Legendary Banff mountain rescuer Tim Auger saved countless lives during his 30-year career. He’s now been immortalized by folk band The Wardens in a song called “Thousand Rescues.”
Tim Auger had first ascents up many famous rock faces, nearly lost his life on Mount Logan, was part of the 1982 Canadian Everest expedition, and even had a first ascent up the UBC library building. The late Banff National Park mountain rescue specialist also took part in over a thousand rescues. His life, captured in song on The Wardens latest release, is now the subject of their newest music video “Thousand Rescues.”
“Tim saved countless lives in his thirty year career,” says band member Scott Ward who penned the song. “I worked directly for him for 17 years and had the utmost respect.”
Since the pandemic The Wardens, well know in western Canada for their riveting live shows, have been on hold. Combining rich storytelling, stunning onscreen imagery and fantastic musicianship, the band felt their work wasn’t something they could recreate in a live-stream environment.
Instead the band, who are made of Ward (guitar), Ray Schmidt (upright bass and mandolin) and Bradley Bischoff (guitar), found a way to fuse their storytelling folk music with moving pictures. Their new studio release Sold Out at the Ironwood (January 2021) paired with music videos have helped maintain the energy and momentum they had before the guillotine dropped on live music and forced them to return home mid-tour from Montana a year ago. The band, who have toured for a decade, focused their acoustic mountain music and tight three-part harmonies on themes of the land. Their latest musical release plays like a set list for a live show. Now, with their third video they’ve added visual emotion to that body of work that more closely approaches their audience’s experience.
For “Thousand Rescues,” Ray Schmidt, the band’s bassist and producer of the new video, dug deep and retrieved some lost archival footage of Tim Auger in action performing rescues and throwing explosives out of helicopters to trigger avalanches.
“I wanted people to see this and understand how wild this stuff is,” says Schmidt. “We have a rich history of mountain rescue in the national parks and Kananaskis country. Tim Auger refined techniques in the modern era of helicopter rescue and developed systems that were lean, safe and quick. And Tim wasn’t just a rescuer, but an active participant in the mountains. He was on the ground floor of the sport of ice climbing and developed new climbing routes that are still challenged today.”
Tim passed away in 2018 at age 72 but through “Thousand Rescues” his legacy lives on. The video production, like the archival footage itself, is a throwback to a different era of the media world, paying respect to the “Pop-Up Video” series that aired on music television in the mid-nineties. The concept makes for a music video that is full of fascinating facts and funny moments through onscreen captions. “It’s something that helps tell Tim’s story,” says Scott Ward. “You’ll want to watch it more than just once.” This video doesn’t try to compete in a world of Tik Tok and Instagram Reels, instead it threads the needle between that contemporary fast-paced barrage and rich narrative to shed light on a lasting legacy that so many have their lives to thank for.