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A Lifetime of Work: Chic Scott's Collection and Upcoming Projects at the Whyte Museum

By Kate Skelton, Processing Archivist

Chic Scott is practically a household name at the Whyte Museum. His books are on display in the reading room and book shop, he has provided countless interesting discussions through his Fireside Chats, and he can often be found poring over materials from the museum’s Archives and Special Collections in preparation for his next big project. There is always more for Chic to learn and discuss about the Canadian Rockies and its people.

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However, Chic’s connection to the mountains does not stop at the Whyte Museum. Chic has been a part of the Canadian Rockies mountaineering community for over five decades. He has taken on countless roles during this time, including climber, skier, mountain guide, public speaker, researcher, author, and more.

Chic discovered his passion for the mountains in 1962, when he was introduced to the sports of climbing and skiing. In the 1960s and 1970s, Chic completed many impressive (and sometimes dangerous) expeditions, including multiple ski traverses in the Rockies and Columbia Mountains, and his ascent of Myagdi Matha, which earned Chic the title of the first Canadian to reach a Himalayan summit.

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In 1973, Chic was invited on a trip to Nepal to scale Dhaulagiri IV, a summit reaching over 25,000 feet (7,600 metres) in elevation. However, there was a catch - Chic was offered funding to attend the trip on the condition that he joined the Alpine Club of Canada, known as the ACC. Chic accepted, which marked the beginning of a lifelong connection to the ACC.

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Chic organized and led over thirty camps and other programs for the ACC between 1989 and 1992. One of his most notable excursions was a climb to the west peak of Mount Logan in 1991. During this trip, Chic successfully led 71-year-old Don Forest and several others to the top. Chic also served on several committees for the club during this time, including the publication committee and camp committee. In 2000, Chic was named an honourary member of the ACC.

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In more recent years, Chic has established himself as an accomplished author and leading expert on the history and culture of the Canadian Rockies. Chic has authored or co-authored nearly one dozen books and numerous articles over the past thirty years, in addition to his work with the Hans Gmoser Film Collection and other major projects. Most recently, Chic completed his newest book, Mount Assiniboine – The Story, which shares the experiences of numerous explorers, guides, pioneers and others whose lives were shaped by Mount Assiniboine. All of Chic’s books are available for viewing in the Archives and Special Collections library, and some are available for purchase through the Whyte Museum book shop.

Right now, Chic is embarking on yet another massive research project: a complete written history of the ACC, from its inception to today. This project is expected to take five years, with an anticipated release date of 2026.

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Earlier this year, I finished processing a large collection of materials which were generously donated to the Whyte Museum by Chic Scott, including about 300 original interviews, thousands of digital photographs (including all of the images used in Chic’s books), and over 4 metres of textual records related to Chic’s research and publications. The processing of these materials was started in 2020 by Archivist Nicole Ensing, and spanned several months.

Chic’s materials, as well as collections from several other ACC members, were processed as part of the project “Stories in the Mountains: processing, preserving and digitizing fonds of select Alpine Club of Canada members for access”. This project was funded by the 2020/2021 Library and Archives Canada Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP), and was also sponsored by Lake Louise Ski Resort.

The recorded interviews in Chic’s collection are especially fascinating. I recently spoke to Chic about these interviews, which include a long list of familiar Banffites, such as Roy Andersen and Eddie Hunter. Chic explained his literary process, and how he has brought the interviews and other research together to create some of his best-known works, including Pushing the Limits, a detailed account of Canadian mountaineering history over the past 200 years.

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Chic recalls his experience creating Pushing the Limits as “a great adventure”. Chic started the process with physical research. He spent over one year digging through archival materials at the Whyte Museum and other institutions, collecting as much information as possible.

Chic then completed an entire first draft of his book before conducting a single interview. This approach ensured that he knew exactly what questions to ask during the interviews, and made it less likely that he would miss a crucial piece of information. Chic then recorded 84 interviews with leading mountaineers from across Canada between 1996 and 1998. Chic explained that the goal of these interviews was to create a “snapshot” of who and what was important at that moment in time for the Canadian mountaineering community.

Once the interviews were recorded, Chic incorporated them into his existing research. The final result is a publication packed with first-person accounts, original records and meticulous detail. This firsthand research has given Chic a wealth of knowledge to draw from for future projects, including his upcoming book about the ACC.

All of these interviews are now processed as part of the Whyte Museum Archives and Special Collections and available for listening in the Reference Room.

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Approximately 10 of the interviews used in Pushing the Limits have been chosen by Chic and videographer Glen Crawford as part of an upcoming project highlighting Chic’s original recordings. Interviews with figures such as Hans Gmoser, Leo Grillmair, and Pat Morrow will be enhanced, shortened to 25-75 minutes in length, and combined with photographs from Chic’s collection, before being released through our website. This initiative is being sponsored by Lake Louise Ski Resort and Bill Hanlon.

Five new compilations of selected interviews from Chic’s collection, combined with themed photographs, will also be presented as part of this project. The first presentation, titled Climbing Pioneers of Yamnuska, will be released online on December 11, 2021 to celebrate International Mountain Day. This event will be virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions, but future screenings are expected to be presented in-person at the Whyte Museum.

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While the 2020/2021 DHCP grant has given us the opportunity to make Chic’s incredible collection more accessible, our work is far from done. More detailed descriptions in the Archives and Special Collections online database are currently in progress, and materials used in the creation of the book Mount Assiniboine – The Story and other recent acquisitions will also be made available for online and in-person access as they are processed.

Visit our online database to learn more about Chic Scott’s collection, or schedule an appointment to explore in person by contacting Stay tuned over the coming months for more information about these exciting additions to the Whyte Museum Archives and Special Collections!

Thank you, Chic, for your generous donations to the Archives and Special Collections over the years, as well as your ongoing support of the Whyte Museum.



Image 1: Chic Scott near Mount Logan, ca.1989. Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Jon Whyte fonds. V690/IV/A/NS-194. Photograph by Jon Whyte.

Image 2: Jasper to Lake Louise Ski Traverse, 1967. Photograph by Don Gardner.

Image 3: Chic Scott climbing Dhaulagiri IV, 1973. Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Chic Scott fonds. V40/XIV/DF-27/10.

Image 4: Chic Scott climbing the east ridge of Mount Logan, 1978. Photograph by Jon Jones.

Image 5: On the West Summit of Mount Logan in 1991. Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Chic Scott fonds. V40/XIV/DF-22/18.

Left to right: Don Forest, Tom Swaddle, Chic Scott, Bill Louie, Terry Duncan (front). Photograph by Bill Hawryschuk.

Image 6: The Rockies Hut to Hut Traverse Team, 1994. Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Chic Scott fonds. V40/XIV/DF-22/12.

Left to right: Doug Bell, Art Longair, Chic Scott, John Davidson, Louise Davidson. Original photograph by Art Longair.

Image 7: Chic at work, ca. 2010. Photograph by Kathy Madill-Scott.

Image 8: Chic Scott promoting his book Pushing the Limits at the Whyte Museum, 2000. Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation fonds. V692/7/PA-1.

Image 9: Chic Scott, 2014. Photograph by Kathy Madill-Scott.

Image 10: Chic Scott climbing the Red Shirt Route on Mount Yamnuska, 1967. Photograph by Charlie Locke.


Foubert, Tanya. “Chic Scott takes on Mount Assiniboine's storied past”. Rocky Mountain Outlook, March 4, 2021. Accessed November 6, 2021.

Library and Archives Canada. “Documentary Heritage Communities Program”. Accessed November 7, 2021.

Scott, Chic. “Chic Scott’s website”. Accessed November 4, 2021.

Walker, Nick. “Exploring Skoki”. Canadian Geographic, May 1, 2014. Accessed November 7, 2021.

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. “Alpine Club of Canada fonds”. Accessed November 6, 2021.

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. “Chic Scott fonds”. Accessed November 6, 2021.



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