Where will the next GMC be held?
2017 GMC July 8 – Aug 12
The ACC is proud to announce that the 2017 GMC will be held in the Alberts Icefields area of the southern Selkirks.
This will be a remote camp in a seldom-visited corner of BC’s southern Selkirk Mountains, but with all the amenities of the ACC’s signature adventure. Join us!
The GMC Through the Years
The General Mountaineering Camp, or GMC as it is known, 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.
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. Read the 1906 GMC report PDF
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.
View the complete list of GMC locations since 1906!
The GMC Today
The GMC has always been about shared mountain experiences with friends old and new. 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 years or more. 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.
The location of the GMC changes every year as we move around the Rockies and Interior Ranges of Alberta and British Columbia. The camp sites are always positioned to access great mountaineering objectives as well as amazing hiking and rock climbing. They are always different, always spectacular.
All camp equipment, along with the member’s personal climbing gear and dunnage is flown into the camp by helicopter. Camp guests are flown in to the camp most years but occasionally a close location allows for a hiking approach. Once in camp, guests are guided and assisted by our fun, capable and professional staff. During daily outings, participants are guided by ACMG-certified guides and experienced Club members who lead climbs and provide on-going instruction in all aspects of mountain craft. There is also a camp doctor on site.
Each camp has different objectives but the focus is on moderate, accessible and spectacular peaks. The camps always provide access to glaciated terrain, rock and snow climbing in remote settings.
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 Climbing Committee plans a number of trips for the following day and posts sign-up sheets. The Committee assembles parties and leaders for each climb. With prior approval of the Climbing Committee, experienced members may form private climbing parties under their own leadership.
The locations of our camps are in wild, remote and largely unvisited corners of the Canadian mountains. Maintained trails are usually non-existent, but there are always opportunities to hike into amazing places that few people have gone before. Hiking outings can be used as “off days” from the routine of early mornings and summit days and can be as ambitious or as casual as desired. They could involve climbing a hiking peak near camp or a short stroll followed by some time in the Tea Tent.
Hiking days are treated the same as mountaineering days, with outings supervised and approved by our camp staff. Longer outings may be guided.
The GMC is all about learning and refining skills and that includes rock climbing. In the days before our first guests arrive for the first week of camp, our staff will scout out and establish rock climbs on bluffs close to camp. Like hiking days, rock climbing days are often a great way to break up the early mornings and sometimes long days on the glaciers and mountains. For some they’re the perfect way to round out a day between returning from a peak and when the supper bell rings.
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
Historic surprise on the summit
A very exciting discovery was made on Week 5 of the 2010 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.