2012 Patron of the Guides Ball: Ferdl Taxbock
Ferdinand (Ferdl) Taxbock was born in Vienna, Austria. As a child Ferdl was always keen to climb, but he didn’t have real opportunity until he enrolled in Agriculture College in 1959. During his apprenticeship on a farm in the province of Styria he met a young climber, Klaus Hoi who was to become a lifelong friend and climbing partner. After graduating from agricultural college they went on to do their mandatory nine months in the Austrian army in the Corps of Alpine Soldiers. After the army, Ferdl worked for a year as an Agricultural Technician, until Klaus called to ask him to become a ski instructor at the Planner Alm. In 1965, Ferdl passed the Winter Guide’s course and in summer of 1966, the summer course. Now he could climb and get paid for it.
Ferdl arrived in Canada in 1967. The following winter he came across a pamphlet describing Canadian Mountain Holidays, the climbing opportunities, as well as the heli skiing in the Bugaboos. Ferdl contacted and met with Hans Gmoser who hired him as a guide for the summer of 1968. The 1968 General Mountaineering Camp at Lake O’Hara was Ferdl’s introduction to the Alpine Club of Canada. As well, he guided climbs in the Bugaboos and in the Banff area. Ferdl states, “climbing and guiding in Canada was heaven for me. My original plan of returning to Austria within two years changed.” Climbing and guiding also peaked Ferdl’s interest in geology and in 1970 he was accepted as a student in the Faculty of Geology at the University of Calgary, graduating in 1974.
During the summers and occasionally in the winter, during his university years and subsequently, Ferdl continued to guide for CMH and for ACC Camps. He and Hans Gmoser guided a group to the summit of Mt. Robson. He was also able to utilize both his mountaineering skills and his knowledge of geology in the employ of the Geological Survey of Canada, as well as some private oil companies, exploring in the north. In 1974 he guided glaciologist Gerald Holdsworth to the summit of Mt. Logan, Canada’s highest mountain, where they measured the accurate height by triangulation. In 1984, he and Rudi Krannabitter guided a group to the summit of Denali (Mt. McKinley). One of Ferdl’s “first ascents” in Canada was “The Fold” on Mt. Kidd in the Kananaskis, which he did with Rudi Krannabitter.
Ferdl continues to be active as a mountain guide, often in the employ of the Alpine Club of Canada, of particular note the “55 Plus Camps”. As well, each August he is invited back to Austria to be one of the guides for the annual “Alpine Doctors’ Course” held near Innsbruck. In this course, medical doctors learn mountain rescue techniques.
Ferdl has been a member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides since 1968. Over the years he has been an instructor for guide’s courses and has volunteered with the ACMG. He has maintained his membership with the Austrian Guide’s Association. He is also a lifelong member of the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta. He has volunteered with the “Kids Stay in School Program” where underprivileged children are given ski lessons.
Ferdl is a passionate climber and backcountry skier. He married Heather McKenzie in 1971. They have two daughters, Kathryn (Mark Bedard) and Barbara (Lee MacKenzie); three grandsons Owen, Benjamin and Matthew; and one granddaughter, Kira.
Join Ferdl at the 23rd Annual Mountain Guides Ball.