Albertawow

Mount Athabasca AA Col Alpine Climb

  Ratings:    Ratings 5 Star
Time/Dist: 8 to 10 hours / 8K return Elevation Gain: 1520m

 

Trailhead: Mount Athabasca is located near the Columbia Icefields, 100kms south of Jasper approximately 111kms north of Lake Louise. Directly in front of the Icefields Centre. Jasper National Park.

Description: Mount Athabasca (3,491m) is not a day hike but a mountaineering objective that requires technical knowledge of glacier travel, crevasse rescue and climbing techniques. Attempting this route without proper equipment and knowledge would be a seriously dangerous undertaking. Research shows that climbing Mt Athabasca via the west side (AA col) is becoming increasingly popular due to less objective hazard than the popular northern glacier approach routes. The AA col approach is generally shaded until early afternoon which makes for great snow conditions and less avalanche danger. After an early alpine start (2:30am) we parked at the Mt Athabasca climbers parking lot and geared up for the day. (The bus gate is usually left open in the early morning for climbers)  A registry box is there to sign in with your party and route objective and is recommended that you don’t forget to check back in at the end of your trip for obvious reasons. From the parking lot hike up the bus road until you reach the snow coach parking area where you will find a trail leading up through moraines on your immediate left. Follow this trail (sometimes obscured) up and around Athabasca’s west buttress which leads to the Athabasca, Andromeda Col (AA col). The AA glacier and icefall will be on your right but will most likely go unnoticed because of the time of day and shortness of breath from slogging through moraine rock for at least an hour.

Following the trail, work your way up the moraines until a small headwall is reached where some scrambling is required. Climbing here is short and straight forward but be cautious of kicking rocks down on your team as well as keep in mind the possibility of rock fall from the cliffs above. This is not a place you would want to stop for very long. Shortly after the headwall you will reach the AA glacier situated above the icefall and here is where we geared up for glacier travel. Work your way up the glacier on easy terrain keeping an eye out for potential crevasses. We climbed left of center towards Athabasca’s snow slopes left of the AA col and had to jump over several small crevasses. Once passed the bergschrund we kiwi coiled our ropes and headed up the slope. The first section of the slope was a moderate snow climb of 30-40 degrees but the last 60m or so was a steeper 45+. Some parties choose to pitch the last (or entire) section with protection but different conditions would call for different decisions. Once atop the slope; this is a good spot to hydrate and nourish while also taking off your crampons and ropes (conditions permitting). The summit ridge is in view to your left. After a hundred or so yards of hiking along the ridge you will reach the silver horn which is bypassed on the climbers right and offers a little notch of shelter where we, once again, geared up with ropes and crampons for the summit push. During the final 60 yards of the summit ridge, Athabasca’s north face routes will be visible down your left while views of the Saskatchewan glacier, Mts. Castleguard and Andromeda will be on your right. Directly behind you is Snowdome, Mt. Kichener, the Twins and Columbia off in the distance. If you have the weather, the view will certainly be something to remember. Photo's below were taken in early August.

Near Here: Local campgrounds include Wilcox Creek, Icefields Centre Parking Lot, Columbia Icefields Tents Only. There are several hikes located in this area. Parker Ridge, Hilda Ridge, Hilda Glacier, Boundary Peak, Boundary Lake, Nigel Pass, Weeping Wall, Wilcox Pass, Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb, Mount Athabasca North Glacier, Castleguard Mountain Alpine Climb and the Saskatchewan Glacier. You are in bear country.

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Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Athabasca  
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Athabasca AA Col Glacier Mount Athabasca AA Col Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Athabasca AA Col Glacier Mount Athabasca AA Col Glacier
   
 
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Athabasca AA Col Glacier Mount Athabasca AA Col Towards Mount Andromeda
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
  Mount Athabasca AA Col Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Andromeda And Saskatchewan Glacier Below Mount Athabasca Mount Andromeda AA Col Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mt. Saskatchewan, Mt  Andromeda, Saskatchewan Glacier Mount Andromeda And Snow Dome
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Jasper Highway  Columbia Icefields Centre Mt. Saskatchewan, Mt  Andromeda, Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Views From Just Below The Silver Horn Views From The Silver Horn
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Athabasca Silver Horn Mount Athabasca Summit Ridge
   
 
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Andromeda And Mount Columbia Mount Athabasca Summit Ridge Towards Silver Horn
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Athabasca Summit Ridge West Mount Saskatchewan And The Saskatchewan Glacier Below
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
  Saskatchewan Glacier And Castleguard Mountain Below
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Athabasca Summit Ridge Looking North Mount Athabasca Summit Ridge North West
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
East Glacier  Mount Andromeda East Glacier Andromeda
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mt. Saskatchewan, Mt. Andromeda, Saskatchewan Glacier East Glacier Off Mount Andromeda
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
   
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