Tsar Mountain 3424 m
Tsar Mountain seen from Mt Rhodes in Clemenceau area.
click here for detailed trip report
This fine peak sits west of Mounts Columbia and Bryce, and east of Mount Clemenceau in a rugged, little-visited corner of the Canadian Rockies. Until recent construction of a logging road up Sullivan River near Golden, British Columbia, very few parties had ascended Tsar Mountain. It was identified to me while on an Alpine Club of Canada climbing camp in the Lyells. It is also clearly visible from Mount Edith Cavell. Prior to about 1993, any approaches to Tsar were either multi-day overland expeditions or expensive helicopter flights. Not surprisingly, it had seen few ascents in the previous 20 years. Hard to imagine when Mounts Rainier or Blanc see over 200 ascents in a day.
Click to enlarge photos
Sullivan River canyon. From Golden, some 160 km of bone-rattling logging road leads to the starting point in a logging clearcut. En route, the road crosses this fantastically narrow, deep gorge with silty Sullivan River thundering and churning 100 feet below. Worth a look!
Spectacular views of Apex Icefield (left center of photo) in the upper Sullivan River valley. This is probably one of the few places in the Rockies where glacial ice extends below treeline level --- or at least it did in 1994. We've had a couple of hot summers since then though. This is where the hike in to Tsar started, in this logging clearcut.
After you've reached a point close to treeline and traversed around towards the northeast side of Tsar, the approach looks like this. You can just see the edge of glacier in the middle of the picture, and that's what you aim for by traversing along the left side slopes, then descending slightly.
A couple of hours of moderate bushwhacking contouring around a hillside led to the edge of ever-shrinking Tsar Glacier on the north side of Tsar Mountain. If you continue to stare at this picture, you may actually see the glacier shrink before your very eyes.
Here we are ascending the icefall of Tsar glacier enroute to camp on the first day. Crevasses were wide open and easy to avoid so we did not rope up.
Our idyllic campsite was located on the north side of the peak in a small meadow with a pond of clear water nearby. No need to boil or filter it either. Tsar's foreshortened summit is the snowy point left of center. Don't you just wish you were there now?
Home Introduction Scrambles Climbs Ski ascents Photo tour Links Guidebooks
© all photos copyright by the author 1999.