Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Yoho National Park

After hiding out from the heat on the Icefields Parkway for as long as we could, we decided it was time to head west. Our first stop was the Cathedral Forest boulders, in Yoho National Park. There are actually a lot of documented problems there, on really solid quartzite, but as they're jammed between the number 1 highway and a major rail line, they're not exactly a relaxing, wilderness destination. (If, however, you're travelling between Alberta and B.C., they're a great place to stretch your legs. Park at the spiral tunnels turnout and cross the highway. (The first boulder is about a twenty second walk in.) Here I am on Seams Improbable, a cool, sequency V4.

Yoho National Park is also home to the Burgess Shale Formation, famous for its fossil beds. The fossils are guarded like the crown jewels and, while we were curious, we weren't really keen on going on a guided tour. However, some research showed that if we got a permit to climb Mt. Stephen, we'd actually get to hike around them. So after facing the Parks Canada grand inquisition we were granted our permit and headed out early in the morning. We found the fossil beds after about an hour of steep hiking. The ground was seriously littered with triolbite fossils.

After passing the fossil beds, our nice hiking trail turned into a long slog up scree slopes before hitting a chossy limestone headwall, and a seriously exposed traverse. Five hours and 2000 m of elevation gain later (that's 6600 ft!) we finally made it to the top. The views were well worth it.

Endless Scree...

A beautiful clear blue sky in the morning.

Stunning views from the summit...

A conveniently located helicopter pad and weather station.  Too bad we couldn't call the chopper to take us down.  Descending 2 vertical kilometers is not our idea of fun.

Filling out the log book in the summit hut.

The most entertaining part of the weather station was that it was stock full of emergency gear, including these sealed tool boxes of rations, best used on or before March 26, 1988.  Awesome.

Going back across the (very) exposed ridge during the descent.


  1. Kristal - if you stop in Calgary on your way home give me a shout. Andre