Ronald Frederick Facer
Ronald (Ron) Facer was born on January 27, 1946, in Vancouver. His father was in the forestry industry and first moved his family to Port Alberni and then Nanaimo with his work. Ron attended Woodland's Junior High and Nanaimo District Secondary School where he graduated. He had a brief job tree planting then found work with MacMillan Bloedel as a chokerman then he moved up the ladder to a faller. After two years he realized that he didn't want to continue with this dangerous line of work and moved to Vancouver where he attended a log scaling course. A year later he moved to Parksville and got a job in Port Alberni as a log scaler. Then in 1975 Ron moved to Nanaimo and took a job with MacMillan Bloedel in Chemainus, again as a log scaler. In 2000 he became a member of the 25 Year Club for MacMillan Bloedel and in 2008 Ron retired when the business he was working for went bankrupt.
In High School Ron was a promising Track and Field athlete but at the age of sixteen he became interested in mountaineering and joined the local Island Mountain Ramblers. The Ramblers were a driving force on the mountaineering scene on Vancouver Island and had a cadre of proficient trip leaders such as Syd Watts, John Cowlin and Ralph Hutchinson that Ron could learn the skills from. However, after leaving school and before becoming too involved with the Ramblers Ron decided to travel to Europe and North Africa (Morroco, Algeria and Tunis) for six months staying in Youth Hostels.
One of Ron's early trips with the club was in August 1963 when he flew into Burman Lake with a party of eighteen from the Victoria Outdoor Club and the Island Mountain Ramblers. The party first climbed Mount Burman and then Ron and three others climbed The Golden Hinde. This was the first of several ascents he made of The Golden Hinde. Looking around from the summit Ron saw a life time of mountains for him to climb but one in particular that attracted his attention was a sharp pivotal unnamed peak at the head of the Elk River.
On June 18, 1964, eighteen year old Ron Facer along with two school mates, Steve Todd and Barrie McDowell, started up the Elk River trail toward this unnamed peak. After five hours of hiking under cloudy skies they reached the cascades below Landslide Lake where they had lunch. They then started up the east branch of the Elk River and an hour later established their base camp in a flat area in the timber. That afternoon they made a reconnaissance trip up the valley to see the route through the canyon and then returned to camp. The next morning they left camp at 6 a.m. and three hours later were at the bottom of a large snow gully separating the two peaks. By 11:30 they were at the col between the two peaks and had lunch. The peak to the right (Rambler Junior) appeared sharp and jagged while the main peak to the left looked more solid. After an hour of climbing, with the aid of a rope, the three were on the summit celebrating the first ascent of this mountain. A few days later, from his home in Nanaimo, Ron sent off a letter to the Department of Lands, Forests and Water Resources, asking that the peak be named Rambler Peak, after the mountaineering club that he was a member off. The mountain was officially recognized as Rambler Peak and Ron went on to make the second ascent of it two years later with Bob Tustin.
Later in the summer of 1964 Ron joined a combined Island Mountain Ramblers and Comox District Mountaineering Club trip to Alexandra Peak. Although surveyors had spent many hours on the summit of this mountain in 1934, it is not known if there were any ascents in the intervening thirty years.
Ron became very active with the Ramblers and went on numerous trips with Syd Watts and John Cowlin, climbing many of the highest peaks on the island. In 1966 he was with a large party from the Ramblers that flew into Elk Pass for a week of climbing. Ron climbed Mount Colonel Foster's Southeast Summit with Ralph Hutchinson, Mike Hanry, Bob Tustin, Ray Paine and Mike Walsh and then Facer, Hanry and Hutchinson gingerly proceeded across the knife-edged ridge to the higher Southwest Summit which had been first climbed by Hugh and Ferris Neave, and Karl Ricker in 1957. Next day Ron joined Hanry and Hutchinson and attempted to scale the steep rock on the Snowband Route. This they thought was pivotal if they wanted to reach the main summit, however, Ron tried several different starts but just couldn't get very far off the ground and the three returned to camp unsuccessful. In September of that year he also made an ascent of Victoria Peak with Syd Watts, Doreen and John Cowlin, Otto Winnig, Don Apps and Patrick Guilbride.
Over the Labour Day weekend of 1967 Ron Facer, Bob Tustin and Mike Walsh visited the MacKenzie Range bewteen Port Alberni and Tofino for the first time via Canoe Creek to the east of the range. After climbing Redwall Peak, Walsh and Facer traversed around the peak and climbed two of the unclimbed spires, the Witch's Hat and The Centaur, via a steep gully system from the west.
Ron Facer returned to Mount Colonel Foster on July 2, 1971, this time with John Goldich and attempted a new route on the East Face of the North Tower but they failed to reach the summit. Later that summer, Ron joined Ralph Hutchinson, Bill Perry, Roger Neave and Bryan Lee and they all drove out to Jasper in the Rocky Mountains. With weather and conditions in the area good they then climbed the Hourglass Route on Mount Robson. For Ron this ascent was the highlight of his mountaineering career and a photo of the mountain adorns one of the walls in his house in Nanaimo.
In 1972 Ron was back on Mount Colonel Foster with Bill Perry, Ralph Hutchinson and Joe Bajan and they managed to climb the North Tower. Unfortunately, the Main Summit eluded him and it was Ron's one regret that he never reached the highest point.
Ron made several trips with the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) down to Mount Baker and Mount Rainer but the effects of altitude sickness made the higher mountains not very attractive to him. He continued climbing into the early 1980's but gradually his interests changed and the lure of the mountains diminished.
Ron no longer
expresses any interest in the mountains and has lost touch with many of
his climbing companions, however, his peers remember Ron as a strong,
safe and competent climber although Ron continually downplays his abilities.
Ron leads a fairly quiet life hiking some of the local trails around his
home in Nanaimo near Piper's Lagoon, an area where he spent many hours
as a youth rock climbing and learning rope techniques.
"Outdoor Club, Island Ramblers Beat Golden Hinde." Daily Colonist. [Victoria, B.C.] (September 1, 1963) p. 11.
Facer, Ron. "Rambler Peak." The History of Mountaineering on Vancouver Island. A collection of newspaper stories, journal reports, government documents, maps, trip write-ups and other information complied by Bob Tustin, 1983.
Racer, Ron. A letter to the Department of Lands, Forests and Water Resources. Re: Rambler Peak. June 27, 1964.
Facer, Ron. "Mt. Augerpoint." Timberline Tales. Published by the Island Mountain Ramblers. Nanaimo, B.C. January 1972. p.5.
Perry, Bill. "Mount Colonel Foster, North Peak." Timberline Tales. Published by the Island Mountain Ramblers. Nanaimo, B.C. No. 8, January 1973. p. 8-9.
Facer, Ron. "Mt. Klitsa." Timberline Tales. Published by the Island Mountain Ramblers. Nanaimo, B.C. October 1973. p.3-4.