Mountains of the Coast: Photographs of Remote Corners of the Coast Mountains

Mountains of the Coast: Photographs of Remote Corners of the Coast Mountains

by John Baldwin
     
 

Along British Columbia's western edge from the Alaska panhandle to Vancouver stretches a vast alpine wilderness that ranks as one of the largest and least known on earth. Hidden in the mists beyond the heads of long, dark inlets, this sea of mountains is so isolated that hundreds of major peaks remain unnamed and much of the territory was unexplored until the closing…  See more details below

Overview

Along British Columbia's western edge from the Alaska panhandle to Vancouver stretches a vast alpine wilderness that ranks as one of the largest and least known on earth. Hidden in the mists beyond the heads of long, dark inlets, this sea of mountains is so isolated that hundreds of major peaks remain unnamed and much of the territory was unexplored until the closing decades of the twentieth century. Vancouver mountaineer John Baldwin, often teamed with his fellow climber John Clarke, has spent twenty-five years exploring and photographing this measureless wilderness, registering an incredible 250-plus first ascents and pioneering some epic ski traverses in the process.

Together, Baldwin, Clarke and their teams have carried out a program of dicovery that has few parallels in the history of mountaineering, and Mountains of the Coast allows the public to share the high points of their astounding experience for the first time.

Here are accounts of sudden blizzards, rumbling glaciers and month-long ski traverses over crevasse-mined icefields, side by side with peaceful scenes of alpine flowers and unexpected encounters with mountain goats and grizzly bears.
Baldwin describes the careful planning that goes into each expedition, the special freindships that develop among dedicated climbers, and the thrill of being the first human beings ever to set foot on a remote mountain peak.

Most memorable, Mountains of the Coast unveils the severe beauty of these wild places, revealing page after page of unimaginably spectacular landscapes, many of which have never before been recorded on film. Mountains of the Coast is a breathtaking journey into an unknown world that will appeal to mountain climbers, outdoor enthusiasts and armchair explorers alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Monday Magazine
". . .a recounting in words and photographs of the author's many journeys along alpine ridges, icefields and other remote corners of BC's Coast Mountains. . . . a matter-of-fact account of these hikes and ski trips, backed by mesmerizing photographs that emphasize the abstract beauty of the landscape over any near-death narrative. . . . Through Baldwin's camera lens, the natural shapes and textures of this high alpine area - the glacial scouring, drainage patterns, conical seracs and jagged icefalls - acquire the hypnotic symmetries of modern painting." -David Leach, Monday Magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781550172133
Publisher:
Harbour Publishing Company, Limited
Publication date:
01/01/1999
Pages:
120
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

On long trips in remote areas it is extremely important to be cautious at all times. This is a lesson I learned early in my climbing career - the hard way, unfortunately - during a hike up Hudson Bay Mountain above Smithers in 1977. A group of us had climbed up through the meadows from the ski area to gain the last ridge leading along to the summit. It was early in the summer, with the usual unsettled weather, and we walked on snow between the ridge crest and a huge cornice that hung out over the large cliffs on the east side of the mountain. At a flat point on the ridge it was my turn to lead and break trail for a while, but as I moved ahead the snow fractured and the entire area under my feet dropped like a trap door and sent me hurtling down the cliffs inside an avalanche of snow. The snow pounded and pummelled me in darkness until miraculously, at the bottom of the cliff, I was spewed out onto the glacier amidst piles of debris. I had injured my knee and sustained considerable internal bruising but otherwise I was unscathed. Incredulously I peered back up to the ridge crest 250 metres above, thankful to be alive.

Sometimes the route is obvious and at other times it remains mysteriously hidden, only to be discovered at the last minute. Every so often a maze of crevasses or a narrow ridge must be negotiated, but mostly there is a tremendous amount of up and down as we make our way through the alpine, climbing the steep sides of mountain after mountain. Often horizontal distances lose their significance and vertical relief becomes the governing measure of how far away a mountain is.

There is always a slow period after lunch, especially on a hot day, while we digest our food and absorb enough water to renew our bodies after vigorous sweating. But it is a wonderful feeling when after a few minutes of climbing all that tiredness drops away and you fly up the hill with your lungs breathing free and easy. Gaining substantial elevation with a heavy pack is a strenuous but harmless pastime that is completely free of any of the hassles and traps that so often interrupt the normal flow of things. Indeed, there is a kind of sweaty ease that is broken only by the regular, sometimes frantic, expansion and contraction of one's lungs and the rhythmic swish of first the right and then the left boot as they find purchase in the soft summer corn snow.

We make side trips to the tops of the mountains along our route. Many of these are unclimbed and we build a cairn to celebrate the first ascent. Most are non-technical rounded horns that require scrambling on steep rock or snow rather than any difficult roped climbing. At a time when modern climbers are completing difficult alpine-style ascents of the world's highest mountains, there is no question that these summits fall outside the mainstream of modern mountaineering. Most climbers despair at the amount of walking and lack of technical climbing involved in reaching the summits of these coastal peaks. The general sentiment is that they are not important or worth climbing, and this is the main reason they are left behind. In a sense these climbers are right- there is no glory in conquering hundreds of "little" mountains - but it is a lot of fun. These little peaks were the driving force behind the weeks, months and years we spent tramping through thousands of square kilometres of mountains, allowing us to discover the incredible beauty of a seldom visited part of the earth.

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Meet the Author

John Baldwin grew up in Vancouver and became fascinated by the Coast Mountains that rise above the city. Over the past forty years he has completed numerous first ascents and pioneered many remote long ski traverses. He is the author of Mountains of the Coast (Harbour, 1999) and his award-winning photographs have appeared in numerous publications.

John Baldwin grew up in Vancouver and became fascinated by the Coast Mountains that rise above the city. Over the past forty years he has completed numerous first ascents and pioneered many remote long ski traverses. He is the author of Mountains of the Coast (Harbour, 1999) and his award-winning photographs have appeared in numerous publications.

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