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Mount Assiniboine (3,618m)
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Mount Assiniboine (3,618m) 


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Elevation: 11,870'
Location: 50.8697, -115.6505 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrator: Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Ken Trout on Dec 12, 2010
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Sunset on the North Face of Mt. Assiniboine

INTRODUCTION

Mount Assiniboine is often called: "The Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies". From Lake Magog, the mountain radiates a hypnotic glow that blinds climbers to the ugly hazards of a loose and dangerous mountain. For over a century, Assiniboine has been a big player in the sport of mountaineering.

HISTORY

Assiniboine and the Matterhorn share more than just their good looks. European guide, Christian Hassler, had already done the first ascent of the Matterhorn when he guided Assiniboine.

In 1903, Edward Whymper brought Swiss guides to Canada. Three serious attempts on Assiniboine had already been repulsed. All the higher peaks in the Canadian Rockies were still unclimbed too. The arrival of the alpine superstar created a stir in the competitive world of Canadian peak bagging. No worries! Mr Whymper was reluctant to leave the good life of the Lake Louise/CPR climbing scene (Chris Jones, Climbing in North America, 1971).

The Swiss guides and James Outram couldn't let such opportunities slip by. Mr Outram politely "borrowed" Mr Whymper's frustrated guides and the enthusiastic team sent! First, they made it up Assiniboine by traversing to the backside and discovering an easier route (SW Face, 4th class). Then they made sure to tick the route everyone else had been trying, the North Ridge (5.5x, onsight downclimb,1903).

MAPS

The best map is Mount Assiniboine 82 J/13, scale 1 : 50,000. Not in my quiver.

To help explain the BC approach drive I painted a 1995 Alberta forestry map: Large Scale Approach Map.
scale 1 : 500,000

For hiking approaches, I painted my old weather-beaten Banff National Park map: 1946 Trail Map.
scaled 1 : 190,080 (1" equals 3 miles)

(Maps & disposable camera prints all shot with Nikon COOLPIX L22 in the studio.)

APPROACHING FROM CANMORE, ALBERTA TO LAKE MAGOG, BRITISH COLUMBIA

This is the most common approach for the North Ridge and North Face routes (purple dashes on the Large Scale Approach Map). From Shark Mountain Trailhead, the trail leads to the valley of Bryant Creek. Once in Banff National Park, steep walls spout huge waterfalls. Finally, climb over Assiniboine Pass and into British Columbia. Then the mountain becomes visible and Mother Nature totally gets her freak on.

Begin with driving from downtown Canmore up to the Spray Lakes, passing Grassi Lakes and EEOR along the way. Continue on the Spray Lakes Road until just past the reservoirs. A sign for the Mt Engadine Lodge marks the proper place to turn right for the Shark Mountain Trail-head.

Hike a fire road several miles, over a small pass, across the Spray River, and soon after cross Bryant Creek (good bridges). The Bryant Creek Trail is in Banff National Park. To climb out of Alberta, a short bit of brush, water, and steep trail conspire against climbers crossing Assiniboine Pass.

Once in British Columbia, rolling meadows, spruce covered hills, and a better trail lead to the Assiniboine Lodge junction (turn left for the rustic chopper-port). Not far beyond is the Lake Magog Campround. From the campground follow a nice trail for a couple of miles until it ends at the rockslide and Gmoser's Highway begins.

For hikers coming in from the Mt Shark trailhead, you'll need to hike over to the Assiniboine Lodge to pay up. First, hike past the lodge turnoff to the campground and set up tents. Then hike over to the lodge without heavy packs. Grizzly resistant food storage and water are available.

The problem with the Canmore approach is unreliability due to trail closures. Some years, grizzly families loiter persistently along the upper Bryant Creek section of the trail. Cascade Rock, Gibraltar Rock and other cliffs of the u-shaped valley funnel wildlife into humans on the trail. Inquire with Banff National Park wardens or Assiniboine lodge about the closure status.

The closed section of trail extends from the Bryant Creek wardens cabin up to Assiniboine Pass. Zoom in to spot the tiny cabin on my 1946 Trail Map ).

APPROACHING FROM RADIUM HOT SPRINGS,BRITISH COLUMBIA FOR SOUTHWEST FACE

Driving 40 klicks of good gravel to the Marvel Pass trail-head is the fastest way to do Assiniboine's easiest route, the Southwest Face. (red dashes on Large Scale Approach Map )

Begin northeast of Radium Hot Springs, BC, with a turn off Highway 93 onto southbound Settlers Road. 0.0 kilometers.

After 12 kilometers, fork left onto the Kootenay-Palliser road.

At 14 kilometers, left onto the Kootenay Cross road.

At 32 kilometers, left onto Cross Mitchell road. This is followed to a Baymag Plant (marked on maps), about 40 kilometers from the highway.

At the Baymag Plant, a sharp right is made onto a rougher road. After crossing Aurora Creek, park and porcupine-proof your vehicle near the sign for the Marvel Pass trail.

Hiking directions are given on the Southwest Face Mountain Project page.

EAST FACE

The East Face of Mount Assiniboine has already been done 'voie gnarly'. Summer of 2004, Frank Jourdan hiked in for the second ascent, solo, of the Cheesmond-Dick, V, 5.9, A2, M??. Mr Jourdan thought that the hike in from Shark Mountain to Marvel Lake was the hardest 20 kilometers he had ever hiked.

SETTLERS ROAD to NORTH FACE/RIDGE VIA ASSINNIBOINE LAKE

For BCers, coming over the Mount Sturdee col makes for a rough, but shorter hiking approach to both the North Face and North Ridge. Descending to the RC Hind Hut is possible, but unnecessary. Bring a good tent.

From the far end of Assiniboine Lake, scree is climbed out of the valley. Eventually, a traverse left leads to the icy snout of a glacier (crampons). Dodge crevasses up to a final steep dirt hill to reach the col.

HELICOPTERS

For sure, Helicopters are cheating. On the other hand, I would rather spend my bear protection money on a heli-ride instead of guns (or even bear spray).

Flights in to Lake Magog must be booked through Assinboine Lodge. To benefit hikers, noisy choppers are not allowed to fly every day. A guided ascent, based out of the lodge, using the RC Hind Hut, and climbing the North Ridge is the experience of a lifetime.

ANIMAL ALERTS

Grizzly bears love Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. All approaches penetrate grizzly bear country. Traveling the trails near Lake Magog, you'll likely see large groups of heli-hikers all sporting anti-bear spray on their belts. A group size minimum of four is recommendable for any alpine climbing in Canada. Bear-proof food vaults are important for safe camping. Staying in the Naiset Cabins, by the lodge is a good option to avoid bears too.

Snafflehounds, porcupines, and mice have eaten a lot of brake-lines, tires, wires, and v-belts in BC trailhead parking lots*. Chicken-wire barriers around vehicles are another human adaptation to the wild world of British Columbia. Building a barricade around the car is a lot of work, but this must be done to avoid stranding.

Literature has long warned climbers about drinking from streams anywhere below the Hind hut.

*Bugaboo mountain guides use to shoot the troublesome ground squirrels up at Boulder Camp (Bugaboos). Weeding out the slowest resulted in the fast-forward evolution of British Columbia's super-rodent; the snafflehound. (Galen Rowell, early '70s).


3 Total Routes


['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',2],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',3],['5.7',0],['5.8',0],['5.9',0],['5.10',0],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Mount Assiniboine (3,618m):
North Ridge   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a Mod. Snow PG13     Trad, Snow, Alpine, 2000'   
Browse More Classics in Mount Assiniboine (3,618m)

Featured Route For Mount Assiniboine (3,618m)
ASSINIBOINE, NORTH RIDGE <br />Photo by Troy Kirwin MG <br />Published @ ACMG <br /> <br />From the Red Band at bottom, to the Gray Band at top, the tracks in this early snow stayed right of the shade line.  <br /> <br /> <br />

North Ridge 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a Mod. Snow PG13  North America : Canada : ... : Mount Assiniboine (3,618m)
INTRODUCTIONThe standard route on Assiniboine was climbed by William Douglas and a strong team of guides. Christian Hasler had already descended the route two years before. Hasler was one of Whymper's guides from the Matterhorn, thirty-eight years earlier. (Chris Jones, Climbing in North America, 1976)(Randy Morse, The Mountains of Canada, 1978)ROUTE DESCRIPTIONGmoser's Highway ("mosers") is the start of serious terrain. I once watched some gnarly East Face can...[more]   Browse More Classics in International

Photos of Mount Assiniboine (3,618m) Slideshow Add Photo
Far side of Lake Magog.
Far side of Lake Magog.
Dave Koch on the summit ridge 1984
Dave Koch on the summit ridge 1984
Approaching Assiniboine from Lake Magog.
Approaching Assiniboine from Lake Magog.
Gmoser's Highway <br />late August, 1995 <br />  <br />Day-hikers from the lodge <br />starting up the cliff-band <br />to the Hind Hunt <br />via Gmoser's Highway.
BETA PHOTO: Gmoser's Highway
late August, 1995

Day-hikers fr...
Gmoser's Highway <br />One of the cruxy, exposed bits <br />on the traverse.
BETA PHOTO: Gmoser's Highway
One of the cruxy, exposed bits
on...
ASSINIBOINE, NORTH RIDGE <br /> <br />red box - Hind Hut <br /> <br /> <br />
BETA PHOTO: ASSINIBOINE, NORTH RIDGE

red box - Hind Hut


Great view of the N side from the peak across the way (Mt. Strom?)
Great view of the N side from the peak across the ...
"Warning sign" on the start of Gmoser's Highway
BETA PHOTO: "Warning sign" on the start of Gmoser's Highway
Plenty of snow in 2000 allows us to avoid the sketchy Gmoser's Hwy.
Plenty of snow in 2000 allows us to avoid the sket...
The RC Hind hut at the base of the North Face of Mt. Assiniboine
BETA PHOTO: The RC Hind hut at the base of the North Face of M...
MAP of MOUNT ASSINIBOINE <br />contour interval 200 feet <br />10 km grid <br /> <br />black box - Marvel Pass TH <br />red box - Hind Hut  <br />yellow - Assiniboine Lodge <br />green box - Magog Lk Camp <br />violet box - Mt Shark TH  <br /> <br />red dashes - Settlers Rd <br />violet - Spray Lk Rd <br />green - SW Face approach <br />yellow - Bryant Cr <br />yellow/red - Gmoser's Hwy <br />yellow/black - North Ridge <br />black dashes - Marvel Pass
BETA PHOTO: MAP of MOUNT ASSINIBOINE
contour interval 200 feet...
Cozy accommodations within the Hind hut
BETA PHOTO: Cozy accommodations within the Hind hut
ASSINIBOINE APPROACHES <br />10 km grid <br /> <br />red box - Hind Hut <br />yellow - Assiniboine Lodge <br />violet - Shark Mtn TH/LZ <br />black - Marvel Pass <br /> <br />red dash - Settlers rd, BC <br />violet dash - Spray lakes rd <br />yellow dash - Bryant/N Ridge <br />green dash - SW Face
BETA PHOTO: ASSINIBOINE APPROACHES
10 km grid

red box - Hind ...
Comments on Mount Assiniboine (3,618m) Add Comment
Show which comments
By Ken Trout
From: Golden, CO
Jul 23, 2012
CONDITION REPORT 

Two reports from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides:

JULY 20, 2012

In the area today and Lodge staff told us the normal route received its first ascent of the season yesterday. Sorry no more details other than from a distance it looks like the route is getting into "reasonable" early season condition. The Gmoser Highway approach will require negotiating snow.

Marc Ledwidge
Manager, Visitor Safety
Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks
220 Hawk Avenue
Box 900, Banff, AB
T1L 1K2
Ph: 403-762-1401


JULY 22, 2012

Hello Everyone,

Just returned from an attempt on Mt Assiniboine this past Saturday. We made it to the top of the red band in thick cloud and drizzle with strong gusting winds and opted to return to the Hind Hut. Over all the mountain is in good shape and we managed not to use crampons up to our high point and it looked like the upper ridge was fairly dry after the storm.

We accessed the Hind Hut from the Magog Lake/Assiniboine Lodge side and used the snow gully, the Gmoser highway has a lot of running water and steep unsupported snow patch's looming around.

The 2 attached pics were taken Sunday morning.

Have fun out there,

Jeff Bullock
Climbing, Skiing, Custom Mountain Adventures
IFMGA/ACMG Certified Mountain Guide
CAA Pro Member
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
www.alpineairadventures.com
403 614 1733