Field Geology Group of Summer School Had an Eventful Time on Expedition in Canadian Rockies
Geological Research to Result in Survey of Region in Alberta
The study of remarkably interesting geological phenomena splendidly displayed in a high and rugged mountain region, combined with numerous experiences in camp and along the trail, was the lot of the members of the Harvard Summer School of Field Geology during June and July of last year. To the customary work of the field geologists was added the zest of mountain climbing and the photographing of wild animals, as the region selected for the annual trip of the Department of Geology was in Jasper and Robson National Parks in Alberta and British Columbia. This portion of the Canadian Rocky mountains has recently been made fairly accessible from the main line of the Canadian National Railway system by the construction of new roads and trails. These have opened to the geologist a practically virgin territory in which there is abundant opportunity for increasing our knowledge of the way mountains are made and destroyed.
The party which visited this area last summer consisted of Professor Percy E. Raymond, Professor Kirtley F. Mather, Dr. Ed Parejas of the University of Geneva, and twenty-two students. Of the latter, the great majority were Harvard undergraduates, with whom were enrolled Marshall Schalk, '29, John Hammond, Jr., '29, Rollin H. Norris, '29, C. W. Waldron, '10, Bradford Bissell, Cornell, '29, Harold W. Gale, Trinity '27, Forbes Hutchins, McGill, '30, and Peter Matlock, Cornell, '31.
Party Left in June
The majority of the party left Boston, Wednesday evening, June 19, in a special car for Montreal, where Thursday, June 20, was spent in an investigation of the geology of Mount Royal and vicinity under the efficient guidance of John Dresser, geologist for the Canadian Pacific Railway. From Montreal the party traveled by a special car attached to the Transcontinental Limited of the Canadian National Railway to Noranda, Quebec. Here the evening of June 21 was spent underground in the mine of the Horne Copper Corporation. Howard M. Butter field, '26, and Roger Peale, '21, initiated the embryo geologists into the pleasures and dangers of life far underground in a comparatively deep mine. Saturday morning was occupied in a study of the surface geology of the Noranda district, and an inspection of the mill and smelter of the Horne Corporation.
En route across Central Canada, the party had opportunity to get a first hand impression of the topography and geology of the Canadian shield and the western plains. Arriving at Jasper during the forenoon of June 25 the members of the school had just time enough to make final arrangements concerning camp equipment before they departed for the first camp, which was established near Pocohantas, some twenty-five miles down the Athabaska Valley from Jasper.
This camp was admirably located to provide access to the geological features of the easternmost range of the Canadian Rockies. Here also the men could be initiated into the technicalities of mountain climbing, as Roche Miette towered 4000 feet above the camp and gave splendid preparatory training for those who hoped later to scale the glacier-hung and snow-capped mountains a few miles farther west.
On July 5 camp was moved to Snaring Junction, twelve miles from Jasper. Work here was delayed somewhat by a succession of rainy days, but a week later the camp was transferred to the shores of Pyramid Lake from which point the mapping of the geology was extended over a large area.
The following Thursday, July 18, the camp was moved again, and this time was established at the end of the automobile road which leads from Jasper to the base of Mount Edith Cavell. At this point the characteristics of glaciers became the first interest of the students, and many hours were spent on the ice of Ghost Glacier. Ten members of the party left the Cavell camp Sunday afternoon and four and a half hours later had established a temporary camp above timber line on the west ridge of the mountain. From this point the summit of Mount Edith Cavell, 11,033 feet above sea level, was reached the next morning. It was the second ascent of the 1929 season and made in record time, less than four hours from the shelter camp to the crest. Although the weather was extremely unfavorable and the mountaineers were caught in a howling blizzard before they reached the mountain top, the only casualties were the loss of two hats which disappeared during the gale.
On July 23 the party traveled by rail from Jasper to Robson Station, and then on horseback to Berg Lake Camp, seventeen miles distant, in the upper part of the "Valley of a Thousand Falls." This camp is situated on the shores of the lake at the foot of Mount Robson, the monarch of the Canadian Rockies. Here again the weather proved quite unsatisfactory, but on Thursday it was possible to spend the day outside the shelter of the camp. One group under the leadership of Dr. Parejas crossed Robson Glacier and climbed the Lynx. Traversing its summit and the neighboring ridge, they reached a previously unclimbed peak on the summit of which they built a cairn as a record of their presence. To this unnamed summit the name of "Mount Harvard" was joyously though unofficially attached by the members of the climbing party. In the meantime another group ascended Mumm Peak and looked down from its summit upon Mural Glacier, one of the finest of the glaciers in that part of the mountains.
Returning to Jasper on July 27, the school was disbanded there. Some of its members proceeded westward to Vancouver and thence to various points of interest in the western States. Some returned to Calgary, where their automobiles were awaiting them, and then proceeded by way of Banff and Lake Louise into Montana and Wyoming. Professors Raymond and Mather remained in Jasper for a few days to carry on additional research under the auspices of the Shaler Memorial Fund. A party consisting of Professor Raymond, Dr. L. W. Collet, Dr. Parejas, Mr. Augustin Lombard, and Mr. Hutchins spent the next few weeks in the Athabaska Valley and the vicinity of Mount Robson, extending the investigations which had been begun during the progress of the summer school. The information obtained will serve as the basis for a geological report on the area which will eventually appear as a Shaler Memorial Research publication.