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Mount Sir Alexander
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Mount Sir Alexander

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Mount Sir Alexander

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: British Columbia, Canada, North America

Lat/Lon: 53.93650°N / 120.3859°W

Object Title: Mount Sir Alexander

Activities: Mountaineering

Season: Summer

Elevation: 10745 ft / 3275 m

 

Page By: chris_goulet

Created/Edited: Sep 12, 2008 / Nov 13, 2009

Object ID: 441699

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Page Score: 94.59%  - 48 Votes 

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Overview

Mount Sir Alexander is the northernmost peak over 3200m (10500ft) in the Rocky Mountains. It is located in Kakwa Provincial Park in British Columbia. Mount Sir Alexander towers over 2350m (7700ft) from the McGregor Valley to the summit and rises higher than all surrounding peaks as far as the eye can see. It is surrounded by an icefield posed on top of a colossal pedestal of bastion-like walls. Most of the glacier tumbles into a chaos of icefalls, which reach as low as 1400m (4600ft). The ridges of the summit pyramid are a sawtooth of cliffs. Approaches from all directions are long, without trails, and require extensive bushwhacking and glacier travel. This mountain commands supreme respect from the most experienced of mountaineers. Attempts at climbing this monster are years apart and summiters number about 10-15. Exposure to falling debris is severe on all routes.

The peak was first identified as Mount Kitchi, which is a Cree word for "big" or "great", by climber Mary L. Jobe and her guide Donald ‘Curly' Phillips in 1914. They attempted the climb in 1914 and 1915. Phillips reached a point only 30m below the summit with Frank Doucette and John C. Tyler before being blocked by a cornice, and being menaced by a gale. Mount Kitchi was renamed to Mount Sir Alexander in 1917, after the explorer Alexander Mackenzie who, in 1793, became the first person to cross North America. Mackenzie passed within 80km (50mi) of the mountain that bears his name, but he never saw it. Due to its inaccessibility and because it was declared unclimbable in 1922 after a fly-by, it was left unclimbed until 1929, when Americans Dr. Andrew Gilmour(58), Miss Helen Buck(45) and Newman Waffl(50), reached the summit. The first winter ascent was not until 1990, by George and Craig Evanoff, and Bonnie Hooge, all from Prince George, B.C.
 
North face of Mount Sir Alexander
North face of Mount Sir Alexander, showing rockfall and avalanches in August, 2008. The jagged NE ridge is to the left.

Getting There

 
West face of Mount Sir Alexander
West face seen from the Walker Forestry Road in September, 2007.


Kakwa Provincial Park lies along the B.C.-Alberta border in the Rocky Mountains, 120km (75mi) northwest of Mount Robson Provincial Park. The closest major airports are Edmonton and Vancouver.

It's about a four-hour drive from Prince George, B.C. to Kakwa Park. Travel east on Hwy. 16 approximately 150km (90mi) to the Walker Creek Forestry Road turnoff. This road (which can get rough) ends after 85km (52mi) at Buchanan Creek, and a 20km (12mi) trail leads to cabins and camping sites on Kakwa Lake.

From Grande Prairie, Alberta, it is about 150km (90mi) to the Lick Creek Staging Area via Grovedale and the bumpy Two Lakes Road. From here to Dead Horse Meadows, about 15km (9mi), only 4-wheel drive vehicles are suitable on the unmaintained, rocky and muddy track with creek crossings. One km (0.6mi) southwest of Dead Horse Meadows, visitors must backpack or travel by horseback the 30km (19mi) trail to Kakwa Lake's south end. None of the branches along this trail are marked, so navigational tools are required. Motor vehicles (with the exception of snowmobiles) are not permitted within the park.

Some parties have used helicopters to land at Nilah Pass, at the base of the summit pyramid, but this practice is controversial.


Routes

 
NE face of Mount Sir Alexander
NE face as seen from the Walker Forestry Road in August 2008. Nilah Peak is to the left.


Natural Resources Canada topographic map number: 93H/16 and 93 H/15

Northeast Ridge


This was the route taken by Donald ‘Curly' Phillips and his clients on the first attempt up the summit pyramid in 1915. It has a lot of loose rock, cliffs, cornices and chimneys. Approach from the NE by leaving the Tote Road at UTM 100m 792 808, bushwhack 3km (2mi) to and along Saddle Creek, then 2km (1.2mi) over a boggy meadow, by Dorsal Mountain, SW up glaciers to the pass at 715 815.

Southwest Ridge


I believe this ridge is only sane route, because the rock strata are more aligned with the slope of the ridge, making less of a sawtooth than on all the other ridges. Approach from the West by leaving the Walker Forestry Road at UTM 100m 641 707, bushwhack 1km (0.6mi) over a logged area, cross the McGregor River (inflatable boat required) at the creek heading NE, follow the creek 5km (3mi) (difficult bushwhacking), ascend headwall to the East (difficult bushwhacking), climb over ridge at 694 745, cross valley heading North, climb glacier at 696 770 to the upper icefield. Or approach by leaving the Walker Forestry Road at 617 732, bushwhack 1km (0.6mi) over a logged area, cross the McGregor River (inflatable boat required), climb over the pass NW of Pommel Mountain, traverse and ascend the icefield going East. I have not done this last approach, but I believe it is easier than the previous one.

West Face


Attempted by Peter Austen. Approach same as for the Southwest Ridge.

I will be adding more route info when I get more articles from the Canadian Alpine Journal.

Red Tape

No permits are required.
 
West face of Mount Sir Alexander
West face seen from our reconnaissance flight in August, 2007. The red line is the planned route on the SW ridge that I believe is only sane route up the summit pyramid.



When To Climb

 
SW face of Mount Sir Alexander
SW face seen from our reconnaissance flight in August, 2007. The red line was the planned route to the SW ridge on the unsuccessful 2007 expedition.


The best months to climb are July and August with the season sometimes extending into September.

Severe storms are possible all year around and temperatures dropping below -15 degrees C (5 degrees F) are possible even in summer.


















Guides

 
Icefall SE of Mount Sir Alexander
Icefall SE of Mount Sir Alexander as seen from our reconnaissance flight in August, 2007.


Peter Austen
Austentours
Contact information:
Telephone and fax: (604) 898-9775
1071 Glacier View Drive, Garibaldi Highlands
British Columbia, Canada, V0N 1T0
Email: peter@austeneverest.com

Camping

 
East face of Mount Sir Alexander
East face seen from seen from the upper icefield in August, 2008, showing the jagged NE Ridge, and a truly hanging glacier.


There is one public use cabin located at Kakwa Lake that will sleep approximately 10 people; the cabin is available on a first-come, first-served basis year round.

There are two areas at the south end of Kakwa Lake that have been designated for camping: one is for hiker traffic (West side of Wapumun Creek) and the other is for horse traffic (East side of Wapumum Creek). These sites each have a pit toilet and fire circle.

Camping is allowed anywhere on the mountain. Poop should be disposed of under talus, or into a crevasse as a last resort.









External Links

bivouac.com

Peakfinder

B.C. Ministry of Environment
 
North face of Mount Sir Alexander
North face seen from seen from 8000' camp in August, 2008.





 
Looking down bastion-like walls NE of Mount Sir Alexander
Looking down bastion-like walls NE of Mount Sir Alexander in August, 2008.

Contributions welcome

If you have something to contribute to this page, email me at chris_goulet[at]yahoo[dot]ca and I'll give you edit access.

Images

East face of Mount Sir AlexanderNE face of Mount Sir AlexanderLooking down bastion-like walls NE of Mount Sir AlexanderNorth face of Mount Sir AlexanderWest face of Mount Sir AlexanderSW face of Mount Sir AlexanderIcefall SE of Mount Sir Alexander
East face of Mount Sir AlexanderNorth face of Mount Sir AlexanderWest face of Mount Sir Alexander