Mount Edith Cavell 3363 m
Jasper National Park, Alberta (click for map)
Mount Edith Cavell from Cavell Lake
Click to enlarge photos
The East Ridge of Mount Edith Cavell (left skyline, above) is one of the finer rock climbs to a major Rockies summit. This mountain is quartzite, and the climb reminded me of the classic northwest ridge route of Mount Sir Donald. Edith Cavell dominates the skyline south of Jasper townsite, and is about an hour's drive east of Mount Robson. When free of snow, much of it is scrambling, but one pitch of about 5.3 or 5.4 and the likelihood of needing crampons elevates it to a technical climb. If you hit the right conditions and weather, this is a superb climb on a well known local landmark, and a major summit in its own right, too.
An early morning view to the southwest from the the lower section of Mount Edith Cavell's east ridge. A hiking trail, then slopes of hard frozen snow and rubble led to here. Crampons were necessary; I started about 4 a.m.
Looking down the north face towards Cavell Lake (middle of photo) and the silty mud puddle visited daily by hordes of tourists. It is a long drop if you slipped here: You might even have time to try flying before the thud.
Here is the upper part of the east ridge where the actual climbing starts (about 5.4 at the crux). Until this point, the route is largely scrambling if it's dry (which is about 3 weeks of the year!). The crux step is halfway up this ridge and the ridge drops off sharply on either side. Although I carried a light rope to haul my pack up this step, I did not need to use it. I was a way-honed dude that day.
Here's what it looked like looking back down the crux step. The steep north face is on the left side of ridge.
After the crux, time for a sit-down to savour the scenery, solitude and my soon-to-be success. I was the only one on the route this fine August day. Lucky me! Compare that with something like Mount Rainier.
Cornices between the summits of Edith Cavell. Don't wander over top of one...its a long drop down the North face!
Going ape on Mount Edith Cavell. If there is a metal cross on top, it was still buried in snow that time. The sky was surprisingly clear and I could identify the Lyell Peaks, Mounts Robson, Columbia, Bryce and even Mount Whitney in California! Well okay, not Whitney, but it was really clear. Really.
A nice view towards the Tonquin Valley Ramparts. Good hiking and climbing there too.
Beautiful meadows west and southwest of the mountain. Nice to snooze in if it weren't for the long walk back.
The descent route goes down the opposite side (west side) of the peak and is easier, but it is a long walk back around to the parking lot. Some folks ascend by this easier west side route. My total time was just over 11 hours, round trip. After having done this climb it became clear why it is such a classic: It is worth repeating. repeating. repeating.
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© all photos copyright by the author 1999.