Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides - Climb Mount Athabasca at the Columbia Icefields

CRAG Homepage
Alpine Guiding in the Canadian Rockies
Rock climbing trips throughout Canada
Ice climbing guides and courses in Alberta & BC


Box 40087
Canmore, AB
T1W 3H9

[About our Guides]
[Prices & Booking]

"I had a great time on the climb up Mt. Athabasca, it was the high point of my trip. I enjoyed getting to know you and was very happy with the quality of your guiding. Iím just jealous of how fit you are!"
Eric - Boulder, Colorado.

Mt. Athabasca Blog postings:
Silverhorn (Sep 2009)
AA Col Route (June 2009)
N. Face (July 2009)

Guided Trips up Mt. Athabasca Athabasca's Silverhorn & North Face Routes

Elevation: 3491m / 11453ft
Location: Columbia Icefields, 2.5 hours from Canmore, 1 hour from Jasper.
Season: June - September (winter ascents are also sometimes possible).
Logistics: For all climbs at the Columbia Icefields it is highly recommended that you camp the night before at the Columbia Icefields or Wilcox Campgrounds as the morning start time will be around 2:00 - 4:00am. Your guide will be happy to meet you out that evening. If you have no prior experience, a day of glacier travel training beforehand is required.

Climbers on the Silverhorn

Silverhorn (II)

Length of Day: 9 - 14 hours round trip
Max Group Size: 3 (although 2 is ideal)
Prerequisites: Glacier Travel Course or 1 day of custom glacier travel training. Good fitness.

The Silverhorn route on Mt. Athabasca is one of the finest moderate alpine ice routes in the Canadian Rockies. From the climbers parking lot at the Columbia Icefields, a few hours of hiking and glacier travel bring us to the base of the Silverhorn. The route itself consists of 500 meters of 40 degree ice & snow to the Silverhorn sub-summit. A spectacular final traverse along the narrow summit ridge brings us to the top of Mt. Athabasca and incredible views of the Columbia Icefields. Descent will be made via the AA Col route, or North Glacier route depending on conditions.

North Face (III, 5.7 mixed)

2 climbers on Athabasca's Silverhorn, one of the best guided climbs in Canada.

Length of Day: 10 - 15 hours round trip
Max Group Size: 2
Prerequisites: Must have prior glacier mountaineering experience as well as the ability to follow a short, but quite difficult, section of vertical ice and mixed climbing. A high level of fitness is also required. Please contact us if you are unsure of your ability to complete this climb.

This climb is ideal as a first difficult North Face route and is often considered mandatory training for those looking to do bigger routes such as Mt. Robson or Mt. Bryce. After making a tricky bergshrund crossing, 8 long ropelengths of 50 degree ice lead to the rockband. The rockband is climbed via a hidden gully involving steeper ice climbing and a few body lengths of vertical drytooling. Above this crux, another 100 meters of steep snow and ice lead directly to the summit of the mountain. An ascent of this route will not soon be forgotten!
Ascents of this route will be led by a highly skilled guide with many hard mixed alpine climbs under his or her belt.

Other Routes

Mount Athabasca is blessed with a number of great routes. Other classics on the mountain include:
  • North Glacier (II) - a highly enjoyable, low angle glacier climb.
  • North Ridge (III 5.5) - a long and involved rock ridge with rock climbing, snow climbing, and ice climbing.
  • AA Col (II) - the easiest route up the mountain, often suitable when conditions do not allow for an ascent of the other routes.

The impressive East face of Mount Athabasca at the Columbia Icefields

Gear List

Group gear such as ropes and carabiners will be provided by Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides. The personal gear listed below is mandatory. Please inform us well in advance if you need to borrow any of these items. Items that are not available for loan must be rented or purchased. Rental and purchase information can be found here.
  • Small Pack (about 30 litres) - available for loan
  • Ice Climbing/Mountaineering Boots
  • Crampons - available for loan
  • Mountaineering Axe (Silverhorn Route)- available for loan
  • 2 Ice Climbing Axes (N. Face Route) - available for loan
  • Harness - available for loan
  • Helmet - available for loan
  • Sweater/Fleece
  • Winter Jacket or Goretex/Softshell Jacket
  • Winter Pants or Goretex/Softshell Pants
  • Long Underwear
  • Gloves (2 pairs)
  • Toque
  • Sunglasses (important!)
  • Headlamp
  • Sunscreen
  • Gaitors (optional but highly recommended)
  • Water Bottles (2 litres)
  • Lunch
Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides (CRAG) - - Canmore, Alberta, Canada