Indian Ridge

Trip Details
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Monday, June 30, 2008
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,752
Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,059
Elevation Gain (m): 
460
Total Distance (km): 
20.00
YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Difficulty Notes: 

Moderate scrambling on the Kane route.

Map
Trip Report

I decided early on in 2008 that it was time I bagged a few of the Kane peaks in Jasper National Park. In the span of two weeks I've now completed over half of them! Indian Ridge and The Whistlers were my latest Jasper peaks. I shared the pleasure with two nephews and two brother-in-laws on June 30 2008.

 

Part of me hesitates to claim The Whistlers as a summit on my summit log, but since I down-climbed the whole trail and ran into an aggressive bear for all my efforts, I'm claiming it. I've done a lot less work for a summit in Jasper before! (Amber Mountain is a simple hike up about 20 meters and off to the side of the main trail when you're already on the Skyline trail. Signal Mountain isn't much more of an effort than Amber.)

 

We were the first ones at the tram and soon were rocketing up the first part of The Whistlers. I hate trams. It didn't help that there were only teenage summer students running the thing and they seemed very fresh at it. I also happened to know that the week before, the tram was shut down for maintenance so I wasn't in the best of spirits as we rode the 1" cable up the mountain!

 

We stepped off the tram station at around 9:30 AM and began the trudge up The Whistlers (about 200 meters height gain). The weather was beautiful with mostly clear skies and only a bit of haze off to the south. My two brothers-in-law were doing pretty good and my two nephews didn't seem to have any issues with the first part of the ascent either. We were all huffing pretty good by the top of Whistlers but we made good time (25 minutes) and the views were great in all directions - especially Mount Robson off to the Northwest. It wasn't that strange to think that there were some people just stranded for 18 days on that mountain - it looks pretty intimidating from 80km away!

 

After some drinks and photos on The Whistlers (named after the numerous Marmots up there), we descended into the tranquil valley between The Whistlers and Indian Ridge. This height loss is important to note, as you have to regain it on the way back! It's about 180 meters and it feels like it. I was looking at the snow on Indian Ridge, just before the summit, and thinking that we were going to have to be lucky to summit in those conditions, but I kept silent about it. Sometimes things look a lot easier when you're a bit closer, especially mountains. As we went higher the route became a bit more exposed to climber's right. One of the boys began to get a wee bit nervous and even my brothers-in-law were getting a bit overcome with the views and the airy feeling that comes with ridge walking. I love scrambling with people who have never done it because it helps me remember why I do it!

 


[Harold hikes up from the tram station to The Whistlers.]


[Indian Ridge looks fantastic in the clear morning light. The peak is on the upper left of the photo. The entire traverse is visible here.]


[Looking back at The Whistlers summit. We lost about 180 vertical meters before going back up Indian Ridge.]


[Calvin coming up Indian Ridge. Pyramid Mountain in the background just left of The Whistlers.]

 

Eventually we came up to the snow. It was actually a cornice that hung out over the north face of the ridge - not a good place to fall down. I thought the snow was pretty bomber and would most likely hold but there was no way I was letting my two nephews take that kind of risk! My sister would kill me if anything happened to them. They were done anyway as the route steepened considerably above this point. We agreed that I would tag the summit and come back to the group before heading back down. I quickly went over the ridge, trying not to stray onto the cornice. The last part was the best in terms of scrambling with good holds and pretty solid rock. I still think this is more 'low-moderate' than 'easy', especially when compared to other easy scrambles I've done. At the summit there were great views in every direction. The mountains to the west were especially colorful and Edith Cavell and Robson tried to steal the show in opposite directions. When I peered down at the group waiting below, my one brother-in-law yelled that he was coming up. I went down a bit and helped him up some of the steep stuff which made him a bit nervous but also exhilarated. Now my sister's really going to hate me - when her husband decides to bag peaks! :-) He was really blown away by the views and the feeling of a summit - his first real Rockies summit ever! (He's done Tunnel Mountain but that hardly counts...)

 

 


[Summit view from Indian Ridge looking North. Robson is tiny dot in middle...]


[Mount Robson.]


[Mount Edith Cavell.]


[The Ramparts.]


[Beautiful valley behind Indian Ridge, looking west.]


[Harold and Vern on the summit of Indian Ridge.]


[Another look at the beautiful valley.]


[Summit panorama. ++]

 

The way back was without incident. When we got to the tram there was a huge backup of people. Apparently something wasn't quite working with one of the cars. This made me VERY anxious since I hate those things at the best of times. When we were told it would be "at least an hour", I mentioned that I was hiking down the Whistlers hiking trail and they could meet me at the bottom.

 

 


[Descending the ridge. Not that easy...]


[There is some risk here - that's why I went first! :-)]


[Coming back down the ridge.]


[Typical terrain on the ridge.]


[Clouds add drama to the Indian Ridge valley.]


[Looking over the north end of Indian Ridge.]


[Another shot of Robson as we descend.]


[The colors are amazing as is the terrain!]


[Awesome lighting created by moving clouds. |]


[More drama.]

 


[The namesake of The Whistlers.]


[The tram station with the descent trail clearly visible.]

 

Of course, my nephews didn't want to sit around for 1.5 hours either so they right away volunteered to come with me. Now my two brothers-in-law weren't going to be out-hiked by a couple of youngsters so they also decided (reluctantly) to follow me down! Ooops. The Whistlers trail is not a great one. Don't say I didn't warn you. The views are very limited. There are mosquitoes and water on the trail and after descending quite quickly the trail drags on and ofor way too long. It got very annoying the more east (away from the parking lot) we got. I knew that the trail head was different than the tram parking lot but didn't think it was that far away.

 

Right before getting to the trail head (we could see the vehicles in the parking lot) I brought up my nephews with a shout. Just below us, on the trail was a rather large black bear! We had been yelling for bears the whole way down, and even ran into some people going up, so I was surprised when the bear just looked at us and started coming up the trail - straight for us!! This wasn't cool. I expected the bear to run into the bush - I knew that an aggressive bear isn't to be trifled with so I coaxed my (nervous at this point) nephews back up the trail towards my two brothers-in-law who were a bit behind us. I knew that it would take an insane bear to challenge 5 people. Once the brothers-in-law caught up to us we all slowly went down the trail to the parking lot with no more signs of the bear. We did hear an air horn and someone yelling though. As we trekked the trail from the hiking parking lot to the tram parking lot I conjectured that the yelling and the air horn was some idiot trying to scare the bear away from the road. I wondered why they didn't just shut up and leave the bear alone.

 

 


[Descending the trail that never ends!]


[Some sections were easier than others.]

 

As we got closer to the hostel (it sits between the two parking lots) the air horn and yelling got louder and louder. We were all yelling because we knew the bear was close by and soon the yelling started over-lapping. "Get out of that bush", someone yelled at us. "What the heck do you think we're doing?", we yelled back. The most bizarre sight greeted us in the hostel's back yard. Some dude with no shirt was standing on a pile of logs with an air horn in his right hand and both hands raised above his head! When I asked him what the heck he was doing he replied that we had scared no less than 4 bears into the hostel area on our way down The Whistlers and he was busy scaring them right back up the trail!! I told him that he was not doing the single girl or the two Japanese tourists (with a yippy little dog) any favors but he didn't seem to care that he was disturbing 4 bears back up a popular hiking trail towards unsuspecting hikers. What an idiot. I really do hope that no-one else ran into those bears because that's why they were so aggressive. It was either some hikers or a dude with an air horn - most smart bears would take their chances with the hikers. That is why the bear we saw wasn't scared of us like he should have been. The good news is that yelling while hiking definitely works, the bad news is that sometimes you end up chasing the bears right down to the parking lot where they have little choice but to come straight back up at you!

 

The short hike up the highway in 32 degree heat almost killed us but we made it. A highly recommended scramble but I would suggest waiting till the snow clears and doing the whole traverse of Indian Ridge on a clear day. That would be a much better use of your energy then hiking down the Whistlers trail!

 

Comments

Yesterday, I hiked The Whistlers, followed by Indian Ridge. I hiked up from the bottom of the tram, then up to Whistlers Peak, then up to Indian Ridge. And I started this hike at 11:30am! Needless to say, it was a long day. The hike up to The Whistlers was pretty easy. All uphill, but not difficult. Indian Ridge, on the other hand, was difficult. The hike up is steep. Then you're scrambling to the top on [I]very[/I] loose rock. If you're a climber, or are at least a very experienced hiker / scrambler, this is not difficult. But you do need to be very cautious. The loose rock is a major hazard. Finally up on the ridge, wow!!! The view was unreal. To your left is incredible red and black rock, with an impossibly blue lake at its base. It is one of the most beautiful views I've seen. And, of course, you can see Mt. Robson off in the distance. The view was worth the effort. I had to decide then whether to walk the whole ridge and attempt the Kane scramble on The Notch, having read that it is quite unsafe. At this point, it was 5pm and storm clouds were rolling in. Of course, I decided to go for it. The ridge walk was easy and pleasant, but the scramble / traverse on the other end was not. You scramble up to the top of The Notch, and then you [I]want[/I] to stay high, instead of walking on the scree slope below, but that is a mistake. Staying on top of the rock will get you to a straight cliff drop-off that is impossible to get down. I then had to retreat, cross a scary little bit all over again, and go lower down, walking on the steep loose rock slope. This was not pleasant. Every step could send you sliding down the slope. You really need to dig your feet in to the loose rock, and trust them. I came to one point where I needed to get down a big piece of rock, and it was not easy. I had to take my back-pack off and throw it down (it almost took a trip down the mountain!), then very carefully lower myself down. I finally made it across the awful loose rock slope, then I had to hike down to the valley, then up The Whistlers again, as I had left my friend at the top of the tram. So up I went. I got back at 9:30pm, completely knackered. I will say this. This ridge hike is only for those very comfortable on rock. It is difficult, and, at times, scary (at least if you go down The Notch). It would be easy to take an unwanted trip down the loose rock slope, so don't take anyone with you who isn't very experienced! I did this hike alone, and found that that was likely the safest option, as it would have been dangerous for most. It is most definitely worth it, but be careful!!! Next time, I would likely turn around and go back the way I came, instead of going down The Notch. Sorry, no pictures. Just trust me - it's beautiful!!!

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