Mountaineering and Climbing
Mountaineer on Mount Sir Donald © Joey Vosburgh
The American Alpine Club Climber's Guide to the Columbia Mountains of Canada Central
(1992) states, "This famed district is one of the the great classic areas of North American alpinism. It offers fine climbs on rock, snow, and ice at all standards of difficulty, with a great deal, in particular, for the intermediate mountaineer." (p.213)
Peaks of the Hermit Range, the Bonney and Bostock Groups, the Van Horne Range, Purity Range, Dawson Range, and the especially challenging Sir Donald Range all lie wholly or in part within Glacier National Park. Parks Canada provides a Climber's Descent Guide to Mount Sir Donald.
Glacier National Park is the acknowledged birthplace of mountaineering in North America. In 1888, two British mountaineers, Rev. William Spotswood Green and Rev. Henry Swanzy, completed the first recreational technical climbs in the Selkirks. Eleven years later, the services of Swiss guides were provided for guests at the Glacier House hotel in Rogers Pass. Those guides created the network of trails, providing access to local peaks, that has remained to this day.
Mountaineers on Mount Tupper's West Ridge © Parks Canada / Jordy Shepherd
Prior to the completion of the Trans-Canada Highway through Rogers Pass in 1962, climbers accessed Glacier National Park by train. Tied to the railway as it was, mountaineering became an integral part of the history of the park, and continues to be a major attraction for backcountry recreationists, whose numbers have quadrupled in the past ten years.
Climbing requires special skills and equipment. For additional advice on routes, conditions and applicable fees, contact the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre. Voluntary registration services also are available at the Centre.
Trail Conditions Report
Download the Hiking in Glacier National Park brochure (PDF, 4 MB)
Download the Climber's Descent Guide to Mount Sir Donald (PDF, 2 MB)
Note: To read the PDF version you need Adobe Acrobat Reader on your system.
If the Adobe download site is not accessible to you, you can download Acrobat Reader from an accessible page.
If you choose not to use Acrobat Reader you can have the PDF file converted to HTML or ASCII text by using one of the conversion services offered by Adobe.