OverviewMount Sir Donald, a huge pyramid of Matterhorn shape, offers many splendid routes on good quality rock varying from 5.0 to 5.8, with no easy way off. Sir Donald is the highest mountain along the Trans-Canada highway, located south of where it winds through Rogers Pass. From the parking area one must ascend over 2,000 meters to its summit.
Sir Donald is highly identifiable from almost everywhere in the surrounding area. It can be seen from the Columbia Icefields, the Northern Selkirks and the Purcells. It stands noticeably above the surrounding peaks.
Mt. Sir Donald is famous for not only it's size and intimidating relief, but also for its history. The mountain was first climbed in the 1890 from the south by E. Huber, C. Sulzer and H. Cooper (porter). The peak was named for Sir Donald A. Smith, later Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, a principal promoter of the CPR, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, Chancellor of McGill University, and Canadian High Commissioner in London.
The famous Northwest Ridge (III, 5.4) was first climbed on 3 September 1903 by Edouard Feuz, Christian Bohren, and E Tewes. The upper third of the ridge was bypassed in 1903 and was first climbed in 1909 by A.M. Bartleet and Val Fynn.
Getting ThereSir Donald is located in southeastern British Colombia, near Roger's Pass. The Pass is located on the Trans-Canada highway between Revelstoke and Golden. The Pass is known for poor winter weather that can occasionally cause the road to be closed. International Airports are located in Kamloops BC and Calgary Alberta. Driving time from Calgary is about 3.5-4.5 hours, and from Kamloops it's about the same.
The trailhead for Mt Sir Donald is located about 2 km west of the pass. During the summer, you can drive the road to the campgrounds. Park in the stalls provided in front of the camping area.
Routes OverviewSouthwest Face - PD+, 5.0 - A very dangerous route due to extreme rockfall danger. Several fatalities have occured on attempts on this route. To the right of the Great Couloir.
Vaux Route - PD+, 5.0 - Another loose route up the southwest face. Bergshrund crossing may be difficult. This route zigzags a lot to keep on better rock. Still dangerous.
Feuz Chimney - AD, 5.3 - A large chimney system of the southwest face that avoids much of the rockfall near the Great Couloir. Reported as a nice climb.
The Great Couloir - AD, 4.0 - A dangerous couloir on the southwest face that is frequently avalanched in the winter, and swept by rockfall in the summer.
South Ridge - PD+, 5.2 - A seldon climbed ridgeline on mediocre rock with a large vertical step near the top.
Northwest Ridge - D-, 5.4 - A fabulous climb on a wonderfully exposed rige with good rock (blocky quartzite). This is by far the most popular route on the mountain. Forever memorialized by the book "Fifty Classic Climbs in North America". Accend from the Ulto - Sir Donald Col.
West Face - D-, 5.4 - A good climb taking a direct line up the center of the west face. A large rockslide in 1983 altered the upper portion of the climb. Slightly loose still.
Odell (East - Southeast) Ridge - AD+, 5.4 - A long exposed climbed marred by loose rock and a long approach. Very seldom climbed.
North Face - D+, 5.7 - A long 1,000 meter climb up the center of the large north face. Very seldom dry and in condition as a rock climb. A better mixed climb early in the season. Cold conditions are a must.
East Face - D+, 5.8 - A dangerous route up the 800 meter east face that is exposed to rockfall and serac avalanches.
Descent - As of Aug 2006 (likely much earlier) the S Face adjacent to the NW Ridge route has bolted rap anchors at 100ft intervals. I was told this was done to help remove two-way traffic and make for easier escape for guided parties. Look for brightly colored tat marking the stations. Uppermost is below the large horizontal ledge system 150m below summit. (Thanks to Shano for this information)
Red TapeNational Park Passes are required for all vehicles stopping in the park.
- $10/day or $75ish/year
- Backcountry Wilderness Passes are also required for each individual.
- $6/day or $42/year
When To ClimbConditions are best during the summer, but snow can fall at anytime of the year and any amount can make climbing significantly more difficult. Most ascents are done from late July to early September (the only time the ridges are not usually covered with snow and ice).
CampingCamping is permitted in the campgrounds near the parking lot. If camping isn't what you had in mind then the Wheeler Hut, maintained by the ACC, offers great accommodation (phone 678-3200).
If you're still looking for more comfortable accommodation then book into the Best Western Hotel, located at Roger's Pass. They've got beer, a hot tub, and nice comfy beds.
Mountain ConditionsWeather Conditions:
- Mountainwerks Trip Report
- Accident History
- Geocities Trip Report
- Alpinistas Trip Report
- Northwest Climber Photo Trip Report
Additions and Corrections[ Post an Addition or Correction ]