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One Hundred Years: Tragedy on Mount Eon

By Kayla Cazes, Community Engagement and Reference Service Associate

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Image: [Marvel Lake, Mt. [Mount] Eon, and Mt. [Mount] Aye, Banff National Park, 1899 - [ca. 1910], Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Moore family fonds (V439/PS-154)

Image: [Dr. Stone?], n.d., Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Alpine Club of Canada fonds (V14/AC055/PD/23/02/1)

One hundred years have passed since the plight of Mrs. Margaret Stone (née Winter). On July 24, 1921, Dr. Winthrop E. Stone fell from Mount Eon, near the famous Mount Assiniboine. Standing at 3,310 metres (10, 857 feet), Mount Eon, was a serious ascent for the duo, but not their first. As avid participants in the Canadian Alpine Club, with multiple first ascents under their belts, the couple was prepared for the challenge.

Image: [Dr. and Mrs. Stone Climbing?], n.d., Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Alpine Club of Canada fonds (V14/AC055/PD/27/20/3)

“[I can] see nothing higher,” spoke Dr. Stone before he plummeted from Mount Eon.[1] All Mrs. Stone could do was watch her husband fall and disappear into the seemingly endless void.

After failing to return to the Jubilee camp of the Alpine Club at Mount Assiniboine, a party sought out the Stones’ camp, they had not returned. Help was sought from Banff to find the couple. Famous guides, Rudolph Aemmer and Bill Peyto answered the call. The Assiniboine region was a full-day from Banff, there was no helicopter for rescue, her rescuers came on foot – Mrs. Stone waited eight days.

Image 1: [Rudolf Aemmer], [ca. 1930], Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Peter and Catharine Whyte fonds (V683/III/A/1/PD-1/14/003)

Image 2: Bill Peyto [cooking over camp fire], ca. 1935, Harmon Wright Organization/Photographer, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Stan Peyto fonds (V498/IC/ACCN/3419/NA66/1736)

Accounts from the time paint a picture of the tragic event. It’s hard to imagine the isolation, desperation, and sadness felt by Mrs. Stone as she awaited her unknown fate on the side of the distant mountain.

Image: [Mrs. Stone?], n.d., Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Alpine Club of Canada fonds (V14/AC055/PD/23/12/02)

Aemmer and Peyto discovered Mrs. Stone on a ledge, far above her husband’s final resting place. Too weak to walk, Aemmer carried Mrs. Stone down from the mountain on his back.

The retrieval of Dr. Stone was completed after the recovery of Mrs. Stone. A. O. Wheeler directed the recovery with assistance of A. H. MacCarthy, L. H. Lindsay, Rudolph Aemmer, Edward Feuz, and Conrad Kain. Carried on horseback to Banff, Dr. Stone was eventually buried in Spring Vale Cemetery, Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, U.S.A.

Soon afterwards, the guides returned to construct a memorial cairn in honour of Dr. Stone (see image below). The guides had concluded that Mr. Stone did indeed reach the summit of Eon before his death, making him the first to summit the mountain.

Image: [Memorial Cairn for Dr. Stone on Mount Eon], August 1921, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Alpine Club of Canada fonds (V14/AC055/PD/27/37/1)

So, what happened to Mrs. Stone? She went on to live the rest of her days on the east coast of the United States, eventually settling in Florida. According to documents submitted to the archives by her family, she never spoke of what happened on Mount Eon again, nor did she participate in further mountaineering adventures. After her passing in 1969 at the age of 89, she was buried with her husband in Spring Vale Cemetery, Indiana.

The story of Mr. and Mrs. Stone is not only tragic but an excellent example of the history of mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies. We can appreciate the immense changes that have occurred in the sport over the past one hundred years. From the invention of Gore-Tex, modern ropes and crampons, to the use of helicopters for mountain rescue, the evolution of gear may have changed but calculated risk remains the same.

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Further Reading:

Whyte, Jon. “The Agony of Mrs. Stone.” In In Jeopardy, edited by Theresa M. Ford, 122-138. Edmonton: Alberta Education, 1979.

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. “Mr. and Mrs. Stone." Accessed September 3, 2021.


[1] “Echoes of a Mountain Tragedy,” B.C. Veteran’s Weekly (Vancouver, B.C.), April 29, 1922.