Tim Auger has died


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Mountain climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 10, 2018 - 10:07am PT
A few people on this forum will probably remember Tim Auger. He climbed extensively at Squamish in the 1960s, where he made the 2nd ascent of the Grand Wall (to Dance Platform) and 1st ascent of University Wall. He climbed in Yosemite for a few seasons, made two trips to the Himalayas (successful on Pumori), but spent most of his life in mountain rescue with the Warden Service in Banff National Park.

Tim had been in poor health for a few years, and he died last night, age 72, in Banff.

Glenn Woodsworth
Larry Nelson

Social climber
Aug 10, 2018 - 10:10am PT
Condolences to all who knew him.
Sounds like he was a great guy.
This world desperately needs more like Tim.

Mountain climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 10, 2018 - 10:18am PT
Tim received the Banff film festival award of excellence maybe 10 years ago, the citation read:

From his early days of climbing drain pipes and telephone poles in his native Winnipeg to the walls of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, moving up (and sometimes down) has been an important part of Tim Auger’s life. Inspired by the escapades of Walter Bonatti and Fosco Maraini’s book, Karakoram: The Ascent of Gasherbrum IV, Tim started climbing at the Squamish Chief and, in 1964 at the age of 18, joined Dan Tate in the second ascent of Grand Wall. “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven”, is how he described the two-day climb. Later, Tim made the first ascent of University Wall at Squamish, so named because hat’s where he was supposed to be at the time!

In 1967, Tim joined the trail crew in Yoho National Park, which was his introduction to a lifelong career with the Park Service in the Canadian Rockies. For six years, he was stationed as a seasonal warden at Lake O’Hara, which he describes as “the most beautiful place on earth, but don’t tell anybody!” From 1975 to the present, Tim has worked in the Banff search and rescue and avalanche safety programs, and has been the supervisor of the area rescue team since 1981. He has worked to refine the helicopter sling rescue system, to develop rescue pilot standards, and researched avalanche probing methods.

Tim has been climbing for over 40 years. In the 1970s, he made early Canadian ascents in Yosemite and the Sierras, including Triple Direct on El Capitan and first winter ascents of the East Face of Keeler
Needle on Mount Whitney and the East Face of Washington Column. He participated in the birth of waterfall ice climbing in Canada with first ascents of Bourgeau Right and Left-Hand routes. And in northern Canada, his ascents include the East Ridge of Mount Logan, where he survived a spectacular 600-metre fall while descending from the summit.

Internationally, he has climbed the South Ridge of Pumori in Nepal and was a member of the Canadian Mount Everest Expedition of 1982. At home in the Rockies, his “best climbing moments” include the third ascent of the East Face of Mount Babel, the North Face of Mount Alberta, and the rock routes Ultra Brewers on Castle Mountain and Homage to the Spider
on Mount Louis.


Mountain climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 10, 2018 - 10:48am PT
. Tim Auger is one of the two most talented rock climbers I climbed with. When he was about 15 years old, Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper were making the first ascent of the Grand Wall at Squamish. Tim's bedroom was plastered with newspaper clippings and photos of the climb, Tim's father was publisher of the Vancouver Province, at that time an ok newspaper, and many good prints of unpublished photos graced Tim's walls.

Tim went on some trips with the BCMC, including the infamous first ascent of the east peak of Edge in the Golden Ears area with Dick Culbert and Peter Thompson. But his real love was rock climbing. From about 1964 to 1972 he was very active at Squamish, racking up a dozen or so first ascents and climbing with many people, including me but mainly with Mike Wisnicki, Dan Tate, and Hamish Mutch in his earlier years and with Gordon Smaill, Neil Bennett, and one memorable climb with Dick Culbert in the 1970s. Of his earlier climbs, he was proudest of the second ascent of the Grand Wall (to the Dance Platform) with Dan Tate in 1965. His best Squamish climb was no doubt the first ascent of University Wall (with me, Hamish and Dan Tate) in 1966. And later that year he was in the wedding party when Joy and I got married.

My last rock climb with Tim was the first free ascent of Papoose One in 1967. I remember a gloriously warm fall day and a very pleasant (if difficult, for me) climb, and I think we both knew that it was probably our last day together on the cliffs.

Together with Dick Culbert, Tony-Judy Ellis (the Tony part, anyways), and me, Tim was one of the most active of the buildering community that haunted the UBC campus (mostly after dark) in the 1960s. He was always up for a good adventure, whether it be buildering or floating down Hell's Gate on the Fraser River in an inner tube.. One time he crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on the girders and I-beams under the bridge. At the south end, they rappelled off the bridge into what was then a military base (the Presidio) and had to make an "interesting" escape.

He climbed in Yosemite, doing a few new routes, and was featured as the "token Canadian" in Warren Harding's book Downward Bound. Of two trips to the Himalayas, the Everest one didn't work out too well, but he loved the successful Pumori expedition.

Tim spent his working life with Parks Canada, working on trail crews to begin with, but soon moved to Canmore, joining the newly formed Mountain Rescue Group as a warden in Banff. By the time he retired, he was recognized as one of the foremost mountain rescue experts in North America. He continued to climb, too: fine new routes on Mt Louis and South Goodsir, an ascent of the north face of Mt Alberta, the north face of Mt Temple, and many others. He continued to climb at a high standard well into his sixties. Honours came his way, but he remained fun-loving, humorous, quirky and self-effacing as he always was.

We never lost touch with one another. Tim and his wife, Sherry, would often stay with us on their infrequent visits to Vancouver, and dinner with them and friends was a highlight for all of us. My last hike with him was in the Kananaskis area near his home. I think it was actually the first time I had been in the mountains (not crags) with him; various big plans over the years had never materialized. But this trip was hard to beat: it was one of those beautiful late summer days when the bugs were finished and it was not too hot and not too cold. Tim pointed out the names of all the peaks we could see, and we had a relaxing day, just smiling at one another, enjoying in each other's company in the mountains that we both love so much.


Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Aug 10, 2018 - 11:08am PT
A true inspiration, and the author of the hardest 5.8 in the Rockies to boot.

The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
Aug 10, 2018 - 12:51pm PT
A very sad day.
The passing of a legend and an exemplary Canadian.

Condolences to Tim’s family and friends.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 10, 2018 - 12:59pm PT
In Yosemite
Too Many Darts 5.8 A1, Bob Schneider, Tim Auger 1971
Mass Assault 5.9, Ken Boche, Dennis Hennek, Judy Sterner, Russ McLean, Sibylle Hechtel, Tim Auger, Mike Farrell, 3/1972
Nob Hill Ropist 5.8, Chuck Pratt, Tim Auger, Jerry Anderson, 4/1973
Deception Gully 5.9, Chuck Pratt, Tim Auger, Jerry Anderson, 4/1973
Inner Reaches 5.7, Chuck Pratt, Tim Auger, Jerry Anderson, 4/1973

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Aug 10, 2018 - 01:03pm PT

5.8 my ass (I see it's generally considered 10a now; that's Dick Culbert level sandbagging)

Big Wall climber
Aug 10, 2018 - 01:03pm PT
sorry to lose a canadian legend. condolences to family and friends, ss
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Aug 10, 2018 - 01:29pm PT
My very best to his loved ones,family and friends. What a great life lived and an example for new generations.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Aug 10, 2018 - 01:53pm PT
Very sad to hear this. Never had the pleasure of meeting him but heard what a good person he was.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Aug 10, 2018 - 02:00pm PT
Seriously sorry Tim is gone. He lived a good life. I was happy to have met him in fall of '70 in Camp 4.
Fine epitaph and photo. Thanks.

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Aug 10, 2018 - 02:19pm PT
There's also the famous 5.7 "Too Hard for Auger" on Mt Cory, way up above the Hole in the Wall. iirc Tim had told people it'd be a difficult 5.11+ line and it was only when two climbers trekked way up there loaded for bear with a drill and 100+ bolts did they realize it was actually a cruiser two pitch easy arete

Mountain climber
Davis, CA
Aug 10, 2018 - 02:36pm PT
Smiling, laughing, engaging. Always interested in how you were doing and what you were up to. I am saddened and will miss Tim.

Tim and I were playing darts one morning and decided to climb Bridalveil Falls-East Side. We started in the wrong place and continued to do a new route to the hanging valley above he falls. But, alas we had played "Too Many Darts" and ended up with a bivouac before descending the Gunsight the next morning between lower and middle Cathedral rocks back to the Valley. We had a short rack and at one steep pitch, a wide crack led upward. Tim in his creative way grabbed a large rock off the ledge, jammed it in the crack, tied it off, and led on.

My deep condolences to Tim's family. I will miss him.
Bob Schneider

The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
Aug 10, 2018 - 02:52pm PT
Maybe someone will tell us the story of “The Auger Sanction”?
norm larson

wilson, wyoming
Aug 10, 2018 - 02:57pm PT
Sorry to hear this. Never met him but certainly heard of him many times over the years. A legend and according to all a really good guy. Condolences to all that were close.
Peter Arbic

Aug 10, 2018 - 04:24pm PT
It's not actually "Too Hard for Auger" on Mt Cory but you have the gist of a story. Tim would never disinform to dissuade ...however the authors of that route are also those who climbed and named "The Auger Sanction" , Les Deux Tete Gross , Larry and Grant. they may have what our distiguished reader from No Name Rd is after.

Mountain climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 10, 2018 - 04:39pm PT
What's the story on the Auger Sanction?
Chris Jones

Social climber
Glen Ellen, CA
Aug 10, 2018 - 05:30pm PT
Tim Auger was one of the nicest guys and finest climbers among so many talented Canadians of the 1970s and beyond. Those mid-1970s days of pioneering waterfall ice climbing in the Canadian Rockies were epic by any standard. A wonderful man by any measure.

Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
Aug 10, 2018 - 06:59pm PT
Tim was an outstanding climber, mountaineer, and rescuer, and also a really nice and modest fellow. My sympathies to Sherry and his family.

As Glenn said, Tim's father was publisher of The Province in Vancouver, when it was a respectable paper. Fred was from Okotoks, Alberta, of all places - home of THE Big Rock. (An erratic in the middle of the prairies.) With Tim's interests, it is no surprise that The Province covered climbing and mountaineering extensively in the 1960s, sponsored the annual Province hikes on local mountains, etc. Plus Paddy Sherman, another active mountaineer, held a senior position at the paper. https://passages.winnipegfreepress.com/passage-details/id-54279/Fred_Auger

In 1945, Hugh MacLennan wrote a famous book titled Two Solitudes. It was about relations between French and English Canadians. A seminal bit of sociology, and also the year that Tim was born. The theme had relevance to Canadian mountaineering, and to some extent still does. (Perhaps Chris has a wider perspective regarding this.)

Canada is larger in area than the USA, and has 10% of the population. There's lots of separation at the best of times, although economic growth and improvements in transportation have helped. Until the 1980s (at least), the world of Canadian climbing was rather regional - Quebec, southern Ontario, Alberta, then BC. It was also quite fragmented. In the 1970s, we often saw Washington climbers in Squamish, but rarely those from Alberta - usually, of course, Calgary or Canmore. We would see them on trips to the Bugaboos or Roger's Pass, sometimes in Yosemite, and a little later in Banff, for those who ventured Rockies ice climbing. But there were to some extent several solitudes, and different cultures in Canadian climbing. If anything, our compass pointed south, not east, and we didn't have a lot of time for the stodgy and very Rockies-oriented Alpine Club of Canada - or for that matter, most organizations...

(Of course, as time went on this changed.)

It's a bit like the different climbing cultures that evolved in the USA - southern California, northern California, the northwest, Utah, Colorado, the East, and so on. There was always some communication and cross-fertilization, but also a lot of separation.

Tim was one of the first modern Canadian climbers to really bridge that gap, with roots solidly in climbing at Squamish, on the Coast, and in Yosemite, the Sierra, and elsewhere, transplanted to the Rockies. He probably didn't think of it that way - he simply wanted a life in the mountains, and the only career choice then apart from geology was search & rescue, in the Rockies. And made the most of it.

ps Was the correct pronunciation "O-J", or "Od-Jer"?
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