Hiking the High Line
Bill Hurst and the Kootenay Mountaineering Club
In 1960, Bill Hurst, Jack Oswald and two Vancouver based surveyors were surveying the Kokanee Glacier for the Water Resource Branch of the Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources. They found the Slocan Chief cabin in a poor state.
In 1962, a group called the Slocan Chieftains, which Bill Hurst was a part of, aimed to repair and improve the cabin. Over a couple of years weekend work groups repaired the roof and the foundation as well as built an outhouse and a wood shed.
Members of this group decided to form a Kootenay section of the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) in 1964. In 1969, the Alpine Club of Canada dissolved the Kootenay Section as the club was unable to adhere to some bylaws. The Kootenay Mountaineering Club (KMC) formed as a result in 1969.
Some of the early members of the club include Helen Butling who was the long serving librarian for the club as well as a president. Helen was one of four women selected to climb in the Yukon Centennial expedition in 1967. Helen Deane Lake (Deane was her maiden name) in Kokanee Glacier Park was named for her recognizing her efforts to protect the park and the Slocan Chief Cabin. Other members of the club in its early years include Jack Steed, Jack Oswald, Chris Penn, Gerry Brown, Kim Deane, Ian Hamilton, among many others.
Bill Hurst was an active member in the KMC. During the Thanksgiving weekend 1965, Bill was in a group that hiked the Lemon Pass to Sapphire lakes summiting Sunset Mountain and Outlook Mountain. The group made several hikes in Kokanee Glacier Park in the early years of the club. Bill summited many peaks within the park and he was involved with organizing the KMC summer camps for several years.
In August 1966, Bill Hurst and Gerry Brown explored the Royal Group of mountains for a possible future summer camp. They climbed Mount Prince Edward a 9,174 ft. peak only the second ever ascent and surveyed the other mountains of the Royal Group. The Royal Group of mountains held a fascination for Bill stemming from an aerial photo of the Royal Group in the October 1926 issue of National Geographic. The mountains were named in 1916 for the King and Queen of England and their five children - Mount King George, Mount Queen Mary, Mount Prince Edward, Mount Prince Albert, Mount Prince George, Mount Prince John, and Mount Princess Mary. They are located in Height of the Rockies Provincial Park.
The Kootenay Mountaineering Club held their summer camp at the Royal Group in August 1970. While at this camp, Bill Hurst climbed Mount King George the tallest of the group at 11,228 ft. as well as Mount Princess Mary 10,200 ft. and Mount Prince Albert 10,530 ft.
In 1972, Bill and fellow KMC member Howie Ridge attended the ACC summer climbing camp in the Clemenceau Icefields near the big bend of the Columbia River. They would summit Mount Clemenceau 12,001 ft. on July 21. Bill and Howie would join Hamish Munch (who would join the KMC) Bob Saunders, and Don Forest on a climb of Tusk peak 11,023 ft. During the ACC camp two climbers were killed on the Duplicate icefall. Bill Sharp and Rolly Morrison were killed instantly when a serac collapsed and crushed them. Howie Ridge the third man in the party was nearly killed as well. He cut his rope and went to base camp to get help.
Bill Hurst would be part of the KMC climbing camp at Anemone pass in the Mica creek Kinbasket region in the summer of 1986. There were two separate camps that year and Bill was a member of the second camp. Tragically, during the first camp the camp cook, Patricia Lifely, had lost her footing and died. Bill was the only member, at age 58, to summit Mount Chapman 9,900 ft. after a 13 hour hike.