Distance: 9 km
Elevation gain: 920 m View map Download GPS track
Boundary Peak is the comparatively small peak immediately north of giant Mount Athabasca. Its strategic location means that its summit view is dominated by the enormous glaciers flowing down from Athabasca, and with just a few hundred meters separating the summit from the ice the view is absolutely stunning. Requiring only 900 m of elevation gain to reach the summit we figured it would make a good leg-stretcher the day after our trip up Sunwapta Peak.
We started the hike in the parking lot across the highway from the Icefields Center, next to the gated road the Brewster tour buses use to access the Athabasca Glacier. After following this road for a kilometer we turned east and started heading up the obvious ridge leading to Boundary Peak. A good trail led us most of the way up to a broad meadow flanked by a rocky ridge to the south and a grassy hill to the north.
The most direct route up Boundary Peak gains the rocky ridge at this point, but we chose to wander through the meadow and then ascend gently to the base of Boundary Peak where the ridge abuts the final portion of the ascent. A trail to the summit was visible here, but we chose to ascend to its right (south) on more stable rubble than what the trail made its way through. This worked well until the final 30 m or so when we encountered broken cliff bands covered in steep loose scree. I picked my way up through this and then directed Sandra to an easy route further to the south that completely avoided the difficulty.
Remarkably, within minutes of arriving on the summit the low cloud and showers that had moved in and covered the peaks to the west lifted and a patch of blue sky appeared right over Mount Athabasca! The resultant lighting on the glacier was spectacular and we ended up having a nice stay on the summit before more showers started moving towards us.
We opted to descend via the scree trail we'd seen earlier and this went very well, and after a quick lunch spent some time wandering around the meadows and gentle hills in the area. As we descended we were surprised to meet a few other groups of hikers, one of which was heading to the summit while the others were just wandering around the meadows, which also granted very nice views of Athabasca Glacier. It is certainly a nice area to explore!