In 1940, an expedition was proposed to clear up the 75 year old mystery story that told of the frozen body of a climber encased inside an icy tomb on the slopes of Mount Begbie, British Columbia.
Rosamond Stenhouse Stewart (1924-1922), related a story told to her by her father Thomas Livingstone Haig (b.1866), who in the 1890s had been a magistrate in the town of Revelstoke (known in earlier years as Farwell and Second Crossing), in British Columbia. He described where he had been taken by an Indian fur trapper to see the body of a completely preserved man encased within the ice. The increasing thickness was making it difficult to make out details.
There was little written information to substantiate the story except reports from the town of Revelstoke during the 1890s.
Newspaper reports described one version in which a French Canadian fur trader or a Salish Indian, who acted as an advance scout for the Canadian Pacific Railway which built through the area in the 1880s fell into the crevasse. The glacier on Mount Begbie lies approximately 7 miles southwest of Revelstoke. It's on the northeast slop that rises almost 9,000 feet in altitude.
Could this have been a hunter or a prospector, which would justify why he climbed up the dangerous glacier?
The first known ascent was accomplished in 1907, though it's probable there were earlier ascents of Mount Begbie.
The story of the Iceman resurfaced with the opening of the Big Bend highway in 1940. Newspapers wrote that the Revelstoke Board of Trade was possibly planning an expedition to find the iceman.
Supposedly many mountaineers vowed they had seen the frozen body, and others claimed it was just a tall tale.
He was described as a man with a powerful build, with black hair receding from a bald spot, and a beard that almost reached his waist. He was wearing a woolen hunters' coat that came to his knees, and an old flintlock rifle lay across his shoulders.
One legend says the man was a French-Canadian prospector, one of three who worked in the area in the 1860s. This report is similar to other stories floated as to the identity of the man trapped in the ice.
According to local historians the story was told by the late J.C. Montgomery, a British Columbia pioneer who at one time was a crew member of the vessel Forty-Nine, bringing gold miners to the Big Bend gold fields. He said the story of the iceman was told by the local natives.
Skeptics pointed out it would too dangerous for anyone, including an Indian to scale the glacier to the top. Early settlers and miners thought of mountain climbing as a waste of time.
In 2007, to mark the anniversary of the first recorded climb, a re-enactment was undertaken. They came to the base of the mountain by boat, then encountered heavy snow the same as the original party. Plans to bury a time capsule at the base of the glacier were ruined by the bad weather, however the capsule was buried at a later date.
So is the story of the Iceman of Mount Begbie just a legend, or was there a man trapped in the ice who for some unknown reason scaled the side of the glacier? Could this be a man that fell into the crevasse since prehistoric times like the famous Ötzi, discovered in 1991, who was possibly fleeing from pursuers? Ötzi was believed to have lived between 3350 and 3105 B.C. His mummified remains were discovered by tourists at an elevation of 10,530 in the Ötztal Alps.
Perhaps one day the glacier at Mount Begbie will give up her dead.
However the story of the Iceman is not the only unusual event to occur around Mount Begbie. Strange lights and weird experiences abound as reported here.
Jan Hartley was just a teenager when she saw her one and only occurrence of unusual lights in the sky. It was close to midnight on a New Year’s Eve in the late 1970s and Hartley was walking away from her home on 2nd street.
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