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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

No. 156: Early Mountaineers

Ce texte a été publié en anglais et n'est pas disponible en français.

The Rocky Mountains bear the names of several adventurous souls who dared to explore the mountains at the turn of the century.

But, as historian Merrily Aubrey points out, climbing mountains for sport is a recent phenomenon.

In the early days, in the pre-contact and contact periods, mountains were actually seen as obstacles to be avoided, and at all costs. Any self-respecting traveller would follow the paths of least resistance and find the most convenient passes through the mountains.

It wasn't until the late 1800s that the more adventurous well-to-do were looking for someplace to spend their idle time and money.

It was also at that time that transportation to the Canadian Rockies was much more convenient than before - by 1885 the CPR had been completed - and Banff slowly became a destination for those daring souls.

One of the earliest mountain climbers to visit the Rockies was a teenager named Samuel Evans Stokes Allen.

Allen was born in Philadelphia in 1874, and he came to the Rockies during the summers of 1891 to 1895.

He named a number of features in the Lake Louise area, including the Valley of the Ten Peaks, an area that had been known before as Desolation Valley - probably because of its inaccessibility.

Not only did Allen name the valley, he named the peaks as well. And here I go again perhaps mispronouncing, but the names were as follows: Higi, Nomy, Yamney, Tonsoa, etc...and Macnecha. And these are the Stoney words from one through ten, so Valley of the Ten Peaks.

Most of these have been renamed. For example, you get mounts Faye Tuso, Delta Four Mountain, and, yes, Mount Allen.

Mount Allen is 50 km northwest of Banff, on the border between Alberta and British Columbia.

It's 3,310 metres high, and was named in 1924 to honour the pioneer climber, Samuel Evans Stokes Allen.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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