The Calgary Daily Herald, Friday, August 6th, 1937 Page 13
When They Brought Humphrey Cooper Back to Safety
DIFFICULTIES encountered in getting Humphrey Cooper out of the mountain fastness after Victor Kutschera, noted Alpine guide from Banff, had removed the injured lad, are graphically portrayed by scenes taken along the route as the rescue party struggled to get their patient out to medical attention.
Austrian Guide Thumbs Ride to Banff After Heroic Rescue of Calgary Lad From Ledge of Precipitous Mountain
Humphrey Cooper returned to Calgary this morning. Upon arrival in town he was taken immediately to an eye specialist to receive treatment for an eye wound, received in his fall Tuesday evening.
By F. LESLIE SARA
A hero, who seemed embarrassed by the cheers of boyish worshippers, slunk quietly away, after hardly waiting to receive the thanks of a grateful mother, to stand on the highway to thumb a ride back to Banff.
It was Victor Kutschera, whose appearance at the Y.M.C.A’s Boys’ Camp at Bowfort early yesterday afternoon brought the first news of the rescue of Humphrey Cooper, the 21-year-old Calgary youth, who for two nights and a day had lain helpless on a narrow ridge after his fall of over 30 feet down the steep side of End Mountain Tuesday afternoon.
Last night, Cooper was resting his battered body on a hospital cot at Bowfort. How serious his head injuries are, Dr. A. N. Johanson, of Exshaw, who went to the base camp to attend the injured lad as soon as he was brought in from the mountain top, could not determine. Bruised from heel to head, his body lacerated in many places by contact with the jagged rocks, and suffering a severe gash on the crown, the most serious danger is a pierced cornea, caused by a fall of rack as Cooper lay helpless. Weather the sight of the eye will be permanently impaired, could not at once be known.It was Victor Kutschera’s cool courage, which made the rescue possible, coupled with the fine organization, built up by Constable W.P.O Solway, of the Morley detachment, R.C.M.P.
JUST ANOTHER JOB
Modest to a degree, Kutschera minimized the work which he had undertaken as I rode with him down the trail from the base camp yesterday afternoon. Details which he volunteered were few. It was just a job in the life of this mountain guide, who had figured prominently in other rescues in the Rockies. But he told me that he had used as much as 525 feet of rope at one time in getting his charge up to the 1,150 feet to the top of the mountain before helpers could finally bring Cooper down.
Until one had been over the rocky trail leading to the foot of YamNuska and End Mountain, one can get little conception of the difficulties encountered in getting aid to an injured man. Northward from the Y.M.C.A. camp the trail leads up the Bowfort Creek over an abandoned tote road. It is steep and rocky. Across it deadfall from the charred timber of the forest fire of 1912 constantly block the way.
On three sides the peaks rise naked of vegetation, and buttressed by shifting “screes” of shale. Four miles up this desolate valley an old lumber camp provide shelter for members of the Bowfort camp as a base for their climbing expeditions; eight miles further, over terrain which is passable only on foot or by pack-pony, was the base camp established by Constable Solway, who arranged for Moses Jimmy John, an Indian guide, who knew the territory, to pack in supplies and clear the trail as far as possible to ease the outward journey of the patient.
From this base camp the climb to the top of the mountain down which Cooper was brought is approximately three miles.
Summoned from the Banff by the police, Kutschera reached the base camp late Wednesday night, travelling by pony over the log-encumbered trail. Darkness prevented any attempt until dawn, but by 3 a.m. the start was made to scale End Mountain. Accompanying Kutschera were Constable Solway and members of the “Y” climbing party, including Geo. Page, Nick Pearce, and John Kansen, of Regina, and Jack McDougall.
Reaching Cooper on the for-enshrouded mountain shortly after 6 a.m., it was after 1 in the afternoon before he could be brought down to the base camp, where, after a rest, his rescuers were able to bring him to the lumber camp by pack pony, thence to Bow fort by shortly after 6 on Thursday.
“Victor Was Splendid”
Cooper was conscious throughout the two nights he spent on the ledge-awaiting rescue.
“I was sure it would come,” he told me. “Somehow, I was not afraid, and the time did not seem terribly long. Cold? Well, it was a bit, but I was wearing heavy woolen climbing kit, and it might have been far worse if it had been a few days before, when we had snow up here, and while I was pretty hungry the first day, I had water handy from a trickle of melting snow. That, however, dried up today. And it would have been rather ought if I had not been down today.”
“Victor was splendid,” he told me, “and so was John Kansen, with whom I was climbing when I slipped. He did everything he could to make me comfortable, thought most of the events seem rather hazy. And the rest of the boys who stuck by, and those who hadn’t the thrill – for I suppose it must be much more of a thrill to be in a rescue party than to be rescued – coming up to the mountain, but had to stay at the lower camps and help things along. Really, though, while I realize what a narrow shave I had, and it was just a climbing accident with no one to blame, it all seems rather hazy. I must have slept a lot of the time for it to go so quickly, and I feel awfully sleepy now.”
Cooper was asleep before I left Bowfort camp. He had eaten a light meal, the first he had had except for the rations of sugar and milk administered him on the mountain and along the trail to break the long fast gradually, And by his bedside, a frail, while haired little women, the mother who had waited so calmly 10 miles away for her boy to brought down, sat beside him.
Tired and footsore, the other members of the rescue party sat around the lodge telling open-mouthed listeners the story of the exploit. The “Mountie” jogged back to his post on a weary horse, and at Banff the hero of the rescue prepared to guide a party of tourists into the mountains.
As he had said earlier in the day, “It was nothing, it is all in a day’s work.” But it was just another epic of heroism, where courage and expert knowledge averted what might have developed into tragedy.
The Calgary Daily Herald, Monday, August 9th, 1937 Page 11
Humphrey Cooper “Much Improved”
Condition of Humphrey Cooper is reported greatly improved over the weekend, by rest after his harrowing experience when he was marooned on a rocky ledge on End Mountain for 40 hours last week. His temperature is now backing to normal with various cuts and abrasions healing nicely. Anxiety is felt regarding the serious injury, which he received to his eye, but Dr. William Hacknaey still has hopes of saving the sight.
Humphery Cooper lived a long life. He passed away in Calgary in 2007 at the age of 90 years.
His obituary can be found here