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Rocky Mountain Ramblers Association


Looking back, 1960 was a rough year for the Ramblers, plagued with loss of permanent meeting place, injuries and transfers and resignations of key members. After the loss of Alpine Smylie's store as a meeting place in the spring, meetings were held hither and yon, mainly at the homes of various members. Partially because potential members had difficulty tracking down the club, membership dropped to, 48. Finally, near the end of the year, Bob Baxter, who had recently moved his book store to larger facilities at 211 - 16th Avenue, N.W., very kindly suggested the Ramblers make Bob's Book Store their permanent meeting place.

Two of the injuries occurred on skiing trips in March. On a downhill trip to Kimberley, Corry Groep broke a ski and injured her knee badly enough that a cartilage had to be removed. Two weeks later, on a trip up Purple Valley to the top of Purple Peak behind Mt. Temple Chalet, led by Wally Drew, Lillian Garland hurt her ankle in a fall. She was such a good sport about it that no one suspected a serious injury. She skied part way out before Pam Turner and Gerry Schlee returned with the Wardens and toboggan. After first aid treatment at Mt. Temple Chalet, she went home apologetic that an accident had marred such a beautiful day. The next day she went to a doctor and discovered she had fractured her ankle. This incident taught leaders never to treat injuries lightly regardless of the bravery of the victim.

A third injury, on a hike along the Little Red Deer River northwest of Calgary, with Wally Drew as leader and Jack Stiel as guide, was a freak accident. During a break, Dick Ranaghan was demonstrating a folk dance when he slipped and turned a couple of summersaults. When he came to rests his glasses were broken and so was his arm. On the way home in a thunder shower Wally had two flat tires and then Jack had one at the rendezvous. What at day!

That trip on May 1 was supposed to be Wally Drew's last trip with the Ramblers as he was being transferred back to Denver, Colorado. A surprise farewell party on May 11, one of the craziest Ramblers' parties, is described under "Anecdotes". On the serious side, Wally was awarded the club's first gold pin and new people had to be found for his various club duties. Pam Turner became Vice-Chairman, Bob Norton took over as "Pack Rat" editor and the position of Day Trips Chairman was abolished. After two months, Bob resigned as "Pack Rat" editor and Pam took on that job as well as serving as Vice-Chairman.

The position of Senior Trip Leader also changed hands several times in 1960. In early spring, Tom Moffat resigned because of other responsibilities and Ted de Waal succeeded him under the new title, Chairman of Leaders Council. Later that summer Ted resigned from the club executive because knee problems forced him to cut down on hiking. He was replaced by Bob Baxter.

Despite these tribulations, the Ramblers accomplished an aggressive schedule of' trips during the year. Probably the most ambitious day trip was the ascent of Mt. Eisenhower, probably led by Ted de Waal.

A weekend trip to Kananaskis Lakes in July turned out to be quite a challenge for part of the group. After a late departure from Calgary because of car troubles the group finally met at Upper Kananaskis Lake. Ted de Waal, Ed Lynn and Don Hopkinson set out for Hidden Lake. It was so well hidden that they never found it and darkness forced them to stay out overnight. The next day they even resorted to rafting to make it back to the campground in time for supper. In the meantime Joe Mollitor got to the top of Mt. Indefatigable, while the rest of the party had a lazy weekend swimming, camping and fishing.

For the holiday tour, a small group stayed at the Stanley Mitchell hut in Little Yoho, where they saw only two others the whole week they were in the valley. They hired a horse packer to carry their supplies in and out.

The 3-day Labour Day weekend Pam Turner, Gerry Schlee, Jack Stiel, Barry Stiel, Don Hopkinson and Henk Oliemans made an ambitious backpack from Sunshine over Healy Pass to Egypt Lake then Whistling Pass, Shadow Lake, Gibbon Pass and out to Eisenhower Junction via Twin Lakes.

The Thanksgiving weekend could be called "Ramblers take to the train" or "bears, bears, bears". It was the first time Ramblers took a train to their destination. The 11 went to Glacier Park in B.C. and the train was the only way of getting there in those pre-highway days. They stayed at the Alpine Club hut and on Sunday morning hiked in brilliant sun over fresh snow toward the observation hut on Mt. Abbott. Then John Davis and Gerry Schlee spotted a grizzly bear in front of the hut. The group turned and headed down immediately. Gerry looked back and saw two more grizzlies bounding toward them. If that weren't enough, Pam Turner nearly ran into a black bear on the trail. That's when Pam and Margaret Sharpe took to the trees. When they braved the trail again, a short time later, no bears were in sight. What a relief!

The club's second gold pin award went to Sandy Vair, presented at the AGM. Gerry Schlee received a silver pin and Bob Baxter was given an honorary membership for the year for providing the club with a meeting place.

The new executive elected at the A.G.M. were: Chairman, Ted de Waal,; Vice-Chairman, Pam Turner; Secretary, Lillian Garland; Treasurer, Gerry Schlee; and Members-at-large. Ed Lynn and Jack Stiel. Jack became Program Chairman and Ed, Publicity Chairman. Appointments to round out the executive added Sylvia Talpash as another Program Chairman, Nancy Vair to assist Jack as Social Chairman, Sandy Vair as Chairman of the Leaders Council and Jean Nicholls as Winter Trips Chairman.

Ted de Waal could be considered the boy wonder of the club. He was about 15 when he joined the club and was a group leader while still in high school. When elected Chairman this year he was 19, 1 believe, by far the youngest Chairman or President the Ramblers ever had. The record still stands today.

The first record of a Ramblers Christmas party was that held on December 21, 1960 at the home of Sandy and Nancy Vair. Thanks went to Lillian Garland, her daughter, Iris, Margaret Sharpe and Ruth Kirk for getting all the delicious food ready. Ruth also provided hilarious games.

For the New Years weekend, December 30, 1960 to January 1, 1961, 11 Ramblers drove to Whitefish, Montana, to ski Big Mountain. They actually stayed in a motel in Kalispell.


During the winter of 1960-61 there were more downhill ski trips than ski tours because of a slight shortage of ski touring leaders. Nevertheless, a highlight was a trip to Skoki on Easter weekend, a trip that was becoming an annual event.

The big surprise of the spring was the wedding of Ruth Kirk and Tom Thurston on April 1 in White Rocky B.C.. Few, if any, Ramblers even knew they were going together. A surprise party for the newly weds at the Vair's was a delightful affair. Everyone enjoyed the games organized by Leslie Morrison except possibly Ed Lynn. During an exuberant game he accidentally plunged his elbow into a picture window. The cut was not serious, but it did require several stitches. Luckily, the window as fully insured.

In March, Jack Stiel resigned as Program Chairman and Daphne Smith succeeded him. Pam Turner suggested the club should have a flag or pennant and winner of the design contest was Jean Nicholls with a Ramblers crest on the wider end of a light blue pennant. Her prize was a year's free membership.

Rock climbing was no longer a no-no. At a leaders meeting in the summer of '61 the section of the leaders manual regarding rock climbing was amended as follows: "Rock climbing is now allowed on club trips provided the leader is qualified to lead such trips. It will be left to the leaders discretion who will be allowed to go on the trip".

On the Victoria Day weekend, May 20 - 22, 1961, 17 Ramblers enjoyed probably the first of what proved to be quite a series of Victoria Day weekend car camping trips to Jasper. On this one warm and sunny weather was enjoyed. On August 12 and 13, Jean Nicholls, Pam Turner, Marg Sharpe, Gerry Schlee, Henk Oliemans and Don Hopkinson backpacked up to Shadow Lake over Ball Pass and out to the Vermilion Highway. On the Labor Day weekend 11 Ramblers went over to Windermere for a weekend of camping, swimming, golf and water skiing.

Membership declined further to stand at 42 at the end of the fiscal year. At the Annual General Meeting and banquet silver pins went to Henk Oliemans and Tom Thurston. The Ramblers constitution was amended by an extraordinary resolution changing the by-laws to increase the executive committee by electing 4 members at large instead of 2. The next executive elected was: Sandy Vair, Chairman; Ed Lynn, Vice-Chairman; Lillian Garland, Secretary; Gerry Schlee, Treasurer; and Pam Turner, Tom Thurston, Daphne Smith and Martha Liechti, members-at-large. Ted de Waal was awarded the gold pin when he came home for Christmas from the University of Alberta at Edmonton.

The year was rounded out with gala parties hosted by Ruth and Tom Thurston at Hallowe'en and Jean Nicholls and Lillian Garland at Christmas.