Peak Finder

Looking northeast to Fossil Mountain from Boulder Pass (courtesy Sonny Bou)

Fossil Mountain

  • 2946 m (9,666ft)
  • First Ascent
  • Naming History
  • Hiking and Trails
51.5028N -116.046W
Located south of Skoki Mountain; east buttress of Deception Pass

Range: Slate
Province: Alberta
Park: Banff
Headwater: Bow
Ascent Date: 1906
Ascent Party: Topographic Survey
Year Named: 1906
Named for: The mountain's slopes contain numerous fossils.
Popular Hike: Skoki
Journal Reference: CAJ 4-112, 20-144

April 7, 1933 became the date of the first ski fatality in the Canadian Rockies. An avalanche on the slopes of Fossil Mountain took the life of Raymond Paley. He had climbed the mountain alone and was caught in the slide while descending.

Paley was a highly regarded, 25 year old mathematician who had studied at Eton and Cambridge and was working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a Fellowship. He had previously climbed a dangerous slope on Braachiopod Mountain and was warned against skiing alone in dangerous terrain.

However, Paley left Skoki Lodge after lunch on April 7 and skied alone to within 50 feet of the top of Fossil Mountain. His tracks led into a huge slab avalanche in which his body was found the following morning.

Some people claim to have been visited by his ghost while skiing in the area.

Looking north-northeast to Fossil Mountain from Redoubt Mountain (courtesy Sonny Bou)

Photo: Ptarmigan Peak (left), Fossil Mountain, and Mount Douglas (right) beyond Whitehorn from the southwest on Pope's Prospect

Photo: Looking northeast across Deception Pass to Fossil Mountain from Saddle Mountain

Looking east-northeast across Ptarmigan Lake to Fossil Mountain (Mount Douglas beyond at right) from Boulder Pass (courtesy Sonny Bou)