Mount Weed makes for an interesting objective as its summit view gives up several prime alpine routes along the Icefields Parkway, including the Snowbird Glacier and East Face, IV 5.6, of Mount Patterson
(photo) right across the road that is in view during most of the Mount Weed’s ascent. You will also see the upper Northeast Buttress, V 5.8-A0, on Howse Peak
; Mount Chephren’s East Face, V 5.9-A1 as well as the Wild Thing on Chephren, VI 5.9-A3-WI 4
, White Pyramid’s tame East Ridge, II and Mount Forbes
way in the distance, one of the popular 11,000’ers. Mount Weed was officially named in 1903 after a member of the Appalachian Club who made a number of first ascents in the Canadian Rockies. It was actually first ascended by the Kingmans guided by Hasler in 1936.
Although this scramble is not often ascended, it offers a straight forward day and its southern slopes can be in considerably better shape then its neighbors on the west side of the Icefields Parkway. The only published route is the scramble route in Alan Kane’s Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies guide book and he rates it a moderate. I consider it on the easy side of moderate. His estimation of time is 6-9 hours and I took 5.5 hours round trip. The total ascent via altimeter was 4500’+/-. The views are quite tremendous, with the ability to see Mount Assiniboine
to the east on a clear day. The Wapta
, Freshfield and Lyell Icefileds are very visible to the west. Mount Weed is just about the most centered scramble along the Icefields Parkway to take in the scenery and peaks south of the Columbia Icefield.
The Trans-Canada Highway runs from Calgary through Banff and Yoho National Parks on its way to Vancouver. As you pass through Lake Louise heading westbound, you want to exit onto the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) towards Jasper. Travel north 29 miles, 48kms, along the Icefields Parkway. Mount Weed will be on your right hand side and come into full view as you approach after descending from the Bow Summit pass.
You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter Banff National Park coming from the east on the Trans-Canada. 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 Banff or Yoho National Parks, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the conventional campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. The huts are managed by the Alpine Club of Canada
versus the Parks. The Alpine Club of Canada headquarters is located in Canmore, AB, the Banff National Park headquarters is located in Banff, AB and Yoho National Park headquarters is located in Field, BC.
You will drive through the manned national park kiosks as you enter Banff National Park on the Trans-Canada. You will drive through a kiosk area again as you gain the Icefield Parkway. However, it is normally not manned in the winter and the road is closed regularly due to bad weather conditions.
This is active grizzly country, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person during the non-hibernation periods. I advise checking with Parks Canada
for any area and/or trail closures.
When to Climb
As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Mount Weed in late October and found the route relatively dry, little ice or wet snow. Some years, that would not be the case in October. This is a southern route and gets more sun than other routes.
There is a variety of camping up and down the Icefields Parkway during the summer months, however, much of it is closed in the fall, winter and spring. You can go on line at Banff 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. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas unless you are also in possession of a specific horse grazing permit. The Rampart Creek Hostel
is close by and serves as a good base. Rates for dorm style were $23-$27 in 2006. It has 24 beds and reservations are recommended. (866) 762-4122
The Banff National Park website
has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports
is also extremely useful.