Ice Climbing in Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
Jasper National Park, Alberta
by Caroline Shin
Perfect for extreme thrill-seekers, Jasper National Park includes hundreds of ice climbs in the Canadian Rockies. The park offers every type of ice climb, from long alpine ice routes, to short bolted mix, and dry tooling routes.
Ice Climbing in Jasper National Park: When to Go
Between December and March, ice routes are usually in their best condition. Since altitude and location influence mountain terrain, the earliest ice climbs can form by early October at higher elevations on the north and northeasterly faces of slopes. Many of these climbs, often considered alpine ice routes, can be found in the Columbia Icefields area. By late November, many of the waterfall ice climbing routes start to form. It is safest to climb avalanche-prone climbs during the earlier months of winter before the snow has accumulated in the alpine.
By mid-March, many of the lower elevation ice climbs start to melt, and in mid-April, only a few climbs remain.
Avalanches in Jasper National Park
Avalanche hazard is the gravest threat to ice climbers in the Canadian Rockies. The vast majority of routes are exposed to avalanche hazard for extended periods. Avalanches regularly kill ice climbers, so please exercise extreme caution when participating in this activity.
The Icefields Parkway (highway 93) passes through many avalanche paths, which are marked by avalanche signs at the start and end of the danger areas. Do not stop or park between these signs.
Jasper’s Ice Climbing Routes With No Avalanche Danger
On your way up to Maligne Lake, park at the Maligne Canyon Tea House, and follow the trail to just past the second bridge where you can access the canyon. There is no formal hiking trail here. Several of the climbs can be accessed from above by rappel and/ or for setting up top ropes. Several people have fallen to their death in this location.
If you enter the canyon you do so at your own risk. Dangers include:
- Falling ice and rock overhead.
- Thin ice underfoot with deep cold flowing water below.
- Slippery surfaces.
Tangle Falls Creek
Tangle Falls is located on the north side of Tangle Hill 7.4 Km north of the Icefields Centre along the Icefields Parkway. Park in the ploughed area close to the outhouses, and locate the accessible ice climbing route.
Park in the plowed viewpoint to Bridal Veil Falls on the Big Bend hill along the Icefields Parkway. You can access the top of the climb from the north end of the parking area, or from below by following an often snow-covered summer trail through the timber below the south end of the parking area. There is no avalanche danger on the route, however, you will be exposed to some steep avalanche-prone slopes to access the climb.
To avoid these slopes, you may also rappel from the top of the climb to the base of the route.
Park in the ploughed parking area opposite the Weeping Wall 28.6 Km to the north of Saskatchewan River Crossing. A short walk takes you to the base of the route. Most climbers walk off to the left across the avalanche-prone Snivelling Gully to a rappel station from a tree. Rappel from Abalakovs and two chain anchor stations on skier’s right of the gully. Alternatively rappel your route.