Sunday, December  16, 2018
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This set of slides documents a trip that Markus and I took out west to Jasper National Park, Alberta in September of 2001. The objective: take part in a 3-day intro to mountaineering course offered by Yamnuska Inc. I wanted a mountaineering skills refresher, and Markus had never been on such a course.
Somewhere over Alberta
The picture shows the view out of the Brand-new Westjet Boeing 737-700 that we flew in to get to Calgary. [enlarge]
Endless Prairie
The Saskatchewan prairie, in my mind, contrasts interestingly with the very mountainous terrain we are about to encounter. [enlarge]
The Icefields Parkway
The icefields parkway links the outside world with Jasper NP (from the south). It is an exceedingly beautiful route, lined with lots of majestic grandeur and forbidding-looking wilderness. I will definitely have to add this one to my 'best roads' list. [enlarge]
Lake Hector (Banff NP)
Not far after we first start to see real glaciers on the mountains surrounding the highway, we come to this beautiful emerald lake. It is filled with 'glacial flour', which is the term used for tiny particles of rock suspended in the water. This rock powder has been formed by the erosive force of a glacier against its bed. This in turn is carried by glacial meltwater into the lake. [enlarge]
Crowfoot Glacier (Banff NP)
This is the first real glacier that we see. The crowfoot glacier is perched high up on a cliff. Low-lying clouds prevent us from seeing the top end of the glacier. [enlarge]
Hardcore Cyclists (Banff NP)
While on a picture stop at the top of a hill, two hardy cyclists chug up to us. We have a short chat, and they tell us that they are both from California. They are doing the entire length of the Icefields parkway (about 220 kilometres) on their bicycles, staying at hostels along the way. [enlarge]
Icefields Campground
Markus and I arrive at the icefields campground early in the afternoon. The weather is starting to lift, and the campground is relatively empty. We pick an out-of-the-way camp spot with a very scenic view. In fact, we can see the shoulder of the mountain we are to climb at the end of our course. The next two photographs are of views that can be seen from our camp spot. [enlarge]
View from Icefields Campground
A northern flank of Mount Athabasca, as seen from our campsite. [enlarge]
View from Icefields Campground
A closeup of a north buttress of Mount Athabasca, as seen from our campsite. [enlarge]
Sunwapta River Valley
Just to the north of the athabasca glacier area (the area which includes our campground) is the Sunwapta river valley. Here the valley widens a bit and there is a marvellous combination of lazy river with meanders and marshes framed by rugged peaks. Away back in the distance the peaks surrounding the athabasca glacier (which itself cannot be seen in this photo) are visible. [enlarge]
Sunwapta River Valley
Another view of the Sunwapta River Valley [enlarge]
Mount Kitchener
Mount Kitchener is a bit of a strange mountain: It is very high, by the standards of the area (3505m / 11,499ft). On many sides it is exceedingly steep. However, on the west side it forms part of the Columbia Icefield, and if one were to approach from that direction, an ascent would be nothing more than a slight, even grade. [enlarge]
Our Objective - Mount Athabasca
Mount Athabasca. Elevation : 3493m (11,452ft). It is to be the ultimate objective of our course. If all goes well, Day 3 will see us on the summit. It looks very daunting from this angle (in fact, from any angle), but at the same time it looks elegant and exciting. [enlarge]
Mount Athabasca
Another view of Mount Athabasca, this time from a little farther away. This perspective makes the mountain look even steeper! [enlarge]
A Precarious Perch
At the Stutfield glacier viewpoint, we see a group of Bighorn Sheep just over the guardrail, and very near the edge of a very high cliff. They seem to be looking for handouts from people, although (thankfully) none that were there obliged them. [enlarge]
Far eastern visitors
While at the viewpoint, I was accosted by a group of Japanese tourists who wanted their picture taken - with _each_ of their many cameras. So I spent the next little while snapping the same picture over and over again with different cameras. In the end, I exacted my price by getting a picture of them with my own camera! [enlarge]
Sunwapta and Athabasca
Another view of the Bighorn sheep with Mount Athabasca (left) and Mount Andromeda (right) rising in the background. [enlarge]
Bighorn Sheep
Yet another (these sheep are photogenic!) shot of the Bighorns with Athabasca in the background. [enlarge]
Sunwapta and Mount Athabasca
Sunwapta River valley below, Mount Athabasca and Andromeda above. [enlarge]
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