Coastal Mountain Mountaineering Literature: The Birthing Years

The other day, I was going through my library of mountaineering literature. Two books stepped out to greet me from a dusty part of the bookshelves.

Mt. Garibaldi Park:
Vancouver’s Alpine Playground
Don Munday: 1922

Mt. Garibaldi Park: Vancouver’s Alpine Playground

Don Munday, and his wife, Phyllis Munday, are best known as first generation, west coast pioneers in mountaineering, but Don was also a fine writer. He’s published popular and scholarly articles on the history and geography of mountains. But, Don’s book, published in 1922, Mt. Garibaldi Park: Vancouver’s Alpine Playground, is a not-to-miss literary and visual beauty —a collector’s item that’s aged almost 100 years. Don dedicated the booklet “to the truest lover of the mountains I know—My Wife”.

The pamphlet – containing many vivid black and white photos – was published shortly after Mt. Garibaldi became a park, and, in many ways, was one of the first trail maps in BC used to explore and enjoy the newly-born park. ‘Mt. Garibaldi Park: Vancouver’s Alpine Playground’, a 50 page overview, offers multiple photos and intricate details of potential destinations – many a good glacier trip worth the making. The publication includes a larger fold-out map of Garibaldi Lake, a delight to sit and ponder. In conclusion, I’ll send a grateful nod to Don and Phyllis – long-time and active members of the BCMC and ACC-Vancouver section.

In The Western Mountains:
Early Mountaineering in British Columbia
Susan Leslie: 1980

In The Western Mountains: Early Mountaineering in British Columbia

I was fortunate to work with Susan Leslie for a few years at University of the Fraser Valley (she taught in the English department). Susan’s ‘In The Western Mountains‘ is a hasty, but insightful, overview of the western mountains and mountaineering in Canada, offering short eight sections over 75 pages and covering much terrain.

The Alps of North America,” “A Field for an Alpine Club,” “Mountaineering at the Coast,” and “Mystery Mountain,” are tasty morsels of chapters that whet the appetite for more. Many women are brought to the fore as innovative climbing partners. Susan covers – in a finely textured manner –  some of the group trips explored in the Coastal Mountains – and the legends and leaders of such challenging trips for those times. Needless to say, Don and Phyllis Munday are significant actors on such an expansive stage. Susan, like Don before her, has many a dramatic black and white photos, with each picture highlighting a journey into the origins of mountaineering in the western mountains. The dramatic cover photo and various maps illuminate treks hiked.

Susan performed many interviews to bring to light many women and men – and highlighting their adventurous memories – even though now mostly forgotten. Kudos to Susan for her sleuth work in the 1970s and bringing these stories forward into such a compelling book.

Those who have some abiding interest in the birthing phase of mountaineering on the west coast can learn much from the solid work of Don Munday and Susan Leslie.

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