Archive for January, 2011

Candidate: #39

Location: Kootney National Park, British Columbia

Elevation: 2,979 metres

Range: Vermillion Range, Canadian Rockies

The Rockwall is a most impressive wall of strata towering 700 metres above Floe Lake, in Kootney National Park. It is the highest point on a range of rock that runs 6 kilometres north. The mountain at the end is called Mount Drysdale. The mountain is famous for being the start of the 55-kilometre-long Rockwall Trail. Though not an easy hike by any means, all reviews of the route are raving with praise. The highlight of this three to five day hike is said to be the Rockwall with a large glacier dropping huge chunks of ice into Floe Lake.

From the photographs I have seen, a photographer may appreciate this mountain and lake setting greatly because repetition of the skirts of snow and ice at the base of the wall above the lakeshore that reflect beautifully in the water.

Sadly, except for some good reports of the Rockwall Trail and a glorious collection of photographs on the Internet, I was not able to dig up information from my usual sources about this mountain. But it is the only mountain within Kootney National Park for which I could get a name and a little data. I think the sight of the mountain alone is worth nominating it for the list of Canada’s 100 best.


100 Famous Mountains of Canada of Flickr

Floe Lake by Patrick Cadieux (I love this view -ed.)


Next: Cascade Mountain


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Candidate: #38

Location: Southwest Alberta (Crowsnest River Valley)

Elevation: 2,785 metres

Range: Canadian Rockies

There are places were a gentle countryside setting – complete with grassy fields, branching isolated trees, wooden fences, and grazing horses – are suddenly interrupted by an enormous fortress of rock towering in the background like the dark antagonist’s tower in a fantasy tale. Though a range of similar rock stands nearby to the west – the High Rock Range – Crowsnest Mountain is a solitary round turret of a mountain with a northward-running rocky ridge almost connected to the northern wing known as Seven Sisters Mountain. Aside from its striking appearance, Crowsnest is a geological oddity known as a klippe. Part of the same strata as the High Rock Range, the older Palaeozoic layers were pushed up and over the younger Mesozoic layers to the east. Thus Crowsnest Mountain is actually composed of older rock that the layers beneath it. Because of this it is sometimes called ‘the upside down mountain’.

There’s an interesting story about the first ascent. It is recounted in greater detail at Peaks of the Canadian Rockies, but in short it goes like this: The first to summit the Swiss Matterhorn, Edward Whymper, was in Canada on behalf of the CPR in 1903 and 1904. He was there to write promotional articles for newspapers and journals, as well as to offer advice on where best to build hotels and chalets and to check out Turtle Mountain, site of the Frank Slide which occurred in 1903.Whymper teamed up with Tom Wilson and two Swiss guides, Christian Hasler jr. and Friedrich Michel. Whymper gave orders to the three to go around the west side of the mountain and scout for a route to the top. However, once the three found a suitable route, they went up to the summit rather than report back to their employer. On July 28th the mountain was climbed and a message was sent to Whymper that a flag had been planted on the summit. Whymper was naturally very sore about the incident. Whether it was because his first ascent feather had been plucked from him even before he could put it in his hat or because his men had disobeyed his orders was not entirely settled, with arguments for either view having been put forward.

Crowsnest Mountain was named by George Dawson, who had heard from the Cree Indians about all the ravens nesting in the area. Perhaps the name was mistranslated and the mountain named “Crow” and not “Raven”.

The mountain is often climbed today by a ‘touristy route’ that is called a long scree climb to the top. Though the mountain sports some serious cliff sections, the common route makes use of scree slopes and gullies to bring the climbed up to the summit. The trail appears to be well-marked and easy to follow. For detailed route descriptions visit look here. The photographs are very helpful. Note that near the end of the climb there is a chain attached to the rock for the descent.

Near Crowsnest Mountain is Turtle Mountain, the site of a rockslide in 1903 that caused the death of over 90 people when a mysterious explosion, likely related to the mining activities in the area, brought half the mountainside down on the town of Frank. An article is here.


100 Famous Mountains of Canada at Flickr






Crowsnest Mountain


Canada’s Mountains


Next: The Rockwall

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