Vintage Photos of Mountain Climbing from Alberta

Mountain climbing, often referred to as mountaineering, arrived in Canada from Europe in the late 19th century. With the majority of Europe’s lofty summits already conquered, mountaineers were looking for new challenges. After the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1885, Canada’s mountainous west was suddenly more accessible to those looking for adventure. In 1896 Phillip Abbot became North America’s first mountaineering casualty after falling to his death while attempting to summit Mount Lefroy. After his passing, the CPR started bringing Swiss Guides to Canada. They were responsible for guiding hundreds of first ascents, as well as teaching safe climbing techniques to thousands of would-be climbers. The influence these Swiss Guides had on the early decades of Canadian mountaineering is undeniable.

Climbers roped together on snow, 1910s

During those early years of Canadian mountaineering, there were some notable summits reached, including Mount Sir Donald in 1890, Mount Temple in 1894, Mount Lefroy in 1897, Mount Assiniboine in 1901, and Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, in 1913. This recreational pastime has continued to draw many adventure-seekers to the Canadian Rockies to this day.

Men climbing peak in the Rocky Mountains, Alberta, 1902
Man climbing Mount Howse, Alberta, 1902
Georgia Engelhard and guide Ernest Feuz, climbing Mount Victoria, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1931
Georgia Engelhard and guide Ernest Feuz, climbing Mount Victoria, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1931
Joan Oliver and guide climbing summit of Needle Peak, Lake Louise area, Alberta, 1936
Needle Peak, Lake Louise area, Alberta, 1936
Mountain climbing, Lake Louise area, Alberta, n.d.
Mountain climbing, Lake Louise area, Alberta, n.d.
Lawrence Grassi climbing Castle Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1945
Mountain Park, Alberta. Three women, a man, and a dog rest on a mountain side, 1920s. Object #PR2009.0441.0022.0001
Mountain Climbing Expedition, 1912. Object #A17910
Three sightseers climbing a glacier at Columbia Icefields in Alberta, 1940. Object #A20222
Alpinists climbing rocky face in Rocky Mountains, 1912
Climbers on Monarch Mountain, Banff National Park area, Alberta, 1920s
Thomas Bowerman Williams and friends climbing Cascade Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1917
Arthur Boyd climbing Sulphur Mountain, Banff, Alberta, 1910
Mountain climbers climbing Mount Abbott, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1913
Mountaineers climbing in the Canadian Rockies, 1920s
Masonic party, Cascade Lodge, resting on trip up Cascade mountain, Alberta, 1907
Georgia Engelhard and guide Ernest Feuz on Mount Victoria, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1931
Climber at waterfall, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1930-1937
Lawrence Grassi on Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1945
Group photo of mountain climbers in gear on top of geological formation, 1912. Object #A17908

For even more mountain-related content, please refer to the following posts, A Collection of Historic Photos from Abbot Pass, Vintage Photographs from the Alpine Club of Canada, Historic Photos from the Jasper Area, Historic Photos of Glaciers from the Canadian Rockies, Vintage Photographs from the Lake Louise Area, Wild Jobs: Mountaineering Guide, and Wild Jobs: Hiking Guide.

View of three unidentified climbers on Blue Angel Glacier on Mount Edith Cavell, 1916. Object #A2924

*The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on the photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. If you search the object number that can be found in the photo captions, you will find additional information about the photographs on the Provincial Archives website. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

About Tyler Dixon 199 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.