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General Mountaineering Camp


Mountain Hard Wear is a supportive sponsor of the General Mountaineering Camp and we thank them for their assistance.

The General Mountaineering Camp (GMC) has been an Alpine Club of Canada tradition since 1906. While the numbers of participants, locations and certain practices have changed over the last almost 100 years, the mandate behind the GMC is still the same.

The 2014 GMC will be located at Frenchman Cap in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia. 

Alison, Karen, and Nick, GMC 2001
Battle Brook 2010 GMC
Photo: ©Roger Laurilla

In 1906, almost 100 Club members (all at once!) attended the first GMC at Yoho Pass, British Columbia. They climbed, explored and learned about their mountain environment every day. They changed into their Sunday best for the evening meals and socializing, then retired to canvas tents in preparation for another early morning start. A quote from the 1907 Canadian Alpine Journal states "No lady climbing, who wears skirts, will be allowed to take a place on a rope, as they are a distinct source of danger to the entire party. Knickerbockers or bloomers with puttees or gaiters and sweater will be found serviceable and safe." On Sunday, a church service was followed by the ACC's Annual General Meeting. Entertaining and charming accounts of the ACC’s first General Mountaineering Camp can be found in these articles from the 1907 Canadian Alpine Journal.

1906 GMC report

Battle Brook 2010 GMC.
Photo: © Roger Laurilla   

These days, as it has always been, the location of the GMC changes every year. The volunteer GMC Committee always finds the perfect location that provides something for everyone. Nowadays, the GMC is attended by 31 members per week for five weeks. "Sunday best" dress for dinner and socializing is now optional (and rare!), but early morning starts are still the tradition. Canvas tents and wooden ice axes have been upgraded to rip-stop nylon and titanium. Members wear shorts and poly-pro instead of suit jackets and "knickerbockers". Church services are no longer performed, and the Club's Annual General Meeting is held elsewhere. We still climb, explore, learn and share mountain stories everyday.

The GMC is about climbing mountains with old and new friends. It is about learning mountain craft. It is about telling and listening to stories. It is about meeting and climbing with people that are new to the mountains, as well as those who have made the mountains their lives for sixty or more years. Whether you are an experienced mountaineer, or someone just beginning to try your skills in the mountains, you will have a grand time at the GMC.

Group photo, GMC
Photo: ©Zac Robinson

All camp equipment, along with the member's personal climbing gear and dunnage is flown into the camp by helicopter. Depending on the location of the camp, members themselves may be flown in, they may need to hike in, or they may have the option of doing either. Once in camp, members are tended to by our fun, capable and professional staff. During daily outings, participants will benefit from the services of ACMG-certified full and assistant mountain guides who lead climbs and provide on-going instruction in all aspects of mountain craft. Amongst the camp staff are a contingent of amateur leaders, comprised of experienced Club members who volunteer their services and help lead climbs throughout the week. There is also a camp doctor on site.

Mt. Neptune

All climbing and related activities are planned and organized daily by a Climbing Committee, made up of the camp manager, the guides and the amateur leaders. Each evening, the Committee plans a number of trips and posts sign-up sheets. Camp participants then write in their first and second choices. The Committee then reviews the sign up sheets, assembles parties and assigns leaders to them. With prior approval of the Climbing Committee, experienced members may form private climbing parties under their own leadership.

Who can attend the GMC?

The GMC welcomes all Alpine Club of Canada members, 16 years of age or older, novice to expert. A wide range of objectives are available, depending on member's ability, fitness and length of day desired. Objectives include everything from scrambling to advanced rock, snow and/or ice climbs. Introductory and intermediate skill reviews are offered on snow, rock and ice (depending on available terrain).

"Sample day at the GMC"
(though no two days are ever quite the same, are they?)
4:00AM Early wake up horn blows for climbers with longer days ahead of them
4:30AM Early breakfast is served
5:00AM Rope teams leave camp for longer days/bigger objectives
6:00AM General Wake-up Call
6:30AM General Breakfast is served
7:00AM More rope teams leave camp for shorter days, cragging etc.
In the field you will likely spend the day in a group with a Guide and/or amateur leaders. Ratios will vary depending to your chosen objective. Objectives may include prominent peaks in the area, nearby peaks and ridges, or curriculum fine-tune your knowledge and skills. Approaches to climbs may be lengthy with significant elevation gain, and will likely involve roped glacier travel. Many factors (including weather) will determine your groups’ success in reaching any summits. All-in-all the focus of the day is to have fun!
2:00 - 4:00PM

Rope teams arrive back at camp

2:00 - 6:00PM Free time (showers, tea time, etc.), and the choice of objectives for the next day is posted
6:00PM Supper is served
7:30PM Buffet set out to make lunches for the next day

An ACC tradition since 1906

View the complete list of GMC locations since 1906!

Front and back sides of a business card found in the cairn at the summit of Grand Mountain. Photo: © Jeremy Mackenzie 
A very exciting discovery was made on Week 5 of the GMC when Jeremy Mackenzie and his group made the summit of Grand Mountain. Tucked in the cairn was a small, rusty tin that appeared to hold the summit registry. When they opened it they discovered only three entries inside -- one from 1976, one from 1955 and finally a business card from Howard Palmer. On it he and E. Holway recorded the first ascent of the peak in August of 1910. It was a pretty special moment to realize that they had arrived on top within a couple of weeks of the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of this peak! Those guys were tough! The group recorded their names in the registry (and those of the other successful GMCers form earlier in the week), and then returned the tin and its contents to the cairn.
    VISION: Preserving, practicing and promoting Canadian mountain culture and self-propelled alpine pursuits.
Préserver, pratiquer et promouvoir la culture alpine canadienne et les activités non motorisées en montagne.