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Climb the Silverhorn on Mt. Athabasca

Jasper, Alberta



7.1 miles

Elevation Gain

6108.9 ft

Route Type



Added by Tam McTavish

Silverhorn is a classic rockies mountaineering objective. In good condition it's a straightforward march to the top along the prominent glacial ridge above the broad exposed seracs, but in poor conditions it can be very risky. From the summit you get a spectacular view across the Columbia Icefield.

This route should not be attempted by novices. If you lack the necessary skills seek out one of the many guiding outfits in the area. Athabasca is very popular and it shouldn't be too hard to find a spot on a trip. 

Without a guide formal education in crevasse rescue is essential. Avalanches are also a serious risk. Consider and Avalanche Safety Training 1 course essential. Experience lead ice climbing WI2 and 3 in winter is highly recommended, especially later in the season.  

It's highly recommended to have a good look at the route the night before you head up. The patio at the Columbia Icefield Centre offers terrific views to pick out the route. 

Parking just to the left of the Ice-field Explorer road, follow the road to the Explorer staging ground. Directly to the east is river. There are trails on either side of the river. Take the southern side, and follow the trail up the moraine. Trend East South East. 

The moraine will take you to the edge of the glacier. If you've timed things right by the time you've roped up, prepped your crevasse rescue equipment and are ready to go the sky should be becoming grey. 

Head across the Icefield. and towards the where the ridge begins. There are a number of hazards here that are obvious to mountaineers. I don't want to divulge what they are as people in this terrain should be experienced enough themselves, or go with a guide if they are uncertain. 

The Silverhorn is the broad glacial ridge in the middle of the Mt. Athbasca Ridge. To the right of the Silverhorn is the North Glacier route which Zigs across the beneath the large serac, above the bergschrund until it reaches the ridge proper and Zags back. This route is a little easier, and offers a good chance to back out if the Silverhorn looks too icy for your tastes.  

The climbing begins as you approach the bergshrund. Later in the season this can get very tricky. Once past the bergschrund it is pretty low angle, maxing out at about 40 degrees. Still if there is no snow, then it can feel a little spooky. If you are new to ice climbing an ice screw or two for protection and even an extra ice tool would be very welcome. 

Once you achieve the top of the Silverhorn there is a simple walk across a ridge line to gain the summit. The ridge is nearly a metre wide with snow, so not too scary. 

The best way to descend is via the AA Col route. Rockfall gets pretty serious later in the day so be warned. There should be a bit of a path leading down, but failing that choose the lowest angled gulley to work your way down. Keep the rope on as you will require it to cross the glacier at the bottom. 

Once on the glacier it's a gentle walk downhill where you meet the AA col trail which takes you through the rockband, and back down to the trailhead.

Route data is bellow. Bear in mind conditions change and I do not recomend following this GPS track exactly as it is early season when snow cover was much better. I cannot guarantee no crevasses or safe travel on the track.


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