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A Climber We Lost: Glendon Webber Boles

Each January we post a farewell tribute to those members of our community lost in the year just past. Some of the people you may have heard of, some not. All are part of our community and contributed to climbing.

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You can read the full tribute to Climbers We Lost in 2022 here.

Glen Boles, 87, January 13

Glendon Webber Boles, a much loved and respected member of the mountain community, died in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, on January 13, 2022 at the age of 87. Glen devoted his life to the mountains—as a climber, as an artist, and as a generous friend of other mountain lovers.

Glen joined the Alpine Club of Canada in 1960 and that same year was also a founding member of the Calgary Mountain Club. A prolific climber, he summited almost 600 peaks during his long career.

Born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, on July 5, 1934, Glen loved to play sports and roam the woods as a child. He also loved to draw and had a talent with pencil and paper.

He came west to Calgary in 1953 and within a few years was working as a draftsman for the City of Calgary Waterworks Department. He would spend all his professional life with the city, retiring in 1991.

Glen on the summit of Alberta's Mt. Louis in 1960.
Glen on the summit of Alberta’s Mt. Louis in 1960. (Photo: Glen Boles Collection)

Glen was introduced to climbing by Heinz Kahl in 1957 on Yamnuska. Not long afterward, they climbed Mount Robson together. In the sixties Glen pioneered several difficult new routes including one on the north face of Mount Edith with Brian Greenwood (1961) and another with Greenwood, Charlie Locke, and Joe Farrand on the north face of Deltaform Mountain (1968). But Glen’s finest mountaineering achievement was the first ascent of Good Neighbour Peak in the St. Elias Mountains of the Yukon, in 1967, with a team of Canadian and Alaskan climbers, celebrating the Centennials of both Canada and Alaska (the peak is on the border).

Glen was also a member of “The Grizzly Group” a band of about eight keen mountaineers who climbed together on weekends throughout the summer for several decades. With these companions, Glen explored the Rocky Mountains from end to end and made hundreds of ascents.

A fine photographer, Glen always carried two cameras, one for colour and one for black and white. He amassed an impressive collection of images which he shared freely with other climbers looking for new routes or with guide book authors looking for sharp images. When he retired, he turned his hand to his art work and his pen and ink drawings and acrylic paintings have become much prized and can be found in many collections.

With Bill Putnam and Robert Kruszyna, Glen collaborated to create the Climbers’ Guide to the Rocky Mountains of Canada—South and with Putnam and Roger Laurilla he produced a book called Place Names of the Canadian Alps. In 2006, working with Gill Daffern at Rocky Mountain Books, Glen created a beautiful volume of his photographs and art called My Mountain Album.

But the love of Glen’s life was his wife Liz. Glen married Elizabeth Hansma in 1965 and they spent 56 wonderful years together. Liz loved the mountains too and they hiked and skied together and sometimes climbed a peak.

Glen was honored as Patron of the Mountain Guides Ball in 1993, was elected an honorary member of the ACC in 1996, and served as the club’s honorary president from 2005 to 2009. He was also an honorary member of the Calgary Mountain Club and the American Alpine Club and was the recipient of the Bill March Summit of Excellence Award in 2005.

But beyond all these honors Glen was simply a good man with a kind heart, who never spoke ill of anyone. Glen made many friends and spread sunshine wherever he went. He will be greatly missed.

—Chic Scott

You can read the full tribute to Climbers We Lost in 2022 here.