Archive for March, 2010

Candidate: #35

Location: Big Horn Wilderness Preserve, Alberta

Elevation: 2,545 metres

Range: Ram Range, Canadian Rockies

One September day, under blue skies with passing ships of billowy clouds, I was driving from Red Deer, Alberta to Jasper National Park and I entered the Big Horn Wilderness Preserve. I had never been there before but views from the highway treated me to mountain peaks not as high as those ahead in Jasper but still beautiful. As the highway descended to the lake, an expansive view to several peaks opened up. The larch trees were already yellow and fresh snow was on the mountains. I ran up the slope on the north side of the highway and shot a few compositions of the view, recording the location in my notebook as Abraham Lake. One large mountain nearest the far shore of the lake was particularly impressive, but the composition I liked best excluded the summit and used the north western slope as a frame for a mountain further in the distance. Little did I know that I had just excluded the most often-photographed mountain in the area.

On Canada Day in 1982, Daniel Rowland Michener, who was Canada’s Governer General from 1967 to 1974, climbed the mountain named in his honour together with guide Lloyd Gallagher and guide/photographer Bruno Engler. The mountain received its current official name in 1982. Previous to that it had been known as Eye Opener Mountain and Phoebe’s Teat. According to the entry on Wikipedia, the latter name refers to a woman from Rocky Mountain House who used to visit the Nordegg miners in the 1930s.

Like all mountains of the Rockies, Mount Michener was formed by the tectonic forces that pushed the North American Plate over the Pacific Plate, causing the crust to buckle, lift and fold. Near the summit one can see contorted beds of rock, testimony to the awesome forces that created the mountain. There is also a system of limestone caves in the mountain but they remain undocumented.

Many of Alberta’s photographers include visits to Abraham Lake in their winter outing itinerary. The frozen lake with Mount Michener hulking in the background make for a striking scene. There is no official climbing route up the mountain that I could find, however, a ridge on the northwest side seems fairly doable without much technical effort.


to come


Flickr group 100 Famous Mountains of Canada


Cathedral Mountain


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Candidate: #34

Location: Yoho National Park

Elevation: 3,567 metres (South Tower)

Range: Ottertail Range, Canadian Rockies

In Yoho National Park, near the border to Kootenay National Park, stands a mountain massif with two grand peaks. Named by James Hector after two brothers, John and H.D.S. Goodsir (H.D.S. was a member of the infamous and ill-fated Franklin Expedition), the two pointed towers of Mount Goodsir or the Goodsirs are a stunning sight to behold. The highest mountain in the Ottertail Range, the South Tower reaches 3,567 metres and ranks as the 10th highest mountain in British Columbia. The North Peak is a little lower at 3,525 metres. The two peaks stand at least three hundred metres higher than the immediately surrounding mountains, making the Goodsirs an impressive massif to behold from any viewpoint.

Though easily spotted from the surrounding peaks and from along the roadside in many places, climbing to the summits requires a fair bit of effort. A mountain rarely climbed, the most frequently used routes to the Goodsirs are said to be lengthy and require some serious bushwhacking if the trail is lost. The trail itself is covered by avalanche rock fall in some places and unmanaged undergrowth is encroaching on the path in others. Links to the sites below tell of what to expect. Reaching the summits of either peak from the south side require little more than a long hike and some scrambling, however, the limestone rock is reported as being very rotten in some places and having some basic climbing necessities is advised. Approaching the north faces is a much more formidable task as from this side the mountains are much steeper.

Mount Goodsir was first climbing in 1903 by C. Fay, H. Parker, C. Hasler, and C. Kaufmann. The name was officially adopted in 1904.



PeakFinder (North Tower)

PeakFinder (South Tower)



Goodsir Road

Falling on the Goodsirs


Flickr group 100 Famous Mountains of Canada


Mount Mitchener

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