It’s the largest peak on the B.C. coast and the namesake of Vancouver Island’s most northerly regional district.
And a century ago, to colonial explorers it was a mystery.
A landmark exploration of Mount Waddington is the subject of a new documentary now available on Amazon Prime.
Back in 1926, a young couple set out into the British Columbia wilderness in search of an undiscovered mountain — taller than any peak in the Canadian Rockies – that experts said didn’t exist.
Nearly a century later, a group of six amateur mountaineers set out to re-create their epic journey. Their adventures in the B.C. backcountry are the subject of a new Canadian feature documentary, The Mystery Mountain Project.
The documentary recounts the original expedition of Don and Phyllis Munday, a mountaineering husband and wife team who were far ahead of their time. In an age when women were expected to be housewives rather than mountain climbers, the couple set out as equals, determined to find and climb the undiscovered B.C. peak they nicknamed Mystery Mountain.
They took to the B.C. wilderness, avoiding grizzlies and avalanches to reach their goal. After locating and mapping Mystery Mountain, the Mundays returned with the first photographs of what is now known as Mount Waddington.
“For there to be a mountain of that size that most people didn’t even know existed on the coast of British Columbia was a huge surprise in the early 1920s,” says Bryan Thompson, a Toronto history buff and the leader of the expedition.
The Mystery Mountain Project follows a team of adventurers from Ontario, Quebec and Alberta as they retrace the Mundays’ steps. This expedition, sponsored by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, would be an ambitious feat on its own, but was made even more so by their commitment to only work with gear used in 1926. No modern, lightweight jackets or packs, no GPS or freeze-dried food and no bug spray.
While navigating their way through the rough terrain of the Homathko Valley, an area of dense rainforest leading to Mt. Waddington, the modern-day team soon realized they may have bitten off more than they could chew.
The project was organized by the Canadian Explorations Heritage Society, an organization dedicated to bringing wilderness history to life through expeditions and educational activities.
The film’s director, Greg Gransden, is a veteran screenwriter and producer whose work has appeared on the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Canada, History Television and others.
His previous film, Hobnails and Hemp Rope, was also supported by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and won best director at the Moscow International Festival of Mountaineering and Adventure Films.
For more information about future CEHS expeditions, click here.
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