National Alpine Club welcomes Haida Gwaii

  • Sep. 25, 2006 6:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay-Haida Gwaii is officially part of the Alpine Club of Canada, now in its centennial year, thanks to a local mountaineer.
Adolf Bitterlich of Tlell has added Haida Gwaii to a newly-formed chapter of the Prince George section of the club, known as the Bulkley, Skeena, Haida Gwaii chapter.
Mr. Bitterlich says many people do not think of Haida Gwaii as being mountainous, but he begs to differ.
“There is fantastic country for everybody here,” he says.
There are major peaks, some with relatively easy access like Sleeping Beauty Mountain.
Mr. Bitterlich wants to get young people and others excited about getting into the island alpine. He is disappointed to hear of school trips off-island for skiing when good skiing can be had here, with a little effort.
One of the projects he feels strongly about is building a mountaineering/ ski hut in the alpine meadows of the Yakoun Valley. This would make extended trips into the mountains more feasible, he says.
He has approached the Council of the Haida Nation about the idea, and hopes to get approval from them and other appropriate entities.
Mr. Bitterlich brings a lifetime of experience as a mountain guide, ski instructor, mountaineer and carpenter to the potential project.
Mr. Bitterlich was an experienced climber when he arrived in Canada from Germany in 1954 and has made several impressive first ascents in the Coast Mountain Range.
His most prestigious ascent came in 1958 when he and his brother Ulf became the first Canadians to gain the summit of Mount Waddington, the highest peak in the Coast Range. The first ascent of the 4019 metre high mountain had been in 1936 by American Fritz Wiessner.
Mr. Bitterlich also led first ascents of Mount Blackburn and Mount Howson.
A trip back to Mount Howson in August with Alpine Club of Canada members from Smithers reinvigorated his love of the mountains and his commitment to the Alpine Club.
“The mountains on the Charlottes are the only ones we have,” he says. And he wants to get people out to show them off.