Barriere’s Carman Smith holds up a 1959 photo of himself standing in the same spot where he stood on July 2, 1959, below the Premiers, which he and his friends had just climbed. (Bob Smith Photo)

Climbing the Premiers 60 years later

Carman Smith and friends revisit the Premier Range on Aug. 9, 2019

“You should see the Premiers” were the words Carman Smith exclaimed to his buddies when they were UBC students in 1959. So they took a week off from summer work, to climb and make some first ascents in these mountains West of Valemount, B.C.

Their climbs of that summer, and also in 1960, are recorded in the Alpine Club of Canada and Varsity Outdoor Club Journals of 1959/60 /61.Sixty years later, Dennis Holden, of Castlegar, Dave Kennedy of Vernon, Bob McFarlane of North Vancouver, and Car-man Smith of Barri-ere have just returned from revisiting the Premier Range on Aug 9, 2019.

All in their early 80’s, instead of hiking in from the train tracks at Tete Jaune, this time they went in by helicopter.

They even dug out some of their old climbing gear, hats, ropes, climbing pants, carabiners and ice axes for photo shoots, and they marveled that they “knew exactly” where they were!

Carman’s son, Bob, accompanied them as photographer, and the weather was perfect.

The group landed on the glacier below their mountain peak, and when the pilot later flew right around the peak they could not believe that they had actually all stood on the peak together on July 2, 1959.

They noted it is a much more dangerous area now, as the ice and snow have receded and the crevasses are much larger. The rock appears treacherous when not held together by snow and ice. To their knowledge the peak is not named, and there will be a fol-low up to this story.

They were met back in Valemount by their wives at the heli pad. One could see they were absolutely elated to be able to visit that magnificent area again, especially in one hour instead of seven days!The pilot from Yellowhead Helicopters was excellent, and perhaps quite impressed by these “seniors” who had climbed before he was born.To this date the four remain close friends, along with the many Varsity Outdoor Club members of the 50’s and 60’s who worked, skied, hiked and climbed in the marvelous mountain areas of British Columbia.


(L-r) Carman Smith, Dave Kennedy, Bob McFarlane, and Dennis Holden on Aug. 9, 2019, standing on the glacier in front of the mountain peak that they had hiked in to from Tete Jaune, and climbed on July 2, 1959. (Bob Smith photo)

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