Western Canada climber Dick Culbert passed away on May 23, he began climbing around Vancouver in the 1950s. Born in Winnipeg in 1940, he went on to make over 250 first ascents after his family relocated to B.C.

He joined the B.C. Mountaineering Club as a teenager and in 1959 made a month-long solo through the Howson Range. That same year, he started at UBC and eventually graduated with a PhD in Geology.

Dick Culbert and Glenn Woodsworth. Photo VIMFF

In the early 1960s, he and friends explored the remote Coast Mountains and he made the first ascent of the technical Serra V with Glenn Woodsworth.

The next year, Culbert made the first winter ascent of Mount Waddington. Over the next few years, he made the first ascent of the East Ridge of Devil’s Thumb in Alaska, as well as the first ascent of Cat’s Ears Spire.

He wrote two guidebooks, in 1965 Climber’s Guide to the Coastal Ranges of British Columbia and in 1974 Alpine Guide to South Western British Columbia. He went on to become an Honourary Member of the B.C. Mountaineering Club and the Alpine Club of Canada.

In 2013, Culbert wrote in an article for Alpinist called Squamish Series: The Early Days, “Much of the early piton driving on the Chief was because you could get one to go into a dirt-filled crack, where fingers were blocked. I am perfectly happy to see cracks cleaned out, although some of the gnarled little trees clinging to the face had real character.”

In July 2011, Culbert went climbing with Jeremy Frimer after 40 years off the rock. They climbed the newly developed Skywalker, which climbs part of Culbert’s 1967 route Forked Flume.


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