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Jean Habel (Courtesy Whyte Museum, NA 35-3)

Jean Habel


"The professor was no meek follower in other menÍs footsteps. Not on your life! He believed in striking out for himself and, regardless of the opinion of others, following out his theories to their culmination in either victory or defeat." -Ralph Edwards, Jean HabelÍs guide and outfitter in the Yoho Valley.

Inspired by his views of what he named Hidden Mountain (now known as Mount Des PoilusTom Wilson, he travelled to Emerald Lake and reached the Yoho Valley by way of Yoho Pass. The descent into the valley and indeed his entire seventeen day exploration of it was limited by bad weather and difficult travelling conditions in the more lush growth found on the western side of the Continental Divide.

Although in later years Tom Wilson vehemently insisted that he had reached the Yoho Valley on a prospecting trip in 1884, Habel is generally given credit for being the first to see Takkakaw Falls and certainly was the first to reach the head of the river and the Yoho Glacier. The partyÍs first venture onto the glacier was interrupted when Fred Stephens, one of the outfitters, fell into a crevasse and had to be rescued. Two days later the group ascended the glacier again and succeeded in reaching an outlying rampart of Mount BalfourMount ColumbiaMount Habel]