Thank you to Rick Kunelius for composing and submitting this obituary for Monte Rose.
Monte Rose quietly and peacefully reached the end of his trail, on Friday 15 July 2022, aged 83. Monte had an eclectic, even bizarre sense of humour. Everyone that knew him has a Monte story to tell.
He started his career with National Parks in a small patrol cabin on the shores of Waterton Lake in about 1960. He credits a correspondence course in Conservation that landed him a Park Warden position in Lake Louise a decade later. He was District Warden at Bow Summit and Indianhead, before moving to Lake Louise when the service centralized.
Although Monte was not a climber, he was very competent and received an “Advanced Mountain Rescue” certificate at Roger’s Pass in 1972. While “acting area manager” at Lake Louise that same year, he answered a phone call after hours, and found himself slinging under a helicopter to the middle of the 3-4 Couloir at Moraine Lake. Together with Bill Vroom, they reached a climber who had been incapacitated by falling rock. Using crampons and ice screws they secured the victim in a rescue basket and tied in for the night while it poured rain and rocks rumbled by. At first light pilot Jim Davies returned to extricate them from their precarious perch. This was the early days of helicopter sling rescue and definitely the most dramatic heli sling operation conducted in North America at that time. (Full story in Vertical Reference by Kathy Calvert).
Monte was not overly social, but he had an affinity for bears and spent many off hours watching them at the Lake Louise, and later, Banff dump. (This was before the days of animal proof garbage bins and transport out of the park). He named some of the regulars and had stories to tell about individual bear behaviour. Monte was very competent at trapping, immobilizing, and relocating bears when they were deemed troublesome. He was a marksman, and as much as he loved bears, he could be counted on to dispatch troublesome ones when required. When a wildlife biologist was mauled in a tragic relocation incident, it was Monte who shot the bear from a helicopter in order that the body could be recovered.
Monte was offered promotions to administrative positions but always declined. “All I wanted to be was a Patrolman”. During the tragic bear incident in Banff in the late summer of 1980, Monte spent countless hours in the bush searching for the elusive grizzly. When the bear was finally snared and put down, Monte confidently said; “I’ve not seen that bear before. He was an intruder”. (More on the story in The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek by Sid Marty).
As Monte approached age 45, he resigned, took out his pension and bought a fishing lodge near Vanderhoof BC, with a partner. This did not last long.
Monte moved to Arrowwood, east of Calgary, and bought a very small house. During harvest he drove truck for neighboring farmers and worked part time at the grain elevator. A local rancher offered him a cabin in return for fixing fence and looking in on the cows. It was a small cabin outside of town, on a barren hillside near a feedlot. Somewhat of a hermit, Monte took the opportunity and moved in with his cat. Always neat and tidy, he planted trees and made the cabin into a comfortable home.
Over the years that I visited Monte nothing seemed to change except the truck. For a long time he had no phone. Neighbors would come by with leftovers and pipe tobacco.
Monte took the cat with him when he went for mail and lottery tickets, or simply a drive in the country. He never drove more than 30 kilometers from home, nor more than 30 kilometers per hour. The locals watched for him.
As he saw the end approaching, he often said; “I’ve had a good life.” With the assistance of loyal neighbors, he passed alone in his cabin with his cat, as was his wish.