NAM­ING LO­CAL MOUN­TAINS

Whistler Traveller Magazine - - TRAVELLER I CONTENT - STORY BY RE­BECCA WOOD BAR­RETT IM­AGES BY JOERN RO­HDE

Turn in any di­rec­tion and moun­tain peaks dom­i­nate the views of Whistler Val­ley: snow-capped tri­an­gles, forested ridges and one toothy black spire. In win­ter, snow­fall brings their stag­ger­ing beauty to life. And just like peo­ple, they all have their own names. But how do you name a moun­tain? Af­ter the gods? An en­demic species of flora and fauna? Its un­usual shape?

Our lo­cal peaks all have a story about how they were named. Whistler’s best-known lo­cal “hill” is the epony­mous moun­tain that be­came fa­mous world­wide as host moun­tain re­sort of the 2010 Olympic and Par­a­lympic Win­ter Games. Whistler Moun­tain was once named Lon­don Moun­tain af­ter the Lon­don Min­ing Group, which had staked min­ing claims on the moun­tain’s north slopes. Lo­cals re­ferred to the moun­tain as “Whis­tle” or “Whistler” af­ter the hoary mar­mot, the largest North Amer­i­can ground squir­rel, which lives in the high alpine and makes a dis­tinct whistling sound to warn other colony mem­bers of pos­si­ble threats.

In 1966, Karl Ricker made a suc­cess­ful pe­ti­tion to the Geo­graphic Names Board to have the name changed. He claimed that all the ad­ver­tis­ing and Van­cou­ver news­pa­pers made ref­er­ence to “Whistler Moun­tain” and con­fused vis­i­tors when they checked their maps and found Lon­don Moun­tain. Thus, the name was changed from a place that sug­gested fog to the nick­name of a per­son­able ro­dent. Black­comb Moun­tain was also named af­ter a crea­ture’s defin­ing pe­cu­liar­ity. An early set­tler be­lieved the moun­tain’s dark, peaked up­per ridge re­sem­bled a rooster’s comb.

Whistler and Black­comb once op­er­ated sep­a­rately, and com­pet­i­tively. You had the op­tion of buy­ing an in­di­vid­ual ski pass for Whistler or Black­comb, or you could com­bine the two and pur­chase a Dual Moun­tain pass. In 1986, In­trawest bought Black­comb’s as­sets, which meant one ski pass was valid for both moun­tains. Sadly, that ended the era of vis­i­tors ask­ing, “Where is Dual Moun­tain?”

Many moun­tains in the area are named for their un­usual ap­pear­ance. From the Sea to Sky High­way you can see Black Tusk, a dark spire jut­ting into the heav­ens. The ex­tinct stra­to­vol­cano formed more than a mil­lion years ago, and it is the rem­nant hard lava core that thrusts up­wards like a great black tusk.

Wedge Moun­tain, lo­cated north of Whistler Vil­lage, is named for its broad wedge shape, and is the high­est peak in Garibaldi Pro­vin­cial Park at 2,895 me­tres (9,497 feet). Just north of Wedge is Mount Weart, named for J.W. Weart ( July 17, 1861 – Fe­bru­ary 10, 1941), the Garibaldi Park Ad­min­is­tra­tive Board’s chair­man.

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you an­swer to."

- W.C. Fields

Be­tween the two peaks rests Arm­chair Glacier. From the south end of Green Lake, the two moun­tains form the per­fect arm­chair for a gi­ant, com­plete with mas­sive arm­rests.

From Whistler Vil­lage, cast your gaze east, be­tween Whistler and Black­comb moun­tains, sky­ward to Singing Pass, where you’ll see the pyra­mid-shaped Over­lord Moun­tain. As the high­est peak in the Fitzsim­mons Range at 2,625 m (8,612 ft.), the im­pos­ing dome “over­lords” all other sur­round­ing peaks.

The ori­gin of Rain­bow Moun­tain’s name is un­clear. Since Alex and Myr­tle Philip opened a fish­ing lodge named Rain­bow Lodge in 1914, many pre­sumed the lodge and moun­tain were named for the abun­dance of lake trout. Rain­bow trout, how­ever, were first in­tro­duced to the lake in the mid-1920s. Per­haps the moun­tain — and many other land­marks in Whistler — were in fact named af­ter the fre­quent ap­pear­ance of rain­bows. Alex Philip was known for his ro­man­tic nam­ing habits, which is ev­i­dent in The River of Golden Dreams and Bridge of Sighs.

Over time, whether a name sticks or not seems to have less to do with what you are named, and more to do with the name you’re called — as in the case of our beloved Whistler Moun­tain.

WHISTLER MOUN­TAIN

WEDGE MOUN­TAIN AND ARM­CHAIR GLACIER

BLACK TUSK

RAIN­BOW MOUN­TAIN

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