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Robert David Tustin

1942

Robert (Bob) David Tustin was born on February 18, 1942, in London, Ontario. After graduating from Sir Adam Beck Collegiate Institute he found work with Canada Trust and was trained in banking. In June 1965 he was transferred to Nanaimo then in 1968 he was again transferred this time to Vancouver to the Mortgage Department. In 1970 he returned to Nanaimo where he was branch Manager for ten years. In 1981 Tustin took a managerial position with the Parksville & District Credit Union and remained there until 1995 when he started his own photography business. This allowed him to be an at home dad to his two young children. Bob had married Barbara Duncan in 1985.

When Bob arrived in Nanaimo in 1965 he never knew what hiking or climbing was and when he was asked if he wanted to climb Mount Arrowsmith he naturally said yes to find out what it involved. The climb began at Cameron Lake and went up the trail to Mount Cokely then across to the top of Mount Arrowsmith via the Nose route with Geoff Sudderby. It was a long day and his first introduction to the use of a climbing rope but Bob was hooked. He immediately joined the Island Mountain Ramblers and over the Labour Day weekend on a combined IMR/CDMC trip Bob made his first excursion to the Comox Glacier. Then on the Thanksgiving weekend in October he made his first trip to Forbidden Plateau and Mount Albert Edward. On this trip he met Mike Walsh who was to become a regular climbing companion for many years. Visiting the Forbidden Plateau on Thanksgiving weekend became an annual event for Bob. For the next few years Bob and Mike Walsh climbed two out of every three weekends and made exploratory trips into valleys where there were no trails and climbed numerous peaks all over the lower island and in Strathcona Park.

In early August 1966 Bob and Mike Walsh were climbing near the Golden Hinde when Walsh had an accident and needed medical evacuation. This was when the two first met Jim Boulding, the owner/operator of Strathcona Park Lodge on Upper Campbell Lake. Jim became a good friend and was always interested in what the two young climbers were up to. He allowed them to sleep in the basement of the lodge whenever they were passing through, have a meal and use the kitchen, while Mike would bartend in the lounge. They stopped frequenting the Lodge in the 1980's after Jim Boulding passed away.

In late August 1966 Bob flew into Elk Pass by helicopter with a large party from the Island Mountain Ramblers and here the party met Ray Paine and Dave Birch who had hiked in from Marble Meadows via the Golden Hinde. The next day Bob climbed the Southeast Peak of Mount Colonel Foster with Mike Hanry, Ralph Hutchison, Ron Facer, Syd Watts and Mike Walsh. The following day many of those climbers, including Bob, made the second ascent of Rambler Peak and then on the third day, with Elizabeth and Patrick Guilbride, Doreen and John Cowlin, Mike Walsh, Syd Watts and Ray Paine, made the first recorded ascent of Mount El Piveto. While nearing the summit of El Piveto Ray accidentally dislodged a large rock. Although Ray attempted to push Bob out of the way, the rock grazed Bob's chest bruising him, but in the process Ray received a nasty gash on his leg from the rock. Neither were seriously injured and continued on to the summit.

From the summit of El Piveto they enjoyed a magnificent view of the Golden Hinde, Mount McBride, Mount Cobb, Mount Con Reid and Rambler Peak. They all returned to the lake where Bob and Mike Walsh's packs had been left then they continue through the park while the others went back to their camp on Elk Pass. Bob eventually made the 2nd to 7th ascents of Rambler Peak; he climbed the Golden Hinde seven times and made about six ascents of Elkhorn. The one summit that eluded Bob over the years was the Main Summit of Mount Colonel Foster. He now accepts that although he had the skills to climb it, it is the weather in the mountains that dictates whether climbers can reach the summit or not on a given day.

During the late 1960's Bob worked on the construction of the Marble Meadows trail and on the Labour Day weekend of 1970, when the trail had been completed, he was in the meadows for the grand opening with a party from the Island Mountain Ramblers and Comox District mountaineering Club. Comox MLA Dan Campbell and Robert (Bob) Ahrens of B.C. Parks were planning to helicopter in and dedicate the trail and the Wheaton Hut, but, unfortunately the weather never cooperated and Campbell and Ahrens were unable to fly in for the scheduled opening. Syd Watts pulled out a length of surveyor's red marking tape and stretched it across the top of the trail and, with appropriate word's, pronounced the trail open. Fortunately, Bob had the foresight to carry a bottle of christening fluid up the mountain and when the trail was opened it was ceremoniously toasted.

During this early period in his mountaineering, where equipment was becoming more technical and equipment lighter due to technology, there were no stores in the lower mainland selling this equipment. Both Bob Tustin and Mike Walsh would make frequent trips across the border into Washington to purchase this gear. With the high value of the Canadian dollar they could come home with all sorts of new tents, ropes, boots, pitons, etc. To get around paying taxes they would tell customs they were going across the border to go climbing and would give the officers a list of the gear they would be taking with them and in return get the officers to give them a letter stating that this was what they would be bringing back into Canada. Fortunately the officials never asked to see the gear so they were able to smuggle hundreds of dollars worth of new equipment back onto the island.

Bob gained considerable skill and knowledge on the mountains of the island and it wasn't until 1971 that he made his first excursion off the island when he flew into Tellot Lake in the Coast Mountains and made ascents in the Upper Tellot Glacier with Bob Paul, Nick Schwabe, Mike Walsh, Carl Lund, John Fletcher and Werner Himmelsbach.

In 1974 Bob was on an expedition that flew into the Stikine Icecap to attempt the unclimbed Noel Peak with Ralph Hutchinson, Roger Neave, Bill Perry, Franz Bislin and Mike Walsh. Although unsuccessful, the party did manage to climb several peaks around the 8,000 foot height south of Noel. The following year in July/August Bob flew into the Plummer Hut near the Tellot Glacier in the Coast Mountain with Ray Paine, Brian Johnson, John Laurie, Ton de Groot, Brian Pinch, Al Harrison, Dave Coombes and Margaret Symon. Although the weather didn't cooperate a number of peaks were climbed but their dream of scaling Mount Waddington and Mount Tiedemann was thwarted.

Bob returned to the Stikine in July 1976 for a skiing/climbing trip with Brian Johnson, Ton De Groot, Dave Smith and a young Peter Croft, who went on the become one of Canada's best rock climbers soloing many hard routes in Squamish and the Yosemite Valley. Bob made one last trip into the Stikine with Brian Johnson in …………………….

In the mid to late 1970's Bob became involved with the Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia where he acted as treasurer/secretary for two years and President for another two. He also served as President of the Island Mountain Ramblers for four years and was elected an honorary member.

In 1983 the Island Mountain Rambler's celebrated twenty-five years as a club and the committee came up with "Up Your Peaks." The challenge was to try and ascend 25,000 vertical feet or more in 1983 and all the peaks had to be over 5,000 feet. The list had to be submitted to the committee at the end of the year and a commemorative book called The History of Mountaineering on Vancouver Island that Bob had spent many hours at a photo-copying machine assembling was given to the successful participants. It was a huge success with seventy-five people achieving the objective. While most climbed their 25,000 feet some took the challenge "seriously" and the greatest total was recorded by Scott Larsen of Courtenay with nearly 62,000 feet.

Through his photography, Bob has taken pleasure in being involved with a number of authors who have produced both photography books as well as guide books to Vancouver Island and the Coast Mountains. He also contributed photographs to some of the early climbing magazines. Although Bob no longer climbs the mountains that were his focus for many years of his early life, he still enjoys hiking the trails with his family and regularly attends the meetings of the Island Mountain Ramblers. He enjoys his retirement on his property on the hillside across from the Little Qualicum Falls where native plants grow and indigenous birds and wildlife frequent his back yard.

Sources:
Tustin, Bob. Personal communication. 2008.

Guilbride, Patrick D. "El Piveto Mountain." Island Bushwhacker. Vol. The Vancouver Island section of the Alpine Club of Canada.

"Copter Rescues Climber." Vancouver Sun. [Vancouver, B.C.] (August 10, 1966.)

"Mountain Climber Undaunted by Fall." Vancouver Sun. [Vancouver, B.C.] (August 11, 1966.)

Mitchell, Helen. "Climbers Make Toast In Clouds To Hikers On Marble Mountain." Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (September 9, 1970) p. 23.

"Island Climbing Team Records First Ascent." Nanaimo Daily Free Press. [Nanaimo, BC.] (August 12, 1974.) p. 13.

Symon, Margaret. "Waddington." Timberline Tales. Published by the Island Mountain Ramblers. Nanaimo, B.C. 1975. p. 38-40.

Tustin, Bob. "Vancouver Island Report." Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 58. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1975. p. 66-67.

Hutchinson, Ralph. "North Baird Rambles." Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 58. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1975. p. 68-70.

Tustin, Bob. "Vancouver Island Report." Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 59. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1976. p. 57.

Tustin, Bob. "Upper Tellot Glacier." Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 59. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1976. p. 63.


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