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Legendary Rockies Climber Richard “Dick” Lofthouse Passes

Richard “Dick” Lofthouse, one of Canada’s first all-round top climbers, passed away on Nov. 23 at the age of 84. Lofthouse was born to an English family in Windsor, Ontario. When the family returned to London, Lofthouse became one of many children mass-evacuated from the city during WWII. His family returned to Yorkshire after the war and Lofthouse graduated with a bachelor’s degree in math and physics.

In 1953, Lofthouse moved to Canada and worked as a seismic calculator in the Alberta oil exploration field. He met his future wife, Corinne Nicholson, at a Scottish country dance and they were married Nov. 8, 1957. Over the next decades, they raised their four children, Derek, Brian, Wendy and Ian.

A Young Dick Lofthouse. Photo Lofthouse Collection
A young Dick Lofthouse. Photo Lofthouse Collection

Lofthouse added masters degrees in analytical chemistry and biochemistry, and taught chemistry at SAIT. As a mountain guide, Lofthouse became one of the founding members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, was a long-time leader of the Calgary Mountain Rescue Group, taught an EMT hi-angle rescue course and was a life-long member of the Calgary Mountain Club.

An avid climber in the England’s Lake District, Lofthouse brought his passion to the Canadian Rockies where he paved the way for following generations. With his good friend Brian Greenwood, he made the fourth ascent of Mount Alberta in 1958. As Chic Scott mentioned in his book Pushing the Limits, “It was the first time the mountain had been climbed without a bivouac.”

In the early 1960s, Lofthouse and Greenwood teamed up Heinz Kahl to finish the now-classic Red Shirt on Yamnuska. Lofthouse also made first ascents of Gollum Grooves, Chockstone Corner, Bottleneck and Pangolin on the Yamnuska. In the 1963 Canadian Alpine Journal, Lofthouse wrote about his ascent of Chocstone Corner with Kahl.

Dick Lofthouse on the second ascent of Mount Brock. Photo Lofthouse Collection
Dick Lofthouse on the second ascent of Mount Brock. Photo Lofthouse Collection


“At 5 o’clock we were on top and my friend was overjoyed – to put it mildly – he had been more anxious to do this climb than anyone else,” Lofthouse wrote. “I had been very reluctant to go with him thinking it would be too hard, but now I was really glad I had come. I had to climb near my limit most of the way, but not beyond it.”

In 1965, Lofthouse travelled to Chamonix and climbed the east face of the Aiguille du Moine and the Bonatti Route on the east face of the Grand Capucin. Three years later, Lofthouse made the first winter ascent of Eisenhower Tower on Castle Mountain with Jon Jones and Archie Simpson.

Lofthouse was a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Folk Club and played a number of instruments. He was a ski and bicycle racer, kayaker and a rally driver. He leaves behind a legacy of bold climbs in the Canadian Rockies, many of which remain test-piece routes. Our condolences to the Lofthouse family and friends. For more information on the wake visit here.