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Alberta - Mount Columbia

The highest mountain in Alberta is Mount Columbia (3,747 metres) located on the boundary with British Columbia in Jasper National Park of Canada, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It received its name in 1899 from the Columbia River, itself named in 1792 by Captain Robert Gray, an American, for his vessel, the Columbia.

Mount Columbia
3,747 metres
12,293 feet
Mount Columbia, Alberta
  · Approach is through the Columbia Ice fields
  · First summit in the Expedition

3,747 m, 12,293 f
52° 09’ 00” N - 117° 27’ 00” W
O83C03 Columbia Icefield
March, April, May
Jasper National Park
Fast Facts
CAPITAL: Edmonton, Alta
Web Links


Alberta's highest mountain is Mount Columbia (3,747 metres) located on the boundary with British Columbia in the Rocky Mountains. Named by J. Norman Collie in 1898 it received its name from the Columbia River, itself named in 1792 by Capt. Robert Gray, an American, for his vessel, the Columbia who first ventured over a dangerous sandbar and explored the lower reaches of the river.

Located on the continental divide at the head of the Athabasca River Valley southwest of Columbia Glacier; Sir Winston Churchill Range, Jasper Park, Alberta/BC border. Mount Columbia lies on the northern edge of the Columbia Icefield, 9.7 km southwest of Snow Dome that may be seen from Highway #93 N at the Icefields Centre on Sunwapta Pass.

But Mount Columbia is not the highest peak in the Rockies; that claim belongs to British Columbia's Mount Robson, which, despite an elevation of 3,954 metres, is still only the twentieth-highest elevation in Canada. The origin of the Robson name is uncertain. One story is that it may have been named for Colin Robertson (1783-1842), a Hudson's Bay Company trader.


First ascended in 1902 by James Outram, guided by Christian Kaufmann.

East Face (Normal Route) II - The classic ski route is up the Athabasca Glacier, and onto the Columbia Icefield, camping in the "trench" at the head of the Columbia Glacier. Roped ski-ing, and whiteout navigation are essential techniques. The peak usually doesn’t require crampons. The East Face is considered the normal route up Mount Columbia.

A non-technical route leading to the highest summit in Alberta and a popular route in the spring when the skiing on the Icefields is at its best. It is usual to climb the E face from a camp on the Icefield, usually in the "Trench", a large east-west depression in the Icefield at the base of the face. It involves a 450 m climb of up to 45-degree snow and/or ice. Strong winds often blast the upper reaches of the mountain and whiteouts are common. From the normal base camp at the saddle of the trench, head west for 6 km across a broad ridge to the base of the East Face. The route follows the smooth snow ramp located left of the ice bulges. At the bottom of the 450-m high face, go left for a couple of hundred metres, staying above the lower crevasses but below the upper crevasse. Skirt left of the upper crevasse However; it has been day-tripped from the highway. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 204.

The southeast ridge of Mount Columbia is about the same difficulty as going directly up the East Face. It is mostly a snow scramble, although in places it is necessary to get off the ridge and climb up the steep snow. Starting from the Icefields Parkway, your first job is to get to the "Trench", by either the Saskatchewan Glacier approach.

North Ridge V 5.7 W3 - A big climb in a remote setting. An excellent route with lots of variety packed into almost 2000 m of climbing. While not technically desperate, it is still not a route to be taken lightly. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 204.

Alberta Hwy 93 – Icefield Parkway
Athabasca Glacier
6,700 Climbers parking lot
7,400 Brewster Transport area parking lot
8,900 3rd Icefield to Columbia Icefield, large trench 7km east of Mt. Columbia camp in or near trench
West towards Mount Columbia, 4 km W to Base of Summit pyramid
East face left side summit day gain 3,400/7km