The Approach to Berg Lake, Mount Robson
I spent three days on the approach to Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park from the 3rd May to the 5th. It was one of the best mountain experiences I have ever had and was one of the most beautiful parks I have ever seen. Like all mountains though, Mount Robson had to take its pound of flesh and I wasn’t even going near the fabled summit.
My trip to Robson began on the night of the 3rd of May. I arrived in Robson Provincial Park around 1730 and immediate set off down the Berg Lake Trail. Movement was slow. To be honest, I am new to BC and I was afraid of wild animals, I was yelling like a mad man to myself and was convince around every bend was a bear. I was the only person in the park and from the signs I could see on the trail was that only a chain saw crew had been there before me. I made it within 400 meters of Kinney Lake before I was forced to turn around by the approach of darkness because of a forgotten headlamp. I spent the night sleeping in my car getting ready for an alpine start to my next attempt on the Berg Lake Trail.
That morning, after being woken up by a mouse that had managed to sneak into my car, I set off down the trail once again. Of course it would turn out that was the closest I ever got to a wild beast of the forest. This time I was able to make it to Kinney Lake but again turned back after I realized I had carelessly dropped a glove a few kilometres back. The weather was overcast, with few good views of the mountain, so after finding my glove I decided to move on for the day and head off to the Icefields Parkway and the Athabasca. The drive and the mountains were incredible.
After a night in my car near Lake Louise, I again set off for Robson in the morning driving the 3-4 hours back to step off down the trail around 1100. After two days of rain and overcast, finally the sun had come out to reveal the summit of Robson. I have been to the Himalayas and seen some truly awesome mountains but Robson is truly one of the most awe inspiring I have ever seen. As I set off down the trail I ran into two other gentlemen that were setting out for Berg Lake for the night, it just so happened that they were from Ontario as well and shared my fear of wild animals.
Erik, Harkish and I made good time towards the Valley of a Thousand Falls, but it soon slowed to a crawl after moving past White Falls. Whereas the valleys had been clear of snow, once past White Falls we were quickly faced with a meter to a meter and a half of snow. I took the lead and broke trail up to Emperor Falls, I knew that I would be turning around to go back at some point whereas by companions had the harder go of moving with heavier packs and furthermore had another five kilometres at least to get to the first Berg Lake campground. As I reached Emperor Falls the clock struck four and as it was by designated turnaround time I took some poor angle photos and took off back down the snow cover trail.
I was glad to be off the hellish approach, but I was saddened that I hadn’t been able to reach Berg Lake. It was an easy thirty-two kilometer round trip over some very difficult terrain. By 1930 I was back in the car and out of the park. Totally exhausted and with destroyed feet. I had learned my lessons though. The primary one same if you are going to go into the mountains in the North Rockies in the spring prepare for the winter and all the extra considerations that entails.
Finishing The Quest
Over the course of two days on the 21-22 May 2012, my friend Zach and I completed the hike to Berg Lake, Mount Robson. This was a goal that I had tried to complete two weeks earlier but was unable to do so due to the deep snow and improper equipment. We took two days to complete the trip and covered an amazingly varied mountain environment.
The hike was much easier than it had been two weeks before. There was less snow at the lower elevations around Kinney Lake and the Valley of a Thousand Falls. Although from Emperor Falls to just before Berg Lake the moving was very slow due to the continued presence of deep snow. The weather was incredibility varied from bright sunny skies to blizzard conditions and back to sun all within thirty minutes. Spring time in the Northern Rockies is definitely a time of unstable climatic conditions.
We set off from Kinney Lake around nine in the morning and took us until two-thirty to reach Berg Lake. We took our time and took in the beautiful landscapes as we slowly ascended towards Berg Lake. The alpine environment around Berg Lake was an especially unique place with vast glaciers and the towering spectre of Mount Robson. We spent the major of our belief time around the south-end of Berg Lake and Mist Glacier. I only wish that I had spent more time around Berg Lake, it is definitely an area that somebody should spend a few days in to truly appreciate.
We were pretty tried on the march out but managed to move much faster than on the approach. Leaving Berg Lake at five-thirty and arriving at the Kinney Lake campground just before eight. After quickly eating and packing up our supplies we were out of the Park by quarter after nine. We had covered forty kilometres that day in varied conditions and elevations with packs. It was good to be in the car.
Overall, it was an amazing trip. Mount Robson Provincial Park is truly an inspirational place; there is no other place quite like it. I am very happy that I was able to come back and complete the hike and Berg Lake is definitely a place that I will be back to. Although next time I will make sure to have more time to truly appreciate the special nature of the mountain.