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The Historical First All-Women Ascent of Mount Logan in 1993

The four climbers were among some of North America's leading alpinists at the time

Photo by: Bryce Brown

In 1993, Sylvia Forest, Leanne Allison, Andrea Petzold and Mary Clayton became the first all-women team to climb Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan. It took them 14 days to ascend and descend the East Ridge.

“Climbing capsule-style on the lower more technical sections of the ridge, we established three camps up to 13,500 feet,” said Clayton in her post-climb report. “Switching to alpine-style, we were forced by heavy trail-breaking to camp three more times before the summit bid.”

They chose the east peak, due to an impending storm and health concerns. “This is the first successful all-woman ascent of Logan and the first time the east ridge has been climbed by a women’s party,” said Clayton.

Clayton was the first woman to work on the avalanche control team at Rogers Pass and one of the few women to challenge the ACMG guiding exam. Allison is a well-known filmmaker based in Canmore. Her 2009 film Finding Farley (watch here) won top prize at the Banff Film Festival. Petzold continues to climb and is based in the Bow Valley.

Forest, daughter of legendary climber Don Forest and sister to Kathy Calvert who was the first female park warden in Canada, first skied the Wapta Traverse at 10 years old. She started taking courses to become a mountain guide in 1995. During that year, Diny Harrison had just become the first Canadian woman IFMGA guide. Forest achieved the same goal in 2001 as the fifth Canadian woman.

In 1977, an all-women team, including Everest summiter Sharon Wood, skied up the King Trench route but turned back a few hundred yards short of their objective, the west peak. Wood, Calvert, Lorraine Drewes, Cathy Langill, Judy Sterner and Diana Knaack spent 24 days working up the mountain using skis. After reaching a secondary summit, they waited out a storm for several days and then descended in one long day. Wood had previously climbed the Cassin Ridge.

“Though we hadn’t set foot on the actual peak we felt our goal had been achieved,” said Calvert. “We had planned and executed the first all women’s expedition to Canada’s highest mountains and had accomplished it in safety. Yes sadness lingered, as did a reason to return, for now we knew we had the ability the mountain demanded.” Read about the first all-women ascent of El Cap here.

Logan is the second-highest peak in North America after Denali, and was named after Sir William Edmond Logan, a Canadian geologist and founder of the Geological Survey of Canada. The first ascent was on June 23, 1925, by Albert H. MacCarthy and team during an expedition that took 65 days to approach the mountain from the nearest town, McCarthy, summit and return, with all climbers intact. While there is no known Indigenous name for Logan, there are many for nearby land features, rivers and lakes; learn more here.

Courtesy of the Canadian Alpine Journal / Alpine Club of Canada



Lead photo: Bryce Brown