Many men are taller and stronger than their king, yet they cannot match a good king for his authority, his majesty or the respect he commands. As with men, so with mountains.
|Spiral Lines on Mt. Robson|
|Colin Robertson: Library & Archives Canada|
|Western Entrance to the Park|
|Donald "Curly" Philips, Peakfinder: Courtesy of Whyte Musuem|
|Rev. George Kinney, Peakfinder: Courtesy of Whyte Musuem|
|Conrad Kain, peakfinder.com|
Phyllis Munday ( nee James) was the daughter of a Lipton’s Tea manager and was born in Sri Lanka in 1894. She was also the first woman to reach the peak of Mt. Robson. Her family moved to B.C. in 1901 and she eventually met and married Don Munday in 1920. Together they formed perhaps the most renowned “power couple” of the mountaineering world.
Above: Phyllis, Edith & Don Munday: Royal B.C. Museum
Across: Phyllis Munday National Stamp
If Don wasn’t smitten with her already, then it surely happened when she rescued him from nearly falling into a glacial crevasse while on a climb. While saving him, she lost her own balance and he in turn held on to her. As Don says “it lent itself readily to being given a romantic aspect”. Then there was the incident in which Phyllis chased a grizzly bear who was chasing Don. A swiss mountain guide once said of Phyllis that she was “…a strong woman; as strong as any man”. Perhaps even stronger.
In 1924, on only the third expedition of its kind, Conrad Kain led a group with two women in it to the peak of Mt. Robson. Phyllis was deservedly the first to stand on the peak and in the dialogue of Kathryn Bridge’s book about Phyllis, Conrad clasped her hand in his and said “There, Lady! Here is the top of Mount Robson! You are the first woman on this peak – the highest of the (Canadian) Rocky Mountains.”
Phyllis and her husband are also credited with discovering Mt. Waddington of the Coastal Mountains (The highest peak in British Columbia). In their second year of marriage Phyllis gave birth to their daughter, Edith, and at 11 months carried her to the top of Crown Mountain. In 1972 she received The Order of Canada for her pioneering work in the girl guides, St. John’s ambulance and mountaineering in general. She passed away in 1990, a female legend.
|The Hargreaves Brothers: Frank, Roy, George, (unknown), Jack, (unknown), 1922-1930, Mount Robson. Credit: Ishbel Cochrane. Valemount & Area Museum|
The Mt. Robson Ranch (named so by later owner, Alice Wright) is located across the Fraser River from the mountain and near the CN railway. Roy Hargeaves, a WW1 Veteran, ran the ranch from the early 1920’s until 1959 and he and his brothers ( Frank, Jack, George and Dick) homesteaded at the Ranch after WW1. In 1927, he constructed the Berg Lake Chalet on Berg Lake now known as the Hargeaves Shelter (restored in 1982 and just recently) where many a weary hiker has sought refuge - including myself! In 1923 Roy married a Jasper school teacher named Sophie Maclean and in 1988 the operation of the ranch was resumed by their daughter Ishbel and her husband Murray Cochrane.
|Bridge over the Fraser River 1915. Photo Credit - Columbia Basin Trust|
|The flying trestle bridge. Photo credit Alberta On Record|
The trail is 22 kilometres with 7 campgrounds and a suspension bridge. It travels from the south face to the north face of Mt Robson and passes Kinney Lake, Whitehorn Mountain, the stunning Emperor Falls and finally winds its way along Berg Lake to the Robson Pass and the B.C. / Alberta border. It rises 800 metres and crosses through 3 biogeoclimatic zones. At the top , of course, is the beautiful turquoise Berg Lake named for the large chunks of ice that calve from the 3 glaciers that feed the lake and then proceed to float in the lake. This trail also allowed such famous artists as A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris of the famed Group of Seven to explore and paint these wonders of nature.
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The Spiral Road www.spiralroad.com
B.C. Parks http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/mt_robson/
Valemount & Area Museum http://www.museevirtuel.ca/sgc-cms/histoires_de_chez_nous-community_memories/pm_v2.php?id=story_line&lg=Francais&fl=0&ex=00000321&sl=1522&pos=1
Life of the Trail: Historic Hikes Around Mount Robson and the Sanke Indian River
"Phyllis Munday" Dundern 2002 by Kathryn Bridge