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Sunwapta Peak
Jasper National Park, Alberta
August 20, 2005

Dinah and I should've slept in for this trip as it was quicker than we expected. At our unhurried pace, we did the trip in less than eight hours, including a 45-minute stay on the summit.

Following the directions in the guidebook, we found the trail without difficulty. It follows the left side of a drainage that was surprisingly scenic with its waterfalls and cascades. It certainly appeared more inviting than the endless scree above it. Once above the treeline, the objective is clear: slog up the slope and ridge to the peak. For the most part, however, the scree was firm. Ahead of us, we noticed a group of three making their way to the summit.

In time, we gained the ridge. From below, the ridge appeared to level off, but we were deceived: the ridgeline was as steep as the slope. We finished off the last section before the summit in soft snow. It was steep but had the snow been crusty, it might have called for ice axes. But we hiked easily the summit.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the group ahead had put up flags on the summit cairn: they climbed Sunwapta as an Alberta Centennial Peak. We exchanged cameras to do group shots of each other and chatted for a while. They told us that they had been turned back twice before on this mountain. On one occasion they didn't even get out of their car because the weather was so bad!

The descent was unremarkable except for being fast. We were back at the parking lot by mid-afternoon. Despite the four-hour drive, consider doing Sunwapta Peak as a day trip from Calgary.

MOVIE
KML and GPX Tracks


Sunwapta Peak seen from the highway


We gained a lot of elevation on the steep trail


Near the treeline, the peak comes into view


The treeline is still far away


Looking back at the drainage


We headed straight up to the ridge (mouse over to look back)


Tangle Ridge fills the background


Sunwapta River lies far below


The ridge was unexpectedly steep


Slogging up more scree


Endless scree to hike up


We passed large cornices


Summit is just beyond the rise


Hiking up the last few metres to the summit. Mount Athabaska in the centre.


Centennial ascent group set up flags at the cairn


Mount Alberta appears above a glacier


Happy to be on the summit!


83 C/6 Sunwapta

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