Boundary Peak


Trip Details
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Trip Date: 
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Summit Elevation (m): 
Summit Elevation (ft): 
Elevation Gain (m): 
Round Trip Time: 
Total Distance (km): 
Difficulty Notes: 

Mostly hiking and easy scrambling with some very loose terrain and minor exposure along the summit ridge. Only attempt if dry.

Trip Report

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 peak bagger 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.


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. :-)


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 the road.)


[Hiking up to the climber's parking lot in the morning. No buses yet...]


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 30km of walking in two days. Not bad for a 10 and 12 year old. They'll be hiking me into the ground soon... :-|


[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.]

[Kaycie and Niko in front of the very popular Mount Athabasca.]

[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).]

[Great views back towards Wilcox (L) and Nigel Peak (R) which I did with my brother in a day back in 2007.]

[A trilobite fossil. Niko was very excited to find this!]

[Still on the scree highway - but it's getting loose now.]

[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. ++]


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.


[Mind blowing views off the summit of Boundary Peak! Summits include, AthabascaSnow DomeKitchenerStutfield NEWoolleyDiadem and Mushroom++]

[The kids and Hilda Peak (R). Cirrus and Stewart in the distant background. ++]

[Panorama from Hilda on the left to Stutfield NE 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. Click here for more about the many routes on Athabasca++]

[Looking north up hwy #93 over Mount Wilcox at center. Sunwapta to the right of Wilcox and Nigel at far right. ++]

[Telephoto of Woolley (L) and Diadem (R) with the two coulior routes on Diadem clearly visible.]

[Snow Dome (L) and Kitchener (R)]

[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!]

[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.]

[Sunwapta is an impressive peak at just under 11,000 feet high.]

[Mount Columbia - the highest peak in Alberta - is just visible through clouds on the Icefields. I finally stood on her summit on a beautiful April evening in 2015.]

[Another gorgeous view of the north ridge of Athabasca.]

[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.]

[The Wilcox Meadows and Pass area between Wilcox and Nigel Peak looks like an alien landscape from here.]

[Sublime view of Nigel (L) and Hilda (R) with Hilda Tarn at center. ++]

[Carefully descending the loose terrain under the summit.]

[More loose terrain - hikers may not be comfortable here.]

[Gorgeous views past Wilcox.]

[Hiking beneath giants.]

[Tourists clogging the lower Athabasca Glacier, the heavy glaciated ramp and ice fall approach to the Columbia Icefields in the distance. The Snow Dome seracs are obviously threatening the route!]


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

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