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Abbot Ridge hike in Glacier National Park, Canada

The hike to Abbott Ridge climbs into the alpine tundra of Glacier National Park in Canada and ends on a narrow ridge with views over glaciers.

Abbot Ridge hike in Glacier National Park, Canada
An absolutely top tour for fit hikers.

Key facts about hiking the Abbot Ridge hike in Glacier National Park, Canada

-Factor: ♡♡♡♡♡

Walking time : 7:30h

Altitude : 1,233 m up and down

Length : 16.9 km

Accessible by public transport? No

GPS data: I have uploaded the GPS data for the hike to the Outdoor Active website

Starting point: Illecillewaet Campground

Safety note: Canada is a bear country. In my blog post "Safe hiking and camping in bear country Canada" you will find tips on how to avoid the bear and how to behave if you do encounter him.

Further information and links: On the Parcs Canada website you will find all the information you need about Glacier National Park.



Glacier National Park is wild, wild nature, wild landscape, wild weather...

... As soon as you climb above the tree line, all you see are huge glaciers and boulders that look as if giants were playing stone throwing, dominoes or wooden blocks. This wildness is underlined by the fact that there is relatively little going on. Even in the peak hiking season at the end of June, I have the trail to myself most of the time.

Maybe it's because the hike to Abbot Ridge in Glacier National Park, Canada is quite challenging. 1100 meters of elevation gain, most of it steep uphill, snowfields to cross on steep slopes, and minor climbing sections depending on how far you venture up Abbot Ridge. And all of this over a distance of 16 kilometers.


Click on the images to see them in larger size:


The Abbot Ridge - the park ranger's favorite hike

“Make sure you take the steep climb,” warns the park ranger from Parcs Canada. I asked him about his favourite tour in Glacier National Park and his answer was not long in coming:

“Abbot Ridge. The view is unbeatable.”

But at the end of June there are still snowfields of about 2.00 meters there. The later I cross them, the safer and easier it is. With this good tip in mind, I set off on the steep path in beautiful weather. After a short time I am out of breath. I meet a group of day trippers who are only making the path to Marion Lake. I leave this to the right for now and continue climbing steeply up the mountain through the forest. I am actually running out of breath, but every now and then I call out a

“Watch out bear, I’m coming.”

How happy I am when I reach the tree line, because not only do I finally have a clear view of the mountains, glaciers and lakes, but I also no longer have to threaten the poor bear with my presence.


But my joy doesn't last long. Dark clouds are gathering in the north.

I know thunderstorms from the Alps and I immediately go on red alert. There is a small hut on the plateau that I consider as a place of refuge in an emergency, but as long as the weather holds, I continue to climb. Just as I reach the ridge, I see that it is raining to the north. I want to turn back when I pass a man who is happily talking on the phone in German. He hangs up and introduces himself as Alex, a Ukrainian mountaineer who lives in Munich. He has just come from the Himalayas and the weather is fine. I believe him and together we continue to climb to Abbot Ridge. A little further on, it starts to rain and the climbing sections are too tricky for me in this weather. Alex lets himself be persuaded and we turn back. I am far too relaxed to let my gaze wander over the mountains that tower into the sky in all directions : In the west, Glacier Crest 2251, in the north Mount Sir Donald 3284 m and Uto Peak 2927 and on the other side Cheops Mountain 2517. In between is the gigantic Illecillewaet glacier.

A landscape that seems so wild, untouched, beautiful and, especially in this weather, a little hostile to life.

The remains of Glacier House in Glacier National Park
The cradle of Canadian mountaineering

In 1885, the famous Canadian botanist John Macoun made the first ascent of Rogers Pass. Three years later, the two Britons William Spotswood Greem and Henry Swanzy climbed Mount Sir Donald, Terminal Peak and Mount Booney. Green used the basement of the Glacier House Hotel to develop his photos. After returning to England, he wrote the book "Among the Selkirk Glaciers", which quickly became the bible of mountaineering.


After the book was published, mountaineers began making pilgrimages to Glacier House, even though some of their mountaineering knowledge was very poor . In 1896, JH Stallard then suggested that the Canadian Pacific Company hire professional mountain guides from Chamonix in France and Zermat in Switzerland. In 1899, Edward Feuz and Christian Häsler came from Interlaken and led the guests - a success, despite the “horrendous” daily fee of 5 dollars.

The reputation as a Mecca of mountaineering was cemented by the famous British climber Edward Whymper, who said that the mountains here were like

“50 Switzerlands in one”.

But it wasn't just climbers who came; word of the wonderful landscape soon spread and guests from all over the world signed the guest book.


INFO

All information is available in English and French on the Parks Canada website.


Illecillewaet Campground in Glacier National Park

GETTING THERE

There are several scheduled flights from Germany to Calgary every day. An electronic travel document (eTA) is required to enter Canada.

The easiest way to continue your journey is by rental car, for example via www.billiger-mietwagen.de


BEST TIME

The best time to hike in the Rocky Mountains is from early July to September. Depending on the altitude, snow can also be expected in summer.


LITERATURE

Canadian Rocky Mountains from Rother Verlag, edition 2023


ACCOMMODATION

The Illecillewaet Campground offers basic campsites with water and toilet facilities on a first come, first serve basis. Mosquito spray is advisable here.

If you want to treat yourself to a little luxury away from the campsites, the Mount Engadine Lodge is the perfect place for you. Named after the nearby peak of Mount Engadine, the lodge was built as part of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and offers scenic mountain views amidst a green river valley. There are cabins, yurts and cozy rooms, gourmet food included.

Guests without an overnight stay are also welcome for afternoon tea.

The Tentridge walk starts right outside the door.


MAPS

If you would like a detailed trail map in addition to the maps from Parks Canada, you can order a waterproof and tear-proof trail map for the region from Gem Trek or purchase it locally.



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