GMC Retrospective: 1946 Bugaboo Creek

 

Editor's note: The Alpine Club of Canada's General Mountaineering Camp has been held in a different location in the Canadian mountains since 1906. We did a call out for GMC stories in the hopes of reliving our past and sharing it with future generations.

We received a rare gem of a story from ACC lifetime member Ted Mills. The story below recounts his experience at his first ever GMC as a young lad, impressionable and keen. It is stories like this that make The Alpine Club of Canada so special, igniting a passion for the mountains for a lifetime.


The style of the day. 1946 Bugaboo Creek General Mountaineering Camp. Photo by Ted Mills.

The style of the day. 1946 Bugaboo Creek General Mountaineering Camp. Photo by Ted Mills.

Learning from the best

I was fortunate to have done my first real mountain climbing at the ACC’s GMC in the Bugaboos in late July of 1946. Rock, snow and ice schools were not compulsory then but a number of us were instructed in various climbing techniques before moving on to scrambles on some of the lower peaks. On August 1st, a perfect weather day, I was honoured to be in a party that did a graduating climb on Quintet #3 with several well known ACC climbers. At 16, I was the youngest person in camp and, as a result, under the rules of those days, was not allowed to become a member until two years later. (In 1946 ACC membership was restricted to climbers 18 and older who had accomplished certain mountaineering objectives. Those requirements were dropped and the club is now open to everyone.

Summit of Quintet #3, July 26, 1946. Photo by Ted Mills.

Summit of Quintet #3, July 26, 1946. Photo by Ted Mills.

Filming shots for The White Tower. Photo by Ted Mills.

Filming shots for The White Tower. Photo by Ted Mills.

Hollywood Cameras in Camp

There were many "old timers" at the camp who had done major climbs before World War II but who had done little climbing since 1938. Many of these regaled us with stories of their exploits in the mountains in earlier days. One of the things I remember best about the camp was the presence of a film crew from Hollywood who were attempting to film scenes for the movie The White Tower which reached movie theatres in 1950. Several of the more experienced members such as Rex Gibson, Bob Hind, Jim Tarrant and others were stand-ins for the stars during scenes requiring step cutting on the glacier below Marmalotta, rock work on Bugaboo spire and kicking steps in a steep snow slope.

Movie poster for The White Tower (1950).

Movie poster for The White Tower (1950).

Memories of nailed boots

Another memory of that camp is that everyone in those days wore nailed boots and carried running shoes in their packs for high level rock climbing. The American film makers were all wearing a new kind of boot, developed during the War, with Vibram soles. They took a few years to catch on in Canadian climbing circles but I think by the mid-fifties we were all wearing them for climbing.

Nailed boots on the glacier. Photo by Ted Mills.  

Nailed boots on the glacier. Photo by Ted Mills.

 

Future ACC President (1954-1957) Rex Gibson, cutting steps. Photo by Ted Mills.

Future ACC President (1954-1957) Rex Gibson, cutting steps. Photo by Ted Mills.

As a result of these experiences, I became fascinated with mountaineering and have been a Life Member of the ACC for many years.


Share your own story

The Alpine Club of Canada is always looking to relive its history and share it with the world. As you share your stories with us, we are hosting them on our GMC History page. This allows past and present participants to re-live their own adventures and memories. Future ACC members can then understand the history, grandeur and adventure that is the 100+ year tradition of the General Mountaineering Camp.

Check out what we have so far and click below to share your own story.