Mt. Olive, NW Ridge

Page Type
Alberta/British Columbia, Canada, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Half a day
Easy/moderate depending on conditions

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Mt. Olive, NW Ridge
Created On: Jul 22, 2006
Last Edited On: Jan 14, 2007


Your first step is to reach the Bow Hut which is at the toe of the glacier. Go to Bow Lake follwing the instructions on the main page. From the parking lot follow the trail that goes around the lake. Once you are beyond the lake the trail goes up steeply on a stair-like section of trail. The trail levels out and has a branch to the right. At this junction there is also a boulder that bridges the river gorge (crossing left over the river/gorge). Using caution climb over the boulder and continue along the trail. The trail eventually emerges into a open boulder field/moraine after crossing a brisk stream. Following carins work your way towards the headwall (with large seracs!) and follow a ramp up the right side of the valley, safely back from the headwall, up to the Bow Hut. Note that this is the summer approach to the hut, for the winter approach see Dow's page on the Wapta Icefields and St. Nicholas Peak.

From the hut go west to the toe of the glacier and ascend the glacier in a left-trending line aiming towards St. Nicholas Peak. Once the grade levels off you have two choices (at least you do in summer). Your can either go around the west side of St. Nicholas peak (to your right) or to the east side of St. Nicholas Peak (not likely a good choice in winter/spring) (ie. to your left). Either way you gain the col between Mt. Olive and St. Nicholas Peak.

Route description

From the col gain the NW ridge. The ridge is mostly snow lower down and changes to an easy talus ridge higher up. Not much to say except enjoy the views and watch for cornices.

Once on the summit you can observe the ridge connecting the main summit (ie where you are currently standing) to the S summit. The traverse is fun and worth the effort. Follow the gentle ridge and above a large snow slope (on your right) that goes down to the icefields below and continuing until the scree slope to the right (west) is more inviting. Things get loose and sure footing is required. We were planning to traverse a smaller snow slope but found shallow snow covering thin ice. We went back a short distance and ascended a scree gully to regain the ridge. This part of the ridge required caution with big exposure to your left (east) and shitty rock (and your need to down climb a short section on descent). The ridge gets easy in short order and the walk to the S summit is enjoyable. Soak in the views.


On descent (from the S summit) we re-traced our steps until we were above the large snow slope. Descend the scree until you are on the snow slope. Go down the snow slope and follow the icefield around the west side of Mt. Olive and St. Nicholas Peak and follow the glacier back to the hut. If you are descending from the main summit you can simply re-trace your steps back to the hut.

Essential Gear

Rope, glacier travel gear, ice axe, sun protection, we didn't need crampons but you never know, clothing for unpredictable weather etc.

Mt. Olive, NW Ridge

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