by Dr. Robert Berdan
May 2, 2015
George Brybycin is sometimes referred to locally as the "Ansel Adams of the Canadian Rockies". He is a mountaineer and photographer who has climbed over 500 peaks in the Canadian Rockies most of them solo in order to capture their beauty. He also photographs flowers, landscapes and wild animals on his adventures and is old school - he carries 2 Pentax film cameras, 6 lenses, several rolls of Velvia IS0 50 slide film, a tripod, sleeping bag, and tent for sleeping on the top of the mountains in order to capture first light on the peaks at sunrise. It is doubtful that any other photographer will ever match his climbing prowess in the Canadian Rockies. Yet George is a humble, modest person whom I am glad to say is a friend of mine for the past 10 years. I admire what he has accomplished and the fact that he is still publishing photography books. His latest book "The legendary Rockies" is the result of over 50 years of climbing and his new book includes some of his older favourites and many new images. The book also features more text then any previous book. In the text he describes in short stories some of his most memorable adventures.
In his words
"Anyone can stop a car snap a nice photo along the road with minimal effort, but hiking 15 km and then climbing a big rugged mountain is another story - George's Way."
Moraine Lake has amazing color thanks to Wenkchemna Glacier hidden under gravel above the lake. On the left stand a few of the "Ten Peaks". On the right are Eiffel Peak and the green, south slopes of Mt. Temple. The paradise is photographed from the Tower of Babel (2360). Banff National Park.
George describes how he cheated death on the mountain on several occasions and offers advice to novices that might like to hike or climb the mountains. He also says " over the years I became a bit of a masochist, willing to endure, even enjoy the pain as long as I got something out of it - i.e. a couple of good pictures.
This piece of art, created at Lake Minnewanka near Banff, is incredible in more than one way. George built a Quinzee and started exposing a six minute photo, knowing the moon would clear the Fairholme range at the end of the exposure. And it did. What he did not know is that something would try to make a meal of him. He heard the crashing sound of broken icy crust on the top of snow and it continued toward him. George used a flashlight, shovel and various loud noises to stop the predator (a cougar). Finishing the exposure, the only option was to leave the area immediately.
All of George's books are self published, meaning he has to distribute them, and collect payment - something he clearly does not enjoy. His previous books have all sold out, but it has not made him wealthy - he lives a very prcactical and healthy lifestyle. George sells his books usually much lower in cost than competitors and thus makes only a small profit and in a few instances he has lost money. He creates these books simply to share his passion for the Rockies with others and hopes it will inspire young people to hike and learn more about the mountains.
The immense view of treacherous Waputik Icefield is dominated by Mt. Balfour (3272m) to the north, as view from Mt. Daly (3152m) at sunset on October 13.
George is proud of the fact that only minor retouching was done in Photoshop by the printers to open up shadows and make minor corrections. In his words - the pictures are true to the scene before him and there is no "Monkey Business" in their preparation. George hasn't t embraced digital technology, at least not yet in spite of my encouragement to do so.
Known as the turquoise jewel, Peyto Lake is fed by glacial waters from Peyto Glacier of Wapta Icefield.
Many of his previous books were printed in Singapore to keep the costs low, but quality control and dealing with publishers at a distance has strained him to the point where he has decided to try a Canadian printer - FriesenPress on his latest book and the pictures in his new book look stunning. George is a perfectionist when it comes to printing and this edition he is satisfied with the quality of the images. Anyone that visits the Canadian Rockies will want to own a copy of this book. The book sells in most book stores in Calgary, Banff and Jasper for $30, even though the quality and size of the book offers more than most photo books costing $60 or more.
The Ramparts are a formidable wall of rugged rock flankng the southwest side of Amethyst Lakes in Tonquin Valley. Photographed at sunrise from the summit of Mt. Clitheroe (2749m).
Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus). There are five different kinds of Goats worldwide. They are confined to steep craggy slopes that afford protection from carnivores.
The colour and stark beauty of the high mountains unfold from the summit of Mt. Temple (3543m).
A camp below the summit of Mt. Hector (3394m). One would only hope that the rock protecting the tent will not move during the night.
A glorious sky over Mt. Athabasca (3490m) and Hilda Peak by the Columbia Icefield.
Herbert Lake is a little unassuming pond just northwest of Lake Louise but it charms visitors any time and season.
George is an outstanding Canadian artist, he is recognized by only a few who know his books, but like many artists of the past, I fear his work and artistic contributions will only really be appreciated after his death. If you like the mountains or outdoor photography his latest book is one of the finest ever produced.
George Byrbycin in front of Upper kananaskis Lake
George is looking to sell his stock images which include over 100,000 images of the Canadian Rockies if you or someone you know may be interested you can contact George by phone at (403) 228-6897. If you are interested in buying his books please check with the local book stores. If you are interested in ordering books in quantity you can call him, otherwise he would appreciate if you contacted one of the book stores in Calgary or in the Rocky mountain parks.
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