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Birthday Ridge :

60th Anniversary of the First Ascent

By Dave Henderson - Sept 2016

September 1, 2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the historic first ascent of Birthday Ridge at Bon Echo - the first climb at Mazinaw Rock and, according to climbing author Chic Scott, the start of real rock climbing in Ontario.

It took place on Labour Day weekend in 1956. David Fisher, Marnie Gilmour, Alan Bruce-Robertson and Kay McCormick set out by canoe to the treed gully across the lake (this was still private property) and scrambled up to the foot of the slabs - the spot where today's climbers would start Thin Nicholas and Saucer Lucy. They then went up diagonally over easy rock to the "birch tree belay." Their route from there is today's standard second pitch.

A local newspaper, the Tweed News, reported that "the quartette of young Canadian alpinists made their first ascent on Saturday afternoon in three hours and 18 minutes." It didn't say whether that included the descent.

The next day they made the first ascent of Front of the Pinnacle. It was Marnie's birthday, so in honour of that they named the previous day's climb Birthday Ridge.

The discovery that there were long moderate routes to be climbed within several hours of the city led to the creation a few months later of the Toronto section of the ACC. (There had been an earlier section but it died out during the Depression.) The Section has lived on, as has local climbers' fondness for this pioneering route.