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Ice Hiking in British Columbia 15

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Luxury is Always Relative

(On with the story of a trip to the Waddington ice fields, in 1952)

Camping on rock instead of ice is a luxury. We found clues that this desirable spot had been used before. In that wild little-traveled country, we were pretty sure it was one of the camps of Don and Phyllis Munday, the famous Canadian climbing couple who first came up the Franklin Glacier in 1926. Along with exploring and mapping, they were seeking ways to approach the great peak they called Mystery Mountain (later renamed Waddington for a bureaucrat.) That year they reached the base of the peak and made the first attempt to climb it.

When we came in the early ‘50s we were carrying the latest mountaineering equipment which included among other things the first synthetic ropes, a light mountain tent and inflatable mattresses for sleeping on the glacier. Twenty years before us, the Mundays used such things as hemp ropes (which inevitably became wet and very heavy on the ice), a canvas tent and a full-sized woodcutters axe. Except for a few forced and miserable bivouacs, they climbed off the glacier to camp each night, cutting poles for their tent and boughs for their bed.

We figured that the old cut poles we found cached at this remote camp must have been theirs.

Phyl Munday was taller and longer-legged than her husband. A truly equal partner, she led the dicey climbing pitches which required a long reach. And she contributed to the wonderfully creative and appropriate names that they gave to the fortunate mountains that they explored and mapped. Canada has provided her a pretty big honor: a postage stamp.

Left, Mt. Munday, Waddington’s southern companion, and, I think, many times more beautiful than “the Wadd.”

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Story Copyright
03/22/17