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Donald "Curly" Phillips (Courtesy Whyte Museum, V14 AC027-18(15)

Donald Phillips


Everyone held the same high opinion of this man, who in all things was simple and straightforward." -(CurlyÍs biographer, Dr. William C. Taylor)

Curly Phillips was born in Ontario where he learned the basics of wilderness travel and canoeing. He went on to become the first to ascend the summit ridge of Mount RobsonYellowhead Pass with a few horses with the hope of outfitting hunters and other visitors.

About ten kilometres above Jasper Lake he met George Kinney and the adventure that was the first ascent of the summit ridge of Mount Robson began. CurlyÍs accomplishments on the mountain established his reputation amongst climbers and other in the area. Evidence of this was the fact that the following year Norman Collie, a highly respected, veteran mountaineer, named the 3250 metre mountain immediately across the Robson River from Mount Robson in his honour. This was done even though Curly was only twenty-six years old and had spent but a single season in the Rockies. (The mountain currently named Mount PaulineArthur Wheeler and club photographer Byron Harmon were in the group as well as a number of scientists from the American organization. Two years later, Curly was back in the Robson area again as guide and outfitter for the Alpine Club of CanadaÍs camp during which Conrad Kain guided a party to the summit of the peak.

Later that year Curly settled in Jasper. In 1915 he guided two legendary lady explorers, Caroline Hinman and Mary Jobe, on a two month trip into the country northwest of Mount Robson where they attempted to climb Mount Sir AlexanderJ. Monroe Thorington to the Sunwapta Pass area for his first ascents of Mount SaskatchewanThe TwinsMount ColumbiaElysium Pass in the Victoria Cross Range northwest of Jasper.

Curly was on a ten-day ski trip with two teen-aged brothers, Reg and Alan Pugh when Reg and Curly were buried. Alan was somewhat behind and Reg and Curly were out of sight but he heard the avalanche. Later he wrote, "The slide came off Elysium MountainMount Phillips]

[Additional Information: Taylor, William C. "Tracks Across my Trail". Jasper: Jasper-Yellowhead Historical Society, 1984]