Completing The Bourgeau Set

In 1858, the Palliser Expedition rolled through the Bow Valley.  Expedition botanist Eugene Bourgeau spent some time collecting plants in the Canmore corridor and named several of the nearby peaks.  Different from many other exploring types, he named mountains not after bureaucrats, nobleman and other famous people.  Instead, he used descriptive names.  Perhaps his connection to the natural world made these names more meaningful and suitable.  As a geographic legacy, we have four mountains named by him: Heart, Pigeon, Wind, and Grotto Mt.  It was with great satisfaction this week when I finally completed climbing the “Bourgeau Set.”

above: Loder peak is the only place where all four can be seen at once.

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Grotto Mountain

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Windy Mountain (the Windtower)

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Heart Mountain

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Pigeon Mountain

Technically, Windy Mountain was renamed Mt. Lougheed with one of its subsidiary summits called the Windtower.  The Windtower was the one I climbed.  To cap off the set, I climbed the mountain named for Bourgeau himself.  It’s a 24km round trip, 5000 ft vertical gain monster.

above: -20 windchill on Mt Bourgeau Oct 24, 2010

David Thompson, the first European to see the Bow Valley apparently attempted to climb what is now Heart Mountain but was stymied.  At least I can hold that over him!  His description of the mountains in this area is rather poetic:

“Never before did I observe so close a resemblance to the waves of the ocean during a wintery storm.  In viewing their wild appearance the imagination is apt to say these mountains once have been liquid, and when in that state, swelled to greatest agitation, it was suddenly congealed and made solid by power omnipotent.”

-from the Journal of David Thompson

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2 Responses to Completing The Bourgeau Set

  1. Stunning, Dave. I loved the quote.

    I imagine the completion of this goal to be very satisfying and in itself, poetic. It made me think about goal-setting in general and why I would bother trying to lower my cholesterol or shed 2kg when I might be completing a quest of this magnitude and accomplishing so much more.

  2. dave says:

    Lowering cholesterol has more lasting value than what I did! The benefits that accrue from achieving goals seem to come from what you learn in the pursuit and less from the end accomplishment. But if this post has given you a nudge then that’s a good thing. Certainly your city walks have done the same for me.

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