With the first snow in the valley we figured we’d give you one last blast of summer before we fully commit to the changing season. This week we’ve got the final episode of our Google Earth virtual tour of the 1923 Carter/Townsend mountaineering expedition, (see the previous installments here: Wedge Mountain, Mount James Turner).
This video represents the second half of their two-week trip, and includes perhaps the most interesting scenery, as they actually climb Whistler Mountain itself and we’ve included a few great photos of the ski area decades before any runs were cut or lifts were installed. It also portrays the most difficult climbing on Mount Diavolo (which they named due to their experience on the peak). When reading mountaineering accounts from this period you sometimes forget that they were often written in a very understated manner (an inheritance from the British “stiff upper lip” school of mountain literature), so when Charles Townsend actually admits to some serious challenges along the way it means that things got more than a little tense.
Recreating this Google Earth-based tour has been a lot of fun, and a great learning experience for us here at the museum. Now that we’ve figured out a few more technical tricks we’ll be looking put together more multimedia content that blends historical photos with contemporary technology to give you a whole new take on our amazing natural surroundings.
(For a contemporary take on the same terrain, check this video from a few years back by local ski-mountaineer J.D. Hare. This video is also a very effective if you’re simply looking to get excited for the fast-approaching shred season.)
This week we resume our virtual recreation of Neal Carter & Charles Townsend’s 1923 exploratory mountaineering expedition. This video, the second of three, depicts the first ascent of Mount James Turner. (Check last week’s clip here).
Though lower and less well-known than its neighbour Wedge Mountain, Mount James Turner is still a formidable peak, revered for its remoteness and technical challenges by hardcore climbers and ski-mountaineers. For a more recent episode of James Turner lore, check this account of the mountain’s first ski descent by local ski builder and steep-ski pioneer Johnny “Foon” Chilton. Note that Foon and friends skied Turner’s massive north face, while Carter and Townsend approached from the south.
Our story will conclude next week as Carter and Townsend head up the Fitzsimmons Creek Valley to spend a week based out of a now-gone prospector’s cabin in Singing Pass. Watch for some striking photos from the undeveloped summit of Whistler Mountain, and their gripping attempt on the aptly named Mount Diavolo.
This week we’ve got something a little different for you.
We’ve written before about the beautiful Neal Carter photo collection, which documents a two-week exploratory mountaineering expedition into the mountains surrounding Alta Lake by Neal and his friend Charles Townsend in September 1923.
Approaching the summit of Wedge Mountain.
Well, since we also have the written account that Charles wrote for the British Columbia Mountaineering Cub’s journal, we plugged some of their photos and words together into Google Earth, and have recreated their encounter with these mysterious, unexplored peaks as a sort of virtual tour that you can follow from the comforts of your home:
This first video revisits the first two days of their trip, during which the pair managed the first ascent of Wedge Mountain – the highest peak around. Instead of contently heading back to Rainbow Lodge, Neal and Charles continued deeper into the Coast Mountain wilderness towards the lesser-known but equally formidable Mount James Turner, which they named after a popular Vancouver reverend. Check back next week for this episode, as well as their subsequent climb of Whistler Mountain and more first ascents deeper in the Fitzsimmons Range.
Of course, watching this little video doesn’t provide quite the same experience as actually climbing these peaks. Since we’re currently enjoying a wonderful window of late summer weather similar to 1923, hopefully the virtual tour inspires you to get up into the alpine for some fresh air, exercise, and inspiring views!