Tim Auger was one of Canada’s cutting edge climbers during the height of his climbing career. He passed away in Banff at the age of 72 after struggling with health problems. At age 13, he read Heinrich Harrer’s book The White Spider and knew that he wanted to explore the mountains. He started climbing young and at 18, he made the second ascent of Grand Wall in Squamish with Dan Tate. “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” said Auger after the climb.
A few years later, Auger teamed up with Tate, Glenn Woodsworth and Hamish Mutch for the first ascent of University Wall, a route that would become one of the most popular granite climbs in North America. Auger would soon move to Yoho National Park for work after graduating from the University of British Columbia. In the mid- 1970s, Auger moved to Banff National Park and would help pioneer sophisticated search and rescue techniques, such as helicopter sling rescue systems rescue pilot standards and avalanche probing methods.
Auger continued to travel and made the first winter ascent of the East Face of Keeler Needle on Mount Whitney and an early repeat of Triple Direct on El Capitan. In the Rockies, he made the first ascents of Bourgeau Right and Bourgeau Left. He then climbed the South Ridge of Pumori in Nepal and was a member of the Canadian Mount Everest Expedition in 1982. Auger climbed the East Ridge of Mount Logan and survived a 600- metre fall during the descent.
Some of his most classic routes are Homage to the Spider on Mount Louis and Ultra Brewers on Castle Mountain. He soloed the Kain Route on Mount Louis dozens of times. In 1992, he and Peter Arbic made the seventh ascent of The Lowe/Glidden on the north face of Mount Alberta. Auger said that one of this best climbing moments was the third ascent of the 700- metre East Face of Mount Babel, a run-out and loose wall with hard moves above questionable protection. Auger continued to climb into his 60s and would make a seasonal trip to Mount Louis.
He was one of Canada’s best climbing storytellers, took part in hundreds of rescues and developed amazing routes. His death has left a hole in the Rockies climbing scene, but his style and routes will continue to inspire generations of climbers. He once said, “You can climb on vertical stuff and overhanging stuff at 5.8. You can finesse your way through pitch after pitch of really beautiful situations where you’re just sharing it with the swallows.”