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Boundary Peak

Summit Elevation (m): 2871
Elevation Gain (m): 880
Round Trip Time (hr): 5
Total Trip Distance (km): 8
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain something.
Difficulty Notes: Mostly hiking and easy scrambling with some very loose terrain and minor exposure along the summit ridge. Only attempt if dry.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps


Since school was just around the corner (where does time go?!) and Hanneke, 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! Of course, since I’m a peakbagger and we had another two days to do other things besides the shale tour, I found us a nice peak to bag on Saturday, August 20.

Boundary Peak Route Map

So Nakagawa had posted 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. 🙂

Hiking up to the climber’s parking lot in the morning. No buses yet…

We parked in the parking lot at the beginning of the Icefields tour bus / approach 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. (Update 2016: For the past two years, the climber’s parking lot has been closed and replaced by the new staging area for the buses. Now you really don’t have a choice but to walk up the road and I’m not even sure this is technically allowed.)

Kaycie and Niko in front of the very popular Mount Athabasca.
Great views back towards Wilcox (L) and Nigel Peak (R) which I did with my brother in a day back in 2007.

Right before the bridge at the climber’s lot we turned up to climber’s left and scree bashed mostly on an obvious trail all the way 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 30 km of walking in two days. Not bad for a 10 and 12 year old. They’ll be hiking me into the ground soon… 😐

Up to this point we were only hiking, but there’s some easy scrambling and limited exposure to get up onto the summit from here.
Panorama from Hilda on the left to Wilcox and Sunwapta on the right. The first ascent of Athabasca ascended across the north glacier from right to left to the ridge in the foreground, which was followed to the summit. This route is very rarely repeated thanks to modern global warming.

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 over an hour at the summit in warm and windless conditions.

Looking north up hwy #93 over Mount Wilcox and the Icefields Center at center. Sunwapta to the right of Wilcox and Nigel at far right. Kitchener at left.
Hiking beneath giants.
Sublime view of Nigel (L) and Hilda (R) with Hilda Tarn at center. Mount Stewart at distance center.

Boundary Peak is an outstanding scramble with amazing views, done with my kids. What could be better than that? I highly recommend this outing!

Boundary Peak
52 photos
Hiking up to the climber's parking lot in the morning. No buses yet...
Hiking up to the climber's parking lot in the morning. No buses yet...
Things look a lot different here now, but this was the view in 2011, looking over the climber's parking lot towards Snow Dome and Kitchener (R).
Things look a lot different here now, but this was the view in 2011, looking over the climber's parking lot towards Snow Dome and Kitchener (R).
Following a faint trail in the scree.
Following a faint trail in the scree.
Kaycie and Niko in front of the very popular Mount Athabasca.
Kaycie and Niko in front of the very popular Mount Athabasca.
The highway in scree!
The highway in scree!
Impressive views north and we're not near the summit yet - this is Woolley, Diadem and Mushroom Peak (L to R).
Impressive views north and we're not near the summit yet - this is Woolley, Diadem and Mushroom Peak (L to R).
Great views back towards Wilcox (L) and Nigel Peak (R) which I did with my brother in a day back in 2007.
Great views back towards Wilcox (L) and Nigel Peak (R) which I did with my brother in a day back in 2007.
Sunwapta Peak.
Sunwapta Peak.
KC almost slipped here - proving even easy scrambles can have issues.
KC almost slipped here - proving even easy scrambles can have issues.
A trilobite.
A trilobite.
Still on the scree highway - but it's getting loose now.
Still on the scree highway - but it's getting loose now.
Coming up the loose scree trail to the summit ridge.
Coming up the loose scree trail to the summit ridge.
Coming up the loose scree trail to the summit ridge.
Coming up the loose scree trail to the summit ridge.
Up to this point we were only hiking, but there's some easy scrambling and limited exposure to get up onto the summit from here.
Up to this point we were only hiking, but there's some easy scrambling and limited exposure to get up onto the summit from here.
Summits include, Athabasca, Snow Dome, Kitchener, Stutfield NE, Woolley, Diadem and Mushroom.
Summits include, Athabasca, Snow Dome, Kitchener, Stutfield NE, Woolley, Diadem and Mushroom.
A glorious summit!
A glorious summit!
The kids and Hilda Peak (R). Cirrus and Stewart in the distant background.
The kids and Hilda Peak (R). Cirrus and Stewart in the distant background.
The kids and Hilda Peak (R). Cirrus and Stewart in the distant background.
The kids and Hilda Peak (R). Cirrus and Stewart in the distant background.
The first ascent of Athabasca ascended across the north glacier from right to left to the ridge in the foreground
The first ascent of Athabasca ascended across the north glacier from right to left to the ridge in the foreground
Hilda, Athabasca, Snow Dome, Kitchener and other distant giants.
Hilda, Athabasca, Snow Dome, Kitchener and other distant giants.
Looking north up hwy #93 over Mount Wilcox at center. Sunwapta to the right of Wilcox and Nigel at far right.
Looking north up hwy #93 over Mount Wilcox at center. Sunwapta to the right of Wilcox and Nigel at far right.
Snow Dome (L) and Kitchener (R).
Snow Dome (L) and Kitchener (R).
Snow Dome with a cloud cap.
Snow Dome with a cloud cap.
Looking carefully at the north glacier on Athabasca, you can spot tracks going up under the seracs and even a serac fall covering them at left!
Looking carefully at the north glacier on Athabasca, you can spot tracks going up under the seracs and even a serac fall covering them at left!
The Silverhorn route is a classic and looks surprisingly snowy considering it's August!
The Silverhorn route is a classic and looks surprisingly snowy considering it's August!
The north ridge doesn't look easy.
The north ridge doesn't look easy.
There was rumored to be a scramble route up Hilda, but I've only heard of 5.5 climbing so maybe not... ;)
There was rumored to be a scramble route up Hilda, but I've only heard of 5.5 climbing so maybe not... 😉
Cirrus, or Mount Huntington, is an impressive massif to the southeast.
Cirrus, or Mount Huntington, is an impressive massif to the southeast.
Sunwapta is an impressive peak at just under 11,000 feet high.
Sunwapta is an impressive peak at just under 11,000 feet high.
Posing with the kids in front of Mount Athabasca.
Posing with the kids in front of Mount Athabasca.
Mount Columbia - the highest peak in Alberta - is just visible through clouds on the Icefields.
Mount Columbia - the highest peak in Alberta - is just visible through clouds on the Icefields.
Woolley and Diadem lose their cloud cap.
Woolley and Diadem lose their cloud cap.
Nigel Peak is a great scramble.
Nigel Peak is a great scramble.
Another gorgeous view of the north ridge of Athabasca.
Another gorgeous view of the north ridge of Athabasca.
A lazy summer day on the summit of Boundary Peak.
A lazy summer day on the summit of Boundary Peak.
Mount Saskatchewan is another near 11,000er.
Mount Saskatchewan is another near 11,000er.
Mount Amery is another peak that was rumored to be 11,000 feet but Eric and I conclusively proved it is shy of that mark in 2012.
Mount Amery is another peak that was rumored to be 11,000 feet but Eric and I conclusively proved it is shy of that mark in 2012.
The Wilcox Meadows and Pass area between Wilcox and Nigel Peak looks like an alien landscape from here.
The Wilcox Meadows and Pass area between Wilcox and Nigel Peak looks like an alien landscape from here.
The Wilcox Meadows and Pass area between Wilcox and Nigel Peak looks like an alien landscape from here.
The Wilcox Meadows and Pass area between Wilcox and Nigel Peak looks like an alien landscape from here.
Views of Mount Wilcox and the meadows beneath.
Views of Mount Wilcox and the meadows beneath.
Sublime view of Nigel (L) and Hilda (R) with Hilda Tarn at center.
Sublime view of Nigel (L) and Hilda (R) with Hilda Tarn at center.
Carefully descending the loose terrain under the summit.
Carefully descending the loose terrain under the summit.
More loose terrain - hikers may not be comfortable here.
More loose terrain - hikers may not be comfortable here.
Back in the lower meadows.
Back in the lower meadows.
Gorgeous views past Wilcox towards Woolley and Diadem.
Gorgeous views past Wilcox towards Woolley and Diadem.
A local resident ignores us as we tramp by.
A local resident ignores us as we tramp by.
Hiking beneath giants.
Hiking beneath giants.
A small ledge to get down from the meadows.
A small ledge to get down from the meadows.
Touron Heaven.
Touron Heaven.
Tourists clogging the lower Athabasca Glacier, the heavy glaciated ramp and ice fall approach to the Columbia Icefields in the distance.
Tourists clogging the lower Athabasca Glacier, the heavy glaciated ramp and ice fall approach to the Columbia Icefields in the distance.
Back on the approach road.
Back on the approach road.

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