Scheduled to carry the Olympic Torch into Golden B.C. on January 21st 2010, 88 year old mountaineer Syd Feuz is possibly one of the strongest links to Canada’s winter alpine history that we will see during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
A history professor of mine once said that when we are not aware of our history, we suffer from a sort of cultural amnesia. We forget how we got to be where we are today. Although Canada is set to host the 2010 Winter Olympics this February, likely very few Canadians can recall the rich history of skiing, mountaineering and winter sports that finds its roots in their own alpine backyard.
Now a retired heli-ski guide, Syd continued the Feuz family legacy of mountaineering in Canada that began at the turn of the last century and saw hundreds of first ascents of Canadian peaks, the creation of the Alpine Club of Canada, the birth of Heli-skiing and in recent years has influenced the ‘rustic mountain’ renaissance that has appeared in the architecture, design and identities of many towns in alpine regions of British Columbia and Alberta.
The Canadian Alps
“Like 50 Switzerlands in one” is how the the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) described western Canada’s mountain landscapes, newly accessible by rail. When they saw the potential to develop tourist destinations and promote rail use, the CPR recruited professional mountain guides from the heart of the Alps in Switzerland to guide tourists safely into the rugged alpine terrain of the Rockies. In 1899 Swiss mountain Guide Eduard Feuz Sr., Syd Feuz’s Grandfather arrived in Canada.
Word of ‘New Switzerland’ spread fast and the Swiss Mountain Guides turned the Canadian Rockies into a destination for the elite. Movie stars, politicians and businessmen including newspaper legend William Randolph Hearst made their way to the mountains guided by the Feuz’s and their colleagues.
To this day you will see peaks, climbing routes and ski runs (ie; Feuz Bowl at Kicking Horse Resort) named for the mountain loving guides who first made them their playground.
Canada is thankful for Syd Feuz and the Feuz family of mountain guides for their role in influencing our love of playing in the snow and mountains!