Distance: 12 km
Elevation gain: 970 m View map Download GPS track
For fun I’ve been tracking my hiking statistics since I started hiking in the Rockies (it’s the scientist in me!) and in preparing for our Jasper trip I noticed that if we hiked our usual amount that I’d be passing the 250,000 m of elevation gain mark while there. This called for some arbitrary celebration! After very little thinking – the answer was obvious of course – I decided that the best way to celebrate the quarter-million mark was to pass it while riding a gondala up the side of a mountain. The expense and laziness of this has kept me from doing so before, but I’ve been frugal for 37 years and am currently in the best shape of my life so I figured these excuses could be temporarily ignored in the interest of taking it easy for a change!
Our destination today was Indian Ridge, an easy hike and scramble from The Whistlers summit. A good hiking trail climbs 1000 m to The Whistlers, but we’d be taking the Jasper SkyTram to cover that distance in just 7 minutes for $40/person. Knowing it would get crowded we arrived shortly after the 8 am opening and caught the 3rd tram up with just a few other people.
From the upper tram terminal it was an easy hike along the baby-stroller-easy trail to the “summit” of The Whistlers. The area is named for hoary marmots that whistle loudly to warn of approaching predators, but they appear to be completely extinct from the area. The enormous summit is adorned in dozens of cairns and a large pile of rocks appears to have been flown in to provide adequate building material for tourists wishing to make their own cairn/pile of rocks. The views were great from it as well, but we didn’t linger long before making our way towards Indian Ridge.
The route to Indian Ridge from The Whistlers was obvious and a good trail made its way to within 20 m of its summit. We avoided areas of difficulty lower down on decent trail, but the final 20 m to the summit was a bit sketchy on loose rubble and hard mud. I tried to pick the easiest line up, but the route we took was borderline easy/moderate scrambling that some people would find problematic (and we would’ve as well years ago).
As we crested the ridge, however, any difficulties were quickly forgotten as the stunning environment of Indian, Marmot, and Whistlers Passes exploded before us. The scenery had been great on the way up, but paled in comparison to what now lay before us! Sandra continuously remarked how colorful the area was, from the deep blue lakes below Marmot Pass to the brilliantly orange rock of the mountains on the other side of the pass. Mount Edith Cavell to the south, Mount Robson to the northwest, and the Victoria Cross Range to the north were also particularly stunning.
After a short summit stay we continued along the ridge, hoping to loop back down at the other end as described in Alan Kane’s scrambling guide. The terrain was dead easy along this traverse and involved only minor gains and losses of elevation, contrary to what the topographical maps on my GPS suggested. Unfortunately the far end was more difficult than we expected, and while we could’ve gotten around the crux cliff by losing and regaining a significant amount of elevation on loose and steep terrain, we decided a far better use of our time would be to retrace our path along the ridge and return the way we came. Hiking along such a spectacular ridge twice was certainly not an imposition!
We met two people at the summit on our return, then two more groups on the way down and back to The Whistlers. At this point we encountered herds of several hundred huffing their way up the easy trail from the terminal, then crammed like sardines into the tram for the descent back down. A smelly end to a great day!