Peak Finder

Photo: Looking west-northwest to Gould Dome from the Dutch Creek Valley

Gould Dome

  • 2894 m (9,495ft)
  • First Ascent
  • Naming History
49.9225N -114.637W
Located in the upper Dutch Creek Valley east of North Fork Pass

Province: Alberta
Headwater: Oldman
Visible from Highway: 22
Ascent Date: 1913
Ascent Party: Morrison Bridgland
Year Named: 1915
Named by: Interprovincial Boundary Survey
Named for: Gould, John (John Gould was a well respected ornithologist during the nineteenth century.)

Thomas Blakiston was a member of the Palliser Expedition, the first group of scientists to enter the Canadian Rockies. He was very impressed with the high, distant peak he saw in 1858 from near where Highway #22 now crosses the Oldman River Bridge. He recorded in his journal, "I was now looking through the gap in the near range through which the river issues, I saw a very decidedly dome-shaped mountain. It afterwards proved to be, when seen from the plains, and also from the top of a mountain in the Kootanie Pass, the highest and almost the only peak rising above the others in this part of the mountains. After the distinguished British naturalist, I named it Gould's Dome."

John Gould was an ornithologist and wrote large, lavishly illustrated books including a five volume work entitled "Birds of Europe." During his career he wrote over forty books with 3000 coloured plates. Blakiston was very interested in natural history and must have, at some point, been impressed by Gould's work.

The mountain remained Gould's Dome for fifty-seven years until it was renamed by Morrison Bridgland of the Boundary Commission in 1915. His associate, Arthur Wheeler, was most impressed by the mountain and wrote that, "the precipices of Tornado Mountain rise fully 2500 feet and the gigantic rock buttresses that stand out, separated by huge, cavernous chimneys, are awe inspiring. The survey members made the first and second ascent of the mountain and their report reads, "Tornado Mountain is a storm centre of the locality and, on the occasion of two ascents, the party had narrow escapes; first, through a cloud-burst accompanied by sheets of hail, which caused the mountain to run wild, torrents of water cascading down its slopes in every direction, and rockfalls, loosened by the water, crashing on all sides; on the second occasion, a fierce electrical storm encircled the summit and severe shocks were felt by members of the party. For days at a time dark thunder clouds, rent by vivid flashes of lightning, were seen to gather around the summit, and similar storms were encountered while on other adjacent heights. Wheeler wrote: "I never saw a mountain break loose like that before... Still mountains are mountains, and you must take them as you find them."

These experiences generated the idea to rename the mountain Tornado. A peak to the south was given the name Gould Dome even though it is not dome shaped at all. It is some 205 metres lower in elevation and considerably less impressive. We can only speculate as to whether Thomas Blakiston would have approved of the change.

Photo: Gould Dome from the west (courtesy Ed Michalski)

Looking south to Gould Dome from Tornado Mountain (courtesy Sonny Bou)

Looking west-northwest to Gould Dome (left) from Highway #22 near the Oldman River Bridge

Looking west-southwest to Gould Dome from Sugarloaf Lookout (courtesy Sonny Bou)