Boswell, Philip Frederick

Philip Frederick Boswell
Alpine Guide
born 14 March 1927 [Masterton?]
[his parents were probably Rita Neilson Jones and Albert Boswell, married about 1924, reg. 1924/7295]
 died 10 Dec 2008 aged 81 years, reg.2008/30901
buried Picton Cemetery, plot number 38, plot key 18724
he was divorced from his wife Lorraine Frances Boswell in 1963 

Sold on the South Island mountains
How did a young lad, Phil Boswell, from Masterton, end up spending much of his youth acting as a guide at The Hermitage, close to the mighty Mt Cook?
Certainly it was not an hereditary thing. Bos's father was a keen hunter, but no climber, and Bos originally trained as a baker.
The first taste Bos had of the Southern Alps was in 1945 when a group came south on a shooting trip and spent two months at Molesworth deerstalking.
"I was sold on the South Island mountains," he said. "The next year I was back and climbed Coplands, staying at The Hermitage."
The next year Bos returned again, went to Fiordland, and got the mountain bug properly.
Later, determined to try for a job in Milford, he returned via Franz Joseph. He was offered a job guiding for the summer and it was 18 months before he went home again.
He stayed with the Tourist Hotel Corporation until 1959 and then worked with the National Parks Board until 1967. For the last 20 years he was based in Rangiora working for Forest Research.
"In the mountains I had the best of both worlds." he said. "At Franz I worked with Harry Ayers, Peter McCormack and Alec Graham while at the Hermitage it was Mick Bowie."
Bos never found the job boring, quite the contrary he found the wild life and fauna fascinating.
"Even the glacier trips were never boring, the glacier was never the same, the weather was seldom the same and the people were always different."
While being an alpine guide sounds glamorous, the reality fell well short."
"Guides were used a cheap labour," he said. "If there was no work they would work in the kitchen, kill rabbits, unblock drains, clear paths and anything else that needed doing."
The guide had to be a psychologist as well as a guide.
"Everyone who came on the mountain wanted to climb Mt Cook," he said. "You would see them trip over the doorstep of the equipment room and spend two or three days slowly changing their mind to another peak."
Bos himself conquered Mt Cook and can claim to have been present when two teams  met on the peak, a first on the mountain.
Would he do it again.
"No. It is Fiordland that fascinates me now," he said. "Milford is wild and untamed, to see the water cascading down blows your mind."
Timaru Herald

by Phil Boswell - Copland Pass in January 1966.

This print was taken during a crossing to Westland from the Hooker Valley. We stopped to put on parkas and crampons before the final slope and this was the first of the morning sunlight. The day was rather overcast with very high cloud. The light was reflected from the snow onto the left side of Alf''s face and this shot was sneaked while Alf was busy with the oranges.

This is one of the first large prints attempted and had to fix this in the baby bath. Had the developer up to temp but by the time the test strips were completed the temp was down to 53° and the development was extended to 3 minutes. Wash water temp down to 36° and print was washed for a full 24 hours in fast flow then given a final rinse in warm water.

 "he found the wild life and fauna fascinating"

Reverse inscription in pencil
"Acyphylla (sic) Boswelli
supposed extinct - found by Boz"
stamped P.S.N.Z National Monochrome Portfolio
Order 11 Circuit 2
Aciphylla Boswelli is not listed in Collins Guide to the Alpine Plants of New Zealand by John Salmon or in Threatened Plants of New Zealand by Catherine M. Wilson and David R. Given

The following series of photographs were taken during a climb of Copland Pass in 1947-1948.

Hochstetter Ice-fall
The three highest peaks from the left are Silberhorn, Tasman and Haast Ridge.

Tasman Valley Xmas 1947-48

Ball Glacier

Chipps and Trev

Haidinger (10059')

Tasman Glacier
showing Rudolf Glacier, The Minarets (10958') and Lendenfeld Saddle.

Malte Brun Range

A composite of the three photographs above
(click to enlarge)

Ball Glacier

Ice Cave - Tasman Glacier

Leibig Range from Ball Hut

Hochstetter Ice Fall

Ball Hut

Hochstetter Icefall

The Footstool

Mt Cook (12,348')

Mt Cook from Hooker Hut

Hooker Valley

Mt Cook from Heritage

Mueller Glacier

Sefton and Footstool

Hooker Hut

Mt Cook and Hooker Hut

Chippy on Tasman Glacier


Mt Cook from Copland Ridge

Banks Range - West Coast

Moorhouse Range

West Coast from Pass

Lake Pukaki from Copland Ridge

Moorhouse Range from Douglass Rock Hut

On top of the Pass

East side of Copland Pass

Copland Pass

Sealy Range from Copland

Hooker Swing Bridge

Bank's Range

Bank's Range

La Perouse (10010)

West Side of Copland Pass

Welcome Flats hut

Night out


Douglas Rock hut

On the track



Just of the Pass

West Coast Road

Douglas Rock hut

Near Waiho Chapel

Other Photographs

Ngauruhoe - Easter 1947

Ruapehu from Desert Road

Mt Cook from Hermitage Gardens

Mt Cook (12348') from Sealy Range

Marlborough District Council - Cemetery Records Search
Births, Deaths and Marriages Online 
divorce - Archives New Zealand, Christchurch Office item number R8376038


DARIAN ZAM said...

A huge collection of his photos and documents was sold off last week. It looked like there was some really interesting stuff in there.

Wolgang said...

Awesome photos!, is there some way I can link to them on my site
Particularly interested in the Copland Pass shots.
Many thanks

Early Canterbury Photography said...

hi Wolgang, I don't know now you would link these to your site, but you are welcome to copy them to your site. If you right clink each photo, they will open in another window at original size and you can just copy/download them from there. regards Tony