On August 11 in the year 1907, Mount Garibaldi was conquered.
That day in mountaineering history is now commemorated in Garibaldi Provincial Park. A bench with a plaque containing the names of the men who made the climb was placed at Elfin Lakes in October. Users of the bench can sit and look at the impressive rocky slopes of Atwell Peak and Dalton Dome, two park features named after members of that history-making group of mountaineers.
Mount Trorey in the middle of the Spearhead Range also got its name from the climbers, as are Mt. Pattison and the Warren Glacier are two more features in Garibaldi Provincial Park named after people from this influential group.
Arthur Tinniswood Dalton, William Tinniswood Dalton, James John Trorey, Atwell Duncan Francis Joseph King, T. Pattison, and G.B. Warren accomplished the first recorded ascent of Garibaldi.
Last summer Sheena Ball saw a notice in British Columbia Magazine advising readers that BC Parks wanted to put 100 benches into parks across the province. She immediately thought of her grandfather, Arthur Tinniswood Dalton, and his father. Ball and her brother, James Tinniswood Brown, decided they would honour their pioneer relatives by covering the cost of a bench bolted to a concrete slab in the Elfin Lakes area within the park.
"We both knew our grandfather even though he died in 1962," said Ball from her home in Surrey, B.C. "He was born in 1883."
Growing up, Ball said she heard very little about his mountaineering adventures.
"My grandfather had done his last climb in 1941, which was before I was born," she explained. "He didn't talk very much about it with me, but he certainly was very proud of my younger brother because my younger brother's middle name is Tinniswood. We've got a couple of pictures of my grandfather and Jim with the flag that my grandfather always took with him on his climbs and he flew it from the summit of each of his first ascents. They had a close relationship, even though my brother was quite young, but I became more interested when I was older.
"I had his scrap book and I was able to go through the scrapbook," said Ball. "He had all the newspaper clippings and other correspondence. I had the write-ups that he did for the Alpine Club of Canada and at that point in my life I was also becoming interested in hiking."
Ball said the contents of the scrapbook made her wish she had spoken with her grandfather more about his climbing adventures.
According to various accounts of the historic climb up Garibaldi, the summit mission followed years of advance work. A mission to the base of Garibaldi took place in 1902. BC Parks archive materials indicates Arthur Dalton was one of the 1902 visitors to the lower slopes of the mountain and then in 1905 the two Daltons, father and son, made their first attempt at the Garibaldi summit. Heavy smoke from forest fires that summer forced the team to turn back. A second attempt at the summit in 1906 resulted in the Daltons reportedly climbing to within 60 metres of the summit with a team of other climbers. The group encountered soft slushy snow that they decided they couldn't cross.
Arthur Dalton wrote his recollections of the trip in a report. The steep terrain, rocky slopes and crevasses encountered near the summit were described in this passage from his account: "Every piece of dislodged rock went either silently flying into dizzy space on one side, or whirring down the other to vanish with an almost human howl in the hungry throat of one of those crevasses."
In the summer of 1907 everything aligned and the result of the eight-day expedition was an opportunity for the group to peer down from the mountain peak at Howe Sound, the Squamish River and Newport way below.
At that time Garibaldi was mistakenly thought of as a 3,000-metre (10,000 feet) summit. In fact, we now know the peak is 2,678 m (8,786 ft) above sea level.
With the Dalton bench now in place, Ball says she and a number of other family members plan to hike up to Elfin Lakes to sit on the bench and take in the views of the mountain conquered more than 100 years ago.
Ball's plan is to hike up with her husband, her brother, his wife, some cousins and a few friends.
The Dalton name has sadly reached the end of the line as Ball points out that her grandfather produced no male offspring.
The bench program was created to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of BC Parks. Environment Minister Terry Lake heralded the installation of the Dalton bench and the 99 other seats placed in parks around the province at a cost of $300,000 with the money coming from 100 donors like Ball and Brown.
"The success of the 100 for 100 Park Bench Challenge is a testimony to the value the people of British Columbia place on their BC Parks," Lake said in a news release. "The generosity of the donors will help make wonderful memories for park visitors for generations to come."
The Dalton bench was just one of two benches placed in Garibaldi Provincial Park this fall. Lenami Godinez, an environment ministry worker tragically killed in Mexico, was also honoured with a bench. She enjoyed hiking in the park and a bench with her name on it was placed at the end of one of her favourite trails.
Now that Ball's contribution has resulted in the creation of a permanent reminder of the first recorded ascent of Mount Garibaldi she can't wait to check out her bench some 106 years after her grandfather's historic climb.
"I'm anxious to get up there myself on a sunny day," said Ball.
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