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Ice Hiking in British Columbia 13

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Remembered Forever by a Very Few

(continuing the photo story of a journey made 64 years ago.)

At the very top of Icefall Point we came across this monument. No sign or plaque, and none needed. We had done our homework, reading the American and Canadian alpine journals. We knew who was the owner of that pair of skis, and what had happened to him.

In the early 1930s Mount Waddington, looming over the great ice basin at the head of Franklin Glacier, was the most coveted unclimbed peak in North America. Articles appeared with titles like "Will Waddington Ever Be Climbed?" Of course a half dozen expeditions set out immediately to try to do it.

In July 1934 a small group of Canadians began their attempt. Among them was Alec Dalgliesh, a young man who made his name among the Vancouver climbers by heaving boulders at an unstable pinnacle until it broke and fell, thus making the spot where he was standing the new summit of the mountain. During the ascent of Waddington, Alec slipped and his hemp rope broke (a thing that happened pretty regularly in the old days.) He fell free more than 500 ft. into a bergschrund and was entombed by the glacier. Before his friends returned to civilization they built this monument in his memory.

Two years later a strong German climber named Fritz Weissner came up the Franklin bear trails to Waddington, guided by Jim Stanton. He brought strange new techniques that most North American climbers had barely heard of: extreme crack climbing, pitons, the modern dynamic belay. He and his climbing partner had good luck with the weather, and they were the first to take turns standing on the summit of Mt. Waddington.


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