Alpine Club of Canada
2 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
News & Events:
3 Message from the Chair
5 Access Update
6 Centennial AGM
12 Bench for John Carey at Kelso
12 Gunter Stefan
7 Friendly Fire ~ Paul Geddes and Wallace Joyce
8 An Excellent J-Tree Adventure ~ Kit Moore
10 A very SELFish Rockies Trip ~ Bill Piekos
13 Learning to Rock Climb ~ Michael Piggot
14 Four Climbers and a Photographer
16 Fiftith Anniversary Celebration at Bon Echo
20 Be safe in Kandahar ~ Margaret Imai-Compton
Message From the Chair
n the September long weekend of 2006, ap- been like preparing to climb, having no prior knowledge of
proximately 70 people gathered at the ACC hut a route and no real gear to speak of. The bold method of
on Mazinaw Lake to commemorate 50 years of climbing with a rope around your waist and a few hand-
climbing at Bon Echo and 100 years of the Alpine Club of made pins gave rise to that famous declaration that ‘the
Canada. leader must not fall’. When you see photographs of how it
It was great fun to see climbers reverse the trend and was done, it’s easy to understand why.
travel from Alberta to Ontario to see The Toronto Section I was honoured to be at an event with such extraordi-
of the Alpine Club turn a robust 50 years of age. Of equal nary climbers, toasting our proud history and I hope that
importance was the 50th anniversary of the ﬁrst ascent of the Toronto Section’s 100th anniversary party at Bon Echo
Birthday Ridge, which we celebrated with David Fisher and is just as much fun!
Kay Bruce-Robertson, two members of the original ascent
team. Sandra Bowkun
This was an opportunity for us to rub elbows with the Toronto Section Chair
great ones and I listened intently while Helmut Microys
and Michael Rosenberger talked about climbing in Ontario
in the 1950’s and 60’s, trying to imagine what it must have
Cover: Jim White (top), Ray Rutits (belaying) and Brenley The ACC Toronto Section Newsletter is produced by Toronto
Crawford (climbing) on a Anniversary weekend ascent of One Pine Section members and published 3 times per year. Full colour elec-
at Bon Echo Provincial Park. Photo: Steve Lew. tronic copies of the newsletter from winter 2000 - present can be
found on our website: http://www.climbers.org
Opposite page (top): “The younger, better looking” Dave Brown
approaching the South Howser Tower at sunrise. Photo: Paul We welcome any comments or suggestions on how to improve the
Palfreyman newsletter. Please e-mail email@example.com
The Winter 2006 edition of the newsletter will be published in
Opposite page (bottom): Roger Wallis emerging from his tent on
December 2006. Send article submissions to
the Eclipse glacier in the Yukon.
Above: Sandra Bowkun, Paul Chvostek and David Lue on the
summit of The President.
4 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
Toronto Section Executive Members
Chairperson and National Club Sandra Bowkun 416-482-1526 firstname.lastname@example.org
Past Chair Paul Geddes 905-821-9625
Secretary Position Open email@example.com
Treasurer Karen McGilvray 416-465-0660 firstname.lastname@example.org Write for us! We’re always looking
Membership Mike Stein 905-274-3018 email@example.com for interesting stories and exciting
National Awards Section Dave Myles 416-222-3251 firstname.lastname@example.org photos for the newsletter.
Portfolio Chair/E-mail updates Sandra Bowkun 416-482-1526 email@example.com The deadline for the Winter
Website Dave Myles 416-222-3251 firstname.lastname@example.org edition is Nov. 15, 2006.
Paul Chvostek 416-482-1526 Please go to
Newsletter Will Richardson-Little 514-777-2633 email@example.com http://www.climbers.org
Kelly Klassen 905-468-5013
for submmission guidelines.
Portfolio Chair Kit Moore 416-469-3567 firstname.lastname@example.org
Boat Coordinator Chris Rogers 905-729-4768
Bon Echo Committee Danielle Beaton
Join the Toronto
Geoﬀ Hodgson 416-939-7859 Section Executive!
Larry Forsyth 905-825-3356
Portfolio Chair Position Open email@example.com The Toronto Section Executive
Co-chair Brenley Crawford 905-828-1791 manages all aspects of club busi-
Rock Climbing Position Open firstname.lastname@example.org ness in southern Ontario. It meets
Mountaineering Rob LeBlanc 416-571-0894 email@example.com
Ice Coordinator Rob LeBlanc 416-571-0894 firstname.lastname@example.org
ﬁve times per year and works in
Activites Committee Dave Britnell 905-884-3842 portfolios: Administration, Com-
Susan Andrew 905-634-2805 munications, Bon Echo, Activities
Janet Trost 416-709-4440
and Access. We have a great group
Will Richardson-Little 514-777-2633
Mike Stein 905-274-3018
of dedicated volunteers but we are
Don Collier 905-884-4098 always looking for more help and
Gabby Hourtouat 416-788-4147 new ideas.
Boris Kaschenko 905-629-1646
We are looking for members
Access Chair Harry Hoediono
Commitee Chair Sandra Bowkun 416-482-1526 email@example.com who can devote a reasonable time
Larry Forsyth 905-825-3356 commitment to the club. You will
Mike Stein 905-274-3018 participate in club meetings, learn
Roger Wallis 416-248-1666
about the section’s business and
Paul Geddes 905-821-9625
Boris Kaschenko 905-629-1646 discuss issues in the climbing com-
Don Collier 905-884-4098 munity. There is plenty of opportu-
nity to get involved!
For more information, email:
To contact individuals via email, please visit:
n September 22, Kit Moore and Harry Hoediono schools and other commercial climbing groups. Top
completed their ﬁrst day on the Bolting Project bolting also facilitates rescue and evacuation in cases of
at Rattlesnake Conservation Area. This project, emergencies, be they for climbers or other park users such
which is a joint venture between Halton Conservation as day visitors and hikers.
and the Ontario Access Coalition of the Alpine Club of The materials for this project have been donated by
Canada, is the ﬁrst of its kind in Ontario and Eastern various sponsors including the Mountain Equipment Co-
Canada. This top anchor bolting will alleviate the use of Op. This generous support allowed the project to move
top trees, especially old growth Cedars, increase safety forward and limited the amount of money that Halton
and reliability by providing positive and secure anchorage needed to invest in this project. The Access Coalition
for climbers, and will enable property managers to better would like to thank Bob Matheson of the Co-Op who
control, maintain and manage access to climbing on their has over the years has contributed more than generously
properties. to many environmentally based project on the Niagara
Kit and Harry placed 26 “Fixe” brand, stainless steel Escarpment.
bolts at Rattlesnake Conservation Area. They were drilled,
placed and glued to spec according to the report outlined Erin Ransom & Harry Hoediono
in Harry’s 2003 presentation. Placement was ideal and so Chair
was the weather. No problems were encountered and all Ontario Access Coalition
placements were in the trial area. These bolts were used the Alpine Club of Canada
very next day, without any mishaps and many comments
from climbers polled were favourable. Among the quotes
from climbers: “when are you going to do the rest of the
cliﬀ?” Another quote: “this makes it easier and safer for us
to take groups to the block area.” A comment from a hiker:
“I didn’t even notice them until you pointed them out.”
The next step is to have Trow Engineering in Toronto
set up the “pull testing.” Further, should time and weather
allow, Kit and Harry will continue west with more bolting.
Moving forward, the Access Coalition plans to use this
project as a standard or benchmark for other Conservation
Authorities, National Parks and other municipal
managed properties to deal with the environmental, risk
management and use provider stresses that have arisen due
to increased traﬃc from climbing in these areas.
Economically, it has been shown that bolted areas are
safer and enjoy a more frequent visitation by climbing
6 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
Alpine Club of Canada
Centennial Annual General Meeting
(and climbers’ pub night, non-members welcome)
Saturday, November 25th, 2006
Special dramatic presentation:
Mountain World Heritage Interpretive Theatre
presents Elizabeth Parker and the Alpine Club of Canada,
a one-woman stage production written and per-
formed by Laurie Schwartz.
Also presented will be an historical slide show
entitled “The Alpine Club of Canada – A Century of
Adventure and Leadership”. This DVD was produced
by Bob and Vi Sandford, and reviews the last 100
years of alpinism in Canada and the ACC’s role in
the development of mountaineering in our country.
6:00pm — Cash bar (pub meals available)
7:00pm — Annual General Meeting
8:00pm — Elizabeth Parker play,
Slideshow: A Century of Adventure and Leadership
9:00pm — Finger food, compliments of the club
Location: Pilot Tavern, 2nd fl. Stealth Lounge
22 Cumberland St.,Yorkville, Toronto
(North side between Yonge and Bay)
For more information about the Toronto Section, visit:
By Paul Geddes & Wallace Joyce
allace Joyce, Wally as he is known to his
friends, has been a big part of the To-
ronto Section since it was re-formed in
back 1956. He joined the Alpine Club of
Canada (ACC) the year before and participated in the Club’s
50th anniversary general mountaineering camp (GMC) at
I ﬁrst met Wally in the early 1980’s at the Club’s annual
GMC. Wally was the friendly gentleman with the 35 mm wheelchair was waiting for Wally when he disembarked.
camera in hand, ﬁring oﬀ shots of every mountain in sight. However, despite speciﬁcally requesting assistance for the
For forty-ﬁve years Wally made annual trips to Canada’s transfer between terminals, the employee assigned to Wally
mountain ranges. for some inconceivable reason abandoned him 50 yards short
I last climbed with Wally during the summer he turned of the baggage carousel, before any terminal transfer. Disap-
eighty-ﬁve. Still active at the Toronto Section’s year 2000 pointed, Wally was able to secure his bags. As a seasoned
camp in Roger’s Pass, Wally enjoyed climbing with us on the mountaineer headed oﬀ in what appeared to be the logical
Dome above the Sapphire Col hut. direction to a distant Terminal One.
Wally’s wings were abruptly clipped that November when, Now, with the burden of his three bags, the moving walk-
without warning his kidneys suddenly failed. It seemed that way seemed like the only solution. But you and I both know
dialysis three times a week would keep Wally close to home, what happens at the end of those moving belts!! Disaster
a lifetime of extensive travel to remote and exotic parts of the struck, and Wally was down on the ﬂoor with a fractured
world suddenly curtailed. left hip.
However, a ray of light appeared in 2005, when a com- It was a “trip” too soon.
pany called Dialysis At Sea, appeared on Wally’s radar. They His well planned, month long holiday, now became a six
could provide dialysis on certain cruise ships! Their next and a half week ordeal in hospitals. Wally endured a hip
destination, the Baltic, was thoroughly enjoyed by Wally in replacement in, London’s Charing Cross Hammersmith
celebration of his 90th birthday. Hospital, before being able to transfer back to Canada. In
To push the envelope a bit further in 2006, Wally inves- order to make the return ﬂight possible Wally purchased an
tigated dialysis on land and learned that, for a price, dialy- upgrade to a business class seat on AC.
sis was indeed available in far oﬀ destinations like Paris and Every cloud has a silver lining and Wally’s depressing time
London. Voilá, let’s go! in London was considerably brightened by the appearance of
The ﬁrst leg of Wally’s amazing journey started on the a distance relative, whom he had only met once or twice, in
evening of May 6/06 when he boarded an Air Canada (AC) the person of Paulie Sopoci. By an uncanny coincidence,
ﬂight to London, England. It was obvious that Wally would Paulie, a young business executive, was in London on a busi-
need assistance negotiating the complexities of Heathrow ness trip. Paulie was able to take charge of all of Wally’s
Airport in order to get himself and his baggage from Ter- problems (no help from AC) and get him on her ﬂight back
minal Three to Terminal One to catch his May 7th ﬂight on to Toronto. Paulie’s presence raised Wally’s ego enormously,
to Venice. making his return to Toronto a much more pleasant experi-
On the advice of his travel agency, Wally arranged the ence for him.
services of AC for the transfer between terminals and a Wally is continuing to ﬁght on, the soldier that he is.
8 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
An Excellent J Tree
Adventure Story by Kit Moore
Photos by Janet Trost
or the past 15 years, I’ve made Horse Wall in the Lost Horse area, one of pitch two (two-bolt belay) involves
a point of visiting Joshua Tree of the rare multi-pitch walls in J Tree. some unprotected delicate moves up a
National Park (known aﬀec- No one else was there, so we chose the corner, eventually protected by - guess
tionately as J Tree) at least best moderate climb on the wall - a 3- what - one small nut, or wire. Then
once a year, usually in the spring, and pitch 5.8 route called Dappled Mare. some more ﬁne work, to a series of lay-
preferably in warm weather. This year This beautiful climb starts with a very back ﬂakes, followed by the ﬁnal over-
was no exception. easy warm-up pitch, then a series of hang at the top. Janet and I were both
Late in April, Janet Trost and I ar- well-protected cracks and face moves ecstatic to do this one clean, with a
rived at Jumbo Rocks Campground on up to three bolts. From there, an inter- minimum of whining and cringing.
a warm sunny afternoon - midweek, esting traverse to the left leads to some Our reward was dinner and Guin-
when we knew lots of good campsites strenuous layback moves (crux), then ness draft, at Crossroads, a popular
would be available. Of the ﬁve camp- more moderate face climbing to the ﬁ- climbers’ hangout in the town of Joshua
grounds in J Tree, Jumbo Rocks is still nal overhang. Tree. This outstanding watering hole
my favourite - for its location, relative After these three pitches, we felt so and feeding station was taken over a few
peace and quiet, and the huge elephant- good that we decided to try our hand years ago by Bonnie LaGassa, and gets
like rock formations around the camp- at Bird on a Wire, a more challenging better every time I visit - great Ameri-
ground. two-pitch 5.10a route immediately left can food, good beer, and a friendly en-
Day 1 of our trip found us at Lost of Dappled Mare. The crux, at the start vironment.
Day 2 was a bit diﬀerent. We decided to climb near Jumbo
Rocks Campground, so just walked across the highway for
a short hike into Conan’s Corridor - a narrow trail through
two rock walls, in some places with only enough room for a
well-honed body to slide through. Backpacks often come oﬀ
for this part of the hike. This narrow canyon boasts three
excellent crack climbs - Gem (5.8+), Colorado Crack (5.9)
and Spiderman (5.10a). We started with Colorado Crack, a
beautiful, soaring, creative route, with bolts at the top for a
rap with a 60-metre rope. After a leisurely lunch, we tackled
Gem, which many climbers ﬁnd more sustained than Colo-
rado Crack, and we wisely decided to leave the much harder
Spiderman for another trip.
We had time for one more route, so we headed oﬀ to
Hemingway Buttress, a short drive away, and another easy
approach. There we were pleased to ﬁnd the ever-popular
land of Rocks.
White Lightning free, so we hopped on this 5.7 crack climb
On Day 4, we’d planned to do Mentalphysics, a classic
for an exciting start and a pleasant ride to the top. Don’t for-
5.7+ route high up in Wonderland, but an extra coﬀee gave
get to take a large cam to protect the crux moves near the
us the courage to head for my all-time favourite J Tree climb
bottom - a #4 Camelot works well. The top oﬀers a choice
instead - Dangling Woo Li Master - also an hour’s walk into
of 5.7 or 5.9+ endings - we took the easy way out this time,
Wonderland. No need to describe this outstanding 5.10a
then rapped to the ground with double ropes and headed
route (just check out our Winter 2005 Newsletter for de-
back to camp for dinner.
tails), but I have to say that this route, and the picturesque
Day 3 was as close as we got to gym climbing, start-
hike in, remains my J Tree favourite. I think Janet liked it
ing with a long, steep hike up to the Shorter Wall in Lost
Horse Valley, where we sampled four of the many traditional
On Day 5 - a short day before heading back to Vegas for
routes lined up along this east-facing wall. We liked all four
our ﬂight home - we made a short stop at Headstone Rock,
- Double Dogleg (5.7), Smithereens (5.9), Young Lust (5.9)
a 20-metre-high boulder perched precariously on a pile of
and Spitwad (5.10a). Most routes on this wall have access
rocks near Ryan Campground. Here we did the two most
to bolted rap stations at the top, and seem easier than their
popular routes on the south face - Southwest Corner (5.7,
grades, so this place is popular with gym climbers and new
some bolts) and Cryptic (5.9, all bolts). Descent is from rap
trad leaders - and our day there was no exception!
chains, down the north side of the rock, where you can check
After our day of social climbing with the gym crowd, we
out a few 5.12 and 5.13 bolted routes.
left early to get showers at Coyote Corner, in the town of
After another visit to Crossroads for lunch, and the man-
Joshua Tree. This old-fashioned-looking store oﬀers lots of
datory visit to Nomad Ventures, the only full-service climb-
local crafts and commercial goods, and even a few pieces of
ing shop in the area, we headed to the town of 29 Palms,
climbing gear, but I especially like its friendly staﬀ, and its
then set oﬀ through the desert - by way of Amboy (of Route
clean, well-serviced showers. After cleaning up, we decided
66 fame), Kelso and Cima, and through the Mojave Desert.
to forget our pasta in camp, and returned to Crossroads for
Three hours later we were back in Vegas, ready for our ﬂight
more Guinness and American-style food, to build up our
home, and fully recharged for another season of outdoor
strength for the next day’s long hike into J Tree’s Wonder-
10 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
Story and Photos by
ome of you may recall my last article on the past ice Yeah – right, I thought to myself dodging amused looks
season - it was full of misery and mishaps! Well, from Joe who was observing from the sidelines. To add fuel
all of these experiences led Joe “Guv” Palma to coin to the ﬁre, they were also visibly shaken by my apparently
the term “SELF”: incomprehensible habit of wearing thin socks with my rock
Small, Early, Light and Fast and we both vowed to guide shoes: “you will lose all the sensitivity” they lamented. I was
our next trip accordingly. going to oﬀer some stories about folks climbing 5.9 in moun-
Fortunately, late July presented an opportunity for a quick tain BOOTS, but quickly decided that they would probably
get-away to the Rockies, as Joe was traveling to Calgary on send for “expert” reinforcements and gave up on any further
business providing us with access to free lodging and wheels. explanations. In any case, the MEC trip was a success af-
As much as this option seemed like a distant second to the ter all, as I picked up a new camel bag, which proved very
Bugaboos trip, it clearly stood head and shoulders above our valuable due to the extremely hot weather. We later met up
local Ontario limestone… OK, so it actually stood a few CN with a local Calgarian friend, Kevin “Hormone”, whom we
Towers above our local Ontario limestone! re-named “Genius” by the end of the evening… something to
This time, I actually arrived early and had a whole after- do with his local lady friends, T&A, beef diet, local IQs and
noon to relax and get ready. We even made a trip to the local other details which I just can’t discuss on these pages. The
MEC searching for new rock shoes, but were rather disap- scary thing was he could have been my son for pete’s sake
pointed by the same lackluster selection of “all day” shoes. (based on our age diﬀerence ONLY, I should add).
Further, the proactive advice of local staﬀ was unchanged as Day 1 saw us up at 4 am and out the door from the Cal-
well: “you know, you should downsize by 2 full sizes from gary airport hotel. Not far from the city, dark skies greeted
your street shoes”. I replied that I don’t climb 5.14 and don’t our keenness with white ﬂashes of lightning, followed by
really care to see an orthopedic surgeon anytime soon. “But baritone grumblings of thunder…nice start to a 3 day climb-
they will stretch a lot **lengthwise** as well!” they insisted. ing weekend… Please… NOT AGAIN, we both thought.
Regardless, we continued the drive all sun and heat. Thank goodness for the per new topo, but kudos to Joe for fol-
the way to Lake Louise, as some of its camel bags, which provided an unin- lowing his nose per the original line!).
area is protected by large overhangs and terrupted supply of water throughout We had a nice surprise when we ran
oﬀers good cragging venues, even in the climb. We both marveled about the into the guided party on the last, 5th
rain. Fortunately, by the end of the day,quality of climbing, short approach and pitch, rapping down, only to realize it
we had ﬁnished 8 nice pitches of main- easy descent this route oﬀered. It was a was led by Sean Isaac of local ice climb-
ly bolt-clipping fun on stellar quartzitefourth time for me on the route and I ing fame! We did not recognize each
and met up with Fernando “Razor” and would highly recommend it to anyone other at ﬁrst: helmets, sun glasses and
Tiago “Chatterbox” for a bite. It was who seeks a moderate, well protected all, but we quickly realized the identi-
good to see those two getting ready for (WARNING: trad!), multi-pitch ties and had a nice “catch up” chat plus
the Bugs trip. However, I might add, it route only a 15 minute hike from the some beta on rapping the route. In ad-
came pretty close to just one of them car. It rarely gets better than that! dition, we learned that Sean is a father
going when Tiago extinguished his Day 3 oﬀered more good weather, once again – congrats to him and his
cigar on Fernando’s multi-thousand albeit slightly cooler temperatures. We wife Hermain! He now guides for a liv-
dollar bike frame…I could just imag- took pity on our sleep and got up at ing and I could not think of a nicer guy
ine the length of “penalty slack” he was 4:45am, having decided to go back to to hook up with (in addition to Brian
going to give Tiago the next time they Kid Goat and try Keelhaul Wall: an old Webster, who is truly a mountain guide
tie in together! After a superb meal and 5.6 classic route on the mountain. This extraordinaire!). To those of you who
route had been a ﬁrst multi-pitch expe-
some serious lie telling, Joe and I rushed look for “stress-free” mountain adven-
back to the Calgary airport to greet the rience (guided) for Jennifer and I some ture and ﬁrst hand expertise, there is
incoming Toronto contingent: Rob 10 years ago. I was slightly concerned, no better way to learn and experience it
“Bugs” and Goran “Diesel”. We also met as I still remembered long runouts on than to hire a qualiﬁed guide - IMHO
up with their Vancouver rep: the ever steep slabs and only an occasional pin anyway. After topping out, we rapped
energetic Gary “Ripper”, who, having here and there. We managed to get to the route and experienced only one
trimmed his frame by countless days this popular crag right after a guided cluster-phuck with mangled ropes as
in the alpine, was truly ripped! These party, who had chosen the same route. the 90km/h winds were blowing our
guys were gonna have bags of fun in the After waiting for them to go up a cou- ropes sideways – ah – the joys of alpine
Bugaboos! ple of pitches and traverse out of rock rock climbing!
ay 2 oﬀered the promise of fall territory, Joe once again started Thus ended our short foray into the
better weather and after an- us up. He decided to take us up the Rockies: 3 days, 21 pitches, no epics
other 4 am start, we headed original traverse line on pitch 3, add- and tired dogs.
towards Kid Goat mountain. However, ing some extra spice having to rely on I would have to say this was a very
low clouds were still hanging around 2 original pins for protection (the pitch SELF-ish trip indeed!
when we arrived and the whole crag has since been re-routed with new bolts Happy climbing everyone!
was mostly invisible to us. Taking into
account that the guidebook promised
a complex approach and my last time
there was 10 years ago, we decided to
switch our objective. We eventually de-
cided to head to Banﬀ and try its Goose-
berry route on Tunnel Mountain. It was
a short hike there and, to our surprise
(it was Saturday after all!), we had the
route to ourselves. Joe led us out tak-
ing the ﬁrst 2 pitches, after which we
swapped leads with me taking the trad
crux and Joe leading the other 5.9 pitch
higher up. We completed the 8 pitches
in 4 hours, arriving at the top parched
and absolutely smoked from the direct
12 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
Kelso Bench Honours John Carey
ost of our members are aware
that John Carey, a long-time
member of the Toronto Sec-
tion, died in a mountaineering accident
in B.C. in August, 2002. Many may not
be aware that the Section has provided
for a bench to be put up and maintained
in John’s honour, located at the top of For
Wimps Only, a challenging route at Kelso
crag. The bench is now in place, and pro-
vides a wonderful resting spot and vista
for anyone energetic enough to climb this
route, originally put up by John Carey and
On July 10, I received the following
note of appreciation from John Carey’s
widow, Kerry Buller, addressed to the To-
ronto Section, with her deepest gratitude:
“On behalf of myself and John’s family,
I would like to thank the Alpine Club for
the bench purchased in John’s memory.
John would have been very touched to
know he was honoured in this way.
That the bench is situated at the top
of his climb at Kelso is quite ﬁtting. John
was very proud of For Wimps Only and
the fact that he and John Boote did it in
full “trad” style. He would have gotten
a chuckle out of the double meaning
of F.W.O. on the bench plaque and be
pleased that it’s an inside joke for climb-
Although we’d hoped to use the words
“For Wimps Only” on the dedication
plaque, Conservation Halton preferred
that we use the initials only, to avoid
insulting any tired hikers. However, as
Kerry points out, the double meaning of
F.W.O. remains clear to any climbers who
know the route! Gunter Stefan, a Toronto section member, died suddenly
of a heart attack this past July. This photo, submitted by
David Henderson, shows Gunter gearing up to lead “Dog
Tooth Days” at Kelso in October 1999.
Learning to Rock Climb
A hoary old memory by Michael R. Piggott
rom an early age I was familiar with mountains in management (an art, with wet hemp) and rappelling on
Britain: I seem to remember climbing on Helvellyn the doubled rope (around both legs, across the chest, and
with my father and mother when I was about eight, over the shoulder). We then graduated to “real” mountains
and another time, frightening myself getting lost, descend- – Snowdonia in Wales and the peaks of the Lake District,
ing the Devil’s Kitchen after traversing the peaks of the climbing with the same equipment but substituting tricou-
Welsh Glyders, alone, when I was thirteen or fourteen. So nie nailed boots for gym shoes. When you graduated to
when I went to Imperial College (I.C.), London U., it was leading a rope, you then taught newcomers.
natural that I join the Mountaineering Club (I.C.M.C.). I.C.M.C. had as its objectives the climbing of rocks and
For rock climbing in the S.E. of England, you had a monuments (two of us tried Stonehenge in the moonlight
choice of Harrison’s Rocks, Stone Farm, or High Rocks – unsuccessfully) and caving. Dene holes had to suﬃce for
– all sandstone outcrops about 50 feet maximum height, the latter. They were thought to be prehistoric ﬂint mines
and all reachable by steam trains. (Ordinary students didn’t and consisted of a four foot diameter shaft, about 50 feet
have cars in those days.) The equipment: an old pair of deep, with a rubbish cone at the bottom and three or four
trousers, a war surplus anorak, gym shoes, and a hemp rope horizontal passages leading for 100 feet or so. Getting
provided by the club. A rope was looped around a tree at down to the bottom was very good practice for bridging.
the cliﬀ top, and an older member showed you how to “tie Before I left I.C., I had three weeks climbing in the
on”; a loop around your waist with a bowline on one end of Dauphiné district in France where I picked up (by exam-
the rope. He then proceeded to demonstrate how to climb ple) a smattering of snow and ice technique. After a long
by shinnying up, while a trusted colleague managed the interregnum, I came to Canada and was taught snow and
other end of his rope at the bottom. ice technique by guides in the summer camp of 1966 in the
You were also given practical demonstration of rope Assiniboine area.
The author on Wellington’s Nose, Harrison’s I.C.M.C. at Stone Farm, ~1950
14 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
Four climbers and a
the Bon Echo Classics
Brenley - “The Belay Bimbo”
After begging runitoutray to please please please climb something easy and fun, I was relieved to hear that he had
agreed to lead me up One Pine, a climb that I had not been on in several years but always thought was really fun. I was
very pleased to ﬁnd out that not only were we going to take Mat Krepicz, a ﬁrst-time Bon Echoer, along with us, but Jim
White, one of the ﬁrst Bon Echoers, as well. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Jim on the belay ledges. Not only did we
talk about climbing in the “old days”, but we also solved most of the world’s educational and political problems in just a
few short pitches. The testosterone really started to ﬂy when he and Ray argued about who would lead the hard pitch of
Birthday Ridge. Climbers - what a bunch of manly men - and lucky me to have spent such a memorable afternoon with
three of them!
Mat - “The Newbie”
As a beginner rockclimber I was thrilled to be climbing alongside the masters and legends (Ray and Jim), and I con-
sidered myself lucky not to be thrown oﬀ the cliﬀ with a harness around my head as part of some strange initiation ritual.
No doubt the presence of a lady and a photographer saved me. The view was amazing, the wind gusted around me as I
ascended, and that’s when I realized why so many people have such a passion for this sport. It’s truly like being on top
of the world, with nothing but your skills and a few thin slices of metal between you and Heaven...in both senses of the
term. Then next day’s ascent up to the Pinnacle, and the jump across the chasm, made my day and converted me for good.
I’ll deﬁnitely be back!
Jim White - “The Legend”
On top of the prospects of the food and drink and socializing, the weekend celebrations oﬀered the attraction of con-
ducted climbs. I had not done any rock climbing since the last time that I was at Bon Echo and that was ﬁve years ago, so
the chance to revisit a favourite route or two from the end of a rope and not the front, promised a chance to see whether
climbing would come back without too much risk to my dignity. I had liked to believe that this dignity was a small thing
and that anyone who had been gripped at various times as much as I had over the years would be over it.
Well, I was, until greeted by Brenley Crawford and Ray Rutitis and found that I was a climbing legend. It is not diﬃ-
cult to become a climbing legend, in my case I got to the rock when quite young and have had the luck to live long enough.
But, being a climbing legend is much more onerous; people have expectations. Being able to climb for instance or being
expert at placement of the increasingly hi-tech nuts and cams.
Ray - “The Vet”
Climbing with a legend is akin to an examination by your professor. Years of homework and then the exam. I hoped
that my placements were good, my pieces would not fall out, and that I would not slip and fall in front of Jim White…
author of “Jim’s Sling 5.7”. Jim, the brave legendary climber who reefed on a ﬂexing piton and sling to climb into the un-
known lichen infested slabworld at Bon Echo many years ago. Jim climbs very fast. To keep slack to a minimum for Jim is
a challenge. His memory of the paths on the cliﬀ is infallible (I got lost; he didn’t). He is a sport climber (only clipped the
single bolt on Birthday Ridge for pro). Jim knows no fear except avoids close-range Baﬃn Island polar bears by climbing
onto rock boulders for avoidance purposes. Jim is an ageless cool dude.
Steve - “The Photographer”
Opportunities are everywhere to take photos of intense climbing on impossible projects, but It’s not everyday I get a
chance to shoot and hang with the complete cross section of climbing experience from newbie to grand master. Seeing
the same excitement in Mat the ﬁrst-timer in Jim the pioneer and in the faces of Ray and Brenley who have completed
these climbs uncountable times, reminds me that climbing photography is not all about capturing big numbers, and glory
but about capturing all moments of climbing - be it the scenerie, comraderie, the trash talk on and oﬀ the wall, or Jim still
running it out on the sharp end of the hard pitch of Birthday Ridge.
16 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
50th Anniversary Party!
A story from Evgeniya...
My Life at Bon Echo,
By Evgeniya Gorobets
Bon Echo is a nice place. Today I am leaving. This is my third time
here. The ﬁrst day I made friends with an older girl named Stephanie!
I had fun playing with her. The second day she left in the afternoon.
We went blueberry picking! We got a ton of blueberries.
When Stephanie left I made friends with a boy named Aaron. He is
a nice boy. We had a good night talking to each other. The next morn-
ing I was the second one up! Aaron woke up, ate his breakfast and
started reading his book. I went swimming in the lake for a very short
time. A damselﬂy landed on my foot then it ﬂew away. You can make
lots of friends at Bon Echo.
...and a letter from Helmut:
I just received the plaque honouring my many ﬁrst ascents on Ontario
cliﬀs. This brought back the delightful time at the Bon Echo Anniversary
Weekend. I was impressed with the splendid organisation, the tremen-
dous eﬀort put in by Larry Forsyth, Brenley Crawford, Chris Rogers and
many others to make this weekend such a great success. It was wonder-
ful to meet again some of the other old folks and, of course, the younger
generation that keeps the Section going.
However, with regards to my ascents, let it be known to all and sundry
that I could not have done any without the help of the many excellent
climbers of the Toronto Section. This plaque is honouring these people,
too numerous to list here, at the same time. They are part of this record
and part of my many fond memories on the rocks of Ontario.
Thank you and the Section again for the lovely weekend and the many
18 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
Helmut Microys and Michael
Rosenberger showing the
younger generation about the
fine art of pitoncraft.
Hungry climbers await their feast!
Bon Echo climbing pioneers Kay Bruce-Robertson and David Fisher.
The Black Tie Gala Dinner!
...under the tent.
20 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
“Be Safe, Be Safe in Kandahar”
he gentle swish of the windshield wipers is putting and Peter Albinger, my climbing pals. Three years earlier,
me to sleep again. I struggle to maintain con- when I climbed Athabasca, there were, at most, two or
sciousness as we approach the service road to the three vehicles parked in the same area.
Columbia Iceﬁelds and park adjacent to the moraine on Geoﬀ just chuckles,“Well, Athabasca is a popular climb
Mt. Athabasca’s lower ﬂanks, shortly before 4:00 am. I do a in the summer when conditions are good. Let’s go have a
double-take as I focus on a dozen or more vehicles sausaged look.”
into the parking area and I blame caﬀeine deﬁciency for this As we start on the moraine trail that will take us to the
odd sight – surely, I’m mistaken! North Glacier Route, I look up at a shimmering, snaking
“What’s going on? There must be an army up there”, I line of headlamps. There must be at least 15, 20, maybe
protest to Geoﬀ Ruttan, our guide, and to John Andresen more, tiny blinking orbs of light piercing the night sky. It
makes me wonder - what group could rom my vantage point of 53 travel safe. All of you!”
be so large to undertake this climb years, as well as being a mother, There is silence. The pause in the
together? A cadet boot camp? Execu- I tear up and look away towards conversation is ﬁlled by the wisp of a
tives on a management bonding trip? Silverhorn, hoping no one will see me morning breeze that feels like a cloak
A Guides’ certiﬁcation exam? weeping, for I know that these ﬁne, binding us together. Then with grace
Within a half hour, Peter notes, earnest and mostly young Canadians, and conﬁdence, the young soldier
“The group’s coming down. They’re will age beyond their years when they replies, “Thank you. Yes, we’ll be sure
turning back”, and as I look upwards, begin their duty in Afghanistan. De- to do that.”
the lights are indeed bobbing towards spite my political belief that Canada Three days later when I’m on the
us, like playful ﬁreﬂies in the misty has no business being in Afghanistan, summit of Yukness Peak in Lake
dawn. It is a beautiful sight with the my heart is touched beyond descrip- O’Hara, I look down to the Abbot
serenity and grandeur of Mt. Atha- tion by the sincerity and commitment Pass and spot a weaving line of climb-
basca framing the image. of this young man. ers on the steep scree trail. Geoﬀ is
As we step aside to let the line “We’re going to the Abbot Hut with me, and when I point to the line,
of ﬁreﬂies pass, we exchange cordial next week to do some more high he agrees, “That must be the armed
greetings of “Good mornings”, “Hellos” mountain practice. I hope we’ll all ﬁt. forces group we met on Athabasca.”
and “Hey, how’s it going?” They say it sleeps 20 but we’re more On returning to Toronto in mid-
One ﬁreﬂy pauses, and Geoﬀ uses than that,” he continues casually. August, I hear CBC news report on
the opportunity to rustle up some in-
formation. “So you’re pulling the plug?
We’re kind of thinking the same – we Story by Margaret Imai-Compton
Photos by Peter Amann
hit some rain on the drive up. Hey
- you have a big group today.”
The ﬁreﬂy facing us is a young solid
man, amiable and conﬁdent. “We’re
training for duty in Afghanistan. You I jump into the conversation. “Hey, yet another Canadian fatality in Af-
know it’s pretty mountainous over I’m going to be up there too with an ghanistan. “This has been a sad week
there so this is good to get in some ACC camp. Maybe I’ll see you. I’d for the Canadians as, in these past 7
mountain travel before we get there.” love to meet your group!” days alone, their fatalities now stand at
Geoﬀ clariﬁes, having done some Then, much to my own surprise, I nine,” says the announcer.
guiding for the British army up on the stiﬂe a sob and, struggling to maintain I get a ﬂashback to the descend-
Wapta Iceﬁelds,“So are you guys with control, my heart blurts out, “Thank ing ﬁreﬂies on Mt. Athabasca and our
the British army?” you for doing such a great job for encounter with the Canadian solider.
“No – we’re from Canada. We’re Canada, for our country. Blessings A mantra takes hold in my mind, “Be
up for duty in Kandahar,” he answers. on your trip. Please stay safe. Please safe all of you. Be safe in Kandahar.”
22 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
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Please remember that you will be asked to sign a Club member, volunteer, or employee. The witness
waiver for every outdoor trip in which you partici- should conﬁrm that you have read and understood
pate. Copies of the waiver can be obtained at http:// the release.
www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/activities/waivers. • Do not rush through reading the release - leave
html. yourself ample opportunity to read and understand
• Read and understand the release before signing and its terms in advance of your chosen activity.
dating it. This release is easy to read and is available • If you refuse to sign the release, you will not be able
in French and English. to participate in the chosen activity.
• If you have any questions about the meaning of the If possible, please print a copy of the release, and
release, please ask the trip coordinator to explain in bring it with you on the trip. If you are not able to
detail. read and print it before the trip, the coordinator will
• You cannot change any terms of the release prior to have a copy for you at the designated meeting place
signing it. prior to the event. You will have time to read and sign
• The witness to your signature must be a non-family it there.
member. It is preferred that the witness is an Alpine
Clockwise from top: Waiting out the rain on the dock at Bon Echo.
The Canada Post stamp commemorating 100 years of the Alpine
Club of Canada, signed by members attending the anniversary cel-
ebrations at Bon Echo.
Michael Rosenberger’s piton rack.
All photos: Steve Lew.
24 Toronto Section Newsletter - Fall 2006
Top: Belaying at the top of P-H, Bon Echo. Photo: Steve Lew.
Bottom: The daily grind up the moraine & glacier to Bugaboo - Snowpatch Col. Photo: Paul Palfreyman.