The General Mountaineering Camp - a Legacy Since 1906

History of the GMC

The GMC in 1907

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 below.


Historic Surprise on the Summit

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 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.

 GMC Locations Since 1906

 1906  Yoho Valley  1907  Paradise Valley  1908  Rogers Pass  1909  Lake O'Hara  1910   Consolation Lakes
 1911  Sherbrooke Lake  1912  Vermillion Pass  1913  Cathedral Mountain  1914  Upper Yoho Valley  1915  Ptarmigan Lake
 1916  Healy Creek  1917  Cataract Valley  1918  Paradise Valley  1919  Yoho (Victory Camp)  1920  Mt Assiniboine
 1921  Lake O'Hara  1922  Palliser Pass  1923  Larch Valley  1924  Mount Robson  1925  Logan Expdition
 1926  Tonquin Valley  1927  Little Yoho  1928  Lake of Hanging Glaciers  1929  Rogers Pass  1930  Maligne Lake
 1931  Prospector Valley  1932  Mount Sir Donald  1933  Paradise Valley  1934  Chrome Lake  1935  Lake Magog
 1936  Fryatt Creek  1937  Yoho   1938  Columbia Icefields  1939  Goodsirs  1940  Glacier Lake
 1941  Glacier, BC  1942  Consolation Lakes  1943  Little Yoho  1944   Paradise Valley  1945  Eremite Valley
 1946  Bugaboo Creek  1947  Glacier Circle  1948  Peyto Lake  1949  Freshfields  1950  Maligne Lake
 1951  O'Hara Meadows  1952  Assiniboine  1953  Hooker Icefield  1954  Goodsirs   1955  Robson 
 1956   Selkirks (Glacier)  1957  Moat Lake  1958   Mummery Glacier  1959  Bugaboos  1960  Fryatt Creek
 1961  Goodsirs  1962  Maligne Lake  1963  Eremite Valley  1964  French Military Group  1965  Glacier Lake
 1966  Mt. Assiniboine  1967  Steel Glacier (YACE)  1968  Lake O'Hara  1969  Freshfields  1970   Moat Lake
 1971  Farnham Creek  1972  Fryatt Creek  1973  Glacier Lake  1974  Mount Robson  1975  Farnham Creek
 1976  Freshfields  1977  Moat Lake  1978  Scott-Hooker  1979  Glacier Lake  1980  Clemenceau
 1981   Fairy Meadow  1982  Vowells  1983  Farnham Creek  1984   Glacier Circle  1985  Wates-Gibson
 1986  Fairy Meadow  1987  Farnham Creek  1988  Mt. Robson  1989  Fryatt Creek  1990  Vowell/Bugaboos
 1991  Farnham Creek  1992   Fairy Meadow  1993  Scott-Hooker  1994  Elk Lakes  1995  Clemenceau
 1996  Icefall Brook  1997  Vowell Glacier  1998  Mt. Alexandra  1999  Moby Dick  2000  Fairy Meadow
 2001  WIndy Creek  2002  Trident Group  2003  Snowy Pass  2004  Icefall Brook  2005  Moby Dick
 2006 Premier Range   2007  Mt. Alexandra  2008  Vowell Glacier  2009  Trident/Neptune Group  2010  Battle Brook
 2011  Tsar-Somervell  2012  Mt. Sir Sandford  2013  Scotch Peaks  2014  Frenchman Cap  2015  Stockdale
 2016  Sorcerer  2017  Albert Icefield  2018  Hallam Glacier  2019  Wrong/Westfall