Since school was just around the corner (where does time go?!) and my wife was on call for the weekend, we decided that the weekend of August 19-21, 2011 would be a good weekend for a father / kids adventure. After some debate, the kids and I decided that Yoho would be a cool place to camp and the Burgess Shale guided tour would be a pretty awesome thing to try! (My son wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up...)
Of course, since I'm a peakbagger and we had another two days to do other things besides the Burgess shale tour, I found us a nice peak to bag on Saturday, August 20.
So Nakagawa (see other trip reports) had a report of a trip up Boundary Peak in Jasper National Park with amazing views of the Columbia Icefields and especially Mount Athabasca. When I queried him about details he mentioned that it was 'easy scrambling' so I filed it away as a possible hike for the family some day. That day came sooner than I thought it would!
So was right. Boundary is an easy scramble, but it is still a scramble, not 'just' a hike. With almost 900 meters of height gain and lots of it on extremely loose and unstable terrain with exposure near the summit on the final ridge, this is not just a 'walk in the park' - it's a 'grunt in the park'. :-)
We parked in the parking lot at the beginning of the icefields tour road. The sign by the road says no walking but we ignored it and walked to the climber's parking lot. Next time I'll just drive around the arm and park in the climber's lot. It saves about 100 meters of height gain and roughly 1 km of walking but more importantly you don't have 18 buses / minute passing you on the way down.
Right before the bridge at the climber's lot we turned up to climber's left and scree bashed mostly on an obvious trail to the peak. We briefly considered taking the northeast ridge instead of the north scree face to the summit but on hindsight I'm glad we didn't. The final few hundred meters of height gain is on brutal scree - looser than I've experienced in a while! We found a pretty cool fossil on the way up which inspired the kids to keep going - thank goodness! I was very impressed with them. Between Boundary and the Burgess hike they did 1700 meters of height gain and 30km of walking in two days. Not bad for a 10 and 12 year old. They'll be hiking me into the ground soon... :-|
The views at the summit make this minor bump totally worth it. Boundary is the same height as Wilcox with slightly more limited views (since it's so close to Athabasca). Of course the views of Athabasca are amazing the whole day. We spent 1 hour at the summit in warm and windless conditions. An outstanding scramble with amazing views, done with my kids. What could be better?
Hiking up to the climber's parking lot in the morning. No buses yet...
My two awesome kids. Niko and Kaycie in front of the magnificant Mount Athabasca.
The trail is really obvious in places and all but disappears in others.
I taught the kids a lesson in snow patches. They make life easier when they're semi-soft, but make life much more dangerous when hard and icy without crampons.
A beautiful morning view towards Wilcox Pass with Wilcox on the left and Nigel on the right (click for full size).
A trilobite fossil. Niko was very excited to find this!
The final rubble slope is a nasty piece of work. One step foward and two back sometimes. The view helps though.
Finally on the summit ridge! A bit of exposure here and there if you're not used to it. The kids seem unphased by exposure at this point.
Exposure? An amazing summit view, shared with a gnome and two kids. How many summits have you been on with a gnome?! For me it was a first.
Part of Mount Kitchner.
The north ramp route on Athabasca has some obvious objective hazards. No one on the route today!
Summit view (click for full size) includes Athbasca, Snowdome, Kitchener, Alberta, Whoolley, Diadem and many more!
Hilda peak and looking south off the summit (click for full size).
Another view with Hilda Peak and a small lake, looking south off the summit (click for full size).
The Silverhorn route on Athabasca.
Sunwapta Peak is always striking from this angle and view through Wilcox Pass.
Mount Columbia shows up (almost)!
Whoolley and Diadem - high on my list!
Kitchener and part of the Columbia Icefields.
Mount Athabasca with the Athabasca Glacier.
Mount Saskatchewan shows up beside Hilda Peak.
Mount Alberta is hiding in the clouds today.
A cool view of the hiking trail up to Wilcox Pass.
Close-up of an avalanche crossing the north ramp route on Athabasca.
Starting down - some exposure here.
A lesson in scree skiing. The kids did great on the way back down the steep and loose slopes.
The steep scree slope.
Mount Alberta is almost showing up now!
A local resident lets us pass.
Wow. Amazing day with amazing kids and scenery.
Fall colors are starting to show.
Meanwhile the tourists are keeping people employed.
Boundary Peak from the road. It's the highest summit in the background.