The summer of 2017 saw MLP teams out in the field gathering lots of repeat photographs, but it also featured something of a first — from August 6 – 12 an MLP team attended the Alpine Club of Canada’s General Mountaineering Camp. In an alpine setting high atop the Albert Icefields in BC’s stunning Selkirk mountains, MLP researchers Eric Higgs and Mary Sanseverino served as mountain photography resource people for the University of Alberta’s Introduction to Mountain Backcountry Field Skills class.This unique course, which takes place at the GMC, teamed nine students with guides from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, resource people from many different fields, and instructors Zac Robinson and David Hik from the U of A.
The students got to know the other GMC participants too, sharing stories and experiences with mountaineers from all over. Adding to the GMC mix was Mike Whitney, another Mountain Legacy alum.The MLP team had some amazing adventures up in the Albert Icefields, and came away with an even deeper sense of landscape change in the area.
As well as helping the students come to terms with the vagaries of using photography to tell a story, Eric and Mary gave a talk to the entire camp about the Mountain Legacy Project. The talk featured a set of images taken in 1901 and 02 by Arthur Wheeler. Sadly, there were no images taken from the camp location. Not surprising as the camp location — just a bit down and to the right of Primrose Peak in the pano image below — would have been under about 20 metres of ice from the Albert glacier. But, there were plenty of views into the general vicinity and many of the peaks seen in the images were climbed by GMC participants. The U of A Backcountry Field Skills students climbed Primrose Peak – the first mountain many of them had EVER climbed!
ACC’s General Mountaineering Camp has been a fixture in the Canadian mountain west since 1906. The 2017 GMC was an especially fitting debut for the MLP team as the historic images presented were the work of Arthur Wheeler, the co-founder of the Alpine Club of Canada. The difference in snow, ice, and vegetation between the historic images and present day were jumping off points for many rich discussions on climate change, treeline change, forest fire issues (especially pertinent as most of southern BC was covered in a heavy haze of wildfire smoke – the GMC got lots of it), development, and human history in the area.
It was a great week of exploration, learning, sharing, and adventure. The Mountain Legacy Project was honoured to be a part of the 2017 GMC and plans are already being laid — at least by some MLP members! — for 2018 on the Hallam Glacier in the northern Monashees.