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1995 Summit of Excellence Award

Brian Greenwood


Brian Greenwood is a legend in the Rockies, having been at the cutting edge of Canadian climbing in the 1960s. Born in Yorkshire, England, his climbing philosophy influenced by reading Rebuffat, Buhl and Gervassutti, Brian arrived in Canada in 1956 and quickly established himself within the Calgary Mountain Club. Over a period of a dozen years, with partners Dick Lofthouse, Jim Steen, Glen Boles, Charlie Locke, Heinz Kahl, and John Moss, he racked up an unprecedented resume of serious new routes.

On Yamnuska, his name became synonymous with steep, classic and conservatively-rated routes such as Belfry, Corkscrew, Missionary’s Crack, Balrog, and the most famous of all, Red Shirt, certainly one of the most popular rock climbs in the area. But it was on serious alpine routes that he really established his reputation. In 1957, Brian established the first route up the steep quartzite of the Tower of Babel at Moraine Lake. The following year, with Dick Lofthouse he completed the fourth ascent (and first in one day) of Mount Alberta, a very fast climb of a peak considered by many to be the most difficult in the Canadian Rockies. Three new routes were completed in 1961: the North Ridge of Mount Babel, the Northwest Ridge of Deltaform, and the North Face of Mount Edith. In 1966, he set new standards of commitment with his new route on the North Face of Mount Temple, the now famous Greenwood-Locke route, which rivals in scale the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland. But his crowning achievement may well have been the epic East Face of Mount Babel in 1970. This climb advanced Greenwood’s standards and that of the entire Canadian climbing community. Brian’s last serious climb in the Rockies was the North Face of Mount Kitchener, followed by Salathe Wall in Yosemite, which he climbed in 1974. He retired to the West Coast in 1982.

Brian Greenwood was one of the founding members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, but he lists his most important contribution to Canadian climbing as representing an alternative attitude to the sport, which was more attractive to the younger generation of climbers who emerged in the 1960s.

Summit of Excellence Past Award Winners