The Alpine Club of Canada

Summit Series 18 • Con Bravura (Peter Fuhrmann)


by Robert Sandford
Published by The Alpine Club of Canada
Softcover, 8.5 x 11
32 pages, colour photos

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Peter Fuhrmann was born into extraordinary privilege in Europe, but when he was still a child during the Second World War, his family lost everything. After he came to Canada, Peter developed a larger sense of the world and the potential that might exist within it. Steeped in classical music from birth, and an aficionado of great opera, Peter recognized that the mountains in Canada marched to the timeless tempo of a great natural symphony. It did not take him long to realize that it was up to him to write his own lyrics and to undertake actions that harmonized with that grand score. If an aria is a solo piece written for a main character in an opera, then it could be said that, by his actions, Peter Fuhrmann wrote the words to his own song, an Aria Alpina, which he lived out through his life in what can only be described as great passion and skill.

Whether you know it or not, if you have explored and loved the Rocky Mountains, then you have likely been influenced by Peter Fuhrmann’s vision and ability. If you have driven between Banff and Radium, hiked a trail in a western mountain national park or stayed in an Alpine Club of Canada hut then you have been touched directly by his hand. If you have climbed or hiked with a professional mountain guide then Peter Fuhrmann has spoken to you through them. If you, or someone you know, has ever needed to be rescued then, whether you saw him or not, he was with you or with them on the top of the rope or at the end of the sling beneath the helicopter that saved you. If you were injured and hospitalized in Banff, the policies he helped set may have helped you heal. But most importantly, if you have ever had a joyful moment in the Rockies and felt you heard parts of the great symphony that is mountain time rising and falling in the wind you will have shared that music with Peter.

In opera, exceptional skill is called bravura, and to perform consistently with such skill, especially in the face of adversity, is to perform con bravura. It is in tribute to his consummate skill as a mountaineer, his vision in helping create the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides; his masterful leadership as President of the Alpine Club of Canada; and his role as a driving force in the creation of Park Canada’s highly regarded mountain rescue program that this historical record of the mountaineering life of Peter Fuhrmann has been written and so named.