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Gandalf and Shadowfax - which is which #1099
Back To Discussion List Written: 2004.01.15 by: Scott Nelson

Phelix Creek, north of Birkenhead Lake, boasts a variety of mountains named after character from the Lord of the Rings. 1:50000 NTS maps show Gandalf as east of Shadowfax, but Bruce Fairly claims in his 1986 Guide that the names are interchanged on the map, and everyone believes him because these maps frequently make such mistakes. Now 16 years later, with the advent of the internet, every source I can find except Fairly's Guide says Gandalf is the eastern Peak and Shadowfax the west. These sources include NTS 1:250000 map 92J (1989), BC Basemap (TRIM data) and BC Geographical Names Database.

Does anyone know more about the history of this area. Searching the internet with google has been very unproductive due to the proliferation of web pages about the Lord of the Rings books and movies.


#784 - 2006.12.07 Robin Tivy - Names Changed
I have now changed the Peter Jordon VOC positions of the names as being "official". It is a good thing that this was finally straightened out. It should have been straightened out 25 years ago! I hope you will accept my argument that prior to now, the VOC positions for these names were NOT official.

#783 - 2006.12.07 Glenn Woodsworth - Names now officially switched
As of today, the names in the government databases and on-line TRIM maps have been switched back to the original usage. So the guidebooks, Bivouac database, and government databases now all agree. The only thing still wrong is the printed 1:50,000 92J/10 map.

#670 - 2006.03.28 Glenn Woodsworth - Doing a general review
I'm in the middle of email correspondence with Peter Jordan and Fred Thiessen on this. Then I'll draft a letter to the Names People and see if we can get them to revert back to the originals. I'm hopeful, and I'll keep you posted.

#669 - 2006.03.28 Drew Brayshaw - Peter Jordan, original first ascent party
I spoke with Peter Jordan about this a year or two ago and he confirmed that Shadowfax is off by itself and that Gandalf is south of Aragorn, as per Fairley guide.

#668 - 2006.03.23 Scott Nelson - I sent a note to the BC Government mapping group
Here is the response:

Thank you for drawing my attention to a potential text placement error on maps, and incorrect location information in the BC Geographical Names database. I have checked all our correspondence for the 92J/NE map quadrant and can confirm that Mounts Gandalf and Shadowfax are positioned on 92J/10 ed.2 and on TRIM 92J.067 in the exact location identified by Neal Carter & Karl Ricker in October 1978. I'd be pleased to forward a photocopy of Karl's 1978 proposal, wherein UTM coordinates are supplied for numerous named peaks in the Pemberton watershed, including Aragorn, Gandalf and Shadowfax. We didn't have the 1972 Varsity Outdoor Club Journal that Karl cites, but readily spot a suspect description in Dick Culbert's 1974 Guide, p.199 (the recommendation to camp near two lakes at 6200' to the west [sic] of Mt. Taillefer clearly refers to the lakes on the north side of Taillefer); from there, this office would have deferred to UTM locations provided by Neal/Karl, rather than rely on Culbert's relative descriptions.

Due to the sheer volume of names that Neal Carter, Karl Ricker, Glenn Woodsworth, etc, were submitting in the 1970s and 80s, it's entirely possible that UTM coordinates could have been flip-flopped on a submission, even with all their heads put together to review & proof-read proposals; however, your note is the first we've heard in the intervening 25+ years that there might be a mistake in the placement of these particular names on federal and provincial maps.

We all agree that maps and guidebooks should be in sync. If you're in touch with Karl Ricker or Glenn Woodsworth at upcoming BCMC meetings, please ask them to review their original notes (or Neal Carter's notes and maps), to clarify exactly where the names Gandolf and Shadowfax should be positioned. In the interest of synchronizing maps and guidebooks, a BCMC endorsement or instruction should be sent back here, and also to guidebook authors and editors.

#658 - 2006.03.10 Scott Nelson - Locked down
Today I tried to update the names to reflect common usage and 3 publications (VOCJ, Fairley Guide, Gunn Guide) but Robin T has locked down the ability to change the names of mountains. I guess that power is reserved for him and him alone.

#640 - 2006.03.03 Drew Brayshaw - Not surprised
The names used on Bivouac switch randomly and conform to no stated policy not even the one Robin claims he uses. I have given up caring enough to fight him about it but I can't help think that it reflects poorly on this website to have such a mishmash.

#637 - 2006.02.28 Matt Gunn - Bivouac should reflect original names
I think this website whould stick with the names used by most people in the mountain community, the names frist gvien to the peaks. The government maps have a mistake on them. The maps should change, not bivouac and what the community uses. matt

#636 - 2006.02.28 Scott Nelson - Controversy arises again
The names of Gandalf and Shadowfax have been switched again in the bivouac database, so they now correspond with the government maps. I think this is the wrong thing to do, since all the mountain literature (including articles, journal articles and at least 2 guidebooks) use the names applied by the FA party.

Should not the 1974 VOCJ article be considered the original source document for this information, and not the government maps? I always thought that original documents had precedence when it came to disputes about names.

#214 - 2004.01.16 Drew Brayshaw - Jordan party applied names
They were the ones who named the peaks, as noted in the article. The summits were not named on maps at the time. The problem is that it appears the official names of Gandalf and Shadowfax were mixed up during the process of making the climber's proposed names official. Petitioning the BCGNS or CPCGN to change this might be successful.

#213 - 2004.01.16 Scott Nelson - Did Peter Jordan's party name the peaks?
Drew, do you know if Peter Jordan's party was responsible for naming these peaks, or if the names were already established when they did the FAs. If they named them, then it's settled and the maps are wrong. However, if they didn't name them then where did they get the names from (old 1970s NTS map maybe, or maybe the culbert guide) - this is the evidence we need to settle this matter. I know there's a copy of the old Culbert Guide in the VOC clubroom if anyone wants to check.

#212 - 2004.01.15 Drew Brayshaw - VOCJ
The original ascents of all three peaks are described in the 1974 VOC Journal. Peter Jordan, Fred Theissen and Eric White approached from McGillivray Pass on skis in early summer.

The first peak climbed was Shadowfax "via the northwest ridge, class 4-5". Aragorn was climbed from the northwest after traversing under the N face, then the ridge was followed south to Gandalf where a comment is made about trundling boulders down the steep east face from the summit.

Now, applying these descriptions to the peaks, it's obvious that the peak the climbers called Shadowfax is map-Gandalf, with the class 4 NW ridge, and that the peak south of Aragorn, connected to Aragorn by easy ridge and with steep east face, is what they called Gandalf and has been mapped as Shadowfax.

Also Bruce consulted Peter Jordan extensively when writing his guide (see Acknowledgements, p. vii-viii and p. 11 for instance), and although it was Anders who wrote the Cadwallader-Tenquille chapter, and cribbed heavily from the earlier Culbert guide, one would think Peter would have corrected a basic error like this while reviewing the manuscript if the maps were, in fact, correct.