A Passion for Peaks
Whyte Museum of the
Canadian Rockies (Archives)
Alfred J. Ostheimer III, passionate
mountaineer, in the field, 1927.
M393/4 Ostheimer Expedition Fonds,
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
larger view

Alpinist Henry Hall described it as "perhaps the greatest tour de force ever accomplished in a single season in the Canadian Rockies." In the summer of 1927, members of the Ostheimer Expedition climbed thirty-five mountains, of which twenty-eight were first ascents. Most of the peaks in remote areas of Jasper National Park exceeded 10,000 feet (3048 m). The leader of this American expedition, A. J. Ostheimer III, was a nineteen-year-old Harvard student. The expedition toiled for nine weeks in what climbing historian Chic Scott has called "a peak bagging spree that was simply breathtaking."1

Cartoon by Mildred Crawford Gray
from "Every Other Day," 1929.
M393/4 Ostheimer Expedition Fonds,
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
larger view

Fifty years later, expedition participants Alfred J. Ostheimer III and John de Laitre II donated the records of this ambitious mountain assault to the Archives, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. The Ostheimer Expedition Fonds, 1927-1929 includes four leather-bound volumes of records in the form of reports, field notes, photographs and a manuscript by the trip leader entitled "Every Other Day". The latter title refers to the object of the expedition: to climb a mountain every other day. The volumes are accompanied by lantern slides. As well as recording mountaineering conquests, the party made extensive notes on the geology glaciology, flora and fauna of the Columbia, Chaba and Clemenceau Icefields. The documentation of this unprecedented climbing odyssey was undertaken with a certain amount of passion, too.

Two of four volumes from the Ostheimer Expedition Fonds, (detail)
M393 Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
larger view

For more information on the Ostheimer Expedition fonds and other passionate climbing adventures visit our website at www.whyte.org and click on 'ARCHIVES'.

1 For an excellent account of the 1927 Ostheimer expedition's exploits based on Ostheimer Expedition fonds, see Chic Scott's newly-released Pushing the Limits: the Story of Canadian Mountaineering, Calgary, Rocky Mountain Books, 2000.