Mount Afton is located just southwest of Rogers Pass in southeastern British Columbia. Part of the South Selkirks, the mountain is contained within Glacier National Park, something of a bore from the road, but realized as impossibly aesthetic by those who aren’t too lazy to walk a bit uphill and into the backcountry.
Granted this small peak, a sharp little thing in its own right, has its show stolen from the nearby Mount Sir Donald
and its classic Northwest Ridge
(III 5.4), a mere couple miles to the east/southeast, but Mount Afton makes for a nice alternative for those who either a) don’t have the time or inclination to knock off the 7,800+ feet of gain to get up Sir Donald, or b) are more interested in a short, moderate scramble than a sustained and exposed technical climb.
With about 3,600 feet of gain and a roundtrip of less than 8 miles, the way to Mount Afton via Abbott Ridge offers up enjoyable hiking on the approach, decent 4th class scrambling on its east buttress, and perhaps the best mountain scenery I’ve yet come across...something of a cross between the High Sierra and the North Cascades.
Linking up Mount Afton with its close neighbor to the east, Mount Abbott
, a nice loop can be done, ascending Afton’s 4th class east buttress via Mount Abbott and descending Afton’s unstable but easy northwest ridge. A lovely tarn is passed en route.
The Trans-Canada Highway runs through Rogers Pass between Revelstoke and Golden, some 4 hours from the international airports in both Calgary, Alberta and Kamloops, British Columbia.
The pass, which sits at 4543 feet, boasts a gas station and convenience store, a Best Western ($150/night in July 2007) with a reasonably priced but so-so buffet after 5:30 PM, and a visitor’s center.
The trailhead for Mount Afton is located 1.2 miles west of Rogers Pass. If coming from the pass, turn left on a paved road signed for the Illecillewaet Campground. The campground is adjacent to the trailhead. Drive about a half mile in. There’s parking for some 20-30 vehicles.
National Park Passes are required for all vehicles stopping in the park. These passes can be gotten from the visitor’s center at the pass. As I recall, the passes are a touch pricey, about $17 or so a day. Backcountry Wilderness Passes are also required for individuals camping in the backcountry.
When to Climb
Though winter/off-season ascents might be reasonable, the optimal time to climb Mount Afton would be high summer, that being late July to early September.
Beyond the obvious comfy stay you can get at the Best Western, a number of campgrounds also inhabit the area. Closely, one can choose to stay at the aforementioned Illecillewaet Campground, or the Wheeler Hut (call the ACC at 403-678-3200 to book a spot in the hut), both of which are a 2 minute walk from the trailhead.