(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

RCMP were on scene under the Menzies Street bridge in Chilliwack on Thursday, March 4, 2021 where a body was found. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
BREAKING: Body recovery underway at Menzies bridge in Chilliwack

No details on age or gender as RCMP officers were on scene Thursday morning

A black sedan, white SUV, red pickup truck and black hatchback were all involved in a four-vehicle collision at Hodgins Avenue and Yale Road on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Driver responsible for four-vehicle crash in Chilliwack last week was in stolen truck

‘Do not leave your vehicle unattended and running with the keys in the ignition,’ says RCMP

Annette Williams with Chilliwack Learning Society holds up one of the pages of ‘Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!’ by Candace Fleming, the story chosen for the downtown StoryWalk event. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
StoryWalk transforms Chilliwack trails, sidewalks into outdoor literacy adventures

Families can read children’s stories together, page by page, as they walk story routes

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Items seized by Chilliwack RCMP and Abbotsford Police during a Feb. 23 traffic stop. (RCMP photo)
Police from Chilliwack and Abbotsford seize drugs in traffic stop

Chilliwack RCMP worked with the Abbotsford PD to seize four kilograms of suspected fentanyl

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

A bus rider uses a support bar with an anti-microbial copper coating, newly implemented as part of a TransLink pilot program. (TransLink)
‘Self-disinfecting’ copper coming to more of TransLink’s fleet to fight against COVID-19

The transit authority says tests showed the surface was 99.9% effective in killing all bacteria

B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

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

Anti-pipeline protests continue in Greater Vancouver, with the latest happening Thursday, March 4 at a Trans Mountain construction site in Burnaby. (Facebook/Laurel Dykstra)
A dozen faith-based protestors blockade Burnaby Trans Mountain site in prayer

The group arrived early Thursday, planning to ‘block any further work’

Mid day at the Vancouver Port Intersection blockade on March 3, organized by the Braided Warriors. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
Anti-pipeline blockade at Vancouver intersection broken up by police

Demonstraters were demanding the release of a fellow anti-TMX protester

(Government of B.C.)
Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

Most Read