John Clarke, Explorer of the Coast Moutains
by Lisa Baile

John Clarke, the man who became British Columbia’s most renowned mountaineer, had no interest in “trophy climbs” and never did ascend many of BC’s highest peaks. On the other hand, he explored more virgin territory and racked up more first ascents than any other climber in BC—perhaps more than any climber who ever lived. Although he came to be honoured far and wide and is one of the few mountaineers to be awarded the Order of Canada, he was a modest man who pursued his passion without fanfare. Clarke dedicated his life to exploring
the numberless, nameless peaks of the Coast Mountains and in his later years he devoted his considerable energies to conservation and environmental education. After he succumbed to cancer in 2003, the BC government named Mount John Clarke in his honour fitting recognition for the man who had himself named many BC mountains.

Mountaineering colleague Lisa Baile shares the story of his remarkable life, examining Clarke through his own words and pictures as well as through the words of his many friends. All agree it was an honour to have known him, and readers will find it equally inspiring to meet him through these pages.



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John Clarke's first recorded ascents of peaks (in the Coast Mountains) located between Vancouver and Bella Coola. Peaks are colour-coded to indicate when Clarke first climbed them (green-1960s, blue-1970s, red-1980s, black 1990s). Clarke also made roughly 180 first ascents of peaks located north of Bella Coola and south of Dease Lake, which are not shown here: Map of John Clarke's Ascents (Exerpt from John Clarke)