Airplane Camping & Aerial Photography

A Grand Canadian Mountain Tour with John Scurlock
TR #: 123

Category: British Columbia/Alberta      

"Partner" (Friend/Pilot): John Scurlock

Sir Donald, Sir Sandford, Adamants, Tonquin Valley, Edith Cavell, Fryatt, Hooker, Bras Croche, Clemenceau, Tusk, Shackleton, Tsar, Bryce, Forbes, Lyell, Assiniboine, Louis, Temple, Bugaboos, Leaning Towers, Valhallas, and more...

In September 2011, I joined John Scurlock on a week-long "airplane camping" trip into the Canadian Rockies (click link for trip report). It was such a spectacular and unique adventure that it couldn't be the last.

So in May 2012, we headed back. This time, instead of the late-summer snow dusting of the previous trip, the rugged summits were now crusted in the melting springtime remnants of their heavy winter cloaks.

Over the course of 4 days, we flew a 2,103-mile circuit over and amongst some of the great mountain ranges of western Canada. We visited the Rockies, the Selkirks, and the Purcells, covering a remarkable amount of terrain by the grace of the weather gods. We took over 4000 photographs. My list of summits I want to climb now certainly exceeds a single lifetime.

As John wrote in an email following our trip, it is important to mention the hospitality and role of Canadian friends in making this trip a success. John notes: We were the honored guests of Hermann & Ursel Mauthner in the town of Wilmer, enjoying the hospitality as well of Pat & Baiba Morrow, also in Wilmer.  We could not have accomplished what we did without the help of our friends.  And I must also mention the town of Valemount, where the little airport cabin has provided refuge as a welcome oasis over the years I've flown and photographed in the Canadian Rockies.  As far as I'm concerned, Valemount's airport is my favorite airport in western North America... after my home airport of Concrete, of course..!

This page gives about 100 of my favorite photographs from this grand Canadian mountain tour. Since words fall far short of describing our experiences over the 4 days, I hope that the photographs give a sense of the awesome mountain grandeur John and I experienced.


Flight Stats
(yellow=main photography targets)
Flight Distance; Time
Aerial Photography (primary destinations highlighted)
Flight 1 (May 13): Concrete to Kelowna 171 miles; 12:59pm-1:59pm=1h00min
(travel flight, no photos taken)
Flight 2 (May 13): Kelowna to Valemount 413 miles; 3:17pm-5:57pm=2h40min Mt. Selwyn, Mt. Dawson, Feuz Peak, Mt. Fox, Mt. Bonney, Mt. Smart, Mt. Sir Donald, Iconoclast Mtn, Mt. Rogers, Mt. Sir Sandford, Adamants (several peaks)
Flight 3 (May 14): Valemount to Valemount 398 miles; 6:37am-9:22am=2h45min Tonquin Valley (several peaks), Mt. Fraser, McDonnell Peak, Bennington Peak, Mt. Edith Cavell, Geraldine SW2, Mt. Belanger, Mt. Lapensee, Mt. Fryatt, Mt. Hooker, Bras Croche, Mt. Clemenceau, Tusk Peak, Duplicate Mountain, Mt. Shackleton, Pic Tordu, Tsar Mountain
Flight 4 (May 14): Valemount to Invermere 334 miles; 2:21pm-4:24pm=2h03min Mt. Bryce, Mt. Columbia, Arras Mountain, Rostrum Peak, Bush Peak, Mt. Forbes, Mt. Lyell
Flight 5 (May 15): Invermere to Invermere 334 miles; 6:17am-8:45am=2h28min Mt. Assiniboine, Mt. Louis, Mt. Temple, Mt. Lefroy, Valley of the Ten Peaks, Goodsirs, Bugaboos (several peaks), Mt. Conrad
Flight 6 (May 16): Invermere to Penticton 288 miles; 6:44am-8:51am=2h07min Jumbo Mountain, Redtop Mountain, Leaning Towers (several peaks), Valhallas (several peaks)
Flight 7 (May 16): Penticton to Oroville 46 miles; 11:36am-11:56am=20min (travel flight, no photos taken)
Flight 8 (May 16): Oroville to Concrete 119 miles; 12:33pm-1:28pm=55min (travel flight, no photos taken)

Total flight miles: 2,103 miles
Total flight time: 14.3 hours

Selected Photographs
(in order that we flew over them, see map for locations)

Mount Dawson (BC)
Elev: 3377m/11079'  Prom: 2045m  First Ascent: 1899 by Charles E Fay, Herschel C Parker, Edward Feuz Sr., Christian Hasler Sr.

N side of Mt. Selwyn, Mt. Dawson, and Feuz Peak

Mount Fox (BC)
Elev: 3196m/10486'  Prom: 411m  First Ascent: 1890 by Harold W Topham, Harry Sinclair, Samuel Yves

N Ridge of Mt. Fox.
Deep scar on N side of Mt. Fox.

Mount Bonney (BC)
Elev: 3100m/10171'  Prom: 759m  First Ascent: 1888 by William S Green, Henry Swanzy

Mt. Bonney, SW side.
Close up of glacier.

Mount Sir Donald (BC)
Elev: 3284m/10774'  Prom: 874m  First Ascent: 1890 by Emil Huber, Carl Sulzer, Harry Cooper

Uto Peak and Sir Donald.
Sir Donald, classic NW Ridge.

Mount Sir Sandford (BC)
Elev: 3519m/11545'  Prom: 2707m  First Ascent: 1912 by Howard Palmer, E.W.D. Holway, Rudolph Aemmer, Edward Feuz Jr.

Sir Sandford, S side. Adamants behind.
Sir Sandford, S side. Adamants behind.
Sir Sandford, W side.
Sir Sandford, N side.

Adamant Group (BC)
Cluster of impressive rock towers and buttresses giving some of the best climbing in the Selkirks. 

Gibralter Peak, S side.
Adamants (Adamant, Pioneer, Crimean, Eyrie) from the S.
Adamants (Pioneer, Adamant, Turret, Austerity, Ironman) from the SW.
Blackfriars Peak, N side.
The Sickle, from the N.
Adamants (Wotan, Fria, Thor, Eyrie, Pioneer, Adamant, Ironman), from the N.

Tonquin Valley (BC/AB)
Group of peaks in Jasper National Park. The mystical Ramparts subrange rises above Amethist Lake.
Looking west out along Amethyst Lake and the Rampart Range.
Northern walls of the Rampart Range. Mt. Geikie on right.

Mount Fraser (BC, AB)
Elev: 3313m/10869'  Prom: 1164m  First Ascent: 1924 by A.J.Ostheimer, Strmia, Thorington, Conrad Kain

Mt. Fraser S side.

Mount Edith Cavell (AB)
Elev: 3363m/11033'  Prom: 2007m  First Ascent: 1915 by A. Gilmour and E. Holway

Northern walls of Edith Cavell, viewed over ridge from W.
Edith Cavell from N.
Toe of glacier at lake below N side of Edith Cavell.

Mount Fryatt (AB)
Elev: 3361m/11027'  Prom: 1608m  First Ascent: 1926 by J. Hickson, H. Palmer, H. Fuhrer

NW-facing bowl on Fryatt.
Fryatt from N.
Fryatt from SE.

Mount Hooker (BC, AB)
Elev: 3287m/10784'  Prom: 540m  First Ascent: 1924 by A.J. Ostheimer, Strumia, Thorington, Conrad Kain

Hooker from N.
Hooker from E.
Hooker from S.

Mount Bras Croche (BC)
Elev: 3286m/10781'  Prom: 836m  First Ascent: 1927 by A.J. Ostheimer, J. Alfred, John de Laittre, Hans Fuhrer

Bras Croche from NE,
Broken glacier on lower N side.

Mount Clemenceau (BC)
Elev: 3664m/12021'  Prom: 1499m  First Ascent: 1923 by H. DeVillier-Schwab, W. Harris, H.Hall, D. Durand
Mt. Clemenceau from SW.
Mt. Clemenceau, upper N Face.
Ice forms on N side.

Tusk Peak (BC)
Elev: 3362m/11030'  Prom: 1122m  First Ascent: 1927 by J. DeLaittre, W. MacLaurin, A. Ostheimer
Tusk Peak from NE.
Duplicate Glacier and Tusk Peak from N.

Mount Shackleton (BC)
Elev: 3327m/10915'  Prom: 547m  First Ascent: 1951 by G.I. Bell, D. Michael
Mt. Shackleton, SW side.
Pic Tordu, E side (just W of Shackleton).
Glacier below E side of Shackleton.

Tsar Mountain (BC)
Elev: 3417m/11211'  Prom: 1253m  First Ascent: 1927 by Alfred J. Ostheimer, Hans Fuhrer, J. Weber

Tsar Mtn, NE side.
Tsar Mtn, N ridge.

Mount Bryce (BC)
Elev: 3507m/11506'  Prom: 707m  First Ascent: 1902 by J. Outram, C. Kaufmann
Mt. Bryce massive, from the NW.
Mt. Bryce summit area, from the NW.
Bryce summit area, from the E.
Bryce summit area, from the SE (Mt. Columbia summit poking above ridge).
Mt. Bryce from the S.

Mount Columbia (BC, AB)
Elev: 3741m/12274'  Prom: 2383m  First Ascent: 1902 by J. Outram, C. Kaufmann

Mt. Columbia from the S.

Arras Mountain (BC)
Elev: 3108m/10197'  Prom: 550m 

Arras, from the N. Took this photo because it looked so cool.

Mount Forbes (AB)
Elev: 3617m/11867'  Prom: 1629m  First Ascent: 1902 by J.N. Collie, J. Outram, H.E.M. Stutfield, G.M. Weed, H. Woolley, C. Kaufmann, H. Kaufmann
Mt. Forbes, W side.
Mt. Forbes, from the N.

Mount Lyell (BC, AB)
Elev: 3498m/11476'  Prom: 1078m  First Ascent: 1926 by A.J. Ostheimer, M.M. Strumia, J.M. Thorington, E. Feuz
Mt. Lyell massive from the SE.
Three summits of Mt. Lyell from the S.
N Face of Lyell in shade.

Mount Assiniboine (BC, AB)
Elev: 3616m/11864'  Prom: 2086m  First Ascent: 1901 by James Outram, C. Bohren, Christian Hasler Sr.
Assiniboine, S side.
Assiniboine, W side.
Assiniboine, N side.

Mount Louis (AB)
Elev: 2680m/8793'  Prom: 226m  First Ascent: 1916 by A.H. MacCarthy, Conrad Kain
Mt. Edith and Mt. Louis from the N.
Mt. Edith and Mt. Louis from the SE.
Mt. Edith and Mt. Louis from the SE.
Mt. Louis from the SE.

Mount Temple (AB)
Elev: 3544m/11627'  Prom: 1544m  First Ascent: 1894 by S. Allen, L. Frissel, W. Wilcox
Mt. Temple from the NE. Valley of the Ten Peaks on left, Lefroy and others on right.
black and white version
Mt. Temple, North Face

Mount Goodsir (BC)
Elev: 3567m/11703'  Prom: 1887m  First Ascent: 1903 by C. Fay; H. Parker; C. Hasler; C. Kaufmann
Sentry Peak, Mount Goodsir, Rae Peak, Goodsir North Tower, Teepee Peak from the N.
Goodsir North Tower from the NE.

Bugaboos (BC)
A renowned climbing area of towering granite spires located in the Purcell Mountains of BC.
Bugaboo Spire and Howser Towers from the N.
Snowpatch, Howser Towers, Bugaboo Spire from the NE.
Bugaboo Spire from the S.
Howser Towers from the N.
Howser Towers from SE.
Beckey-Chouinard route on the S side of South Howser Tower.
North Howser from the SW.
South Howser and Minaret from the SW.
Hound's Tooth

Mount Conrad (BC)
Elev: 3279m/10758'  Prom: 819m  First Ascent: 1935 by Conrad Kain, D.P & I.A. Richards
Mt. Conrad from the SW.
Mt. Conrad summit area from the N.

Jumbo Mountain (BC)
Elev: 3437m/11276'  Prom: 752m  First Ascent: 1915 by H.O Frind, A.H. & E.L. MacCarthy, M & W.E. Stone, B. Shultz, Conrad Kain
Lake of the Hanging Glaciers on the N side of Jumbo Mtn.
Cornices on ridge to E of Jumbo Mtn.

Leaning Towers (BC)
Cluster of seldom-visited wild-looking granite spires in the Purcell Range.
Leaning Towers (Hall Peak, Block Tower, Wall Tower) from E.
Leaning Towers (Wall Tower, Block Tower, Hall Peak) from SW.
Hall Peak, Block Tower, Wall Tower from N.
Hall Peak from SW.
Giant scar in the E side of Hall Peak.
Unknown spire to the NW of Leaning Towers. Looks like good climbing.

Valhallas (BC)
Group of granite spires in Valhalla Provincial Park offering some relatively accessible and great rock climbing.
Gimli Peak, NE side
Gimli Peak, SE side
Gimli Peak, S side (S buttress is a classic climb)
Gimli Peak, SW side
Gladsheim Peak, N side
Gladsheim Peak, N side
Gladsheim Peak, SW side (lots of unclimbed rock here!)
Mt. Dag N Side (there are 3 Grade VI big wall climbs on this face)