Glenn Woodsworth & Dick Culbert

Glenn Woodsworth & Dick Culbert

UBC Climbing Show
Wed Feb 15 @7:30pm (doors 6:30pm)
The Frederic Wood Theatre, UBC MAP

The Land of Beyond:  Explorations in the Coast Mountains in the 1960s

By the end of the 1950s, all the major peaks in the Rockies had been climbed. But in the Coast Mountains, climbers had never set foot in huge chunks of the range, and many big peaks remained unclimbed.

In the 1960s, a group of young Vancouver-based mountaineers dominated the mountaineering scene in the Coast Mountains. Dick Culbert was foremost among those explorers, so much so that the decade became known as "The Culbert Years." Dick, together with Glenn Woodsworth, Alice Purdey, Fred Douglas, Paul Starr and others accounted for most of the exploratory mountaineering done in that decade. Bad bush, horrible weather, blizzards, big rivers, bad maps, no trails and few roads made things challenging, as did Trapper Nelson packs, goldline ropes, and wooden ice axes.

Dick Culbert calls himself an exploratory mountaineer. He began climbing in the North Shore mountains in his teens. In 1959 he made a legendary, month-long solo trip through the Howson Range, a trip that netted few first ascents but taught him much about himself and the mountains. In the 1960s and early 1970s he made hundreds of first ascents, including Serra 5, the Cat's Ears Spires, the second ascent of the Devil's Thumb, and the first (and only) winter ascent of Waddington, and many hard new routes on the mountains close to Vancouver and on the walls at Squamish.

In 1965 Dick published his Climber's Guide to the Coastal Ranges of British Columbia. This book was based on his own climbs and the mountaineering literature, but also on extensive field interviews with prospectors, loggers, and bush-rats. This book is recognized as one of the finest guides of its type, and its influence on other climbers has been enormous. He also wrote the light-hearted distraction from studying, A Cragrats’ Guide to the UBC Campus.

Dick obtained a PhD in geophysical engineering and spent many decades working in remote parts of the world, particularly in South America. In recent years he has turned his attention to building trails near his home in Gibsons and to cataloguing the many little-known species of flora and fauna he has encountered in his travels. Dick is an Honourary Member of the B.C. Mountaineering Club and the Alpine Club of Canada.

Glenn Woodsworth fell in love with the Coast Mountains as a teenager and that love has never faded. In the 1960s and 1970s he made several hundred first ascents, many with tonight's fellow-presenter, Dick Culbert. Glenn obtained a PhD in geology and spent the following decades exploring and studying the geology of the Coast Mountains for the Geological Survey of Canada, often travelling alone, working out how the mountains we know came to be.

In the 1960s Glenn was active in the rock climbing scene at Squamish, where he pioneered several fine new routes, including University Wall, Pipeline, and Yosemite Pinnacle Left side. In 1967 the VOC published his A Climber's Guide to the Squamish Chief, the first stand-alone guide to the area. In recent decades he became interested in hot springs and is the co-author (with his son, David) of the standard guide on the subject, Hot Springs of Western Canada. Glenn is a Past President and Honourary Member of the B.C. Mountaineering Club and remains active in the club.

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