Mary T. It also sheds light on Native and non-Native relations at the early part of the 20th century. Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies is certain to entertain and enlighten 21st-century readers, historians, hikers and climbers. Schaffer was an artist, photographer, writer, world traveller and, above all, explorer.
She overcame the limited expectations of women at the turn of the 19th century in order to follow her dreams. Although she died in , her story continues to inspire young people, women in particular. Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies. The editing of his journal may have been conducted by Hooker himself, which calls into question the motivation and objectivity of such a noted figure. This publication was in a secondary journal which was quickly forgotten, however, the heights had made an indelible impression, most notably on Aaron Arrowsmith , the great English mapmaker.
On all maps following the publication of the journal, maps of the Rockies showed Hooker and Brown between 15, and 17, feet tall. When the transcontinental railway was pushing through the mountains on it way to join with the British Columbian spur, it opened the area to the mountaineers of Europe and the East Coast. After Assiniboine was summitted, a race began to claim the highest peaks. The maps unequivocally stated that Hooker and Brown were thus, but after several seasons of exploring and hardship, no trace of such high mountains were found.
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, 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 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, feet being known, and Mt. Selwyn, near Glacier House, 11, 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, 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.
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Columbia and Mt. Forbes, the former about 12, feet in altitude, the latter somewhat over 12, feet. Near the railroad the loftiest mountains range from 11, to nearly 12, feet and average almost feet lower than the northern group. Still farther south, with the exception of Mt. Assiniboine, 11, feet the highest summit south of Mt. Forbes , the mountains do not rise more than a bare 10, 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 to feet above; whilst from many of the valleys the summits lift their heads to feet more in almost sheer precipices.
There is little variation from the jack-pine, common spruce, and balsam fir, at an elevation of more than feet, though in certain localities Lyall's larch, the cedar, and the hemlock will be found. Cottonwoods abound from 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. 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. 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. 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.
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, 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. Until Simpson Pass is reached feet , no peak challenges notice, but beyond, Mt. Ball 10, and Storm Peak 10, 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 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, , Hungabee 11, , Lefroy 11, , and Victoria 11, , on the Divide, and, higher than all, Mt. Temple 11, , 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, , the Chancellor 10, , and the magnificent triple-headed Mt. Goodsir, said to be nearly 12, 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, feet, the loftiest being Howse Peak and Mt.
Balfour, each about 10, feet, which are supreme in the northern and southern halves. At Howse Pass there is a sudden drop from Howse Peak to feet, and a right-angled bend which brings us to the outposts of the culminating section of the Canadian Rockies. 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. Next comes what may be called the Lyell subdivision, taking in Mt. Lyell, Gable Peak, and Mt. These three sections combine to form the southern half of the great group, and Thompson Pass 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. Bryce 11, feet rises isolated to the west, projecting over the Bush Valley, whilst Mt.
Saskatchewan 11, feet is a conspicuous vis-a-vis on the eastern side. Thus we 1 The entire block of a mountain, including buttresses and spurs. Columbia, the monarch of the region, from whence three ranges strike out: eastward, to the Dome 11, and Mt. Athabaska 11, ; northward, into the forks of the Athabaska River, where the Twins and Mt. Alberta may exceed 12, feet, and Mts.
Stut- field 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.
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 24" north, where the altitude was only feet above the sea. Thence he proceeded to the coast, returning just two months later on his homeward march.
Sixteen years later, in , 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. This same pass was crossed in the same direction in 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, to 17, feet in height, has brought these peaks, now shown to be no more than to 10, feet, seventy long years of spurious fame, which still is hard to combat.
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 , 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.
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 , headed by Captain Palliser. His party, chief amongst whom was Dr.
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 , 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. McArthur being specially notable, and the latter 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.
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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 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. Green and H. Swanzy, members of the Alpine Club, head the roll of climbers, with the year 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. Sir Donald, the most conspicuous and noted peak of the Selkirk Range. Topham and Forster, explored a portion of that district, but still the loftier Rocky Mountains proper remained untouched.
In , however, Messrs. Wilcox and 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 pre'eminently 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.
Thompson, and G. 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. 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. 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.
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. Edward Whymper, another veteran of world-wide fame, spent six months in 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.
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.
Hector now Sir James revisited some of the scenes of his early explorations in , 47 years after his first expedition. 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, , and of possessing the only trains which run from end to end of the Continent without a change of cars, miles from Montreal to Vancouver, 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 The work connected with the survey was tremendous. But in 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 the Canadian Pacific Railway Company was organized: 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, , considerably less than half the contracted period, the last spike was driven at Craigellachie, 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 miles, mostly beside the broad waters of that noted lumber highway.
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Beyond, a wild territory of forests, lakes and rocks is entered, stretching to the shores of Lake Superior. 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. Farther west the ranching region is approached. The winters are much milder than in the wheat belt, and the warm " Chinook " winds 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, 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 the 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 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 miles. 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, feet above the sea, 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 square miles, whilst in the Selkirks another smaller Park has also been reserved.
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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 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, feet, though square 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, 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.
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 feet , first climbed by Professor Collie and Fred Stephens in , 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, 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. 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. 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 rickesse 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.
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. 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, towering fully feet above its neighbours, and by its isolation no less than by its splendid outline commanding attention and admiration. The peak is grandest from its northern side. It rises, like a monster tooth, from an entourage of dark cliff and gleaming glacier, 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 feet directly from the glacier that sweeps its base.
On the eastern and the southern sides the walls and buttresses are practically sheer precipices to 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 by Dr.
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. Barrett and T. Wilson, who, in , 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. 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. 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.
Porter and Mr. 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. 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.
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 , however, was any attempt made to scale these attractive heights. That summer Mr.