Approaching Mt Columbia from the Trench, photo:rplasman
Sitting right on the Alberta-British Columbia border, at one time called Gamma, Mount Columbia is the second highest in the Canadian Rockies. The highest is Mount Robson. It's southern glacier drains into the Bush river which in turn feeds the Columbia river. This mountain is one often approched on skies up to the east face or South ridge. The last 1-200 meters being done by foot. Fickle weather in the area often creates problems for climbers.
Getting to the trailhead-base of the peak
East Face of Mount Columbia on June 3, 2004. Photo: 1under
From Banff, take Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway, to Lake Louise, then turn north on Highway 93, the Icefield Parkway, to reach the mountain. The trailhead is found just west of Highway 93, 189 kilometers north of Banff. A small Snocoach Road leading to the trailhead is across the highway from the Columbia Icefield Centre, 103 kilometers south of Jasper, Alberta.
From here make your way up to the top of the Athatbasca Glacier. Head southwest for 7km to a prominent trench where you may place your camp.
First ascents and climbing season in the Columbia Icefield
Andromeda in the background (far left) as the sun is just starting to rise. Photo: 1under
FIRST ASCENT South ridge
1902 by James Outram and guide Christian Kaufmann via the south ridge from Thompson Pass.
1951 by George Ball and David Michael.
North Face/North Ridge
August, 1970 by Chris Jones and Graham Thompson.
July, 1937 by Rex Gibson, Striling Hendricks and Ken Boucher.
For most people. Two season two modes of transportation.
March to Mid-July on Skis.
Mid-July to September on foot.
Mountain Conditions and Weather in the Columbia Icefield
Environment Canada Website>Environment Canada Complete weather reports, alerts, forecasts, satellite imaging, and more. An invaluable resource to anyone planning a trip to Mt. Columbia or the Columbia Icefield area.
Parks Canada> Home page for Parks Canada, with links to all areas of Park Canada services and information
avalanche.org/> Home page for avalanche.org/ Avalanche reports, warnings and alerts, links, news
The Canadian Rockies.com> The home page for The Canadian Rockies.com, with information on hiking, scrambling, trekking and backpacking in the Canadian Rockies
Red tape, fees and legal stuff in Jasper National Park
Reserve a campsite up to three months in advance.
Contact Parks Canada for more information.
If you wish to do some backcountry camping a permit for 8CDN$/night (maximum of 30CDN$) plus a 10CDN$ reservation fee will be required. Under 16 travel for free. All fees are to be paid in advance. Annual wilderness passes are 42CDN$, valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.
Contact the Jasper Parks Visitor Centre for more information: (780) 852-6176 or check out the Jasper National Park Home Page for trail reports and avalanche reports.
A National Park Pass is required if you will be stopping anywhere in Jasper National Park. 8CDN$ per person or 16CDN$ per vehicle.
Open campfires are not allowed anywhere in Jasper National Park, except at approved campsites.
Camping and backpacking in Jasper National Park
Columbia Icefield Campground Columbia Icefield CampgroundLocated only 1 km north of the Icefield Centre.
Available are two wood cook huts, each with a wood-fired stove and two picnic tables with benches.
A pay telephone and bulletin board for messages is located at the campground entrance. Outhouses are clean. The Icefield Campground offers no showers.
A water tap when working may provide drinkable water. A creek runs near the campground.
2.7 km south of the Columbia Icefield Centre on Highway 93.
Opens in mid-June until October.
Cost $18 per night, self-registration is in effect.
Bivouacking on Snow Dome itself will require a backcountry permit, available from Park Wardens at the Ranger Stations or the Icefield Centre for $6 a night.
Information is available at The Canadian Rockies.com. There is a backpacking information page available, look for Backpacking Jasper National Park.
Hostels Hostelling International runs a chain of excellent, low-cost hostels, four open year-round, are located near the icefield. These hostels are clean, well-kept and managed by full-time custodians. Contact numbers too come.
Most offer kitchens, gas and wood stoves.
Located at Athabasca Falls, Beauty Creek, Hilda Creek (closed now) and the town of Jasper. Reservations are recommended.
Guiding services and the Alpine Club of Canada
There are a number of number of licensed guide services throughout the area.
Snocoach glacier tours onto the Athabasca Glacier can be arranged at the Icefield Centre. These are privately led hikes supervised by local licensed guides.
Glacier ski tours by veteran climber and ACC member Marcus Kellerhals for trips on the Athabasca Glacier.
Emergency contact information
Emergency phone numbers for Jasper National Park
Royal Canadian Mountain Police
P.O. Box 1800 600 Pyramid Lake Road, Jasper, AB.
518 Robson St. Jasper, AB.
Fire & Ambulance
Jasper Firehall, Patricia St. Jasper, AB.
Park Warden Office
(780) 852-6155 / 56
Maligne Rd. Jasper, AB. (km 2)
Sunwapta Park Warden Station
Mile 45, Highway 93 (Icefield Parkway)
Pobotkan Creek Warden Station
Highway 93 (Icefield Parkway)
Search and Rescue
Jasper Park Warden (780) 852-3100
or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) at (780) 852-4848.
Yamnuska Mountaineering, Inc.> Yamnuska Mountaineering, Inc. Home Page - Added by climbwild on May 21, 2005
A comprehensive list of serices, programs, instruction, guided trips, and information, provided by one of the most highly recommended guide services in Canada.
Rescue Dynamics> Home page for Rescue Dynamics, an Edmonton, AB company specializing in high angle mountain rescue, guiding, weather reports and conditions, mountain first aid, courses, gear recall information and other links
current climbing conditions> Up-to-date weather reports, climbing conditions and other valuable information for climbers, outdoor enthusiasists and backcountry users, By Rescue Dynamics of Edmonton, AB
Environment Canada Website> # Complete weather reports, alerts, forecasts, satellite imaging, and more. An invaluable resource to anyone planning a trip to Mt. Athabasca or the Columbia Icefield area.
Parks Canada> # Home page for Parks Canada, with links to all areas of Park Canada services and information
Columbia Icefield Chalet> # Located on the top floor of the Columbia Icefield Visitors" Centre, this well-appointed hotel offers all the comforts of a modern new hotel, in the austere surroundings of the Columbia Icefield and it's awesome surrounding peaks.