Columbia Icefield Geological Features Visited and Recorded
The Columbia Icefield was one of the last major geological features in western Canada to be visited and recorded by Europeans, due to its isolation and harsh weather conditions. In April 1827, Scottish botanist David Douglas was crossing Athabasca Pass.. a major trading route located north of the Icefield, when he climbed one of the adjacent mountain peaks. He reported his first ascent in his journal, describing it to be 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) in height.
Columbia Icefield - Exploring the Great Divide from Banff to Jasper
In the summer of 1884, geology professor Arthur Philemon Coleman explored the Great Divide from Banff to Jasper in search of Douglas' giant peak. While unsuccessful, he did discover the route that would become the Icefield Parkway. In July 1898, British explorer J. Norman Collie and his friends Hugh Stutfield and Herman Wooley set off in search of Douglas' giants, equipped by the famous Banff outfitter Bill Peyto. On the morning of August 18, Collie and Wooley climbed the east side of Mount Athabasca, moved up the glacier when the ridge gave way to crumbling rock, and made their way to the summit, where they discovered an ice field that extended to almost every horizon.
Collie later wrote:
The view that lay before us in the evening light was one that does not often fall to the lot of modern mountaineers. A new world was spread at our feet: to the westward stretched a vast ice-field probably never before seen by the human eye, and surrounded by entirely unknown, unnamed and unclimbed peaks.
Columbia Icefield - Rocky Mountain Summits
In 1900, former British clergyman James Outram came to the Canadian Rockies to recover his health after a nervous breakdown. The following year he made the first ascent in the Columbia Icefield area, of Mount Assiniboine (3,618 m, 11,870 ft), then considered the "Matterhorn of the Rockies". In 1902, Outram made ten first ascents of peaks over 3,050 metres (10,010 ft) and discovered four new mountain passes in the Columbia Icefield area. Two of his first ascents in 1902 were Mount Columbia (3,747 m, 12,293 ft) and Mount Bryce (3,507 m, 11,506 ft), one of the most dangerous and difficult summits in the Rocky Mountains.
Columbia Icefield - Mountaineering Firsts
Following World War I, other mountaineering firsts occurred. In 1923, American climbers James Munroe Thorington and W. S. Ladd joined Austrian guide Conrad Kain to summit the daunting North Twin Peak (3,731 m, 12,241 ft), Mount Columbia, and Mount Saskatchewan (3,342 m, 10,965 ft) in five days. The following year, another American expedition led by William O. Field and guide Edward Feuz climbed both the North Twin Peak and the South Twin Peak (3,566 m, 11,699 ft) in 24 hours.. a combined distance of about 60 kilometres (37 mi). In 1927, A. J. Ostheimer discovered a new route to the North Peak Summit, made first ascents of Stutfield Peak (3,450 m, 11,320 ft) and Mount Kitchener (3,505 m, 11,499 ft), and became the first climber to traverse the Snow Dome (3,456 m, 11,339 ft) in 36 hours. During his 63 day visit to the Columbia Icefield, Ostheimer and his two companions walked over a 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) and climbed thirty peaks—twenty-five of which were first ascents.
Jasper Columbia Icefield Home
More Jasper & Banff Columbia Icefield Tours
Jasper Columbia Icefield Maligne Lake 2 Day Tour
| Columbia Icefield Tour with Glacier Skywalk from Banff
| Glacier Day Tour: Calgary, Bow Lake, Columbia Icefield
| Glacier Skywalk and Athabasca Glacier Tour from Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre
| Guided Glacier Hike on The Athabasca with IceWalks
| Glacier Skywalk
| Athabasca Falls