the expedition had been intensely interesting
from start to finish, and more than a success from a
climber's point of view; and the fact that the ascent
was made upon the last possible day the weather would
permit that season gave a dramatic touch that added an
extra spice of satisfaction to the accomplishment of a
mountaineering feat, perhaps the most sensational then
achieved in North America.
Note. — In July, 1903, another Scotsman, Mr. W. Douglas, of Edinburgh, with Christian Hasler and Christian Kaufmann, made the second
ascent, this time by the north face, along the line of our descent, returning
by the same route. Considerable quantities of snow, in excellent condition,
facilitated climbing immensely where glare ice had called for strenuous step-
cutting on the first occasion, and no special difficulties were encountered. CHAPTER  IV
LAKE LOUISE
" I have travelled in almost every country under
heaven, yet I have never seen so perfect a picture in
the vast gallery of Nature's masterpieces as you have
brought me to this afternoon." Such was the final
verdict of a close observer of nature and enthusiastic
lover of the picturesque, as we emerged from the shelter
of the forest pathway, where the glistening waters of
peerless Lake Louise suddenly burst upon the view,
and we stood fascinated by the enchanting scene.
As a gem of composition and of colouring it is
perhaps unrivalled anywhere. To those who have not
seen it words must fail to conjure up the glories of that
" Haunted Lake, among the pine-clad mountains,
Forever smiling upward to the skies."
A master's hand indeed has painted all its beauties ; the
turquoise surface, quivering with fleeting ripples, beyond
the flower-strewn sweep of grassy shore ; the darkening
mass of tapering spruce and pine trees, mantling heavily
the swiftly rising slopes, that culminate in rugged steeps
and beetling precipices, soaring aloft into the sun-kissed
air on either side ; and there, beyond the painted portals
of the narrowing valley, rich with the hues of royal purple
72
k 73  LAKE LOUISE
75
and of sunset reds, the enraptured gaze is lifted to a
climax of superb effects, as the black walls of Mt.
Lefroy, surmounted by their dazzling canopy of hanging glaciers, and the wide gable-sweep of Mt. Victoria,
resplendent with its spotless covering of eternal snow,
crown the matchless scene. The azure dome of heaven,
flecked with bright, fleecy clouds like angels' wings,
completes the picture, which not only charms the eye
but lifts the soul to closer contact with the Divine
Creator, Whose eternal love has given us these wondrous beauties to enjoy.
At every season, every hour, it is wonderful. Whether
in winter, ice-bound and snow-beset, sparkling in all
the brilliancy of countless myriads of diamond rays, or,
suddenly bereft of sunshine, a weird expanse of mystic
white, whose still death-pallor strikes to the heart with
solemn awe. Or in the springtime, when the bright
glints of emerald leaves and buds illuminate the scene
with fresh-won life ; or, under the spell of autumn's
magic touch, when changing hues of crimson and of
gold, with an attendant train of countless interwoven
tints scarcely less regal in their richness, mingle with
the sombre evergreens, and the peaceful lakelet flashes
back the glory of their radiance.
It may be in the early dawning, with the long
shadows sweeping across the slumbering waters, and the
ruddy gleam of bright Aurora flaming full upon the
snowy crests of the far peaks ; or, later, under the noontide brilliance, when every pinnacle and fissure of the
uplifted crags and every bough and feathery tip of fir 76       IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
stands out in clearest detail, emphasized by the marvellous effects of light and shade ; or, later still, when twilight steals upon us, draping the foreground and the
middle distance in soft, tenuous mystery, while the snow
summits blush beneath the roseate embrace of the departing day, and the ethereal skies whisper of God and
heaven : then the glow fades, the stars shine forth, first
one by one, then in advancing squadrons-, till their hosts,
in the pure atmosphere, blaze forth from the dark vault
with an unearthly splendour that gives new character to
lake and cliff, mountain and glacier.
By night or day, in storm or sunshine, peaceful or
tempest-tost, in smiling innocence or swaying with
fiercest passion and the forces of omnipotence let loose,
the lake enthralls with a spell that is irresistible ; and
above God reigns supreme. His "everlasting hills'1
attest His might, His hand gives life and colouring to
leaf and rock and flower, and we, to whom He gives it
richly to enjoy, dare not lift up our eyes upon His world
and yet withhold our wonder, our worship, and our love.
" O, watched by silence and the night,
And folded in the strong embrace
Of the great mountains, with the light
Of the sweet heavens upon thy face —
Lake of the Northland ! keep thy dower
Of beauty still, and, while above
Thy silent mountains speak of power,
Be thou the mirror of God's love."
This delightful resort, three miles from the railroad,
was one of the earliest discovered of the many beauty
I   LAKE LOUISE
77
spots along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway,
whose names are household words amongst lovers of the
picturesque. The lake was named for the Princess
Louise, wife of the Governor-General of Canada at that
date, the Marquess of Lome.
In the eighties a small log cabin served as an inn for
the few travellers who turned aside at Laggan to visit the
lake and its surrounding scenery. In 1891 Mr. S. E. S.
Allen spent a few days there and returned in 1893 with
Mr. W. D. Wilcox, of Washington, for a brief sojourn.
The following summer both were lured back again, and
the party was increased by the advent of Messrs. Y.
Henderson and L. Frissell. They thoroughly explored
the neighbourhood. Mt. Temple and Mt. Aberdeen,
with sundry minor peaks, were climbed, and the accounts
of these expeditions, published by Mr. Wilcox in his
book, and by Mr. Allen in the Alpine Journal, did much
to bring the district into early prominence.
Continuing our journey from our first halting-place
at Banff, the train traverses the green valley of the Bow,
ascending steadily beside the swiftly flowing stream.
Swinging round the end of the serrated Sawback Range,
we enter a long stretch that runs at right angles to our
recent course and parallels the watershed for seventy
miles to the most distant source of the Bow River at
Bow Pass. The railroad follows this for half the distance before turning again at a right angle to cross the
Great Divide.
At the first bend Healy Creek comes in from the
south and points the way to Mt. Assiniboine.     Farther 78      IN THE HEART OF THE CANADIAN  ROCKIES
on, beyond the ramparts of Mt. Massive and Storm
Peak, the low, forest-clad Vermilion Pass opens to the
left. Meanwhile two dominating mountains have been
looming ever larger and more imposing as we speed
along. First, on the right, the towering battlements of
Castle Mountain, like a gigantic mediaeval fortress, a
vast mass of rocky walls and turrets. Then, beyond it
on the other side, great helmet-shaped Mt. Temple rears
its lofty brow, crowned with a diadem of glacier, — the
highest summit seen from the railroad track, and nearly
7000 feet above it.1
To the left of the precipices of this splendid peak,
utterly inaccessible from any point within our range of
vision, lies the weirdly attractive Valley of the Ten Peaks,
beyond the forest slopes that flank the stream locked in
their adamant embrace, the pyramid of Deltaform conspicuous amongst the jagged summits. Sweeping round
Mt. Temple's base, just as Mt. Lefroy and Mt. Victoria
in icy splendour come to view, the train stops and we
find ourselves at Laggan, the station for the " Lakes in
the Clouds."
A walk or ride of three and a half miles leads to the
comfortable hotel on the shores of Lake Louise. By all
means walk if you can manage it.    There is an upward
1 According to the D. L. S. figures, giving 11,637 feet to Mt. Temple, and
11,600 to Mt. Goodsir. The latter figure corresponds with our party's estimate of the altitude of Mt. Goodsir, when we ascended within 150 feet of the
summit; but Professors Fay and Parker, who climbed to the top in 1903,
have claimed an elevation for that peak of nearly .12,000 feet, though the
former in a very recent article (February, 1905) puts the height at 11,671
feet. LAKE  LOUISE
tilt about the road as it mounts 600 feet to reach the
lake, but there are so many excellent excuses to rest
upon the way and to enjoy the exquisite peeps and
vistas, as we stroll along the forest track, that the end
comes all too soon. The dancing waters of the tumbling rivulet are chattering amongst the boulders as they
go " to join the brimming river " ; high peaks are reared
into the heavens above the feathered pines and spruces,
draped with " old man's beard," that close us in ; whilst
the luxuriant undergrowth and countless flowers fill the
tale of brilliancy and beauty.
Ere long a glimpse of gleaming silver strikes athwart
the trees, the lofty crest of Mt. Victoria appears beyond,
we turn a corner, and the peerless panorama bursts with
startling suddenness upon our gaze.
The old-time "Chalet," with its dozen guests when
fully crowded, is now no longer recognizable in the enlarged and well-equipped hotel that can provide accommodation for above a hundred. But the most cherished
memories linger around the little building, with its one
public room, looking out upon the lake and made so
cozy in the cool evenings by the blaze of four-foot logs
on the gigantic hearth.
In the sultry haze of summer heat, and in the deep
snows of winter's mantle, it is alike good to wander by
the lake shore, climb the steep woodland paths to little
Mirror Lake (900 feet above), a lustrous circle of unruffled sheen, to lofty Agnes Lake (6820 feet above the
sea), cliff-girt and overhung with towering pinnacles ; or
higher still to the quaint Beehive, than which no spot So      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
was ever more aptly named, or Mt. St. Piran, with the
most glorious view of all. IB
Across the ridge the Cataract Valley can be reached
by rugged climbing, and mountain goats still give the
hunter opportunity for plenty of arduous exercise and,
possibly, a far-off shot or two.
On the opposing shore Mt. Fairview affords a rival
panorama, with Mt. Temple's massive wall and little
hanging glacier rising 6000 feet above the deep-cut
trench of Paradise Valley, which gleams bright and verdant at the base of grim Mt. Sheol, a quaint juxtaposition
of nomenclature. As we roam among the rocky heights,
the whistle of the marmot frequently breaks in upon the
otherwise insistent silence characteristic of the region.
Often, when alone, I have been almost startled by its
human tone and turned involuntarily to see who could
be sharing the quietude I thought mine alone. Sometimes they are seen perched on a big boulder or a pile
of rocks, and even permit, at times, prolonged and
close observation, and, on a rare occasion, photographic
portraiture. Fine, fat fellows usually, with handsome
gray fur coats and abundant tails, and, if one could
so far steel his heart as to deprive them of their right
to live, their pelts would make up into splendid
rugs.
Two peaks stand out above all others here at Lake
Louise to lure the mountaineer: the one, Mt. Victoria,
the other, Mt. Lefroy. The latter, conquered first by
two days' interval, demands a chapter to itself, since to
it pertains the melancholy notoriety of being  the one LAKE LOUISE
81
mountain in the Canadian Rockies that has a fatal accident connected with its alpine history.
The scaling of Mt. Victoria was undertaken on the
3d of August, 1897 (most appropriately the year of
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee), by Professor J. N.
Collie, Professor C. E. Fay (men who have in different
ways done more than any others to investigate and popularize the glories of the Rockies as an ideal haunt for
mountaineering, one in England, the other in America),
Professor A. Michael, of Boston, and the Swiss guide,
Peter Sarbach, from St. Niklaus. At 3.45 they stole out
into the darkness from the comfortable Chalet, and embarked upon the lake to row to the upper end. Thence
to the glacier, which was ascended to Abbot Pass in four
hours from the start.
With Professor Collie in the lead the bold wall to
the north of the pass was soon surmounted, and proved
by no means so formidable as it looked, its rottenness
being its main difficulty. Then, after a second breakfast,
the rocks gave place to snow in the ascent, and the story
must be told from the narrative of Professor Fay.1
" The sky-line of Mt. Victoria as seen from the lower
end of Lake Louise gives the impression of a very gradually ascending snowy ridge. A more careful study,
however, brings out two features which break this reposeful monotony: the first, a sag not far to the right of
where the profile of our mountain vanishes behind the
icy helmet of Lefroy ; the other, an inconspicuous stretch
of rock wall about midway between this depression and
1 " The First Ascent of Mt. Victoria," Appalachia, Vol. IX, p. 5. «IT*/*''
82      IN  THE   HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
the main summit, where for a space its dusky hue interrupts the white at the meeting of mountain and sky.
In reality this sag separates from the principal mass of
Victoria a portion almost individual enough to have a
name of its own.    It was upon the southern end of this
Photo, by]
LAKE LOUISE AND MT. VICTORIA
[A. B. Cowan
portion that we were pausing for our luncheon. . . . We
were about to pass over the dome of snow to the left of
the sag and as we supposed directly upon the sky-line.
To our surprise, as we approached its summit, we found
an entirely different situation from what was anticipated.
The true crest of this mass is a palisade of rock lying a LAKE  LOUISE
little back of the visible snowy one. This latter sweeps
gently over to its base.
I It was while passing along under this wall that there
was prepared for us the most dramatic surprise that I
ever experienced on a mountain. Without a moment's
warning we found ourselves opposite a breach perhaps
fifty feet in width straight through this Titan wall, and
our vision, as if suddenly released from bonds, leaped
forth into the west over range after range to rest at last
upon the grand triple pyramid of Goodsir. Its imposing
mass was perfectly framed between the vertical sides of
the breach. Four distinct ranges lay between us and it;
and what a tremendous gulf between ourselves and the
first of these ! The snow on which we were standing
swept downward at an angle of forty-five degrees, ending
in a clear-cut line at the outer face of the palisade.
Beyond it lay a depth of air ; and then, a half mile away,
the dark wall of Mt. Yukness. . . . Never, not even
on Mt. Hector, did I experience such an impression of
profundity.
" Passing on we reached the point from which the
descent is made into the sag. . . . From here the subordinate peak called Mt. Huber is in full view. . . . But
still more did the peak of Victoria itself challenge our
attention. Our way to it was now revealed to us ; but
how different from the easy grade we had been led to
expect ! How little like * a wall of uniform height ' ! It
towered a graceful pyramidal spire before us. Our line
of sight being parallel to the axis of the mountain, we
saw in profile the snowy slope that faces Lake Louise, 84      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
It swept rapidly up from the top of the cliffs at an
angle of forty to sixty degrees, steepening yet more as
it approached the clearly defined pinnacle. ' Hot plates '
broke its surface at frequent intervals, with suggestions
of imminent avalanches, which will always defend any
approach to its icy citadel from this side. . . .
" The climb of the long arête soon depleted any stock
of exuberance the lively descent [to the bottom of the
sag] had developed. At every step we sank to the
knee, at many a one much deeper. Gratitude to Collie
for the pioneer work he was putting in at the head of the
line mingled with admiration for his endurance as we
* entered into his labors.' It was with a decided sense of
relief that we at last reached the base of the parapet and
found what we had hoped, a point where it could be
scaled. Its crest proved to be exceedingly narrow, in
places not over a foot wide, and rapidly weathering;
nevertheless, it offered a line of rapid advance — the
sooner, therefore, to come to an end and compel us
once more to take to the snow. We were now (about
eleven o'clock) at the base of the final peak. From here
to the summit we were to move — as indeed we had
been doing much of the time hitherto — along the very
ridgepole of the North American continent. . . . Stride
on, O Collie, we are right after you. . . .
I At last ! But why does he not stop ? Now that
our eyes get level with where his thighs wallow out of
the snow, we see we were too sanguine ; the highest
summit is that hillock, still beyond. One final push,
and at 11.45 '^ne great white peak' is conquered. LAKE  LOUISE
"The summit [11,400 feet above the sea-level] is
an ideal one. Discounting the cornice crowning over
towards the lake, there was hardly more than comfortable
room for our party. Unlike that of Lefroy, no fock
pierced the virgin whiteness. To the north it fell away
suddenly into a deep depression filled with gendarmes,
separating it from a bastion, from which it seems hardly
probable it will ever be approached. Immediately to the
west a snow arête falls away less rapidly, rising again
almost to our level in the most pointed snow peak I have
ever seen. The sides meet in the perfect apex of an
angle of less than eighty degrees. It seemed as if its.
point would prick the palm that should be laid upon it."
The descent was easy and rapid without any episode
requiring record, and the Chalet was regained at half-past
five o'clock.
My own first introduction to Canadian alpine climbing was also on this mountain, a day in August, 1900,
witnessing an interesting scramble to the summit of the
northern peak. The Swiss guide stationed at the Chalet,
not knowing our qualifications as mountaineers, demanded a second guide to convoy our party of three
(Mr. J. H. Scattergood, of Philadelphia, my brother and
myself) up this simple peak; but the addition proved
to be a great hindrance and a source of weakness,
almost amounting to danger, to the party.
The chef got up to give us a recherche breakfast at
the early hour of 3 a.m. We pulled across the lake
under the starlit skies, the ghostly pallid summits
beckoning us onward through the night.    Soon we were fTTfTrr
86
IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
far up on the stony flank of Mt. Whyte and entering
upon the traverse of the upper glacier, that streams from
Mt. Victoria's long ridge. Turning north, we then
climbed, ladder-like, a steep snow-curtain, 700 to 800
feet in height, and landed on the razor edge that
joins Pope's Peak to Mt. Victoria, a grand series of
precipices marking the farther side. Along this ridge,
heavily corniced upon the side of our approach, we now
proceeded, a bitter wind blowing most violently, whilst
the clouds scurried low along the faces of the mountains
all around. Cautioning Zurfluh to be particularly mindful of the cornice, and give it a wide berth, for I have
a special antipathy to these dread traps for the unwary
climber, I followed in his and my brother's footsteps
with a confidence which received a rude and sudden
shock when, in an instant, I felt my previously solid
resting-place quiver, totter, disappear, and I shot downward into space surrounded by a whirling mass of snow
and ice.
For the benefit of the curious, who may wish, like
sundry others, to know my first sensations, I can only
tell the grim, prosaic fact that the sole thought that
occupied my mind was, that I should have to climb
the whole of that long, weary staircase of 800 feet
of snow all over again ! I had forgotten all about the
rope that bound us all together, but in a fraction of a
second it brought its very real and tangible presence
to my memory by a stupendous jerk as it tightened
round my devoted waist, and there I hung, dancing on
air, somewhat uncomfortable about  the centre, but in LAKE  LOUISE
87
perfect safety. The rope, which had been kept quite taut
between us, cut into the soft snow and scarcely caused
the slightest drag upon my two companions, and they
held me without an effort. Calling to them to hold
steady, with a few strokes of my ice-axe I cut a step in
the ice-wall to stand upon, and two or three more
quickly brought me to the top again.
The experience is one of real interest, though hardly
sufficiently so to make one yearn for an encore, even
under similar conditions of a safe issue, for which there
was great cause for thankfulness; though it cannot be
too strongly urged that, when the proper precautions are
taken — being tied together, keeping right distance and
a taut rope, with incessant watchfulness — there is little,
if any, danger of a catastrophe, even should one of the
party fall. In the case under notice, also, it should be
added that there would have been no accident at all
had the guide taken ordinary precautions to ascertain
the width of the projecting cornice or to give it a
reasonably wide berth.
It did not take us long thereafter to gain the snowy
apex of the north peak, where, in a piercing wind, we
obtained fleeting but glorious glimpses of as fine an
alpine panorama as one could wish to see. The striking feature was the abruptness of the precipice of Mt.
Victoria and the marvellous ridge connecting our peak
with the highest point, referred to by Professor Fay as
1 filled with gendarmes." It is as worthy of the term
I knife-edge " as any in existence, but the knife has been
sadly maltreated, like one used as a can-opener or for 88      IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
some similar strenuous and unwonted purpose. It is
serrated along its entire length by jagged pinnacles and
towers, standing up in many instances for scores of feet
from the narrow joining ridges, and in places overhanging one or other of the vast sheer walls that culminate
in this appalling toothed arête.
Later I planned to try a climb along this route to
the chief summit, which would in all likelihood provide
as high a test of mountaineering skill as any in the
world, but weather foiled the scheme and the ridge still
awaits a conqueror.
The minor peaks around have all been scaled, — the
principal, Mt. Aberdeen, by Messrs. Allen, Frissell and
Wilcox in 1894, by an easy route; and the most difficult,
without doubt, by Mr. Edward Whymper's quartette of
famous guides in 1901. This is "The Mitre," a ragged
rock-pile on the ridge between Mt. Aberdeen and Mt.
Lefroy, which proved a first-class little bit of rock-work.
Mr. Whymper camped for several weeks that year at
various altitudes, doing very thorough work in his characteristically energetic and patient way, exploring in all
directions and making valuable observations in almost
every branch of scientific research.
The two famous peaks are, even with guides, beyond
the powers or inclination of the multitude, yet many are
attracted by the magnet of the glaciers, especially those
to whom their power is new ; and Lake Louise adds to
its unique scenic charms the enjoyable feature of giving
the opportunity for one of the most striking and picturesque lower alpine expeditions imaginable.    This is the
% LAKE  LOUISE
89
crossing of Abbot Pass to Lake O'Hara and the Cataract Valley, which is absolutely unapproached in interest,
variety, and charm on the Continent of North America,
and yet it is within the capacity of the ordinary walker.
Abbot Pass is a narrow V-shaped notch, cut deep
between the lofty walls of Mt. Lefroy and Mt. Victoria,
upon the Great Divide. It is a glacial pass, whose
romantic and secluded summit, hemmed in between
mighty precipices from which avalanches thunder with
constantly reverberating roar, has an outlook to nought
but naked peak and precipice, snowy steeps and cataracts
of ice, wild pinnacles tossed to the sky from the dead
world of rock and glacier, without a sign of life and
scarcely even a stunted shrub or blade of scanty grass
within the range of vision. It is a picture of weird
wonder and desolate majesty, almost incomparable and
boundlessly impressive in its might and its eternal sug-
gestiveness.
This silent arctic passage links the bright environment of Lake Louise, on the Atlantic side, to the delicious valley where Cataract Creek, taking its rise in
glacial heights, threads its torrential way-down the steep,
rugged slopes from frozen Lake Oësa, with brief resting-
places as it merges with the still waters of sundry
mountain tarns, to* Lake O'Hara, fairest of mountain
lakelet gems, and thence to join the Kicking Horse, or
Wapta, River, forming the longest branch of that wild
tributary of the great Columbia.
Abbot Pass takes its name from the distinguished
climber, Philip Stanley Abbot, a Boston man, the first f*r**
90      IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
1
and only victim of a mountaineering accident in Canada,
who met his death upon the steeps of Mt. Lefroy in
1896, just above the little col. The pass was first
reached by Mr. S. E. S. Allen, in 1894, from the O'Hara
side, and subsequently, in 1896, from Lake Louise by
the party which made the memorable first attempt on
Mt. Lefroy, thus demonstrating its feasibility as a route
across the watershed ; but it remained uncrossed till
Mr. R. F. Curtis and Professor Fay made the trip in
1898, and no one followed till, three years later, the latter repeated the expedition in company with Mr. J. H.
Scattergood, Christian Hâsler and myself, on July 23d.
We were on our way to try the ascent of Mt. Biddle
and chose this as the shortest, most scenic, and most
sporting route. The trip was unique by reason of our
being accompanied by a spaniel, belonging to the chef
at Field, and " Nellie " proved herself a splendid alpinist,
negotiating the difficulties of ice and snow, rock and
scree, in first-rate style, and winning fame as the first of her
sex and of her species to cross a glacier pass in Canada.
The customary, but ever fresh and delightful, passage of the lake in the early dawn led to the short
tramp through dew-saturated grass and bushes to the
Victoria Glacier. Scrambling over the rough moraine to
the d^w-covered ice, we made rapid progress along its
dry surface towards the mighty walls of the encircling
peaks which rose with snowy mantles and huge cornices
in stupendous grandeur straight from the floor of ice..
A striking specimen of a glacier table was met with, an
enormous boulder, fully six feet high and about thirty in LAKE LOUISE
circumference, being balanced on a delicate ice-pedestal
and surrounded by a circular basin hollowed in the
glacier by the heat refracted from the sun-smitten rock.
With some difficulty Hâsler and I succeeded in clambering up the smooth, worn side, and, hoisting Nellie up, we
posed for portraiture upon this singular monument.
Photo, by]
A  GLACIER TABLE
[C.B. tag
Rounding the cliffs of Mt. Lefroy, the steep snow-
covered way to Abbot Pass looms right ahead, the close-
contracting walls of the two giant mountains climbing
sheer above, overhung by the edges of the ever moving-
glacier masses that clothe their steep-pitched roofs clear
to the narrow ridge that forms the roof-tree of the Continent. These glaciers are fully 200 feet in thickness at
the point where they break off and avalanche from the
summit of the vertical cliffs, and during the summer
season many hundreds of tons of solid ice are daily
hurled from their giddy eminence and shattered on the
glacier below.    The frequency of these  falls  and the 92       IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
extreme narrowness of the chasm caused its earliest visitors to shun the hemmed-in passage-way, which they
named suggestively " The Death-trap." Mr. Abbot, with
greater perception and alpine experience, scouted the title
and persuaded his companions to make the first passage,
which has since been followed not infrequently : with reasonable care and common sense danger is wholly absent,
and the early designation has happily become extinct.
Grand it is and wild and weird, as we thread our way
amongst the numerous crevasses that cross our glistening white pathway, which lies deep-cut between ; the
towering, close-pressing precipices. Onward and upward till in four easy hours from the Chalet we gained
the narrow summit of the notch, about 9800 feet above
the sea and 4000 higher than our starting-point. Almost
overwhelming in its sublimity and suddenness was, to
quote Professor Fay,1 "the wonderful prospect that
opened so magically — the sudden plunge of the western
gorge, snowless in its upper half, its sloping sides and
narrow bottom lined with scree from the heights above ;
the sea-green lakelets at its foot, three thousand feet below us ; the pinnacle of Mt. Biddle leaping up like a
petrified flame and pricking the clouds that levelled with
the tops of Victoria and Lefroy themselves ; the remoter
array of peaks unfamiliar in this new aspect."
Surrounded by this galaxy of noble peaks,
"Walls like the glittering domes on high
Reared for the dwellers of the sky
By heavenly architect,"
1 Appalachia, Vol. VIII, p. 139. LAKE LOUISE 93
what food for solemn meditation is prepared; what
memories, too, of human interest centre round these
ice-bound crags !
In solemn awe we gaze on the glazed steeps of Mt.
Lefroy, and our companion tells with bated breath of the
long toil of the ascent, the alternate hope and fear as to
the outcome, the satisfaction as at last success appeared
within their grasp; and then the sudden ghastly moment
of their leader's fall, the agonizing watching of the inert
body in its downward course, the helplessness to stay
his sure destruction or to aid in any way; the slow
descent with nerves racked and intense, the touching
last farewell, the fearful night spent on the pass in drifting snow, the search for help, the long return, and final
carrying of the corpse of the loved friend to Laggan.
And then the eye lights up again as memory strides a
year forward and on the anniversary the vanquished
leader's plan is carried out triumphantly and the successful first ascent is recapitulated step by step. Next,
turning round, the same intrepid pioneer tells us the tale
of Mt. Victoria's conquest and of the first crossing of
our pass.
Again, we look with mingled feelings to the triple
mass of Mt. Goodsir, the mightiest monarch west of the
Divide, which only a short week before had baffled us,
when within a few short feet of its proud crest, by the
extraordinarily corniced condition of the final ridge.
Then to Mt. Biddle, with a confident hope that, barring
accidents, we should be seated on its sharp pinnacle
within two days, and we wonder, as we study its sharp 94       IN  THE HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
arêtes and bands of girdling precipice, which is the most
vulnerable side and by what line of approach we are to
make the first attack. And so, with all the fulness of
interest of past and future, the present slips all too
quickly by and Hâsler summons us to hurry up.
Then down, down, down, glissading here and there
on patches of old snow, striding with giant leaps through
the loose slopes of débris, till we halt briefly on the
shore of little Lake Oësa, the " ice § lake, almost entirely
frozen over even in mid-July, circled by precipices, fed
by a glacier tongue. A tumbling streamlet issues
westward, which we follow down through grassy, flowery
meadows, past tiny lakelets, each with its own distinctive character and charm of form and colour and environment : soon the brook disappears only to burst forth
from its subterranean channel some hundreds of feet
below, and finally to leap in an exquisite cascade of
interlacing silvery threads over a ruddy cliff in a frame
of waving fir trees, plunge into the peaceful depths of
Lake O'Hara and sink to rest on the broad bosom of
that enchanting mirror-like expanse.
At the lower end of the Jake we spy, not without
mundane satisfaction, even amid these fairy-like surroundings, the white gleam of our tents, and soon we
are reposing on the velvet turf, drinking in deep
draughts of tea and scenery (an excellent mixture), and
feasting upon Nature in its primitive simplicity and
grandeur and upon her products as modified by the
manufacturing and culinary arts of man.
The next morning, in contrast to the clear brilliancy LAKE  LOUISE
95
of yesterday, dawned with weeping skies. Climbing
was out of the question, but the day need not be wasted
and, after vainly waiting awhile for a clearance, we
tramped off to visit Lake McArthur and to prospect
for the best route by which to tackle Mt. Biddle.
Forest and swamp, equally wet, alternated until we rose
towards McArthur Pass, and, rounding the rugged, stony
shoulder of Mt. Schaeffer, we soon arrived at the edge
of the lonely lake. Lying between two lofty spurs, that
rise abruptly hundreds of feet above, it nestles close
under the towering mass of the main peak, a fair-sized
glacier thrusting its crevassed tongue far into the
waters, which are frozen over almost all the year.
Our survey of the mountain resulted in the selection
of a route that appeared feasible, and, having thus
accomplished the immediate object of our jaunt, we
faced towards Cathedral Mountain and started back for
camp. The rain was heavier than ever, and hurry led
to a near approach to a somewhat undignified race, when
Professor Fay, in swinging off a ledge on to some loose
stones slippery with the wet, unfortunately wrenched his
knee severely and was put hors de combat. This misfortune was Christian's opportunity to display others of
his sterling qualities, and he mounted the Professor
on his sturdy shoulders and, with marvellous strength,
agility and sure-footedness, bore him on high over loose
boulders and down narrow ledges to the flatter ground,
whence he and Mr. Scattergood supported the limping
invalid until I met them with a horse which I had raced
to camp to bring to the Professor's aid.
lit     Jyj 96      IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
The melancholy procession trailed into camp in due
time, and on the following day proceeded in the still
pouring rain down the rough banks of Cataract Creek,
with sundry crossings and many a shaking up for the
poor, suffering equestrian, till Hector station saw the
termination of his woes and on a convenient freight
train the remainder of the journey back to Field was
comfortably made.
Mt. Biddle has since fallen to the prowess of that
energetic climber, Professor H. C. Parker, of Columbia
University, and Dr. A. Eggers, who, under the invincible guidance of Christian and Hans Kaufmann, ascended by a long and circuitous route from a camp in
Prospector's Valley. The approach was across several
ridges to the south arête. " Here," Professor Parker
writes,1 1 we enjoyed some most sensational rock-work,
for the arête narrowed to a very knife-edge and fairly
overhung the vast depths of Prospector's Valley. The
climbing was neither difficult nor dangerous, however.
. . . After a time the arête ended abruptly in an almost
vertical face of rock, but, as usual, Christian discovered
a practicable route to surmount this obstacle, and, climbing through a most picturesque \ window ' of rock, we
came out just below the final summit cliffs. These
cliffs, while not high, were unscalable from this side ; so
we made an easy traverse over a slope of rock and snow,
and gained the northern side of the mountain just
under the summit.
" The face of the peak, which here towers majesti-
1 Appalachia, Vol. X, p. 298. LAKE LOUISE
97
cally over Lake McArthur, is extraordinarily steep for
the last few hundred feet, but, had the snow slopes been
in good condition, it would have presented little difficulty. In place of snow, however, we again encountered
solid ice, and so were forced for a short distance to take
to a slope of varied rock and ice, depending on the most
uncertain of hand- and foot-holds.
I But soon we made our way upward by means of a
short chimney, so narrow that I could not get through,
but had to swing out over it. This passed, the summit
lay but a few steps beyond, and the last peak . . . was
conquered."
Cataract Valley I visited on two subsequent occasions: once, when traversing Cathedral Mountain after
the first ascent of that peak ; and again, when making the first demonstration of the possibility of reaching
Lake O'Hara directly from Field, across the Dennis
and Duchesnay Passes, an attractive but fatiguing expedition. The descent is by a beautiful, lake-strewn
and finely timbered valley, which joins the main valley
about midway between Lake O'Hara and the mouth of
Cataract Creek. Making this trip entirely alone on a
bracing October day, there was no check to the rapidity
with which my lengthy legs bore me along, and the time
taken so misled a party conducted by Professor Fay the
following summer, in which some ladies were included,
that I most unintentionally caused them to be overtaken
by darkness long before the lower valley was attained,
necessitating an impromptu bivouac with sundry attendant inconveniences.
H  CHAPTER V
THE   TRAGEDY   ON   MOUNT   LEFROY
The list of fatal accidents in the Canadian Rockies
contains, happily, but a single name up to the present,
though in perusing the records of the earlier climbers
one is struck by the very special providence that has
watched over their initial efforts. Few of the pioneers
had any real experience of the " science " of mountaineering : enthusiasm, natural athletic tendencies and some
scrambles on comparatively easy and safe mountains constituted their chief stock in trade, and only one or two
had any practical acquaintance with the glacial world,
or of crag-work in its more difficult aspects. The rope
and ice-axe were also novelties to almost all.
These men climbed without guides, and ordinarily
at least one complete novice was included in the party,
sometimes more than one. To their intrepidity, sturdy
resolution and natural ability their successors must offer
a hearty tribute of admiration, mingled with congratulation at the good fortune that attended them. As one
of the most prominent remarked to me : " Our ignorance
enabled us somehow to achieve without accident what
now our knowledge would cause us unhesitatingly to
avoid." It is the old story of rushing in where àngels
fear to tread, and a special providence preserved them
99 ioo     IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
from dangers which often lurked unnoticed and unheeded, in numbers and of a character sufficient to appall
the seasoned mountaineer.
Glaciers and their ways take a lifetime to understand
fully. Snowcraft is an education which many guides,
with the experience of years, are not yet masters of;
and almost every season the treacherous snows will
claim amongst their victims men who have spent years
in studying their conditions. Many a vast abyss is
hidden under an unbroken expanse of seemingly solid
snow, where even the keenest and most practised eye
cannot detect their presence ; and frequently an intricate
network of these huge crevasses may be gayly passed
over by an unskilled party, perhaps unroped, where an
experienced guide would have each individual on the qui
vive, the rope held taut, the eye and hand watchfully
ready, as he winds here and there, probing at every step
and noting indications of the most subtle type.
My recollection takes me back to an amusing episode — amusing for all but one — some years ago, which
illustrates the dangers which even a good guide may fail
to recognize. Four of us were traversing the wide sea
of névé1 at the upper end of the Durand Glacier, in
Switzerland. The Col du Grand Cornier had just been
crossed and the steep descent on the eastern side negotiated. Above us towered the grand precipices of
the Dent Blanche and the Grand Cornier; before us
stretched a gently sloping plain of purest snow, its surface
scarcely marked by any fissure.   Of course we were roped
1 The upper part of a snow-covered glacier. THE TRAGEDY ON  MOUNT LEFROY
ioi
and ready for any emergency, although expecting none.
Our guide was an experienced man, well versed in all
the problems of the glaciers and was no stranger to the
route. Not a depression of the tiniest description, no
crack, no special softness of the snow, gave the least
indication of the presence of a crevasse, although we
knew that numerous huge caverns lurked beneath the
heavy mantle of eternal snow.
The splendid summit of the Roth horn rose in front,
exquisitely lovely in the sunlight, and a halt was called to
take a photograph. The photographer, who happened
to be second on the string, set up his camera on the level
surface and stepped back a pace to focus the picture,
when, in an instant, he was not! Only a hole in the
white crust was visible where but a second previously
my friend had stood, and two narrow grooves cut by the
straining ropes that bound the departed to his surprised
companions. In a few minutes he was hauled out, none
the worse, quite cool, — he made some remarks about
the temperature down below, — and proceeded with his
unfinished picture, after selecting another location, the
stability of which he this time took the precaution of
establishing beyond peradventure.
When I peered into the hole he had so ruthlessly
made, I saw a chasm with glistening w7alls of ice, of every
shade of blue most exquisitely graded to the deepest
hues of night, where far below the darkness hid the
bottom of the cavity from view. This specimen was
probably at least 300 feet in depth, broad at the upper
rims,  yet  so  entirely masked that the guide  and my
i.|i i02    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
friend passed over it unwittingly, and not one of us could
tell where space ended and the solid ice occurred
beneath the snowy covering.1
Still more appalling and even more difficult to recognize are the limitations of avalanching snow. The
acuteness of the angle at which it lies, its consistency,
the character of the substratum, are all-important factors
in the questions of safety and speed upon a slope of
snow ; and considerable experience is necessary to know
just where and how to traverse it.
A kindred topic is the glissade, one of the most
delightful luxuries in a descent, but intensely fruitful in
mishaps. There are so many possibilities of accident;
from avalanching snow, from a patch of hard surface,
where the glissader loses all control, from bergschrunds2
or rocks at the bottom of an inviting slope. And the
temptation is so great, the perils are so easily overlooked,
that many a risk is run, sometimes with most disastrous
consequences.
Then come the cornices, the bugbear of every
climber, and they are far more frequently met with in
Canada than in Switzerland. " Almost every ridge possesses one at least, and I have on more than one occasion
found on the same arête cornices overhanging each side
in turn, and springing from the steepest curtains of soft
snow and even from rock faces practically sheer. A foot
too near the edge and the huge mass may break away
and hurl the party to the depths of a fearsome precipice.
1 See also Appendix B, p. 445, for serious accident on Mt. Gordon.
2 The large fissures occurring at the point where a glacier breaks from the
mountain-side. THE TRAGEDY ON MOUNT LEFROY
103
The difficulties of crag-work are far less formidable
or dangerous to the inexperienced. The average athlete,
especially if he has scrambled amongst rocks and cliffs
even on the lowest hills, requires a hundredfold less education to become safe or even expert on rocks than on
snow and ice.    He learns the limitations of his powers
CORNICE ON THE SUMMIT OF MT.  H ABEL
more rapidly. Dangers are more apparent and easily
recognized. It is an open rather than a hidden and
treacherous foe that he has to battle with ; and certainly
amongst amateurs for one thorough expert on snow and
ice there will be found ten or a dozen in the foremost
rank on rocks.
Yet there are many points to learn, apart from the
mere physical ability to overcome obstacles.     Many a io4    IN  THE  HEART  OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
novice has been trapped by making an ascent on a
troublesome face of rock and finding himself utterly
unable to descend, for almost invariably the former is
considerably the simpler problem, as one's work is right
in front and the centre of gravity tends inward. Often,
too, it is necessary to note the landmarks very carefully ;
points look so very different when seen from the reverse
direction, and often it is extremely difficult to recognize
the gully or ledge by which alone a way back to the
lower world is possible. Most precious hours of daylight
may be lost in this way, necessitating a night out in
the cold, foodless and weary, or perhaps an even worse
disaster.
But the most dangerous of all the contingencies
in crag-work, one which is ever present and singularly
aggravated in the Canadian Rockies, is the peril of loose
stones and rocks. Sometimes they come in showers
from above ; sometimes the seemingly firmest of holds
gives way most unexpectedly, and even masses of many
cubic feet will break off as the climber rests his weight
on them. Nothing must be taken for granted or given
the benefit of the doubt. Each hold must be amply
tested, and then be deemed more likely unreliable than
not.
In addition to the actual features of the mountains
and their surroundings, there is much to be learnt in the
manipulation of the two invaluable accessories of modern
mountain-climbing,—the rope and ice-axe. The ice-axe
is the first possession of the budding mountaineer, and
what a thrill passes through the innermost being of the THE TRAGEDY ON  MOUNT LEFROY
105
novice, who has caught the fever of the peaks, when first
he grasps his own ! The " ancients " used a long pole
shod with iron, and when steps were needed dug
out hollows laboriously with the point. When more
ambitious ascents commenced to be made and great
stretches of ice-walls and hanging-glaciers demanded the
hewing of a long staircase in the hardest ice, this early
method was impossible and hatchets were carried for the
purpose. Then the ice-axe was evolved. The pole was
shortened, and the top furnished with a steel head, fashioned with a pick at one end and a flattened scoop at
the other. In hard snow the latter is sufficient to hollow out an adequate foothold, and the pick is employed
to cut steps in the solid ice.
For anchorage purposes the axe is very useful, and
comes in handy at times in pulling one's self up as well
as in descending. Its uses are innumerable on and off
the ice. In glissading it acts as a support and brake
simultaneously ; it clears away debris, probes for hidden
crevasses, cuts steps, serves as a balancing pole when
crossing streams on fallen logs, or as a balustrade for
timid folks, chops wood for fires and boughs for beds, is
a distinct success as a can-opener, and, on an emergency,
comes in handy as a camera stand, two making a most
effective substitute for the conventional tripod.
How to carry it to the climber's best advantage and
the least danger to his comrades' eyes and limbs is not
learnt in a day, and many a slip would be avoided and
far more rapid progress made if its use were better
understood.
«35
It io6    IN THE   HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
As to the rope, its value can scarcely be overestimated. Although perhaps amongst experts it is rarely,
if ever, in rock-work called upon to help a climber physically, its moral support is quite incalculable. The differ*
ence in climbing up or down a really difficult cliff, with
or without its presence, must be felt to be properly
appreciated. The strain is minimized, the danger virtually nil, when the rope is there. And, as a precaution,
no sensible man would be without it when there is any
likelihood, or, in certain cases, any possibility, of a considerable fall.
Whilst of appreciable importance in rock-climbing,
the use of the rope on glaciers and steep snow slopes is
absolutely imperative. The masked crevasse, the slippery surface, the frail snow-bridge, the tendency to
avalanche, demand every possible care to guard against
an accident. And though on both rocks and snow
instances may be cited when a rope has dragged one or
more victims with the fallen climber to destruction, yet
the cases where it has been the means of saving life and
limb are vastly more numerous; and the frequency of
wholly unnecessary disasters because of its neglect witnesses to the immense advantage of its use.
But how to use the rope properly is by no means so
simple as at first sight appears. It is quite an art. To
keep continually taut the eighteen or twenty foot length
between one's self and the next man in front is not at
all easy when the varying conditions of the surface are
taken into consideration. The " feel " of the rope behind
as well as in front must be attended to, lest a sudden THE TRAGEDY ON MOUNT LEFROY
107
jerk catch the climber unawares, and instead of holding
up he is pulled down himself. Watchfulness and readiness to aid on either side must be constant, and assistance, if required, given on the instant, or it may be too
late. Beginners are apt to let the rope get slack or
twisted, to catch on rocks, to sweep down stones and
débris on the heads of those below, to jerk their neighbours unnecessarily, possibly in a ticklish place, and so
on. Such constant care is most undoubtedly a nuisance and often causes a slower gait, but it may mean
the difference between defeat and victory, between death
and life.
Taking all these things into consideration, it is a
marvel that there were not several fatal accidents in the
Canadian Rockies in the early days. Fortunately the
peaks immediately adjacent to the railway line present
no serious difficulties for the most part, and the few
really first-class climbs were wisely let alone. The stratification of the mountains of the watershed and their
prevailing tilt cause many of the peaks to have one
very easy line of access, and as the prime art of the
first ascender is to find the simplest route, a long
list of successes has been achieved with but one fatal
incident.
My own experiences on Mt. Victoria, Cathedral
Mountain, Mts. Habel, Collie, Vaux, Columbia, Lyell,
and many others, together with observations of peaks
that had been previously climbed, lead me emphatically
to the conclusion that the average Rocky Mountain
peak is extremely easy from the point of view of a fairly \ffff\
108    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE CANADIAN  ROCKIES
experienced mountaineer, and admirably adapted as a
splendid field for the beginner in the study of the craft.
Now that the Canadian Pacific Railway furnishes excellent guides, all danger is eliminated, and every possible
facility is offered for the enjoyment of the exercise and
scenery which are the glorious rewards of mountaineering and to be obtained through it alone.
By the strange fate that is so often noticeable, the
victim of the tragedy on Mt. Lefroy was the most
unlikely of all the climbers to meet with such an end.
Philip Stanley Abbot was undoubtedly the most experienced amongst the pioneers who visited the Rockies.
He was a Boston man, one of the most enthusiastic and
probably the most expert of the members of the Appalachian Mountain Club, to whom all mountain-lovers
owe so great a debt for opening up these fastnesses and
calling attention to the preeminent position of this
region as the American Switzerland.
He sought no bubble reputation, as, alas, is too often
the case in these days of " records " and competition.
He loved the mountains, studied them with all his
energetic, thorough nature, appreciated their characteristics and their moods, enjoyed with all the born mountaineer's keen ardour the battle as^inst the elements
and all the varied forces of nature in its wildest, most
titanic sphere. More than one season spent among the
giants of the Alps had given him the opportunity of
learning something of the craft of mountaineering. The
opportunity, as was natural to a man of his rare calibre,
was  eagerly grasped, and  characteristically made the
II pp
THE TRAGEDY ON MOUNT LEFROY
109
most of. Then he joined the little band of pioneers in
the Canadian Rockies, which he at once recognized as
the natural home of alpine climbing in America, and
brought his best powers of experience, energy and judgment to bear upon their problems in the field, and in the
enlistment of the sympathies of kindred spirits and the
rousing of the energies of eastern athletes to invade
and conquer these new and matchless worlds, where
sport in its highest, purest form can be enjoyed.
In 1895, Professor Fay, Mr. Abbot and Mr. C. S.
Thompson were at Lake Louise, surrounded by the
mountains, listening to the crash of the avalanche and
the mysterious whisperings of the " Spirit of the Peaks,"
that lured them on to the enchanted land. The fires
within, already kindled and brightly glowing, were
fanned into a flame by the magnificent vision of Mt.
Lefroy, as seen one afternoon from the shaly summit of
Goat Mountain. The northern slopes in profile showed
a most promising and really simple line of ascent, provided the top of the great cliffs, 700 to 800 feet in
height, that girdle the lower portion of the mountain,
could be reached. This vertical black wall was cleft at
one point by a couloir, filled at its base with snow, and
easy enough most of the distance up; but the details of
the rocky fissure above could not be clearly seen and
appeared extremely problematical. So a reconnaissance
was made.
This couloir had previously attracted Messrs. Wilcox,
Frissell and Henderson as perhaps a feasible approach
to the enticing slopes above, and an attempt to climb it
ili no    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
resulted in an accident that might easily have proved the
first fatality in the region ; strangely enough, upon the
same mountain that afterwards gained such unenviable
notoriety.
" On either side of us," writes Mr. Wilcox,1 " there
were overhanging walls, decayed limestone pillars, tottering masses of broken stone with daylight showing
through the cracks, and a thousand rocks resting
threateningly balanced and apparently ready to fall at
a feather's touch. That we were not dismayed at this
hopeless prospect proves that we were more audacious
than prudent.
I At length when reaching upwards for a handhold,
with a boost from below and my face against the limestone, I saw a large and dangerous-looking stone poised
above us. ' Fellows, we must look out for that stone,'
said I, ' and not let the rope touch it' A moment
after, Henderson and I were above this, climbing another rock ledge, when we heard the grinding sound
of the large stone moving. We turned in time to see
Frissell falling. The rope tightened and held him on a
ledge ten feet below, but the tremendous stone, which
must have weighed a ton, wras rolling over and coming
down upon him. For a brief but awful moment, helpless and immovable, as in a frightful dream, we saw the
stone leap out into the air to descend upon our poor
comrade, but he made a desperate movement, pressing
hard against the cliff, and escaped the full force of the
blow.    Then the whole place resounded with the hollow
1 § The Rockies of Canada," p. 40.
1 THE TRAGEDY ON MOUNT LEFROY     m
rattle of falling stones as they danced in a shower of
death below us.
" We found that Frissell could not stand, one leo-
being perfectly helpless, while he was so dazed by the
shock that he fainted twice in our arms. . . . Uncoiling
the full length of the rope, one end was fastened round
his waist, and the other round mine. With an ice-axe
buried to the head in the snow as an anchor, I paid out
the rope and lowered our helpless friend fully fifty feet.
Then Henderson went down and, anchoring himself in
like manner, held him while I came down. This operation, repeated a number of times, brought us soon upon
the comparatively level glacier."
Help was brought by Mr. Wilcox from the Chalet,
and the invalid carried thither on an improvised litter,
where he was attended to by a doctor who arrived on
a hand-car from Banff, thirty-five miles distant, and ère
long he happily recovered.
The trio of 1895 met with no physical mishap, but,
owing (apparently) to insufficient respect for the difficulties to be encountered, deferred their start until 3 p.m.
and were most unfortunately overtaken by darkness at
the critical point. Aided by a short and narrow tongue
of snow, just strong enough to cross, they reached the
upper rocks and worked their way up a " chimney " for
some distance till a mauvais pas was encountered, with
the top still out of sight. Though impressed with the idea
that a passage might be forced, there was no chance of effecting it before daylight disappeared, and, discretion being
the wiser course, an immediate retreat was determined on. Hi    IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
Next morning they returned to the attack, but again
the fates were contrary. A warm spell of weather and
a drizzling rain had rendered the snow tongue unsafe, so
a second chimney was attempted. This formed a most
effective watercourse, with smooth sides glazed here
and there with verglas, down which an icy shower
was gâyly plunging, soaking the climbers to the
skin and overcoming the ardour of at least two of
the party. Once more retreat was obligatory, and the
problem of the couloir has, I believe, never yet been
solved.
Since then a charming pathway has been found,
clearly defined when snow is fairly fresh upon the peak,
by means of an ample ledge running almost horizontally
along the eastern face of the mountain, from the conspicuous mass of avalanche snow about its centre to the
apex of the buttress at the north-east corner.» Thus the
summit of the cliff belt is easily attained, and the remainder of the ascent is of comparatively little moment,
unless the mountain is in a glazed condition.
Meantime, however, this solution of the problem of
Mt. Lefroy was not yet diseovered, and a new line of
ascent suggested itself to Mr. Abbot, in spite of the
emphatic opinion of an earlier explorer, Mr. S. E. S.
Allen, who alone had viewed the peak from the sug-
gested point of attack. \ This was on the western side,
directly from the pass now bearing the honoured name of
him who conceived the bold scheme and in the execution of it lost his life. Mr. Allen had ascended the
pass from the  O'Hara  Lake  direction and examined
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il  THE TRAGEDY ON MOUNT LEFROY
"5
the steep, white slope of Mt. Lefroy from close at hand.
He judged that ordinarily so great a quantity of step-
cutting would be involved as to render an ascent impracticable within the limits of a day, making a start
from Lake Louise. This verdict proved more of an incentive than a deterrent to Mr. Abbot, and the following
summer found him, with his previous companions and
the Rev. George Little, ready for another assault upon
the fascinating peak.
On August 3rd, 1896, the Chalet was left behind at
6.15 — a somewhat noticeably late hour in view of the
distance and the difficulties that lay before the party.
In an hour and a quarter the glacier was reached,
and seventy minutes later they roped up opposite the
familiar couloir. Soon they turned the shoulder of Mt.
Lefroy and entered on the new ground of the magnificent gorge dividing that mountain from Mt. Victoria.
The usual thunders of frequent avalanches greeted
their ears, and the superb cascades of powdered ice and
drifting snow were at their best. With but a single
brief halt they pressed towards the narrow V-shaped nick
at the head of the long snow slopes that rise steadily to
the level of the cliff walls which form the confines of
the glacier below.
Not till 11.50, however, did they gain the longed-for
crest, and turned to scan the massive mountain-side,
whose ice-crowned pinnacle still towered 2000 feet above
the pass. Almost immediately the joyful exclamation
came from Mr. Abbot's lips, " The peak is ours ! \ And
(to quote from Professor Fay's intensely graphic account
1
r~" "  ... ,i n6    IN THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
of the occurrence)1 " surely his confidence seemed justified. From here an unobstructed way was seen leading
up to the long summit arête, which still frowned nearly
2000 feet above the pass. The vast mountainside rose
in a sloping wall, ice-clad for the greater part, yet with
here and there long upward leads of rock that probably
could be scaled, as the dip was in the right direction. . . .
At 12.30 p.m. ... we again set forth to complete, as
we fondly believed, the largest enterprise in the way of
mountaineering that has ever [1896] been accomplished
on Canadian peaks. Our record shows that in the first
half-hour we made excellent progress, for at one o'clock
our aneroid reading was 10,400, — 300 feet above our
lunching-place. ... Of the next four hours and a half
the writer of this narrative has a very vague recollection.
. 1. These hours were spent either in cutting steps in
our zigzag course up ice slopes, or in wary advance up the
unreliable slopes of rock, the effect of a slip upon which
would differ slightly in ultimate results from a slip on
the ice itself. ... At 5.30 we drew up under an immense bastion possibly seventy-five feet in height, behind
which lay the summit, of which as yet, owing to foreshortening, we had ha,d no satisfactory view. This
frowning face rose sheer from a narrow margin of tolerably stable scree that lay tilted between its base and the
upper edge of the sloping ice that we had just left behind
us. Looking past it on the right we saw, a few hundred
feet beyond, the tawny southern arête, so shattered as to
be utterly impassable.     In one place a great aperture,
1 Appalachia, Vol. VIII, p. 140. iWl
THE TRAGEDY ON  MOUNT LEFROY
117
perhaps forty feet high and ûve or six in width, revealed
the blue sky beyond. Evidently our course did not lie
in that direction. On the left the dusky northern arête
rose with an easy gradient possibly an eighth of a mile
away, but across an ice slope similar to that up which
we had so long been toiling, and in truth a continuation
of the same. To cross it was perfectly feasible, but it
would take so long to cut the necessary steps that a
descent of the peak before dark would have been out
of the question.
" But now Mr. Abbot, who had moved forward along
the rock-wall to the limit of the rope, cheerfully announced an alternative. His view beyond an angle in
the bastion revealed a vertical cleft up which it was
possible to climb by such holds as offered themselves.
Bidding Thompson and me to unrope and keep under
cover from falling stones, he clambered some thirty feet
up the rift, secured a good anchorage, and called upon
Professor Little to follow. This the latter proceeded to
do, but while standing at the bottom of the cleft preparing to climb, he received a tingling blow from a small
stone dislodged by the rope. A moment later a larger
one falling on the rope half severed it, so as to require a
knot. As danger from this source seemed likely to continue, our leader had Little also free himself from the
rope and come up to where he stood. From here a
shelf led around to the left, along which Abbot now
proceeded a few yards and discovered a gully leading
upward, unseen from the point first attained, and this
also  he  began  to  ascend.    To  Mr. Little's question, n8    IN THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
whether it might not be better to try and turn the bastion on the shelf itself, he replied : '1 think not. I have
a good lead here.'
I These were the last words he ever uttered. A
moment later Little, whose attention was for the moment diverted to another portion of the crag, was conscious that something had fallen swiftly past him, and
knew only too well what it must be. Thompson and I,
standing at the base of the cliff, saw our dear friend
falling backward and head-foremost, saw him strike the
upper margin of the ice slope within fifteen feet of us,
turn completely over and instantly begin rolling down
its steep incline. After him trailed our two lengths of
English rope — all we had brought with us — which we
had spliced together in our ascent over the last rock
slope, in order to gain time by having less frequent
anchorages than were necessitated by the short intervals
of one sixty-foot line. As the limp body rolled downward in a line curving slightly towards the left, the rope
coiled upon it as on a spool,—a happy circumstance
amid so much of horror, \— for not only did this increase
of friction sensibly affect the velocity of the descent of
900 feet to the narrow plateau of scree above mentioned,
but doubtless the rope by catching in the scree itself
prevented the unconscious form from crossing the narrow level and falling over the low cliff beyond. Had it
passed this, nothing, apparently, could have stopped it
short of the bottom of the gorge leading up to the pass
from the western side of the Divide, — a far more fearful fall than that already made." THE TRAGEDY ON  MOUNT LEFROY
119
At 6.30 the slow and sad descent was commenced by
the awed and heartbroken survivors. Without a rope
the circumstances called for unremitting: caution and
great self-command. Fortunately the steps on the ascent
had been made exceptionally large, but for three long
hours, while sunset radiance gave way to dusk, they
worked their "slow way downward, and at length stood
beside the motionless form that all this time had lain in
full view. To our surprise life was not yet extinct. ...
A faint murmur, that my imagination interpreted as a
recognition of our presence and an expression of gratitude that we at least had escaped from peril, alone broke
the silence for a brief moment, and then we three bared
our heads in the twilight, believing that his generous
spirit was already passing."
He lived a short time longer, however, while with
gentle hands they bore him to a better resting-place,
and then he peacefully breathed his last. To bear
the lifeless body farther without assistance and in the
dark was utterly impossible, and, sorrowfully leaving
the remains of their comrade on the snowy platform, the
three survivors with difficulty retraced their footsteps of
the bright, hopeful morning in the deep gloom of night
and grief. The night was spent on the cold wind-swept
pass, and, setting dut at 5 o'clock next morning, they
reached the Chalet at 9.30 in the midst of a rain-storm.
Obtaining the willing aid of Messrs. T. E. Wilson
and Astley, the party in half an hour were once more on
the way. Reaching the pass at 2.30, mists and snow-
squalls enveloped them and made their task increasingly I20    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
difficult. At four o'clock the work of lowering the body
was begun, and even with the united efforts of the five
it proved a long and perilous proceeding. Once the
glacier was gained progress was more rapid, but darkness overtook them ere the lake was reached, and again
the body had to be abandoned for the night. The following day a party of bridge-builders, sent by the
sympathizing officials of the Canadian Pacific Railway,
carried the body to the station, and the long journey to
the East concluded in the quiet service at Mt. Auburn
on August 12th, when all that was mortal of noble Philip
Abbot was laid to rest in hope and confidence of a
future life.
The cause of the accident remains a mystery.
Whether a slip occurred, or the climber trusted to a
mass of rock which suddenly gave way, or was struck
by a falling stone, cannot be determined. The intense
rottenness of the Rocky Mountain quartzite lends strong
probability to the view that a hold may have proved
treacherous, and Professor Fay's " impression " gives
additional weight to the idea. " I know not how to
account for my immediate impression," he writes, " unless I actually saw something to create it during the
momentary slackening of his swift rush past us, but it
was an increase of horror lest a large stone, clasped in
his arms, should crush him as he struck the slope."
Abbot's caution was proverbial amongst his comrades, though combined with an enthusiastic boldness,
and a slip is the least likely of the three contingencies.
The strange neglect to coil the rope is quite inexplicable
- THE TRAGEDY ON MOUNT LEFROY
121
to any experienced mountaineer, and the trail of its
nearly 120 feet and liability to catch on the numerous
projections and jerk the climber backward in a critical
position, suggests another possible explanation of the
fatal fall.
On the first anniversary of this terrible disaster a
party of nine set out from Lake Louise to make a fresh
attempt to conquer the mountain that had so fatally
repelled the last assault. It was quite an international
combination. America was represented by six members, Professor C. E. Fay and Mr. C. S. Thompson of the
previous campaign, the Rev. C. L. Noyes, Professors
A. Michael and H. C. Parker, and Mr. J. R. Vanderlip.
They were joined by Professors Norman Collie and
Dixon, of the Alpine Club, hailing from Scotland and
England respectively, and Peter Sarbach, the first Swiss
guide to visit the Helvetia of North America.
The route taken was practically identical with that
made sadly memorable by the death of Mr. Abbot, and,
although the abnormally large number of climbers,
divided into three trios, was contrary to the accepted
canons of mountaineering custom, a laborious but satisfactory climb resulted, and the proud peak was scaled
successfully. Starting at 3 a.m., the pass was reached in
five hours, and the summit at eleven o'clock. The snow
was in fine condition and enabled them to ascend the
steep slopes without the trouble of cutting more than a
few steps here and there. The condition of this snow is
the crux of the ascent. Even on that day of victory it
was perilously near an avalanching state, for two days 122    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
later when viewed from the crest of Mt. Victoria thé
snow had disappeared, leaving " an unbroken wall of
gray ice. The entire layer from ten to fifteen inches in
depth, then welded to the ice beneath, . . . had meantime evaporated under the intense rays of the August
sun. Our attack was made in the nick of time. A day
later would have made it perilous, and exceedingly toilsome, if not impossible."1
Since 1897 the peak has been ascended more than
once, the regular route being the safer one by the ledge
on the eastern face and up the northern slope. No longer
formidable, the mountain still retains its interest. The
shapely lines, stupendous cliffs and ice-capped crest still
lay their fascinating spell upon the visitor, and this interest has gained an added power and intensity through,
the solemn and melancholy tragedy of that brilliant
August afternoon in 1896.
The lesson taught at so terrible a cost has not been
in vain. The enthusiastic love that Abbot had for
Nature's noblest works has been transplanted by his
death to other hearts. The craft he so delighted in has
gained adherents through his memory; whilst at the
same time the awful shock of accident, occurring to a
most skilful and habitually cautious mountaineer, has
proved a valuable and perhaps much-needed warning,
lest undue familiarity, a moment's want of thought or
care or adequate testing of conditions, should involve not
one life only but very likely several.
Though the poor shattered body lies in the peacefuL
1 Professor Fay, in Appalachia, Vol. IX, p. 9. THE TRAGEDY ON MOUNT LEFROY
123
shelter of a New England tomb, the spirit of Philip
Abbot lives again in many of those who knew him not,
as well as those who had the privilege of intercourse
and friendship with a rare personality; and his true
monument is not within the lowland precincts of Mt.
Auburn, but — standing majestically amongst the crags
and glaciers he loved so well—the splendid peak of
Mount Lefroy. CHAPTER VI
THE VALLEY OF THE TEN PEAKS
Eastward from Mt. Lefroy, between the overshadowing heights of that peak and Mt. Aberdeen,
projects a fantastic little pile of rugged rocks, appropriately  named  " The
Mitre." On either
side a narrow ridge
connects the smaller
point with its huge,
massive brethren.
From these sharp
notches glaciers
sweep down, uniting
early in their course,
and fill the valley
east of Mt. Lefroy
as they descend to
meet the great Victoria Glacier.
A few days after
Mr. Frissell's mishap
in the couloir of Mt. Lefroy, the rest of his companions
journeyed up this glacier on exploration bent. Their
earliest  adventure  was  the  collapse of a frail bridge
Photo. 6y]
THE   MITRE
[A. H. Cowan
124 THE VALLEY OF THE TEN PEAKS
"5
crossing a crevasse, which gave one member of the party
a new and undesired experience, before he was pulled
out of the icy chasm, and he reported that he could
distinctly hear the gurgling of the water at the bottom
of the depths over which he hung suspended by the
precautionary rope.
Selecting the left-hand, or eastern, pass as having the easier appearance, Mr. Allen found strenuous
employment in cutting steps up the steep slopes of
hardened snow. "After three hours," Mr. Wilcox chronicles,1 " of slow and tiring work we had climbed only
one thousand feet. It was a cloudy day with â damp
and cheerless atmosphere, and at this altitude of eight
thousand feet there were occasional showers of hail
and snow. Chilled by the long exposure and the necessary slowness of our progress, every member of the
party became silent and depressed. . . . To judge by
our surroundings alone, we might have been exploring
some lonely polar land, for our entire view was limited
by high mountains covered with glaciers and snow and
altogether barren of vegetation. . . .
I The last few steps to a mountain pass are attended
by a pleasurable excitement equalled only by the conquest of a new mountain. The curtain is about to be
raised, as it were, on a new scene and the reward of
many hours of climbing comes at one magical revelation.
I Arrived on the summit of our pass, 8500 feet above
sea-level, we saw a new group of mountains in the distance, while a most beautiful valley lay far below us.
1 " The Rockies of Canada," p. 46. 126    IN THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
Throughout a broad expanse of meadows and open
country many streams were to be seen winding through
this valley, clearly traceable to their various sources in
glaciers, springs, and melting snowdrifts. With all its'
diversity of features spread like a map before our eyes,
this attractive place was seen to be closely invested on
the south by a semicircle of high and rugged mountains,
rising steeply from a crescent-shaped glacier at their
united bases. . . .
| At the time of our arrival on the summit, a sudden change took place in the weather. The wind came
from another quarter, and the monotonous covering of
grey clouds began to disclose blue sky in many places.
The afternoon sun poured shafts of light through the
moving clouds, and awakened bright colours over forests,
meadows, and streams.
" This beautiful scene opened before us so suddenly
that for a time the cliffs echoed to our exclamations
of pleasure, while those who had recently been most
depressed in spirit were now most vehement in expressions of delight."
The place was christened " Paradise Valley," and the
climbers quickly descended the 1500 feet between the
pass and valley-bed, and traversed the green depths
with many a hardship incidental to fallen timber,
swampy ground and legions of mosquitoes, which must
have interfered somewhat with their sense of the fitness
of the just-given name, albeit to the eye this fairy-land
at every step revealed new wonders. Perhaps this disenchantment of the flesh may have had something to do THE  VALLEY OF THE TEN PEAKS
127
with the transition to the name of " Sheol " given to the
black bastion that projects into " Paradise " from the
westward range. Eventually the inn at Lake Louise
was reached in two detachments, one at 8 p.m., the
other not until the following morning after a sleepless
bivouac.
At the head of Paradise Valley another col, just
opposite the Mitre Pass, opens to the south, between
the spurs of Mt. Hungabee and Mt. Temple ; and, a few
days later, from its summit, the same party viewed for
the first time the Valley of the Ten Peaks, then called
by them, in contrast to the verdant vale of their approach, " Desolation Valley."
This mountain-circled valley, which is now becoming
famous as one of the wildest and grandest corners of the
mountain world, was thoroughly explored by Mr. Wilcox
during the summer of 1899, and when I visited the place
in 1902 a broad and easy pack-trail was almost completed to the borders of its central lake, preparatory to
the establishment of a chalet where the modern traveller
can enjoy in luxury the quondam almost inaccessible
retreat.
Wandering eastward from the shores of Lake Louise,
the wooded flanks of Fairview are first skirted, through
alternating belts of timber, carpeted with bright green
moss and brilliant flowers, and stretches of bare rocky
ground, the track of old-time avalanches. And by the
way, in their due season, a feast of berries often offers
welcome refreshment in these woods and on these
slopes.    Soon, through the forest, looms the vast mass
i 128    IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
of Mt. Temple, the apex of whose gabled top rises
some 6000 feet above, ornamented by an exquisite
hanging-glacier.
The dark sheer walls, their horizontal strata frequently picked out with streaks of purest snow, stand
almost perpendicular above the sunny depths of the
sweet green vale that separates them from the scarcely
less impressive cliffs of Mt. Aberdeen, terminating in
the. black precipice of " Sheol." This is the entrance to
Paradise Valley. The sunlit Wastach1 Creek, finding
its main source in the Horseshoe Glacier, beneath the
splendid summit of Mt. Hungabee, flows swiftly through
the open meadows and dense forest growth to join the
Bow, and, crossing its merry stream, we wend our way
round the wide-swelling base of the great mountain.
But to see Mt. Temple in its noblest grandeur I
would take you to the Saddleback. This is a broad
green alp, nearly 2000 feet above Lake Louise, a very
favourite hour's ascent by trail, between Mt. Fairview
and the projecting " horn " of the Saddle Peak. Crossing the plateau to the tree-fringed brink of the abyss
beyond, our gaze is carried straight across the chasm,
1500 feet in depth, to the huge peak, at whose far base
nestles a small azure lakelet (Lake Annette), like a tiny
bit of sky dropped from the heavens and almost lost
in the depths of the sombre firs.
We can descend this abrupt mountain-side and,
joining the lower trail at the Wastach bridge, continue
round the flank of Mt. Temple, till we reach the shores
1 " Beautiful " — an Indian word.
sss 129
:  THE  VALLEY  OF THE  TEN  PEAKS
Ï3*
of Morame Lake. This lake, which occupies the centre
of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, is very similar in size
to Lake Louise, and likewise hemmed in on three sides
by the relentless mountains, but there the resemblance
ceases. Our new location is wild and bleak and desolate. Mr. Wilcox, its real " discoverer," thus graphically
describes the view from the lower extremity:1 —
" Ascending a ridge about fifty feet high, there lay
before me one of the most beautiful lakes that I have
ever seen. This lake, which I called 'Moraine Lake,'
from the ridge of glacial formation at its lower end, is
about a mile and a half long. A green forest covers the
north shore, while the opposite side is overhung by
a high precipice. Two large piles of debris from the
mountains dip into the lake and encroach upon its
surface in semicircular lines. An imposing cliff, like a
Tower of Babel, makes a grand terminus to the range
of mountains on this side of the valley. Beyond the
water is a succession of high peaks rising five or six
thousand feet above it, with a few short glaciers among
them. The water is very clear and of the characteristic
blue-green colour. A number of logs were floating on
it in various places, while others crowded the shore and
raised the water level by damming up the outlet stream.
Part of the water escapes by subterranean channels
among the quartzite and shale ledges of the moraine,
and the rest flows out at the north-west end through an
immense mass of logs. . . .
" At the time of my arrival the lake was partly calm
1 "The Rockies of Canada," p. 199. 132    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
and reflected the rough escarpments and cliffs-from its
surface. No scene has ever given me an equal impression of inspiring solitude and rugged grandeur. I stood
on a great stone of the moraine where, from a slight
elevation, a magnificent view of the lake lay before me,
and while studying the details of this unknown and
unvisited spot, spent the happiest half-hour of my life."
North of the Tower of Babel opens out a little valley
of singular beauty and restfulness, aptly designated "Consolation Valley," gemmed by pine-fringed lakelets and
terminating in a snowy pass, above which rises to the
right the ice-bound crags of Mt. Fay. From the latter
stretch the Ten Peaks which give their name to the
quondam " Desolation Valley." These summits were
named by Mr. Allen from the numerals of the Stony
Indian language: they lie upon the Continental watershed, commencing with Mt. Heejee (No. i), swdng round
the curving head of the deep valley, which they wall in
with a line of well-nigh vertical escarpments, and terminate in Mt. Wenkchemna (No. 10), which connects with
Mt. Hungabee on the north, and with Mt. Temple on
the east. "The Wastach Pass, whence the first view
of the valley was obtained, and a minor crest of rugged
crags — Pinnacle Mountain WE form the link with huge
Mt. Temple, which fills the entire north-west side of
the valley and dominates it in most strikingly majestic
fashion.
Between peaks Nine and Ten lies the one easy pass
the range affords, Wenkchemna Pass, leading over to
Prospector's Valley, a tributary of the Vermilion River,
I r   >  - THE  VALLEY  OF THE  TEN PEAKS
*33
which flows into the Simpson, itself a feeder of the Kootenay River, and this in turn joins the Columbia River
beyond the  Kootenay and Arrow Lakes.
So far as the writer has been able to ascertain, but
two of the Ten Peaks have as yet been climbed. Nep-
tuak (No. 9), lying immediately south of the Pass, was
first ascended on the 2nd of September, 1902, by Messrs.
Collie, Stutfield, Weed and Woolley, led by Hans Kaufmann. From the pass, to quote the narrative of " Climbs
and Exploration in the Canadian Rockies" (p. 315),
I turning to the left, we traversed a small but steep snow-
slope and got on to the arête. For some distance the
going was easy enough, but presently we found our way
barred by some formidable-looking walls and towers of
rock. On our left we looked down the tremendous
sheer precipice facing Desolation Valley: below on the
right were shale-slopes and couloirs, now sheeted with
ice, down which stones and icicles were falling with unpleasant frequency. We therefore decided to stick to
the arête ; and the result was one of the best climbs of
the trip. It was good hard scrambling nearly the whole
way, the rocks being almost vertical in places and the
hand-holds not over-abundant ; and, being a party of five
on one rope, we made but slow progress.
I During the ascent we made a closer acquaintance
with the variegated strata seen in the cliffs from below.
First we encountered a layer of light-coloured limestone
very much shattered ; then came a bed of much firmer
dark brown rock, then more pale loose limestone, and
near the top almost black limestone with light veins. i34    IN THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN   ROCKIES
Towards the summit the inevitable cornice was encountered, and traversing some distance below it, we climbed
a narrow ridge of rocks overhung with snow and found
ourselves on the highest point at 3 p.m. Our height
appeared to be  10,500 feet."
^^♦*:-L?:*-''t-
/j
5^r%.ii*^
•  TK*
**r»
*.
■—>tM
Jt~*
,^
Photo, bg] [.ff. C. Parker
MT.  HUNGABEE,  MT.   DELTAFORM AND MT.  BIDDLE
The chief amongst the Ten, however, is Mt. Delta-
form, this title having been conferred by Mr. Wilcox,
owing to the similarity of its form (as seen from Moraine
Lake and the railroad) to the Greek letter A, and having unfortunately quite supplanted the Indian numeral
" Saknowa," meaning No. 8. It has long appealed to
climbers, but by reason of the practical impossibility of
gaining the summit in one day from civilization, even as
1 THE VALLEY  OF THE TEN  PEAKS
J35
represented now by a camp at Moraine Lake, and the
necessity of making one's base in distant Prospector's
Valley, no attempt was made until on September istj
1903, Dr. A. Eggers and Professor H. C. Parker,
guided by Christian and Hans Kaufmann, succeeded
in making the ascent.
From Moraine Lake they climbed by couloir and
arête to the crest of the ridge between peaks Four and
Five, traversed behind peaks Five, Six and Seven, then,
after a troublesome descent to the base of Mt. Deltaform,
they rounded the shoulder of the latter into Prospector's
Valley, and, in rain and darkness, reached a camp awaiting them beyond Wenkchemna Pass half an hour after
midnight. Meanwhile, during their circuit of Mt. Delta-
form, they had observed a very promising line of ascent,
and next afternoon they moved their camp across the
pass and located in a beautiful spot at the foot of Mt.
Neptuak.
The account of the climb must be given in Professor
Parker's words.1 " On the morning of September 1, in
fine, clear weather, we left camp about six o'clock and,
skirting the base of Neptuak, made our way over the
lower slopes of Deltaform to the foot of the couloir by
means of which we had determined to commence the
attack. Sometimes by means of couloir, but more often
by means of treacherous rock slopes, we made our way
steadily upward, and at last, emerging through a chimney, found ourselves on the crest of the south-east arête,
and the summit apparently within our grasp but a few
1 Appalachia, Vol. X, p. 295. i36    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN ROCKIES
hundred feet above us. At this point we partook of a
second breakfast, and then for a considerable distance
made rapid progress until our way was barred by a great
rocky buttress. Its walls were too vertical to climb, so
we were compelled to make a traverse along its base,
trusting to insecure holds on the rock, and with a nearly
sheer fall of thousands of feet below us.
" This difficulty passed, even worse conditions were
encountered just beyond. The rock gave place to solid
ice, so hard and flint-like that an ordinary blow from an
ice-axe seemed to make but slight impression upon it.
But Christian, balancing in his steps, swung his axe
with mighty strokes, and, sending the ice in showers
of flying splinters down the slopes, hewed safe footholds. We kept close against the rocky wall and,
turning a corner, made up a couloir to a rocky shelf
above us. All this time, while Christian was cutting
steps, we clung by most uncertain holds on rock or
ice, chilled and numbed by a piercing wind. The shelf
was covered by loose rock, and it required the utmost
care not to send this flying down upon the companion
directly beneath. From the shelf we crossed a couloir
of solid ice, where Christian cut hand-holds as well as
foot-holds, — for here our axes were of no avail as a
means of securing a hold, and a slip by any one of us
might have carried the whole party from such precarious footing. Having crossed the couloir, we clambered
through a narrow chimney and came out just below the
summit cliffs. Here we met with a most trying slope of
rock and ice, offering no holds that could be trusted. THE VALLEY OF THE TEN PEAKS
137
I In one place, where Christian was only some four or
five feet above me, he could not take another step either
in advance or retreat, so great were the chances of a
slip. Then Hans, with the utmost caution, slowly
worked his way past me and with great rare helped
Christian down to a more secure position.
" Another attempt, and we scaled the icy slope, coming upon a splendid cornice leading directly to the sheer
pinnacle of rock forming the summit. To me this final
rocky spire looked inaccessible ; but without a moment's
hesitation Christian led us across the cornice and, saying our work was over, clambered up a narrow chimney
I had failed to note, and presently we stood triumphant
upon the utmost summit . . .
" The summit of Deltaform culminates in two great
pinnacles of rock; the higher is the eastern one, on
which we stood ; the other terminates the western arête
leading up from Neptuak. ... We had no sooner reached
s the summit than Christian said : ' We must not stay
here ; we must get down.' It had required ten hours to
make the climb from our camp some four thousand feet
below, and it was now four o'clock in the afternoon. It
must have taken nearly four hours to make the final
climb from the foot of the buttress, possibly a vertical
distance of three hundred feet. ... At 4.25 we commenced the descent. If the climb had been difficult, the
descent was decidedly worse ; but somehow, after a space
of what seemed like hours of almost imperceptible
progress, we gained the foot of the buttress without a
slip or mishap of any kind.
4a JsJ 138    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
I The weather had been rapidly growing worse, and
now on the arête we were enveloped in a driving
snow-storm. We reached the halting-place of the morning and commenced our descent through the chimney as
the gloom of evening fell upon us. Then we plunged
downward over treacherous rock slope, difficult cliff,
and dubious couloir, in the semi-darkness. At times
the moon appeared through the drifting clouds long
enough to reveal the depths below, and then once more
the veil would intervene.
I About two o'clock in the morning we rested on the
rim of the last couloir, and as we waited heard the dull
crash of a rock avalanche just beneath us. It was past
three o'clock when we finally arrived in camp, after
twenty-one hours of almost continuous work. The
descent had taken eleven hours."
About six weeks previously Mt. Hungabee, at the
head of Paradise Valley, had succumbed to Professor
Parker and the same two splendid guides. It is one of
the most striking peaks in the entire Rocky Mountain
region, although, on account of its entourage of lofty
summits, some surpassing it and others almost equalling
it in altitude, and by reason of its rising from a very
high connecting ridge on either side, it does not possess
the grandeur and impressiveness of more isolated mountains. Its sheer sides, narrow arêtes and broken cliffs
marked it as a problem of extreme interest to the
mountaineer, but, as with Mt. Deltaform, the difficulties
of approaching it prevented any attempt to climb its
fascinating peak until, in 1901, Messrs. C. S. Thompson THE VALLEY OF THE TEN PEAKS
and G. M. Weed, with Hans Kaufmann, tried it from a
bivouac high up in Prospector's Valley; but, after a fine
climb, they were obliged to desist when not very far
from the summit. Bad weather kept Professor Collie's
party from the peak the following year, and the same
cause frustrated my designs that summer. So it
remained  for  the  present party  to   achieve  success.
Starting from Lake Louise, a pack-horse carried
their " impedimenta ' to Moraine Lake, where they
shouldered heavy packs and crossed to the head of
Prospector's Valley by the Wenkchemna Pass. This
pass was first traversed by Mr. Allen in 1894, during
his exhaustive exploration of this range of mountains.
On July 21st, 1903, at 3.50 a.m. they left their bivouac
in the direction of Opabin Pass and had an easy climb
for 2000 feet by an arête. " At this point," writes Professor Parker,1 " farther progress was barred by a wall of
vertical cliffs. Directly in our path this rocky battlement was broken by a narrow icy couloir and a much
narrower chimney filled with ice. After inspecting the
couloir, Christian decided that the chimney would be the
safer means of ascent, and so, after seeing that Hans and
I were in as secure positions as the circumstances would
admit, and with directions not to move from our places
close against the rock, he disappeared around an angle
and commenced the perilous climb.
" It was only by watching the rope that Hans and
I could judge the progress Christian was making above
us.    For minutes at a time, it seemed, the rope would be
1 Appalachia, Vol. X, p. 291. I40    IN THE  HEART OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
motionless, then inch by inch it would slowly disappear
up the chimney, and the crash of falling rocks and ice
would warn us that we must cling even more closely and
find what protection we could beneath the rocky wall.
| At last Christian gave the signal that I was to follow, first cautioning me most earnestly not to knock any
rocks down on his brother Hans, for a slight mishap to
any member of the party in a position like ours might
mean a catastrophe for all. A short space of breathless effort, a strong pull on the rope from Christian,
and I stood by his side at the top of the chimney.
Then, slowly and carefully, Hans made his way up and
joined us.
" Above us we could see a smooth steep slope leading to the final summit arête. This slope consisted of
snow covering treacherous rock, but, thus early in the
morning and while in shadow, it was in fine condition,
and we made our way easily to the great shoulder of the
mountain just under the final peak and almost overhanging Paradise Valley. On this shoulder a second breakfast was eaten, and we anxiously studied the route that we
must follow. The summit was only a few hundred feet
above us, but the arête, broken by vertical cliffs at this
point, was impossible to scale. We had only one alternative left, to make an exciting traverse over a tremendously steep snowslope at the base of these cliffs
and so reach the final cone.
" We did not discuss the possible dangers of such a
course, but cautiously made our way beneath the cliffs,
turned a most sensational corner almost in mid-air above
il
l^" ? fyi*rt f? THE VALLEY OF THE TEN  PEAKS
Paradise Valley, and then scaled a nearly perpendicular
cliff by means of a convenient crack. We were now on
the arête and but a very short distance from the summit. Only one more difficulty confronted us : a narrow
'gabel,' or break in the arête, only a few feet in width,
it is true, but with a nearly sheer descent of thousands of
feet on either side. This gabel must be crossed to reach
the summit. The arête was far too narrow to allow a
jump being made with safety; so, slowly and carefully,
while firmly grasping the rock on one side, Christian
thrust his feet forward until they touched the other and
his body bridged the chasm; then a strong forward
swing and he stood safely beyond the gap. For me,
aided by the rope, the matter was far less difficult, and
soon we made our way over the intervening arête,
gained the corniced summit, and Hungabee, the grim
old * Chieftain,' at last was conquered."
The ascent had occupied almost seven hours and the
way down was fairly rapidly effected, with two unpleasant
experiences. One, the snow-covered slope, where the
hot sun was producing a disagreeable quantity and quality of slush, a portion of whic*h, not many moments after
they had crossed it, slid downward and avalanched over
the cliffs below. The other was the passage of the chimney, which was now spouting water and demanded as
quick a descent as possible; then, "somewhat wet but
very happy," they proceeded onward to camp at 6 p.*m.
While for the alpinist who yearns for a " first-class ';
climb with its' attendant features to test his skill and
pluck and energy, Mt. Hungabee and Mt. Deltaform are
ïM i42     IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
without a doubt the pick of the surrounding mountains,
Mt. Temple still remains the monarch, alike in impressive majesty and isolation as it stands supreme in altitude. It rears its noble glacier-crowned crest 11,637 feet
above the sea, and out-tops all the peaks of the Divide,
as far as Mt. Assiniboine, thirty-five miles distant to the
south-east, and Mt. Lyell, nearly twice that distance
to the north-west. It is a strange fact that, in all that
stretch of a full one hundred miles (and half as far again
at least if all the windings of the watershed are followed),
the three most lofty and far the most prominent peaks
are off the line of the Continental backbone; viz. Mt.
Temple and Mt. Forbes, projecting on the eastern side,
and Mt. Goodsir, the king of the Ottertails, in a separate
little group on the Pacific slope.
Mt. Temple, therefore, has its own particular attraction, and also merits distinction from the fact that it was
one of the very earliest of the big peaks to lend itself
to the explorer as a point of vantage from which the
region could be surveyed in a bird's-eye view. The
panorama is a truly glorious one, and, as the climb is by
no means difficult, it affords one of the best opportunities
for the ordinary mortal to indulge in the sublime experience of looking down upon a world where myriads of
peaks, far-reaching valleys, countless glaciers, streams,
and lakes, go to make up a vast, bewildering whole, that
voices with its thousand tongues the praise of Him who
made it all, and speaks to us in tones that surely must
uplift our souls and bring them into closer touch with
the Creator.
fc THE  VALLEY  OF THE TEN  PEAKS
143
It was in August, 1894 (the 18th, to be exact), that
Messrs. Allen, Frissell and Wilcox attained the summit
of Mt. Temple. But this was not the first attempt.
The previous year, the first and last named climbed
nearly to 10,000 feet, where a steep precipice confronted
them and the only visible means of getting higher was
by a narrow gully, glazed with ice. There was a piercing wind, clouds drifted round the highest peaks, and
then a snowstorm capped the climax and drove them
back to camp.
The next attempt was undertaken under better
auspices and with complete success. From a camp in
Paradise Valley they ascended to the pass between the
summit and its offshoot, Pinnacle Mountain. This is
about 9000 feet, and for 2000 more the climb was "merely
a careful selection of gullies and scree slopes, with occasional rock climbing.1 ... At a height of 11,000 feet
we had a discussion as to the better route of two that
appeared. One lay at our right and seemed easier,
while the other probably lay to our left, and though it
was concealed from view, the previous study of photographs convinced me that this would be the better route,
and it took some time for them to agree on that point.
A short scramble among flat shales and very rough cliffs
led us suddenly to the great south slope of the mountain,
and we knew our prize was all but taken. At noon we
reached the summit and stood at the highest point then
reached in Canada."
1W. D. Wilcox, I The Rockies of Canada," p. 244.
ft
'v.- TCW
m        m CHAPTER  VII
FIELD AND MOUNT STEPHEN
My happiest recollections of the Rockies centre
round Field. The pleasant sojourn of a week in 1900
led to its becoming my headquarters for the next two
years. The little Chalet of the former seasons and the
larger Hotel that now exists were alike pervaded with
a home-like atmosphere due to the personality of Miss
Mollison, who " made '   Field as an abiding-place.
Nestling close under the gigantic precipices of Mt.
Stephen, beset on either side by rugged mountain-crags,
the little hamlet stands beside the eddying, glacial waters
of the Kicking Horse River. Far up, the valley narrows
to the Pass of the Divide ; far down, the mighty pyramids
of the Van Home Range, their ruddy slopes streaked
with snow and usually softened with deep purple
shadows or wreathed in billowy clouds, complete the
circle of majestic heights.
«
I lift my eyes, and ye are ever there,
Wrapped in the folds of the imperial air,
And crowned with the gold of morn or evening rare,
O far blue hills."
The scenic way to come to Field is from the east;
and by far the most satisfying method is on foot.    My
144
■aatiwan FIELD AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
145
brother and I walked all the way from Lake Louise,
some nineteen miles, and the whole distance is well
worth seeing thus if one is equal to the lengthy tramp,
though most of the earlier stages can be almost as well
FIELD   AND   MT.   STEPHEN
appreciated from the train. But no one who can
manage to walk six or seven miles downhill should miss
the privilege of leisurely enjoying the succession of
splendid pictures afforded on the way from Hector
down to Field.
L 146    IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
In journeying from Laggan, alternating with the
retrospect of the ice-clad summits of fiMts. Victoria,
Lefroy and Temple, comes the glimpse up the broad
valley of the Upper Bow, Mt. Hector prominent on the
one side and the long escarpments of the Waputik
mountains on the other. The wide fields <|| neve which
clothe the massive shoulders of Mt. Balfour and Mt.
Daly, breaking occasionally through the rampart walls,
send forth many a glittering ice tongue into the dark
forest world. Quite near the railroad track, one of the
most important comes from the flanks of Mt. Daly, on
our right as we traverse the gray wilderness of fire-swept
forest that covers the entire region in the neighbourhood
of the Great Divide.
The curse of fire, alas, has devastated thousands of
acres of the grand primeval forests of the Rockies. In
place of the dark sweep of feathery firs and pines that
once lent stately grandeur to the rugged peaks, whose
base they thickly clothed and towards whose lofty pinnacles they climbed wTith dauntless insistence, giving
warmth and life and colour to the scene, now stands a
countless host of bare, gaunt poles, mingled with blackened stumps and hollow, burnt-out shells of former
giants, blending with the barren limestone crags and
boulders in a wide gray expanse of desolate uniformity.
True, it has its picturesqueness, its weird beauty, its
solemn majesty, but it is that of death, not life ; of gloom,
not joyousness; of human inroad on the domain of Nature's paradise. Civilization has its drawbacks as well
as its advantages.    The careless trapper or prospector, FIELD  AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
147
the construction gang of railroad enterprise, have all
contributed to the great change from Nature's untouched glory to these too frequent scenes of desolation.
These fires are one of the saddest features of the
mountain districts. The ravages of the past are visible
in almost every valley; and every year fresh areas of
living green are being swept by the pitiless flames and
left a melancholy wilderness. The ease with which a
forest fire is started is astounding and only rivalled by
the rapidity of its progress when once it gains a hold
upon the trees, and by the extent of the destruction ere
the blaze is quenched. A single lighted match thrown
carelessly upon the ground, a shower of sparks from
a passing locomotive, a camp-fire insufficiently extinguished, may be the origin. And from this tiny cause,
I how great a matter a little fire kindleth." A
The masses of thick moss which carpet much of the
forest land will hold the smouldering sparks concealed
for days, and sometimes weeks; but gradually and
silently they creep and spread, until a breeze fans them
one day into a flame. The resinous needles of the pines
and spruces are touched, and in an instant the sudden
blaze leaps into the sky with a hiss and roar like a display of fireworks, and a tall tree becomes a giant torch
of solid fire. Another and another follows till the hillside or valley-bed is wrapped in flame. Vast columns
of dense smoke arise, and, borne on the winds afar, obscure the light and obliterate the view for scores of
miles around. The sun is hidden at mid-day and the
giant peaks are blotted out. m
148    IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
For weeks this gloomy pall will sometimes float
through the valleys and across the mountain-tops, bearing the odour of the burning trees, and telling of the
devastation of a wealth of scenery and many thousands
of dollars' worth of valuable timber.
To the traveller, particularly the explorer, surveyor,
and photographer, the existence of a large fire is terribly
disheartening. Little or nothing can be seen, and the
camera is practically useless. During the summer of
1901, the latter portion of our sojourn in the Yoho
Valley was very largely spoilt. Mt. Stephen at a distance
of five or six miles was quite invisible, and the haze at
the best of times wTas far too dense to give clear views of
objects even close at hand ; yet the fire that caused the
trouble was more than eighty miles distant in an air-line.
Each summer adds its quota to the sorry tale ; some
large, some small, but all bring melancholy ruin in their
train, and spoil the holiday of many a nature-lover in
addition to the serious depletion of the forest area. More
care, however, is now exercised by campers, and one may
reasonably hope that every season will witness a diminution of the evil. The only consolation is, that those
who have seen the utter devastation and felt the thrill of
disappointment and sharp pang of pain that fills the
heart as one passes through these tracts of desolation
and of death, must realize with a new intensity and
added power the wondrous charm of the feathery forest
growth, which, in the plan of the Creator, decked these
rugged mountain valleys, softened the terrors of the
frowming precipice, encircled peaceful lakes with a price- FIELD AND MOUNT STEPHEN
149
less setting, and  outlined in bold relief the sparkling
torrent and the gleaming glacier.
At the actual summit of the pass, 5296 feet above the
sea, a rustic arch has been erected, through which flow
— when there is any water ! — two tiny rivulets, the offspring of a single stream that takes its rise in the wild
icy solitudes above. A few yards farther they diverge
abruptly and, murmuring a soft farewell to one another,
commence their infant pilgrimage towards the distant
oceans where they finally will sink to rest.
"From that cloud-curtained cradle, so cold and so lone,
From the arms of that wintry-locked mother of stone,
By hills hung with forests, through vales wide and free,
Thy mountain-born brightness glanced down to the sea."
After 3000 miles of rushing travel from the Atlantic
seaboard, climbing steadily upward to the farthest
source, we step across the little stream and face the
sunset seas of the Pacific, with another trickling rivulet at our feet, commencing here its downward course,
which we must follow through its troubled, wild career.
This is the Great Divide — the symbol of the turning-point in man's career. A fraction of an inch to one
side or the other at this " parting of the ways ' determines the future course of many a little drop ; thousands
of miles sum up the distance of their goals. A moment
in the balance, the slightest swerve, an influence almost
imperceptible, and the decision is irrevocable ; the Divide
is crossed, the current, now fast, now slow, carries it
onward, ever farther from the other stream, for good or
ill, until the end is reached. 150    IN  THE  HEART  OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
Just on the Pacific side a little reedy lake reflects the
mountains for a fleeting moment; the downward grade
begins, and in a couple of miles we arrive at Hector,
named in recognition of the explorer who discovered this
route across the watershed. A section-house and wrater-
tank comprise the entire resources of the place. Wapta
Lake, an almost circular sheet of the bluest water, usually a perfect mirror, lies to our right ; a tumbling, turbulent cascade, the upper portion of the Kicking Horse,
but here denominated Cataract Creek, flows in from the
south, and points the way to beautiful O'Hara Lake, some
eight miles distant by a good trail. This is the easiest
way to reach that loveliest of lakes, but the approach, if
possible, should be made by Abbot Pass, and this trail
used as an exit only.
The white shoulder of Mt. Victoria's northern peak
is grandly visible above the creek ; right in front towers
the north-eastern spur of the Cathedral massif (whose
topmost pinnacles were in full view on the Divide), and
at the base of these splendid ramparts a deep, sombre
chasm opens beyond the outlet of the lake. This is the
famous Canyon of the Kicking Horse, and its passage
on foot should be one of the most sacred duties of every
visitor who enjoys majestic scenery. Ample time is thus
given to appreciate the exquisite views that render every
step of the way delightful, and, though the train goes
very slowly, occupying forty-five minutes for the seven
miles, the artistic and nature-loving heart is always crying out for time to stop and revel in the grandeur of the
succession of new and peerless visions. The engineering
~Wfe«l FIELD  AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
151
is of surpassing interest in itself. The gradient is one
of, if not quite, the steepest on the Continent, averaging
nearly 3 per cent, and reaching sometimes as much as
200 feet in the mile. In the ascent three or four locomotives are usually employed, one being necessary for every
three cars on the train; and even then it is a strenuous
climb, spasmodic puffs and the futile whirl of wheels
that cannot grip being by no means an infrequent variation from the steady powerful pant and throb of the giant
engines. In the slow descent the greatest care is always
exercised and the train kept under complete control.
Three safety switches are also in readiness, at judicious
intervals, in case of any tendency to run too fast. They
are kept always open, until a signal from the on-coming
train that all is well permits them to be closed, so that a
runaway, instead of rushing onward down the steep, sinuous track, would be diverted on to a straight stretch of
rails and carried up a hill so sharply graded that the
impetus would easily be checked and the flying train
brought to a speedy standstill. It speaks well for the
Company and the care exercised by the engineers that no
passenger train has ever been obliged to have recourse
to this extreme resort, or met with accident upon the
" hill I ; so that the most timid traveller may marvel at
the thrilling triumphs of engineering skill and revel in
the matchless scenery simultaneously without a qualm.
Many and many a time have I luxuriated in the
delights of this section of the route, from dawn to
sunset, and under the moonlight's spell. By train —
inside the coaches, in observation cars, upon the top of
e llffïl
,152    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
a freight car, on a flat car, in a locomotive's cab, or on
the cow-catcher; also several times on foot. The last
is the best of all (particularly when the raspberries are
ripe), but the cow-catcher or the top of a box car is
the choicest of propelling methods, unless one can get
a ride on a hand-car or a speeder, with opportunity to
slacken speed or stop whenever one desires.
Passing through a cutting, we leave the Wapta Lake
behind (best seen at sunset with the glowing hues
of evening lighting up the distant range of the Slate
Mountains, reflected in the pearl-gray, placid waters
in their darksome setting of the night), and plunge
downward beside the tearing river, its waters clear as
crystal and shining with that wonderful translucent
tinge of green that marks the stream of glacial origin.
Its bright cascades, hemmed in by rocky barriers, are
fringed with spruce and graceful underbrush, and above
them tower the cliffs of the Cathedral Mountain.
One afternoon, as we were slowly creeping upward
past the almost continuous succession of foaming cataracts and eddying rushes, a fellow-passenger inquired
the name of this tumultuous and energetic river, and
on being told " The Kicking Horse," chuckled with
keen amusement and exclaimed, " Well, I guess that's
about the fittest name a river ever got, for it's the
darnedest style of bucking bronco that I ever ran
across ! ' The history of the title is, however, rather
different and bears no reference to the fascinating char-
acteristics of these upper reaches. In 1858 Dr. Hector,
probably the first white man who ever looked upon its FIELD  AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
!53
waters, was journeying down the valley of the Beaver-
foot, and arrived at its junction with an unknown river
of considerable size, at a point close to the modern
station of Leanchoil, some fourteen miles below Field.
When camping there, the Doctor's horse became restive
and kicked him violently on the chest, delaying the
expedition for a day or two in consequence; and in
memory of the incident, the men bestowed the name
1 Kicking Horse '   upon the newly discovered river.
Soon the sharp points of the Cathedral Spires appear,
darting into the soft skies. What strangely weird little
pinnacles they are ! so tiny and attenuated that*it seems
impossible that any one could scale their smooth, steep
sides and reach their sharp aerial summits ; and yet we
found quite a comfortable resting-place on the tip of one
of them on a well-remembered September afternoon.
Again the eventide is the finest time of day to see these
gothic spires that nature has fashioned here on a colossal
scale. Some fortunate circumstance enables the ruddy
rays of the departing sun to break through the barrier
of the western ranges and single out the towers and
spires of this Cathedral of the Titans, amidst the general
shades of night, for its superb illumination. Bathed in
the glory of richest crimson colouring, each crag and
pinnacle leaps like a fiery flame into the pale blue
heavens.
Just below the highest safety switch a graceful steel
bridge spans the ravine and affords a striking view
of the deep wooded chasm below, where the surging
waters  flash  in  foaming  cataracts amidst  the sombre
:|;ui 154    IN  THE  HEART OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
foliage. Round the base of the Cathedral we swing;
Mt. Stephen's massive dome, adorned by a little hanging-glacier, stands right ahead, and across the valley
rise Mts. Field and Wapta, while to the right there
gradually opens out the dark and wooded cleft of
the Yoho Valley.
Away at its head gleam the eternal snows of the
great Wapta icefield ; the sharply pointed summit of Mt.
Habel dominates the distant view, and a long tongue
of glacier streams into the deep recesses of the verdant
valley. This is the home of the far-famed Takakkaw
Fall (the most imposing in the Rocky Mountains), the
exquisite Twin Falls, and other beauties worth ten times
the journey to behold.
An outlying buttress of Mt. Stephen projects across
the track. Far up, the galleries of a silver mine are
seen, clinging to the bare walls of nature's masonry; far
below, the valley widens to a broad shingle flat, through
which the river winds meanderingly in a maze of tortuous channels. A moment in the shadows of a tiny
tunnel, and the lower reaches of the Kicking Horse lie
spread before our gaze, the shapely pyramids of the Van
Home Range in the background, and Field immediately
in front.
Tramping along one August afternoon, in the year
1900, hot and dusty after nearly twenty miles of walking,
but well repaid} by the feast of glorious scenery, the
little Chalet looked delightfully cozy and comfortable
to my brother and me the day we first approached its
hospitable portals.     Miss Mollison's pleasant greeting  «<^ 5
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THE YOHO VALLEY  REGION
From map by the Dominion Land Survey of Canada
 Author's Routes
» FIELD  AND  MOUNT  STEPHEN
made us feel at once " at home," as her tact and geniality invariably do, whoever the stranger may be. The
domicile of | Scotland " in the Hotel register appealed
to her national instincts, the offer of afternoon tea was
gratefully accepted, and when real Scotch shortbread
was produced for our especial delectation our hearts
were won for good and all! Thenceforward Field became my Rocky Mountain home.
Field and Mt. Stephen are inseparable. That
majestic summit soaring 6400 feet almost straight above
the village is part and parcel of one's life at Field. The
sojourner is never weary of gazing at its noble form,,
the same yet always different. Each month from sunny
June to white December I have gazed at it. Always
the same grand massive outline, yet each day, almost
each hour of the day, brings out some new effect. Sunrise and sunset; brilliant noon and clear, calm night;,
sun, moon, and stars ; the thunder-storm ; soft, clinging
cloudlets, or steely clearness, with all their variations,
combinations, and contrasts, provide an ever changing
series of wonderful, enchanting scenes.
To mountaineers, of course, its appeal is irresistible.
It captured us at once, and the first evening of our stay
we made arrangements to climb it on the following day.
Mt. Stephen is the most climbed mountain in the
Canadian Switzerland; with Mt. Sir Donald, in the
adjacent Selkirk Range, an easy second. This is but
natural, they being the most impressive and the most
accessible of the larger peaks along the railroad, and
admirably situated for panoramic views.    Of the two,. 156    IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
Mt. Sir Donald is the more difficult, and provides undoubtedly a finer and more interesting and varied climb ;
but both should be ascended and the intensely instructive contrasts of the rival peaks and ranges, in formation, climbing opportunities, and environment, will
more than adequately recompense the climber for the
CATHEDRAL MOUNTAIN AND  MT. STEPHEN
double effort. The earliest record of an attempt to
reach the proud summit of Mt. Stephen is inscribed
upon a great cliff about 600 feet below the top, where in
large black letters are painted the names of Hill, Whatman, and Ross, with the date, September 6, 1886.
These men are said to have been connected with the
railroad ; but evidently the alpine character of the concluding portion of the peak proved too much for their FIELD AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
157
powers, unprovided as they were with ice-axes or even
alpenstocks.
The first successful climb was made in the interests
of science, by Mr. J. J. McArthur, of the Dominion
Land Survey, to whose enterprise and energy so much
of our knowledge of the country is due. Impressed
with the importance of the mountain as a topographical
station, he determined to brave the difficulties and
dangers of the ascent. Insufficiently equipped though
he and his companions were with proper mountaineering implements, and unskilled in work amongst the
realms of snow and ice, they persevered and overcame.
Mr. McArthur's accounts of his ascents in 1887 and
1892 are amongst the most thrilling ever published in
a Government report ; and though they sound exaggerated to a practised mountaineer, the experiences of the
party must have been .both exciting and hazardous,
armed only with alpenstocks and apparently without
a rope. Starting from Field at 4.30 a.m. on September
9th, 1887, they had to force their way through the bush
and reached timber-line at half-past eight. Finding
considerable difficulty amongst the rocks and screes
extending from tree-line to the turreted walls of the final
600 feet, and following a line which I find some difficulty in identifying but apparently a good deal more
troublesome than by the regular slope that forms the
sky-line as the mountain is observed from Field, they
eventually arrived at the lofty cliff, where they discovered the names of their predecessors.
Here the character of the climb changes  entirely. Up
158    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
From a scramble, fatiguing perhaps from the loose scree
and rotten rock, but perfectly simple, one turns to formir
dable cliffs and icy gullies. The dangers are by no
means few or far between for ropeless, axeless, inexperienced men. First came a hundred feet of extremely
steep ice, pouring down between precipitous rocky walls.
" Foot by foot," writes Mr. McArthur,1 " we worked our
way, cutting steps with our alpenstocks, and in time
reached the ledge of rock and looked back down the
perilous slope. A slip on this glare surface meant death,
and how wre were to get down again caused us no little
anxiety. Crawling along dangerous ledges and up
steep narrow gorges we poked our way, expecting at
every turn that one of the perpendicular walls would
finally stop us with its impassable front. At last we
reached the top of what we had judged from below
to be the highest point of the mountain. We were
not a little disheartened to see looming ahead of us
another wall several hundred feet high. We moved
along the broken ridge, and when almost at the foot
of the wall we came to a deep chasm, which was the top
of the ice-gorge up which we had already cut our way.
The distance across was about three feet, and immediately opposite rose the perpendicular face from a narrow
ledge. Leaving our alpenstocks behind, we stepped
across and with face to the wall moved along the ledge
to a slanting rift, up which we clambered, our entire
weight sometimes dependent on the first joints of our
fingers.    After a perilous climb of about a hundred feet
1 D. L. S. Report for the year 1887.
. FIELD AND MOUNT STEPHEN
159
we reached a dêbris-covereà slope leading to the top of
the ridge. . . . The top of this ridge was like a much-
broken wall, in some places not more than three feet
wide and descending in perpendicular sides, sometimes
forty feet, to the steep slopes of the ridge. It required
all our nerve to crawl about one-eighth of a mile along
on the top of these half-balanced masses to the highest
point on Mt. Stephen, 6385 feet above the railway track."
Nine hours had elapsed during the ascent, and after
an hour more on the summit the party commenced
the return journey, and fortunately found the difficulties of the descent far less than had been anticipated.
Timber-line was gained by 6 p.m., and they were back
in camp an hour and a half later, the entire climb
having occupied fifteen hours.
In 1892 Mr. McArthur desired again to occupy his
station on Mt. Stephen, and on August 30th ascended
to a camp near tree-line, in order to give him a longer
stay upon the summit. Next morning he and his
assistant were off at seven o'clock, carrying a flag and a
fifteen-foot pole to plant upon the summit. The route
followed was practically the same as on the first occasion, but a surprise awaited Mr. McArthur on his
arrival at the icy gorge, which was a source of so
much difficulty then. Fully 200,000 cubic feet of rock,
according to his estimate, had fallen into the amphitheatre below, and in consequence they were able to
climb up easy rocks instead of an ice-staircase. | The
ridge," by his account,1 " must be at least twenty feet
1 D. L. S. Report for the year 1892. i6o    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
lower than at the time of my former visit, and where
at that time we had but to step across a narrow chasm
on to a ledge, we had now to reach the ledge up an
almost perpendicular wall, and it seemed at one time
that we were to be balked; but with the help of my
assistant and the long flag-pole I managed to surmount it, and then pulled my assistant up with the
rope." This time five hours from timber-line sufficed
for the ascent, and the return was also far more rapid
than in 1887.
In 1894 Mr. R. F. Curtis and Professor Fay made
the first attempt from the mountaineering point of view,
pur et simple. Time, aided by missing the path to the
fossil-beds, was principally responsible for the result
of a compulsory return after the marked rock had been
attained. But the following year, reënforced by other
members of the Appalachian Mountain Club, a fresh
assault was made. In spite of the previous repulse
and the fact that two ladies were included in the party,
a start was not made till half-past eight, and one is
continually struck by the astonishingly late hours indulged in at these early times.
Thus it was 4.30 before the cliff was reached where
the real climbing may be said to begin. It was soon
judged quite impossible to get the whole party to
the top before night. So Mr. Curtis and the ladies
returned, while Messrs. Abbot, Fay, Field, and Thompson proceeded to the final task. This occupied two
hours more, and nearly the same time was required
for the descent,, so that it was 10.30 when they reached ^WÇÇ^r
FIELD AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
161
the floor of the amphitheatre, and midnight had passed
when their camp at tree-line welcomed the belated
mountaineers.
Though this attempt on the part of the fair sex to
set their foot upon the summit was disappointed, the
feat was successfully accomplished by Miss Vaux, of
Philadelphia, in 1900, who thereby gained the distinction of being the first lady to ascend a mountain over
10,000 feet high in Canada.
Although already several times ascended, Mt. Stephen
lacked nothing in interest to us, who were yearning for
another panorama to fit on to those already seen from
Cascade Mountain and Mt. Victoria.
In view of the past records, the great length of time
occupied by every party, and the reputed difficulty of
the last 600 feet, we resolved to get off as early as a
September day would allow of. The | best on record "
was seven hours from the Hotel; we wanted time to
explore the fossil-beds, plenty of leisure on the top, and
the advantages of a morning view.
Modern conditions with a trail for more than 2000
feet simplify the earlier stages immensely, and Christian
Hasler, our guide, led us upward at a good, steady pace.
In about an hour and a half we reached one of the most
interesting places in the Rockies. An extensive bed
of fossil trilobites is here exposed on the flank of the
mountain, nearly at timber-line, and myriads of specimens strew the ground for a considerable area. One
cannot avoid trampling on hundreds of them, and one
can sit down and pick up dozens without changing his
M I'l
162     IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
position. Many are visible at once, staring us in the
face, whilst any of the countless slabs around can be
easily split up and numbers of these wonderful relics
•of a prehistoric age displayed. Large and small, singly
and clustered close together, perfect specimens are there
in millions for the taking.
Thenceforward the march is more laborious, following the long, straight ridge that forms the sky-line as we
face Mt. Stephen from below. Ledges and rocky stairways, a short expanse of what Professor Fay graphically
describes as a " stone lawn,"j and long, tiresome slopes of
sliding débris, are in turn surmounted, and just four
hours have elapsed when the marked rock is reached,
nearly 6000 feet above the toy-like village and shining
thread of railroad track.
Here Christian counsels a halt for a second breakfast before tackling the bit of climbing. I object. The
weather, from a cloudless sunrise, is looking most uninviting. Mists are gathering on the mountain-sides and
so rapidly advancing that I want to hurry on and get
the view before it is blotted out. " Surely six hundred
feet cannot take us long," I urge, "and we can breakfast on the top." " But it will take two hours," replies
Christian. " Oh, nonsense, that is far too long for us,"
is my rejoinder, " I know that is the popular estimate,
but we don't intend to take half that time."    However,
1 Professor Fay's description cannot be improved on. He says : | From
one-half an inch to an inch above the surface rose thin laminae of shale, perhaps a millimetre in thickness, and from one-eighth to one-third of an inch
apart, of varying lengths yet none of many inches, giving with their light and
shade a general effect of dry grass, and breaking down under our footsteps."
A FIELD AND MOUNT STEPHEN
an hour and a half was the utmost limit that he would
allow, and it was much better, he considered, to halt at
once. Weakly I gave in and consented to remain. We
wasted a precious thirty minutes at the base of the
cliff (although we certainly were able to enjoy magnificently so much of the viewT as could be seen from this
elevation, including almost as much to the west, south,
and north as from the summit), and then we commenced the "terrors' of the ".dangerous " part. The
glare ice-slope does need step-cutting when it happens
to be in bad condition, but it was preferable to the
rocks just then : various ledges demanded care : one
or two long strides and a rock scramble or two came
in, and the limestone was, of course, extremely frail.
But, including the steps, it only took thirty-five minutes,
and we did not hurry at all !
Nevertheless, the halt had done the mischief. The
driving mists enveloped us in an impenetrable cloud before the top was gained ; and, though we obtained weird,
shining glimpses of peak, and glacier, and valley, in a
shifting frame of whirling cloud, as the strong wind-
opened a window here and there for us to get a tantalizing, momentary peep, the panorama was extinguished.
After waiting more than a full chill hour on the narrow crest, covered with heavy snow, no better fate was
granted, and we were forced to beat a sorrowful retreat.
Something, however, had been seen. The strikingly
majestic pyramid of Mt. Assiniboine was visible in the far
distance, and the Ottertails, particularly the magnificent
three-headed mass of Mt. Goodsir, were extremely grand ;
îîl
ML i64    IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
and all the nearer mountains, wreathed with fleecy mists,
and flecked with light and shade, displayed their rugged
forms and richest colouring to the best advantage.
In the descent, instead of taking exactly the same
route, we followed down the ice-gorge, soon finding snow
that we could traverse fairly fast and hurrying helter-,
skelter into the depths of the huge cirque of rocks to
the south-east of the summit. The walls that stretch
across the eastern side are very striking in their perpendicularity and form a noble rampart facing the less
vertical, though steep and rocky, cliffs of the main peak,
scored by ice-filled gullies and glistening with frozen snow.
No sooner had we got a few hundred feet below the
top than we emerged from the obnoxious mists and enjoyed sunshine and warmth all the remainder of the day,
though the great peaks were wrapped continuously in
the gathering clouds. In the hollow we spent some
time in an interesting search for crystals, which are to
be found in great abundance, and some are really fine,
though most are small and closely clustered. It is quite
a neighbourhood for crystals. A cavern, just above the
track, a mile or two from Field on the flank of Mt.
Stephen, was a famous resort for some time, owing to the
quantity and beauty of its crystals, until the place was
blown up and completely ruined in an attempt to break
away the sparkling masses. The greater number are
yellow or clouded, but mauve and reddish ones are also
to be found. I had the good fortune to obtain a specimen on the slopes of Cathedral Mountain which was said
to be the finest seen there of late, and was honoured by
mismmi FIELD AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
165
permission to present it to H. R. H. the Princess of
Wales, as a memento of her visit to the mountains.
A further prolonged stay at the fossil-beds helped to
make our ruck-sacks tremendously heavy for the rest of
the downward journey, which was concluded at a tempestuous pace, and we were back in the Hotel by 2 p.m.,
our actual time while on the move amounting to four
and a half hours up and two hours down.
The result was terribly disappointing, both as regards
the view, which, however, remains magnificent if only a
fine day is secured, and, particularly, as to the climb. Previous narratives had led us to expect some stiff climbing,
especially on the upper part, which we hoped would be
really first-class, but the whole climb turned out to be
absolutely simple for practised mountaineers, wdth or
without a guide. The rock, of course, is rotten ; the ice
conditions may often be rather troublesome, and certain
points undoubtedly are likely to be trying and even
alarming for the inexperienced ; but with a rope and axe
and a guide or first-class amateur, there is no danger for
even a beginner.
The ascent on a fine day will always be worth while,
as the position of the mountain is admirable, the climb,
though somewhat laborious and monotonous in parts, is
short and easy, the Start is made from a comfortable
hotel, and varied geological interests are thrown in.
The weather during our first stay at Field was most
unsettled. We snatched a charming day for a walk to
the Yoho Valley, to see the splendid Fall. Of course
we visited the Natural Bridge, which is less than three
1 i66    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
miles away, and which is a highly interesting phenomenon, besides being situated in most picturesque surroundings with Mt. Stephen as a superb background. The
bridge is formed by the wearing of  a narrow archway
IM***
»J^r
THE NATURAL BRIDGE
through a massive wall of rock, which stretches right
across the river-bed, and the whole volume of the Kicking Horse foams through the contracted orifice in this
mighty barrier with tremendous force and a fine display
of lashing spray and turbulent disorder. FIELD  AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
167
Barely two furlongs farther, the harassed river enters
a narrow canyon, down which, with tortuous course and
several thundering cascades, it tears its way between
constraining cliffs, presenting a succession of effective
I bits " to wanderers above on either bank.
The enchanting walk by the left bank of the river is,
alas, largely spoiled by the new course of the railway.
Although the farther wooded bank and the surrounding
mountains abide unchanged and ever beautiful, the exquisite foreground has been torn and mutilated by pick
and dynamite, trees have been overthrown by hundreds,
and picturesque promontories defaced by cuttings; ballast and steel rails now take the place of a winding woodland path, and piles of débris that of shrubs and ferns and
flowers. Thus has the picturesque to pay toll to the requirements of modern travel. I am glad I saw it and
enjoyed it over and over again in the old days, for it was
one of the loveliest walks in the whole mountain region.
But we had one other climbing ambition to fulfil
during this first brief stay at Field, and that was to attack
the delicately graceful spires of Cathedral Mountain and
try to reach their topmost pinnacle. An attempt had
been made earlier in the season by Professor Arthur
Michael and Mr. J. Henry Scattergood, with Christian
Hasler. After an arduous and lengthy climb in shocking weather, they were compelled to turn back, owing to
the lateness of the hour, only a few score feet below the
summit, having reached a position where they could
see no feasible way of getting up the final cliff, which
towered absolutely perpendicularly above. i68    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
We, too, were nearly frustrated in our desire, through
an unfortunate misunderstanding. Our stipulated week
was up, and the weather had prevented any climbing
since our Mt. Stephen expedition ; but a more promising
appearance the last evening decided us to stay one further day if there was any chance of success. So we gave
instructions that if the following morning were fine, we
should be called at dawn and try the peak ; but if it were
wet, we would go on to Glacier. Between the two stools
we fell. It was a glorious morning, but the message
had got mixed and Hâsler imagined that we were going
away in any case ; so when I woke about seven and found
the sky cloudlessly brilliant, my disappointment may be
imagined.
Coming down to breakfast, I discussed the matter
with my brother and the guide, and wished to try the
climb, however late. But Hâsler stood firm, and in spite
of our Mt. Stephen precedent demurred. The previous
attempt had been frustrated largely by a late start (7.30) ;
we could not possibly get off till nine, and to be beaten
twice on the same mountain was not on Hâsler's programme. Consequently my brother and I went in to
breakfast and ordered lunches to be prepared, intending
to go ahead without a guide. When this rumour filtered
through the kitchen and reached Hâsler's ears, he at once
reconsidered his position and reported himself as ready
to come along, despite the hopeless prospect.
So at last we got away. It was nine o'clock and a
cruelly hot day for rapid going ; but needs must and a
good pace was set.    Three and  a  half miles up  the FIELD AND MOUNT STEPHEN
169
railroad track to a point some five hundred feet above
Field was the first instalment, and then came a rough
scramble up the rocky sides of the mountain's base,
through thickets of undergrowth, up stony gullies, clambering over boulders and charred fallen logs, till we
reached a loose expanse of débris, the result of the constant erosion and disintegration of the limestone fabric
that now towered like a titanic gothic façade high into
the Italian azure of the sky. This was a weary bit of
pilgrimage, but soon we got to the lower edge of a
narrow glacier tongue, protruding at a tremendously
steep angle from a snow-field above, between two close
and lofty cliffs.
The Cathedral Mountain is a large triangular mass,
filling the area between the valleys of Cataract Creek
and the Kicking Horse. It has three main summits,
besides numerous outlying spurs. The loftiest peak
lies to the south-east and is invisible from the railroad
after the watershed is crossed. The " Spires," so conspicuous as one descends the hill from Hector, form the
north-western corner of the massif, and a long buttress
ridge projects from them towards the Great Divide.
The Spires, our objective point, are undoubtedly the
most fascinating of the three chief points, both from
a structural and mountaineering point of view, hence
their selection by the previous party and our own.
Our route lay up the small glacier that separates the
Spires from the northern outpost. It led round to the
northern face of the peak, by which side alone access
to the top seems possible.    The former climbers, having i7o    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
scaled a steep gully to the ridge east of the pinnacles,
had to make their way to the northern side in order to
attempt the final problem.
The ice was steep, slippery, and very hard, so Hâsler
had plenty of work for his ice-axe, until we got well
under the grand cliffs between which the ice-tongue has
forced its way. Bearing to the right, we kept close to
the wall, occasionally making a detour on ledges or
slopes of débris. We halted finally on one of these
ledges for lunch, and .then worked diagonally across a
shoulder of the glacier, finding easier slopes beyond and
being able to abandon step-cutting altogether.
Up the névé we circled round to the base of the final
pinnacles, having a great advantage over our predecessors
in facing the rocks we had to climb, and we were able to
make a careful study of their difficulties. Two or three
variations seemed fully practicable, and it was evident
that the ascent was assured, and ample time remained.
A few moments were permitted for breath, after a stiff
snow pull to the foot of the rocks, and we then enjoyed
an agreeable change from the somewhat monotonous
ice and snow grind to the really interesting scramble
up the rock face.
Although, of course, the limestone was extremely
friable and called for constant caution, and some of the
straight-up rocks, narrow ledge traverses, buttresses, and
knife-edge ridges gave us an opportunity to exercise our
muscles, skill, and experience, I was usually able to follow very closely in my brother's wake and to keep moving all the time. w ■
FIELD  AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
171
The actual summit is more like a gigantic wall than
anything else, sheer for about eighty feet on the west side,
beyond which a twin wall rises at a few feet distance,
equally sheer and almost of identical height. The pinnacle, none too large or massive at the outset, seems to
have been riven from end to end to form this long, deep
chasm. Our wall was often less than a yard wide near
the top, constructed of nearly horizontal strata, the slabs
of which were mostly loose. It was broken down in
irregular steps at the eastern end, by which we approached, and provided a simple route, though balancing had to be resorted to occasionally.
Seated on our narrow perch, we could hang a leg
over on either side and comfortably enjoy the extensive
panorama. Being only 10,100 feet high, our view was
partly cut off by Mt. Stephen and the main Cathedral
peak, respectively 400 and 180 feet loftier, but the
Ottertails and Lake Louise peaks were strikingly effective, and the vista up the Yoho Valley to the glaciers
and mountains circling round its head, together with the
tremendous drop from our aerial position into the depths
of the canyon of the Kicking Horse between, was particularly beautiful and impressive.
Time would not wait to let us make the higher summit to the east, or even allow of more than an all too
brief stay at our present resting-place. Soon we were
off again* on a very quick descent, taking only a few
minutes to the rock-base, and barely an hour to the end
of the glacier. A perfectly exquisite sunset lit up witn
crimson flame the whole facade of the Cathedral from 172    IN THE HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
base to topmost pinnacle, illuminating each detail of its
sculptured buttresses and towers and spires with richest splendour, and leaving a glorious picture indelibly
impressed upon our memories as we hurried down
the rocky and timbered slopes to the railroad track.
Darkness overtook us shortly before reaching Field,
but we arrived at seven o'clock in splendid spirits, well
pleased with our hurried but most successful dash-
A year later, after returning with Mr. Whymper
from the Yoho Valley, I had the opportunity of finishing
off my exploration of Cathedral Mountain, by a traverse
from Field to Hector by way of the highest peak. In
company with two of Mr. Whymper's guides, Klucker
and Bossoney, I left Field at 5.25 on the 26th of August, 1901. We followed up the railroad track for over
an hour, going considerably too far, owing to some
advice by Mr. Whymper, given by mistake, and had to
work back as well as upward until we struck the arête
descending to the west, at an altitude of 7000 feet, the
time then being eight o'clock. Looking up at the great
southern precipices, I was much struck by the varied
and brilliant colouring of much of the rock. Yellow
prevailed, but it was banded by reddish, olive-green, and
dark slate strata, and some of the cliffs were absolutely
black. Disintegration is proceeding at a rapid rate, falls
of rock, tons at a time, occurring at intervals during our
climb. These masses appear usually to break away from
the sheer faces in relays, commencing at the base, so
that enormous canopies of rock overhang, one above
another, and the actual summit projected several feet FIELD AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
*73
beyond the foot of the southern wall. The weather
causes also a good deal of erosion, resulting in numerous sharp ridges and gendarmes, giving an appearance
similar to the dolomites.
CATHEDRAL SPIRES
From Cathedral Mountain
The quantity of debris accumulated on the lower
slopes, which we now had to traverse, was enormous and
extremely loose: rolling stones and boulders, sliding
scree and shifting shale, made progress slow, erratic, and
intensely wearisome, as well as cruel for our boots. In
time, however, it was accomplished, and, having passed
the couloir by which Professor Michael's party had
ascended towards the Spires, we turned up the last gully
before the sheer cliffs of the main summit. This was
filled with snow and ice and débris, not to speak of a
W
» ? 174    IN THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
cascade at one point, which we had to avoid by a small
traverse and scramble on the rocks at r.ts side. Steps
were necessary at times, but on the whole we made good
progress and scrambled to the top of the couloir by half-
past ten. We found ourselves on the ridge connecting
the chief peak with the Spires, which looked extremely
well from here, although only rising seven or eight hundred feet above the broad glacier which sweeps .from the
long arête towards the west (the tongue of our previous
ascent) and the north-east.
Swinging round to the right, we mounted by narrow
snow arêtes to the highest point (10,284 feet) in thirty-
five minutes more. The summit is a small one, covered
with fragments of broken rock, with its south-western
rim overhanging, and a short, gentle slope on the other
side, falling away sharply a short distance down. One
strange feature of this shaly surface was the forming of
two or three circular basins and channels, the former
four to ^e feet in diameter and sinking symmetrically to
a depth of two feet or more. One was only six feet from
the overhanging edge. They appeared to be caused by
the splitting of the rock beneath, forming a cavity, down
which the débris was working its way as in a funnel. It
made one meditate on the transient nature of the actual
summit, and, taken in conjunction with the repeated
rock-falls, renders it highly probable that the form and
height of the mountain may be altered considerably
every year, and that a tremendous smash may one day
change its character at one fell swoop.
The view was of great interest, especially (to me) in I   j
FIELD AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
175
the bird's-eye panorama of the valleys to the south ; both
were studded with bright lakelets, O'Hara Lake seeming
to be the largest, but in the nearer valley, between Mt.
Odaray and us, I counted eight beautiful little sheets
of water, mostly set in trees and verdure, making the
valley a most attractive spot.
We remained two hours on the top, and at 1.10
retraced our steps as far as the large eastern glacier.
This we descended in the direction of Hector station,
leaving the ice (2000 feet below the summit), in forty
minutes ; and, after a quick trot through the timber, we
struck the Cataract Creek trail at 2.40, and were at
Hector thirty-five minutes later.
Having plenty of time, I took the opportunity of
going down the hill on foot: it cannot be too often done.
All the way down it was exquisite, the colouring magnificent and the views superb. We travelled at our
leisure and spent a good twenty minutes indulging in
a bountiful feast of raspberries, which live and appear
to flourish amongst the cinders and coal-dust that
smother the track and its vicinity. They are, at any
rate, famous for their size, abundance and superior
flavour, and they were most acceptable to us after our
long and rapid climb. Eventually we arrived back at
our quarters at the Mt. Stephen House at 5.45.
Minor climbs and expeditions, some new, some old,
but all enjoyable, and many repeated with small variations over and over again, abound in the neighbourhood
of Field and have given me exercise and interest during
sundry weeks at various seasons that I have spent at 176    IN  THE  HEART OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
my beloved headquarters, alternating with the development of photographs. None of these merit a prolonged
description, but one or two notes about some of them
may be of passing interest.
One of the first was a " training walk " with Professor
Fay and Hâsler, preparatory to our Ottertail expedition.
We climbed to Burgess Pass, the most enchanting of
the smaller trips, scrambled up the shaly flank of Mt.
Field, and, crossing the ridge, descended directly into
the Yoho Valley. It had been our intention to try Mt
Wapta, but the weather emphatically forbade such a
proceeding, and heavy rain caught us on the crest and
followed us most of the way back. The descent was
abrupt, enlivened by some glissades, in the course of
one of which the feet of a distinguished member of the
party sank in too deeply, halted that end of his anatomy
with startling suddenness, whilst gravitation caused the
upper being to continue the descent, with the result of
a plunge headforemost in the snow and a complete somersault of transcendent grace, which would have done
credit to a professional performer.
Farther down, we encountered thick woods and a
dense undergrowth (which is often designated by the
expressive term " shin-tangle "), and, as every leaf was
dripping with the heavy rain, we soon were saturated
from head to foot and had a rough, wet march down
the valley, which is blocked with huge masses of rock
as well as fallen trees, both covered largely with moss,
apt to scale off and cause a sudden fall. The uncovered
boulders and rocks were slippery with rain, and progress
-~—
miàmi FIELD AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
177
was pretty hard work. Keeping well to the right, where
the Yoho stream makes a wide detour we rounded the
long, rocky spur of Mt. Field and reached the Kicking
Horse a little way above " Silver City."
This imposing name was given to the two or three
shacks which formed the habitat of the miners when
the silver mines of Mt. Stephen were being worked,
but at present both mines and city are left desolate.
We crossed the river by a dilapidated and insecure log
bridge, struck the railroad just above the tunnel, and
returned home by the track. But the walk or ride on
the opposite bank of the river is one of the most charming round Field. In the older, wilder days it was fairly
rough, trackless in places, and frequently under water
in sections, hence our preferring the other route; but
now a carriage road has been constructed all the way,
entirely on the level, and the views of Mt. Stephen and
the Cathedral are 'extremely fine, by far the grandest
obtainable without considerable climbing.
A fortnight after this futile attempt to reach Mt.
Wapta, Mr. Scattergood, Christian Bohren and I set
off one glorious morning to have a good long day in
the vjcinity of Emerald Lake, incidentally including
the aforesaid peak. We got it all : Mt. Wapta, and the
day, very good and very long. We were lazy in the
start and only got off at 9 a.m., but climbed apace,
arrived at Burgess Pass at 11.05 and luxuriated in the
inspiring view of Emerald Lake in its mountain and
forest setting. Being in a comprehensive frame of
mind, I suggested that we might have lunch on  the
<
i   il
N 178    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
top of Mt. Field and add its quota of scenery to the
day's menu. The steep, shaly slopes are most fatiguing,
the screes slip and slide beneath one's feet, and it took
forty minutes of really hard work to reach the more
solid rocks near the top, where we arrived at one
o'clock. The view of the peaks across the Kicking
Horse is intensely imposing from this point. The
summit is almost sheer above the river-bed, about 5000
feet below, and the great walls and precipices of Mt.
Stephen face us across this giant chasm and tower
another 1500 feet above our elevation.
After lunch and an hour's halt, we made our way
along the ridge towards Mt. Wapta, looking for, a feasible
line of ascent in the precipitous cliffs of the latter.
The walls facing us offered no inducement, so we skirted
their base on the southern side until we came to a
couloir, which might possibly provide a way to the top.
We started up a slope of old snow, which gradually
became steeper and icier; so we roped up and, by
rocks and ice, with some step-cutting, worked up 200
feet or so, when the direct route became impracticable,
sheer walls lining the gully beyond. Seeking a way of
escape, we turned along a ledge to our right and tried
a chimney. This would have been all right, if a young
waterfall had not been making use of the same passage
that afternoon. I urged going on, in spite of the cascade, being out of the reach of the water at the time,
but the other two, finding it cold and damp, besought
an investigation first, in case a better way existed.
Bearing still farther to the right, we worried round an
-■
' un FIELD  AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
awkward buttress and were fortunate in finding a broad
and dry couloir running directly to the summit of the
cliff belt, with no real obstacles en route.
Gaining the slope of loose talus that crowns the wall,
we pushed rapidly upward to the second belt of cliffs,
below the actual apex. Two or three ways up this are
possible, for we examined its entire length ; that from
the near corner being most direct, but under certain
conditions none too easy. So we preferred, as time was
getting on, to traverse along about half the length of
the wall, then, taking to a narrow ledge, with one or
two objectionable corners to wriggle round, we gained
the eastern extremity of the final ridge and travelled up
the jagged crest to the tiny rocky apex. Time, 4.55, an
hour and forty minutes from the bottom of the couloir.
Here, what a view was ours! The mountain,
though little over 9000 feet, is admirably placed and
commands a superb panorama ; the Emerald Lake and,
above all, the Yoho Valley affording an admirable contrast of colouring and life to the wide chaos of peaks
and glaciers that surround us on every side. For a
bird's-eye view of the Yoho Valley, Wapta Peak is probably unsurpassed, though striking views are within my
own experience to be obtained from several points,
notably Cathedral Spires and Angle Peak. Certainly
the picture of the green alps and sombre forests, the
stream and waterfalls, little lakes and glaciers, and the
entourage of mighty cliffs, is most entrancing.
The limitations of time demanded only a short stay,
and by 5.20 we were off, descending quickly to the talus i8o    IN THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
and romping down the snow-slopes, scree, and grass of
a large amphitheatre which opens towards the President
Group. Striking across country, through bushes and
forest, — a laborious undertaking, — we struck the Yoho
trail at 6.45, and in an hour arrived at the shacks at the
lower end of Emerald Lake.    The sunset visions as we
Mt. Habel       Yoho Peak    Mt. Collie Mt. Gordon Mt. Balfour
THE YOHO VALLEY
strolled along the water's edge, with all the glories of a
sky lit up by the most vivid gold and crimson hues, the
framework of dark precipice and forest slopes, and the
unrippled mirror of the glowing lake, were like a peep
into fairy-land.
Arriving at the shacks, some friends, who were staying the night en route for the Yoho Valley, refreshed
us with bread and jam and tea, and we wound up
with a charming walk in the gloaming and the moonlight FIELD  AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
181
through the solemn aisles and avenues of pines and
balsams, reaching Field at 10 p.m.
Two months later, on September 24th, I again ascended
Wapta Peak, with Mr. Whymper, Hâsler and Bohren,
mercurial, cameras and theodolite. This time we started
from the shacks, reversing our previous route and going
up by the amphitheatre. We descended this way, too,
and went to Field by Burgess Pass. On this occasion
the beauty of the scene was greatly enhanced by freshly
fallen snow, which mantled the upper world, and by a
magnificent show of clouds just clearing the peaks and
piled in all directions like gigantic, snowy billows.
Mt. Burgess and Mt. Dennis were among the smaller
climbs, both easy but possessing delightful views, especially as one gets to know better and better each detail of
the region and so many of the peaks both far and" near.
On the former I was on one occasion compelled, much
against my will, to take a rough and highly objectionable
route on my way down. When on the summit, I accidentally dislodged my camera case from its resting-place,
and it started on an impetuous descent by increasing
leaps and bounds of the most violent description. Selecting a steep gully in the direction of Mt. Stephen, it
disappeared from my view, and, though I had intended
crossing the mountain to Emerald Lake, I was perforce
obliged to go to its rescue. It was discovered more than
1000 feet down, none the worse for its adventure, except
for a few small scratches; but I was too lazy to climb up
again and, in my attempts to get to the base of the precipitous cliffs in the line indicated by the truant case,
..-i-fe
Sçkjêjfl i82     IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
a particularly interesting scramble resulted, with several
considerable problems; but, eventually, sundry cracks
and ledges, gullies and chimneys, were discovered in
various directions, and by twisting here and making a
detour there, the Burgess Pass trail was reached and
Field regained in safety.
The route up Mt. Dennis from the railroad about
two miles from Field is simple ; but I had quite a climb
one bright but cold October day trying it from Dennis
Pass, between that mountain and Mt. Stephen. Earlier
in the season traverses of ledges would in all probability
enable one to make the ascent without difficulty, but
when I was there ice and snow were prevalent. The
ledges, sloping and treacherous with snow-covered débris,
were far too dangerous for a lone man, and my progress,
an exhilarating one by the sky-line, was checked by an
overhanging cliff, which could be turned only on the face,
where these hazardous ledges formed the only way.
The same day, however, I reconnoitred a second
pass, named after the late Mr. E. J. Duchesnay, which
gave me a delightful trip a few days later. Dennis
Pass, by itself, is of no real value, as it only leads into
the narrow valley of Boulder Creek, and brings one
down to the railroad track about four miles beyond the
starting-point, but in combination with the farther col
it makes an interesting and direct mountain approach
to Lake O'Hara from Field.
I cannot let the name of Mr. Duchesnay pass without
my mite of tribute to his memory. Field and he are
inseparably connected in the minds of all who have wit- FIELD  AND  MOUNT STEPHEN
nessed or enjoyed the development of the beauties of the
vicinity, and especially of those who had the immense
privilege of meeting him there in 1900-1901. No book
on the Rockies could be complete without a reference
to him.
To him are chiefly due not merely the facilities for
reaching the places of interest, but also the inestimable
advantages that result from the fact that an artist's eye
as well as a master's hand was at work in laying out the
trails and selecting points of view and sites for chalets.
His love of nature and genius for grasping in an instant
the picturesque and practical advantages together, were
only equalled by the enthusiasm which inspired him and
with which he infected all with whom he came in contact, be he visitor or labourer ; and his kindly geniality
and courtly gentleness and readiness to help, advise, or
serve, were particularly attractive traits in his simple,
noble character.
Apart from his high merits as a civil engineer, apart
from the heritage he left in the opportunities to enjoy
the beauties of the neighbourhood, as a worker, keen,
conscientious, full of energy, one could not but admire
him ; but, better still, as a man, a Christian, gentleman,
and friend, he inspired a deep and lasting affection. His
tragic death, occurring characteristically in the course
of helping another, through a fall of rock in a burning
tunnel, evoked a sympathy and caused a blank in the
lives of hundreds such as few are able to induce.
The news of the fatality, greeting me on my return
in triumph from the sensational traverse of Mt. Assini- i84    IN THE  HEART OF THE CANADIAN  ROCKIES
boine, took all the gilt off the climax of a successful season : he was the last to wish me success, none would have
rejoiced more heartily in the achievement ; but his warm,
enthusiastic heart was stilled, one of the best of
friends gone on to join the ranks of those who have
passed within the veil.
The double pass to Lake O'Hara was suggested to
me by Mr. Duchesnay himself, who was very anxious for
me to investigate it and report on its suitability for a
trail for horses, similar to that made by him across the
Burgess Pass. This unfortunately I found to be impracticable, but for pedestrians it affords a charming trip,
although perhaps a trifle long for all but first-rate
walkers.
Following the path to the fossil-bed, I struck off to
the .right towards Dennis Pass, close to the junction of
the streams from the pass and the Mt. Stephen amphitheatre. This 1400 feet of ascent occupied forty* minutes, but the rough going and deepening snow (it was in
October) caused me to take just over an hour for the next
1800 feet, and I arrived at the col (c. 7300 feet) at half-
past nine, having started at 7.45. Profiting by my
previous experience, I made straight for the base of
Duchesnay Pass, which connects the outlying ridges of
Mt. Stephen with Mt. Duchesnay on the south. Keeping along the grassy side-hill, with a slight downward
trend, a rough piece intervened before a steep pull up
the rugged wall that marks the head of Boulder Creek.
A large quantity of snow made the going heavy, and I
frequently plunged in at least knee-deep.    (There was FIELD AND MOUNT STEPHEN
sufficient to give me a delightful ride on an impromptu
avalanche the first, time I descended on that side.)
Nearly an hour was required for this part before I
landed on the broad summit of the pass, about 8500
feet above the sea.
Lest any should be disappointed in future expeditions by this interesting route, it may be well to state
that, though the snow was a considerable hindrance, and
would be absent entirely in summer, I went enormously
faster than the average gait, being in good condition,
alone, and impressed by the distance and novelty of
the way, as well as the shortness of a mid-October
day. My two and three-quarter hours might easily be
almost doubled by an average pedestrian.
The long tributary of Cataract Valley which opens on
the farther side is specially remarkable for the number
of its lakelets, some of them extremely pretty, embosomed in trees and bordered by a fringe of shrubs and
grasses. Swinging well round towards Mt. Odaray (on
the right), I received much assistance from the snow
in the descent, several glissades being available. Then
came a long tramp from timber-line, through forests,
green and fire-swept, thickets and underbrush, over logs
and boulders, till I struck the (then) poor trail, from
O'Hara Lake just at the end of the eastern spur of
Cathedral Mountain. Being now in no hurry, I took
my ease over the remainder of the journey, and arrived
at Hector station soon after three o'clock, four and a half
hours from Duchesnay Pass (including lunch), and seven
and a quarter from Field.    I was fortunate in finding a i $6    IN THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
convenient locomotive just about to start, and finished
my tour successfully in its warm and comfortable cab.
One more incident must be alluded to ere I depart
from Field, and that is the visit of their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York,
who passed through Field twice in their journeys across
Canada. As Field was the first place reached in British
Columbia, a special welcome to the Province was displayed on the triumphal arch erected in front of the
Hotel, which was simply but tastefully decorated in
honour of the future  King and Queen.
Happily the weather on both occasions, and throughout the royal stay on the Pacific slope, was all that
could be desired, and both the Prince and Princess
expressed themselves as filled with admiration and
astonishment at the grandeur of the mountain scenery,
and were most kindly interested in the accounts of
mountain feats already accomplished and still awaiting
the mountaineer, asking a number of questions about
the scenery, the opportunities for sport and the details
of climbing methods and adventures.
As the royal train started eastward, with five huge
engines panting and puffing as they bore their precious
freight up the steep incline, one felt that the mountains
had gained new and lasting friends, and that their charms
and grandeur had, as always, by their marvellous spell,
enriched their lives with a precious gift of priceless, lifelong memories.
____ PStmMJM H! BIBB Bwl
T^
*  i\  CHAPTER VIII
THE YOHO VALLEY
Without a doubt the chief attraction ot Field,
beyond the ever present glory of its mountain, is its
proximity to the justly famous Yoho Valley and the
Emerald Lake. The approaches to both are very different now to what they were in the days when I first
was introduced to their beauties so recently as 1900, and
they are accessible with ease and comfort for almost
every one.
In the year 1897 Mr. Jean Habel, of Berlin, an
enthusiast in all that concerned the Rocky Mountains, —
as indeed every one must be who has once tasted the
sweets of mountain exploration in that fascinating
region, — and a charming man, whose sudden death in
1902 was a sad blow to all his many friends, spent seventeen days exploring this valley, and was the first to
call attention to the magnificent waterfall which is its
chiefest pride. Entering the valley by way of Emerald Lake and the pass now known as Yoho Pass, he
travelled right to its head and some miles up the long
glacier beyond to the great Wapta snow-field. On his
return he kept along the valley-bed and emerged at its
junction with the valley of the Kicking Horse, about
four miles above Field.
189
ihfci- too    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
The account he brought back of the beauty of the
region, its grand ice-fields, and, above all, its splendid
waterfalls, was the main factor of its exploitation by
the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and in 1900
a trail was roughly made to a lookout point opposite
the Takakkaw Fall.
Desiring to see this fall, the fame of which was magnified at first by vast exaggerations as to its height, my
brother and I determined to spend one day of our sojourn in making the pilgrimage to the Yoho Valley. In
order to have ample time, we were to spend the night
in one of the log huts erected on the shore of Emerald
Lake, and make an early start from thence.
The journey to the lake is one of my treasured memories. It was on a Friday, early in September; rain
had been falling in torrents all the day and previous
night. Towards evening it began to clear, and indications of better weather became so promising by six
o'clock that we made up our minds in a great hurry to
take advantage of the opportunity of a fine day on the
morrow, in case Monday should be wet again.
Miss Mollison's ever ready help was secured; provisions were prepared and packed in our knapsacks ; a
railway lantern was procured from some kind official
at the station; and off we marched in the gathering
gloom. Crossing the river, we had an easy mile along
the flat to the beginning of the woods, into which we
turned in absolute darkness, save for the glimmer of our
lantern.
The narrow trail was deep in mud, slippery and sticky THE YOHO  VALLEY
by turns ; the waving bushes and occasional fir boughs
swept across our faces and bodies in the darkness,
streaming with the moisture of a twenty-four hours'
rain. The tall, black spruces towered aloft on either
side, sometimes meeting like the arch of a tunnel above
our heads, at others disclosing a long, narrow strip of
star-sown sky between their feathery tops. So, up and
down, in the soundless solitude of this wild forest,
black and weird, almost uncanny, yet infinitely majestic
and impressive, we followed the little trail, plunging
through the darkness and the mud, until a gleam of
water shot through the densely growing trees, and in
a few moments we stood beside the lake.
A brief spell of -silent contemplation of the entrancing
star-lit scene, and we passed into the welcome shack, lit
a big fire, made some good hot tea, dried our saturated
garments, and then tested the merits of the camp-beds
under a mighty pile of thick, warm blankets. We
needed them all, too, for the night was cold and frosty;
but we slept well, got astir fairly early, made an excellent picnic breakfast and were off by seven o'clock.
Nowadays, a luxurious wagon-road leads to the lake,
and a most charming chalet, well appointed and supplied with every comfort, takes the place of our old-time
shack. But the lovely lake, the noble forests, and the
castellated mountains are the same. The drive is a
lovely one, particularly where the "long-drawn aisles'
of stately firs open out a vista piercing the tall, tapering
trees, that form a grand enshadowed avenue nearly a
mile in  length, beyond  which  the  white  sunlit   crest
OBL.
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J
'mk '•HW"    ':
192     IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
of glacier-crowned Mt. Vaux leaps high into the
heavens.
The lake does not belie its name : it is a gem of perfect beauty, whose colouring is marvellously rich and
vivid, constantly changing under the shifting lights
and shades, and the varied effects of morning, noon and
eventide. The Chalet is situated on the edge of a small,
wooded promontory, lapped by the peaceful waters, with
pleasant paths meandering through the forest growth
along the shore, and cozy corners everywhere for rest
and scenery to be enjoyed. It stands beset by alpine
slopes and rocky pinnacles, Mt. Wapta's castled ramparts and the splendid precipices of Mt. Burgess; and
in front, the sheer face of President Mountain, with its
snowy curtain and encircling glaciers, far above: the
whole rich setting reappearing in sharp detailed duplicate upon the mirror surface of the tree-girt lake.
On the occasion of our first visit there was but one
trail, along the western shore. Then, quitting the lake,
a stretch of gravel flat was crossed, and a steep path
wound past some pretty falls and ere long buried itself
in the thick woods, through which we steadily ascended
until the summit of the Yoho Pass was gained, at an
elevation of just 6000 feet, between Mt.4 Wapta and the
eastern spur of President Range. Here, nowadays, a
trail converges from the right, a beautiful alternative
by which to come direct from Field or to return.
It is a way replete with lovely pictures. The pines
and firs and lowlier growth upon the slopes and ridges
of Burgess Pass form a succession of admirable frames
' : THE YOHO  VALLEY
*93
and foregrounds for many a striking view, so that the
3000 feet of ascent, by a good pony trail, seems scarcely
half the altitude, so constantly enjoyable has been the
scenery — down the valley where Mt. Vaux's elegantly
moulded glacial apex shines against the blue ; up the
narrow, wooded canyon to the Great Divide ; or straight
across to Mt. Stephen's splendid mass (seen here perhaps
to better advantage than from any other point) and the
Cathedral's ruined spires and towers.
As the narrow ridge of Burgess Pass is crossed, the
President Group bursts on the sight, with the bright
lakelet in its leafy setting 3000 feet below, more exquisitely emerald in colour from this vantage point than
from a lower altitude, whilst the tremendous wall of
Mt. Burgess towers above our heads.
The trail now skirts the bases of Mts. Field and
Wapta, trending downward at an easy angle, to join the
lower one "on Yoho Pass. A few score paces on the
farther side a restful little lake comes into view, enshrined in forest, with a fairy peep of whitened summits
far beyond, and a sharp rock peak its dominating feature
in a backward look. This has been dubbed the " Parsons' Peak " locally, in commemoration of our ascent of
it on the afternoon of our first visit to the Yoho Valley ;
but some other title is more likely to be officially adopted
for the small but striking pinnacle.
We passed round the lower end of Yoho Lake,
crossed the little stream debouching from it, and resumed
our pathway through the forest. Ere long a booming as
of distant thunder reverberated with ever growing vol-
0
"■w 194    IN  THE  HEART  OF  THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
ite?
YOHO  LAKE AND THE PARSONS'   PEAK
ume and intensity, and in half an hour we emerged from
the trees in full view of the grand Takakkaw Fall,1 on
the far side of the valley and about a mile across in an
air-line.
The great névé between Mt. Balfour and Mt. Niles
gleams white above ; a crevassed glacier-tongue streams
down a narrowing gully, worn in long ages in the face of a
tremendous wall of rock, nearly 2500 feet in height; the
torrent, issuing from an icy cavern, rushes tempestuously
down a deep, winding chasm till it gains the verge of the
unbroken cliff, leaps forth in sudden wildness for a hundred and fifty feet, and then in a stupendous column of
pure white sparkling wrater, broken by giant jets descending rocket-like and wreathed in volumed spray, dashes
1 "Takakkaw," an Indian word signifying "It is wonderful." THE YOHO VALLEY
x95
upon the rocks almost a thousand feet below, and, breaking into a milky series of cascading rushes for five hundred
feet more, swirls into the swift current of the Yoho River.
Down the far-stretching steeps, clothed with a wealth
of living green, or rugged in their barrenness, dash other
silvery cascades ; the river gleams below; majestic lines
of cliff and jagged pinnacles cleave the clear sky; and
glaciers and snow-fields lie along their base.
Photo, by]
THE TAKAKKAW FALL
[A. S. Cowan
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it,
BfiB 196    IN  THE  HEART  OF THE  CANADIAN  ROCKIES
Such a scene as this compelled a lengthy stay at the
Lookout point, but at last we resumed activity, and, to
vary the route and try to get a yet more extensive panorama of the neighbouring mountains, we struck straight
up the slopes, along the track of an ancient avalanche,
that had cut a broad swath through the timber, leaving
a steep, open pathway, now green with tiny trees and
bushes. Keeping to the left of the fringe of glacier
which stretches along the base of the President cliffs,
we soon reached the divide, a thousand feet or so above