Hiking Whistlers Mountain
(from the Jasper Tram)
Article thanks to Canadian Rockies Access Guide
- Dodd/Helgason Lone Pine Publishing
"Many visitors, having passed
from the montaine through the subalpine to the high alpine zone
in seven mintuer, will understandably be tempted to go no further
the the upper terminal. They are missing a lot; it is almost like
the difference between watching a travelogue on television as
opposed to travelling yourself.
The views improve immensely as you ascend the Whistlers. What's
more, the relatively easy trail allows the walker to experience
a true alpine experience.
The trail to the rounded dome of
the summit is well marked, and there are rock stairs in some of
the steep places. Although some people will find the ascent steep,
every step is worth the effort, even if you don't make it to the
Up here, only miniature plants a
few centimeters tall can grow. Some take 25 years to flower, so
don't spoil it for others by picking them or trampling on them.
The most prominent alpine flowers include yellow alpine cinquefoil,
white dryas and round moss campion, the last looking like a green
pincushion with pink and lavender flowers growing through it.
In several spots, side trails afford
closer views in each direction. Be warned that fat ground squirrels
and marmots patrol these trails, experts at begging from the visitor.
Don't give in.
The trail climbs steeply, and then
levels off briefly before turning right for the final push to
the summit of the Whistlers, which was named for the whistling
of marmots. Marmots are much eaiser to find than the smaller pika.
They love to sit upright on rocks when they are not eating, building
up a thick layer of fat to carry them through winter hibernation.
The large summit area is level. There
is a log book and direction finder. To the north is Morro Peak,
marking the beginning of a long ridge called the Colin Range,
which stretches back towards Jasper townsite and culminates in
the sawtooth peaks of Hawk and Colin. Closer at hand, to the northeast,
is the rounded mass of Signal Mountain, the beginning of the long
Maligne Range on wich a splendid backpacking trail winds.
South in the direction of the Columbia
Icefield (and Athabasca Glacier) are Mt. Christie and Kerkeslin,
and Brussels Peak. Turning southwest, you see the imposing mass
of Edith Cavell with its spectacular glacier. In the distance
to the west is the white pyramid of Mount Robson, monarch of the
Canadian Rockies at 12,966 feet, and usually eveloped in clouds
of its own making. Northwest is Monarch Mountain, Snaring Mountain
and Pyramid Mountain, the latter built, the locals joke, thousands
of years ago by the ancient Egyptians.
Closer at hand, the complexities
of the Athabasca and Miette valleys are revealed, and you should
be able to spot most of the 50 lakes in the region. Once, two
mighty glaciers met near the site of the present-day Jasper townsite,
one coming down from the valley from the Columbia Icefields, the
other from what is now Yellowhead Pass. When the glaciers began
to melt, large chunks of ice remained. When this ice melted, it
left water-filled depressions in the gravel
The especially energetic could really
experience the mountain by hiking all the way down to the road
in a few hours. The 4.5 kilometer (2.8 mile) trail (marked as
Train No. 5) heads down to the upper terminal, and then left to
loop down towards the trees, under the tramway, ending near the
hostel 0.9 kilometers from the lower terminal. Now that's experiencing