Guardians of the Peaks

Mountain Rescue in the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains

By (author): Kathy Calvert, Dale Portman
ISBN 9781894765800
Softcover | Publication Date: October 30, 2006
Book Dimensions: 8 in x 10 in
328 Pages

About the Book

The story of mountain rescue has its roots in the early 1900s, with the Canadian Pacific Railway’s use of Swiss guides—alpine experts who brought their knowledge of mountain rescue to the Canadian Rockies.

As climbing gained in popularity with the emerging middle classes after the Second World War, tragic accidents became more common. Two accidents in 1954–55 forced the government to develop a professional mountain rescue team through the Park Warden Service, under the tutelage of Swiss guide Walter Perren, considered the father of mountain rescue in Canada. Perren essentially turned cowboys into competent rescue personnel, and the story takes off from there.

Guardians of the Peaks traces the first 50 years of mountain rescue in Canada, focusing on the five principal men instrumental in its development. Authors Kathy Calvert and Dale Portman cover all aspects of the rescue experience, juxtaposing the political, cultural and technical developments of the time with gripping accounts of actual rescues.

Guardians of the Peaks is a fascinating look at the people who are willing to enter this stress-laced, demanding profession in order to save lives, despite the personal tragedy it often involves.

About the Author(s)

Kathy Calvert grew up in the Canadian Rockies. In 1974 she became one of the first female national park wardens in Canada; in 1977 she was a member of the first all-women expedition to Mount Logan and in 1989 was on the first all-women ski traverse of the Columbia Mountains from the Bugaboos to Rogers Pass. She is the author of three books: Don Forest: Quest for the Summits (RMB 2003), Guardians of the Peaks: Mountain Rescue in the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains (RMB 2006) and June Mickle: One Woman's Life in the Foothills and Mountains of Western Canada (RMB 2015). She and her husband, Dale Portman, live in Cochrane, Alberta.

Dale Portman spent nearly 30 years working for the warden service, often involved with backcountry travel, mountain rescue and avalanche control work in Jasper, Banff, Yoho, Glacier and Revelstoke national parks. He has written three books about his experiences working in the mountains of western Canada: Riding on the Wild Side: Tales of Adventure in the Canadian West (2004), Rescue Dogs: Crime and Rescue Canines in the Canadian Rockies (2009) and co-author of Guardians of the Peaks: Mountain Rescue in the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains (RMB 2006). Besides experiencing other cultures in foreign lands, Dale’s greatest love is for extended trips to remote parts of the Canadian Rockies, whether on skis, on foot or on horseback leading a couple of pack horses. He and his wife, Kathy Calvert, live in Cochrane, Alberta.