Alpine Club of Canada

Gazette, Spring 2018

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Le Club Alpin du Canada Gazette printemps 2018 21 I should add that on day one we saw a sign announcing the trail junction to Cataract Pass leading into White Goat Wilderness, just after we crossed the Brazeau River near Nigel Pass. I realized the potential for a new hiking adventure to Nigel Pass ‑ one that would begin in David omson Country. ACC Edmonton Section member Van J. Konrad is a keen explorer of the gorgeous Canadian Rockies backcountry. at our Four Point camp at 8:15 p.m. with just enough time to get our tents up and dinner started before dark. Our final day dawned sunny and clear, and a 13.9‑kilometre hike got us from Four Point via Nigel Pass back to the trailhead and out by 3 p.m. We finally got good pictures of the Brazeau Canyon with fantastic karst limestone formations all around the trail. At the pass, we ate lunch overlooking the Continental Divide again, with glorious views and pic‑ ture‑taking opportunities of glaciers and peaks across the Icefields Parkway. Overall, we had an excellent trip, but the hike is a tough one that requires serious conditioning. Potential dangers exist in traversing the passes where sud‑ den weather changes can occur; whiteout conditions, snow, sleet and rain with heavy wind can trap you in the high country. While good signage provided by Jasper National Park makes route finding on well‑maintained trails easy, off‑trail scrambling and hiking combined with long approaches requires good map‑read‑ ing and compass skills, and should only be attempted by the experienced back‑ country scrambler — best attempted between mid‑July and mid‑September. Elevation gain for this loop is 1,912 metres with a maximum elevation of 2,450 metres at Jonas Shoulder, and a minimum elevation of 1,720 metres at Brazeau Valley Campground. due to route finding, serious compass work and bushwhacking, not to speak of the 1,232‑metre elevation gain and a 20‑kilometre return distance. On our fourth day, Cliff took the lead to find the big valley between Mount Flattop Ridge and Mount Marble. As there was no trail, the hike required more compass work and bushwhacking. It was another 20‑kilometre day for those who'd gone along, but we enjoyed views of picture‑perfect waterfalls and expansive, high alpine grass valleys. On day five, we packed up and moved on, following the 16.2‑kilometre trail to Jonas Cutoff that led us over Poboktan Pass at 2,304 metres through a most beautiful setting high above Brazeau Lake, then through a narrow valley with towering cliffs on both sides. Around midday we found a good lunch spot at John‑John Campground, but a light rain started and continued during our steady track up to the pass. By the time we were above timberline the showers had increased, accompanied by high winds, very cold temperatures and wind chill. We could see snow on the mountain just above us. A significant low‑pressure system was coming in, so we hot‑footed it off the mountain pass. e day ended with one case of stage‑one hypothermia and team‑tent building in pouring rain on muddy tent pads. Our cold and stiff hands hampered all tasks, so we ate a basic dinner under a rain tarp suspended over a picnic table before heading off to our dry and warm sleep‑ ing bags. at night, minus 10 Celsius temperatures brought heavy frost — not a surprise at this fairly high elevation — and we awoke in the morning to a frosty white world and frozen belongings. e sixth day was the most spectacu‑ lar, as we hit the high country within 15 minutes of leaving camp and then stayed high all day. Our 18.9‑kilometre track from Jonas Cutoff back to Four Point Campground is a two‑pass day: Jonas Shoulder, the highest point on our journey at 2,450 metres, and Jonas Pass at 2,320 metres. Exceedingly grand vistas, glaciers and spectacular high passes surrounded us under lovely clear skies. We got a late start however, leaving camp at 11 a.m. after waiting to dry out our wet belong‑ ings in the sun. en we faced a long hike that involved much climbing, and arrived Wet clothes and gear dry in the welcome sun after hard rain, frost and minus 10 Celsius temperatures. photo: susan dacK Cliff Praher, left and Lynn Ferguson take a breather below Mount Marble's summit, high above Brazeau Lake. photo: van J. Konrad

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