An Interview With A Man Who Climbed All of Waterton Park’s Named Summits
Darren Ellingson had a goal to climb all the named summits in Waterton Park, Alberta and was able to complete his goal in the early Fall of 2016. This is an interview highlighting his experiences with this daunting task, complete with the full list of summits and some of his stunning photos.
Why did you decide to do this?
I decided to do this a few years ago after I had climbed a bunch of the summits already. I’ve always enjoyed hiking and have grown to love it more over the years. Waterton is probably my most favorite place in the world to visit. There are 32 or 33 Named summits in Waterton . The list varies, depends on who you talk to. Some list name points like Bear’s Hump and the Carthew/Alderson false summit on the summit hike.
(For Darren’s full list of Waterton Park’s mountains climbed continue to the end)
How long did it take you to achieve this goal?
Well I just finished this fall, so 38 years. My first hike in Waterton was the Carthew/Alderson Summit hike when I was like 10 years old. My first true summit was Vimy Peak in 1994, and the final summit came on Sept 26, 2016 (Mt. Glendowan).
What is it about a mountain that draws you in?
Being in nature and seeing the spectacular views. I also tell people that for me, half of the enjoyment is being in nature and the other half is the people I hike with.
What were a few of the highlights in achieving this goal?
Taking my kids on a bunch of the hikes. Every member of my family has hiked with me in Waterton. One of the neater highlights was hiking Vimy Peak and Ridge this past November 11th, being Remembrance Day and being able to take a Canada flag to the top of the mountain, being there at 11:11am, playing last post with our Canadian flag blowing in the wind. We had our own moment of silence to appreciate the veterans of our great nation. And this spring will be the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge.
What were some of the struggles?
Weather is always a struggle; we have turned back on quite a few hikes because of snow, or wind, or terrible conditions. Time is always a struggle as I have a full time job and a family who needs me around. It’s been nice these last few years since the kids are older and I can take some of them with me. I don’t feel so bad ditching my family every day off I have in the summer to hike anymore.
What sort of emotions or revelations have you gained in standing on top of all these mountain peaks?
Not much compares to summiting a mountain. It is a great feeling and once you do it a bunch of times you almost crave it. I almost find hiking without summiting kind of disappointing because you don’t get that rush at the top when you finally reach the peak. Lately I’ve thought about my Dad a lot on summits, as he passed away a few years ago and he was one of my go-to partners for hiking. In fact, my last time spent with my father before he died was hiking. Just him and I hiked two peaks the weekend before he passed away and that was the last thing I ever did with him.
After achieving this goal, what insights have you gained?
You can do anything you put your mind to. As a scout leader we have done some pretty grueling activities and hikes and we have had many boys want to quit, but with positive peer pressure we have been able to finish. So, basically people can do hard things if they really want to.
What advice would you give to others in taking on a hefty goal such as this?
Don’t hike alone and enjoy it. Take your time and take lots of pictures!
Darren has a blog that records all his hiking and outdoor adventures. Be sure to check it out, there are lots of amazing photos!
Waterton Summits, 33 total:
- Vimy Peak 1994, 2000, 2007, 2016
- Mt. Blakiston 1996, 2001, 2015, 2016
- Forum Peak 1999, 2001, 2016
- Crandell Mountain 2000, 2005, 2016
- Arras Peak (Vimy Ridge) 2000, 2016
- Mt. Galwey 2000, 2016
- Mt. Rowe 2006
- Mt. Lineham 2010, 2012
- Bertha Mountain 2010
- Sofa Mountain 2011
- Mt. Carthew 2011, 2016
- Mt. Alderson 2011
- Avion Ridge 2012, 2016
- Newman Peak 2012
- Mt. Richards 2013, 2016
- Bellevue Hill 2014
- Mt. Bauerman 2014
- Lost Mountain 2014
- Mt. Anderson 2014
- Mt. Hawkins 2015
- Ruby Ridge 2015
- Lakeview Mountain 2016
- Buchanan Ridge 2016
- Mt. Buchanan 2016
- Lone Mountain 2016
- Dungarvan SE2 2016
- Mt. Dungarvan 2016
- Clark Range 2016
- Mt. Kishinena 2016
- Festubert Mountain 2016
- Cloudy Ridge 2016
- Mt. Boswell 2016
- Mt. Glendowan 2016
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