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Trad, Snow, Alpine, 5000 ft (1515 m), Grade II,
Avg: 3.5 from 13
FA: JWA Hickson, EL Redford, E Fuez Jr, August 1920
> N America
> Icefields Parkway
> Mt Athabasca
The Ice Field Snocoaches gate is closed during buisness hours, but the gate is open in the wee hours. This allows for a alpine start, but you may have to wait for a bus to open the gate to get out during the day.
This standard route was first descended in 1898 by Norman Collie and Hermann Wooley, after an unguided ascent of the harder North Ridge. Collie is credit with discovering and naming Mount Colombia and the Colombia Icefield.
This route needs an alpine start because the gate to the access road is only left open at night. There is a second gate, never unlocked for climbers, just past the trail parking.
The trail to the glacier can be sussed out with headlamps, but it gets steep and loose. First-timers might consider preinspecting the trail in daylight.
Once on the glacier there are only a few crevasses to avoid or hop. The crux of the route is the traverse above the calving ice cliff. The giant cliff below, combined with crevasses that parallel the traverse, leave little room for error. With inexperienced partners, consider a pitch or two along the traverse, with some pickets or long screws for anchors.
After the traverse, a long snow slope ends with a loose trail to the top of the shoulder. The final summit ridge is easy and scenic.
One person I know soloed the route with only hiking poles in August. If you're going to be tied to someone, then bring glacier travel gear (Boots, axe, crampons, gloves).