OverviewIndian Ridge is located just to the southwest of the actual town of Jasper in Jasper National Park, one of four connecting national parks that make up the central Canadian Rockies in Alberta/British Columbia. Indian Ridge was officially named in 1916 because of its red hue, but is not quite as majestic as the red colored mountains to the north and south, particularly Pyramid Mountain and Fortalice Mountain.
The only published route up Indian Ridge is the easy scramble via Whistlers Mountain. This is a short day, therefore, it only makes sense to do a full traverse of the mountain if you are a true peak bagger. The total gain on the traverse, back up to Whistlers Mountain’s is approximately 3100’. It took me 4.5 hours to complete the traverse moving fast.
This is the biggest “cheat” scramble you can find in the Canadian Rockies due to the Jasper Tramway taking you to 7400’ on Whistlers Mountain. I chose it for this particular day as I had two flatlanders with me from Missouri. It is a good one for novices. I did the traverse solo, but they accompanied me to the Indian Ridge highpoint at the east end of the ridge. The tourists stop at the summit of Whistlers Mountain therefore we had Indian Ridge to ourselves.
On a clear day you should have solid views of three coveted 11,000’+ peaks Mount Robson, Mount Fryatt and Mount Edith Cavell, but on my summit day, a threatening storm kept Mount Robson out of view. This is a three star route if for no other reason than the access to which beginners can get to high alpine and therefore gain a perspective of true scrambling.
Getting ThereTake Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway) south of Jasper (toward Lake Louise) for approximately 2kms to the Whistler Road exit on the right. Drive to the tram parking lot at the end of the road.
Red TapeYou will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter the park. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Jasper National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. Park headquarters are located in Jasper and you will drive through the manned kiosks as you enter the park.
This is active grizzly country, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person. I advise checking with Parks Canada for any area and/or trail closures.
The tram cost $22 round trip in 2005 and was open until 10:30 at night in the summer. If this seems excessive and/or a violation to your sense of fair play, you can hike the Whistlers Trail 8.5kms and approximately 1000 meters to the top of the tram.
When To ClimbAs with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I did the Indian Ridge Traverse in August and the route was free of snow. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Indian Ridge, nor would it seem conducive to ski the scramble route.
CampingCamping near the area is plentiful and varied. I camped just outside of town at the Wapiti Campground. As the name implies, Elk are plentiful. The cost was in excess of $20 per night in 2005. You can go on line at Jasper National Park to pick a camp site and obtain your camping permit. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously if you plan on camping at a backcountry site. Of course those with luxury on their mind can stay at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, one of the finer mountain lodge resorts in the world.
Cocos is good for coffee and lunch but does not open that early. The Bearspaw opens early and offers good coffee, quick breakfast and fresh baked goods. La Fiesta (Spanish Tapas) is a solid place for dinner.