(The Mystery Mountain Project Facebook page)

Mystery Mountain Hop: Documentary recounts quest for largest peak on the B.C. coast

Film available on Amazon Prime explores expedition of Don and Phyllis Munday to Mount Waddington

It is the largest peak on the B.C. coast and the namesake of Vancouver Island’s most northerly regional district.

And a century ago, to colonial explorers it was a mystery.

A landmark exploration of Mount Waddington is the subject of a new documentary now available on Amazon Prime.

Back in 1926, a young couple set out into the British Columbian wilderness in search of an undiscovered mountain — taller than any peak in the Canadian Rockies – that experts said didn’t exist.

Nearly a century later, a group of six amateur mountaineers set out to re-create their epic journey. Their adventures in the B.C. backcountry are the subject of a new Canadian feature documentary, The Mystery Mountain Project.

RELATED: Kayakers to visit B.C.’s ‘secret coast’ first visited by Spanish explorers in 1770s

RELATED: A Friday the 13th near-full moon brings out Vancouver Island’s midnight walkers

The documentary recounts the original expedition of Don and Phyllis Munday, a mountaineering husband and wife team who were far ahead of their time. In an age when women were expected to be housewives rather than mountain climbers, the couple set out as equals, determined to find and climb the undiscovered B.C. peak they nicknamed Mystery Mountain.

They took to the B.C. wilderness, avoiding grizzlies and avalanches to reach their goal. After locating and mapping Mystery Mountain, the Mundays returned with the first photographs of what is now known as Mount Waddington.

“For there to be a mountain of that size that most people didn’t even know existed on the coast of British Columbia was a huge surprise in the early 1920s,” says Bryan Thompson, a Toronto history buff and the leader of the expedition.

The Mystery Mountain Project follows a team of adventurers from Ontario, Quebec and Alberta as they retrace the Mundays’ steps. This expedition, sponsored by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, would be an ambitious feat on its own, but was made even more so by their commitment to only work with gear used in 1926. No modern, lightweight jackets or packs, no GPS or freeze-dried food and no bug spray.

While navigating their way through the rough terrain of the Homathko Valley, an area of dense rainforest leading to Mt Waddington, the modern-day team soon realized they may have bitten off more than they could chew.

The project was organized by the Canadian Explorations Heritage Society (CEHS), an NGO dedicated to bringing wilderness history to life through expeditions and educational activities.

The film’s director, Greg Gransden, is a veteran screenwriter and producer whose work has appeared on the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Canada, History Television and others.

His previous film, Hobnails and Hemp Rope, was also supported by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and won best director at the Moscow International Festival of Mountaineering and Adventure Films.

Members of the Mystery Mountain expedition, including director Greg Gransden, its leader Bryan Thompson and team members Susanna Oreskovic and Stuart Rickard are available for interviews.

The film’s trailer can be viewed here. The film is available for viewing on Amazon Prime

For more information about future CEHS expeditions, click here.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Have a story tip? Email: editor@northislandgazette.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Arts and Entertainment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pastafarian Gary Smith, pictured here dressed as a pirate, wanted to wear his tricorn (also pictured here) in his driver’s licence photo, arguing that the display was a religious observance. Photo: Facebook
B.C. Pastafarian loses Supreme Court fight to wear pirate hat in driver’s licence photo

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith put his case to the Supreme Court in Rossland early last month

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

BC Ambulance Crews prepare to evacuate a sick Greenwood boy by helicopter on Friday, Feb. 26. Photo: Submitted
Greenwood boy taken to hospital by BC Ambulance helicopter

Greenwood volunteer firefighters helped prepare the chopper’s landing

Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s chief negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, joined a number of government and Indigenous government stakeholders for a virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021, to update the state of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Trevor Crawley photo/Zoom screenshot
Indigenous input key to Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Ecosystem function included in negotiations along with flood management and power generation priorities

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Gas prices jumped in Golden to 131.9c this week, a trend that's supposed to continue into the summer. (Claire Palmer/Golden Star)
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Clovechok concerned as gas prices continue to rise

Fuel prices are supposed to skyrocket this summer as British Columbians await BCUC analysis

The area shaded in yellow was purchased last year by the Regional District of Central Kootenay. The purple area is the current purchase. Map: Submitted
Cottonwood Lake fundraiser reaches goal

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Most Read