Mount Robson

Mount Robson is the most prominent mountain in North America's Rocky Mountain range; it is also the highest point in the Canadian Rockies. The mountain is located entirely within Mount Robson Provincial Park of British Columbia, and is part of the Rainbow Range. Mount Robson is the second highest peak entirely in British Columbia, behind Mount Waddington in the Coast Range. The south face of Mount Robson is clearly visible from the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16), and is commonly photographed along this route.

Mount Robson was likely named after Colin Robertson, who worked for both the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company at various times in the early 19th century, though there was confusion over the name as many assumed it to have been named for John Robson, an early premier of British Columbia. The Texqakallt, a Secwepemc people and the earliest inhabitants of the area, call it Yuh-hai-has-kun, The Mountain of the Spiral Road.[4] Other unofficial names include Cloud Cap Mountain.[2]

Mount Robson
Mount Robson 2008
Highest point
Elevation3,954 m (12,972 ft) [1][2][3]
Prominence2,829 m (9,281 ft) [1]
Isolation460 kilometres (290 mi)
Coordinates53°06′37″N 119°09′24″W / 53.11028°N 119.15667°WCoordinates: 53°06′37″N 119°09′24″W / 53.11028°N 119.15667°W[1]
Parent rangeRainbow Range (Canadian Rockies)
Topo mapNTS 83E/03
First ascentJuly 31, 1913 by William W. Foster, Albert H. McCarthy and Conrad Kain[1][2]
Easiest routeSouth face (UIAA IV)

Geography and climate

Mount Robson SE
Upper SE face seen from the Selwyn Range

Mount Robson boasts great vertical relief over the local terrain. From Kinney Lake, the south-west side of the mountain rises 2,975 m (9,760 ft) to the summit. The north face of Mount Robson is heavily glaciated and 800 m (2,600 ft) of ice extends from the summit to Berg Glacier.

The north face can be seen from Berg Lake, reached by a 19 km (11.8 mi) hike. The lake is approximately two km long and lies at 1,646 m (5,400 ft) elevation. There are backcountry campgrounds at each end of the lake and a log shelter on its banks, named Hargreaves Shelter in honor of the Hargreaves family who operated the Mount Robson Ranch across the Fraser River from the mountain and who outfitted most of the early trips into Berg Lake. The Berg glacier calves directly into the lake. The Robson Glacier, which fills the cirque and valley between Mount Robson and Mount Resplendent, in the early 1900s fed directly into both Berg lake and Adolphus lake, straddling the Continental Divide and draining thus to both the Arctic and Pacific oceans via the Smoky and Robson Rivers, respectively. It since has receded more than 2 kilometres and is the source of the Robson River only. The peak of Mount Robson has a tundra climate (ET).[5]


Mount Robson Twilight
Mount Robson in British Columbia.

In 1893, five years after the expedition of A.P. Coleman to Athabasca Pass and the final settling of the mistaken elevations of Mt. Hooker and Mt. Brown, Mt. Robson was first surveyed by James McEvoy and determined to be the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.[6] The first documented ascent of Mount Robson, led by the young guide Conrad Kain, at its time the hardest ice face to be climbed on the continent, was achieved during the 1913 annual expedition organized by a large party of Alpine Club of Canada members who made use of the newly completed Grand Trunk Pacific railway to access the area. Prior to 1913, it had been necessary to approach the mountain by pack train from Edmonton or Laggan via Jasper and Lucerne, so only few intrepid explorers had made previous attempts at exploring the mountain. The most famous early ascensionist was the Reverend George Kinney, a founding member of the Alpine Club, who on his twelfth attempt in August 1909 claimed to have reached the summit with local outfitter Donald "Curly" Phillips. A major controversy over this claim and over the implausible nature of his unlikely and dangerous route dominated the discourse within the Alpine Club elite, and he is now generally presumed to have reached the high summit ridge before being turned back at the final ice dome of the peak.[7] Kinney Lake, below the south face, is named in his honour.


Mount Robson-North face
The North face (left) and Emperor face (right) in winter

The 1,500 m (4,921 ft) Emperor Face on the northwest side provides the most formidable challenge to elite climbers on the mountain, though the more popular routes are the Kain route and the southeast face. The Kain route follows the first ascent's path up the entire length of the Robson Glacier from its terminus above Robson Pass to the upper northeast face and the summit ridge. Mount Robson has a high failure rate on climbing to the top, with only about 10% of attempts being successful. Although the mountain is under 4,000 m (13,123 ft), there is no easy way to the summit and bad weather commonly rebuffs most summit attempts.[1]

The main routes on Mount Robson include:[2]

  • South Face (Normal Route) IV
  • Kain Face IV (named after Conrad Kain)
  • Wishbone Arete IV 5.6
  • Emperor Ridge V 5.6
  • Emperor Face, Stump/Logan VI 5.9 A2
  • Emperor Face, Cheesmond/Dick VI 5.9 A2
  • Emperor Face, Infinite Patience VI WI5 M5 5.9
  • Emperor Face, House-Haley M7
  • North Face IV
  • Fuhrer Ridge IV 5.4

See also

Berg Lake Melting in Late Spring
Berg Lake and Robson


  1. ^ a b c d e "Mount Robson". Retrieved 2008-09-14.
  2. ^ a b c d "Mount Robson". Retrieved 2003-10-26.
  3. ^ BC Parks 2008
  4. ^ BC Parks 2006
  5. ^ "ClimateBC_Map". Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  6. ^ Fraser, Esther (2002). The Canadian Rockies: Early Travels and Explorations. Calgary: Fifth House. p. 193. ISBN 1-894004-85-X.
  7. ^ Scott, Chic (2000). Pushing the Limits: The Story of Canadian Mountaineering. Calgary: Rocky Mountain Books. pp. 72–82. ISBN 0-921102-59-3.

Further reading

External links

Berg Lake

Berg Lake is a lake on the Robson River just below the river's source located within Mount Robson Provincial Park, at the doorstep of the north face of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. It is partly fed by the Berg Glacier.The turquoise colored Berg Lake is dotted with icebergs even in the middle of summer. Berg Lake can be reached by following a marked hiking trail for 19 kilometres (12 mi) from the parking lot. To reach the parking lot, follow Highway 5 north from Valemount to Highway 16 and head east 18 kilometres (11 mi). Or, follow Yellowhead Highway 16 west from Jasper townsite for 84 kilometres (52 mi) to the Mount Robson Viewpoint centre. On the north side of the highway, follow a two-lane paved road for 2 kilometres (1.2 mi), ending at the parking lot.

Canadian Rockies

The Canadian Rockies (French: Rocheuses canadiennes) or Canadian Rocky Mountains comprise the Canadian segment of the North American Rocky Mountains. They are the eastern part of the Canadian Cordillera, which is a system of multiple ranges of mountains which runs from the Canadian Prairies to the Pacific Coast. The Canadian Rockies mountain system comprises the southeastern part of this system, lying between the Interior Plains of Alberta and Northeastern British Columbia on the east to the Rocky Mountain Trench of BC on the west. The southern end borders Idaho and Montana of the United States. In geographic terms the boundary is at the Canada/US border, but in geological terms it might be considered to be at Marias Pass in northern Montana. The northern end is at the Liard River in northern British Columbia.

The Canadian Rockies have numerous high peaks and ranges, such as Mount Robson (3,954 m, 12,972 ft) and Mount Columbia (3,747 m, 12,293 ft). The Canadian Rockies are composed of shale and limestone. Much of the range is protected by national and provincial parks, several of which collectively comprise a World Heritage Site.

Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site

The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site is located in the Canadian Rockies. It consists of seven contiguous parks including four national parks:




Yohoand three British Columbia provincial parks:

Hamber Provincial Park

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park

Mount Robson Provincial ParkThe parks include mountains, glaciers, and hot springs and the headwaters of major North American river systems including:

North Saskatchewan River

Athabasca River

Columbia River

Fraser RiverThe area is known for its natural environment and biological diversity. It includes the Burgess Shale site, a World Heritage Site in its own right from 1980 to 1984, when it was included in the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks WHS designation.

Carcajou Pass

Carcajou Pass is a mountain pass on the Continental Divide and British Columbia–Alberta boundary at the north end of Mount Robson Provincial Park. On the Alberta side lies the northwestern part of Jasper National Park. Carcajou is the French word for "wolverine".

Hart Ranges

The Hart Ranges are one of the main geographic subdivisions of the Canadian Rockies and are the main part of the area that is meant by the Northern Rockies, although the much larger Muskwa Ranges to the north are more deserving of that term — but also much more inaccessible and much less visited — and the Northern Rockies are generally also considered to extend at least as far south as Mount Robson, which is in the Continental Ranges . The Hart Ranges were named in honour of British Columbia Premier John Hart, as is the highway which traverses the Pine Pass in the northern part of the range, connecting the north-central Interior of the province to its Peace River District to the northeast.

The boundaries of the Hart Ranges are the Rocky Mountain Trench and the McGregor Plateau on the west/southwest, the Peace Reach of Williston Lake on the north, and a certain line of demarcation with the Rocky Mountain Foothills to the east/northeast. The southern boundary is at Jarvis Creek. Mount Ida and Mount Sir Alexander are South of Jarvis Creek and are in the Continental Ranges, which comprise the main and best-known part of the Rocky Mountains and run all the way south to Marias Pass in Montana.

List of peaks on the British Columbia–Alberta border

This is a list of peaks on the British Columbia–Alberta border, being the spine of the Continental Divide from the Canada–United States border to the 120th meridian, which is where the boundary departs the Continental Divide and goes due north to the 60th parallel. Peaks are listed from north to south and include those not on the Continental Divide but which are on the 120th Meridian north of Intersection Mountain, which as its name implies is located at the intersection of the Divide and the Meridian.

Mount Columbia (Canada)

Mount Columbia is the highest point in Alberta, Canada. It is second only to Mount Robson for height and topographical prominence in the Canadian Rockies. It is located on the border between Alberta and British Columbia on the northern edge of the Columbia Icefield. Its highest point, however, lies within Jasper National Park in Alberta.The mountain was named in 1898 by J. Norman Collie after the Columbia River. The river itself was named after the American ship Columbia Rediviva captained by Robert Gray, who first ventured over a dangerous sandbar and explored the lower reaches of the river in 1792. Mount Columbia was first ascended in 1902 by James Outram, guided by Christian Kaufmann.

Mount Robson Provincial Park

Mount Robson Provincial Park is a vast provincial park in the Canadian Rockies with an area of 2,249 km². The park is located entirely within British Columbia, bordering Jasper National Park in Alberta. The B.C. legislature created the park in 1913, the same year as the first ascent of Mount Robson by a party led by Conrad Kain. It is the second oldest park in the provincial system. The park is named for Mount Robson, which has the highest point in the Canadian Rockies and is located entirely within the park.

The first recreational trail was built in 1913 by Jasper outfitter Donald "Curly" Phillips along the Robson River to Berg Lake.

From May to September, the Mt. Robson Visitor Information Centre is open to the public, and is a common stop on the Yellowhead Highway. The only commercial services within the park are at a combination coffee-shop gas station complex at the same viewpoint. There are two government campgrounds near the Visitor Centre and one near Yellowhead Pass.

The park spans the Yellowhead Highway and is located 390 kilometres west of Edmonton or 290 kilometres east of Prince George.

The source of the Fraser River is in Mount Robson Provincial Park. A dripping spring just west of a pond at Fraser Pass is the actual source of British Columbia's longest river. It is located 40 km (25 mi) south of the Yellowhead Highway at Lucerne Campground. There are no trails there and the best access is by helicopter from Valemount.

Mount Terry Fox Provincial Park

Mount Terry Fox Provincial Park is a provincial park in British Columbia, Canada. It is located in the Rocky Mountains near Mount Robson and the city of Valemount, British Columbia. The park and Mount Terry Fox, which is within the park, are named in honor of amputee long-distance runner and cancer research activist Terry Fox, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba who grew up in British Columbia.

North Twin Peak

North Twin (Peak) is one of the two peaks that comprise The Twins massif located at the northeast corner of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. The other lower peak is named South Twin (3,566 m). North Twin is the third-highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, after Mount Robson and Mount Columbia.

The massif was named The Twins in 1898 by J. Norman Collie and Hugh M. Stutfield. The decision to name the peaks separately was approved February 28, 1980.

In addition to North Twin and South Twin, the massif contains a northern subpeak of North Twin known as Twins Tower, 3,627 m (11,900 ft). This sits atop the famed north face of the massif (see below), and was named in 1984.

Northern Rocky Mountains

The Northern Rocky Mountains, usually referred to as the Northern Rockies, are a subdivision of the Canadian Rockies comprising the northern half of the Canadian segment of the Rocky Mountains. While their northward limit is easily defined as the Liard River, which is the northward terminus of the whole Rockies, the southward limit is debatable, although the area of Mount Ovington and Monkman Pass is mentioned in some sources, as south from there are the Continental Ranges, which are the main spine of the Rockies forming the boundary between British Columbia and Alberta. Some use the term to mean only the area north of Lake Williston (the Peace River), and in reference to Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park, while others consider the term to extend all the way south, beyond the limit of the Hart Ranges at Mount Ovington, to McBride and Mount Robson.The area south of Lake Williston - the Hart Ranges - is much more accessible and better-known, while north of Lake Wililston the Northern Rockies are extremely remote and rarely visited or photographed. The Hart Ranges are traversed by BC Highway 97 (the John Hart Highway) and the Peace River extension of the former BC Rail line (now part of Canadian National Railways), which use the Pine Pass, and also by the Tumbler Ridge spur line to the Sukunka River coalmines. The Alaska Highway traverses the northernmost part of the range via Stone Mountain and Muncho Lake Provincial Parks.

Prince George-Mount Robson

Prince George-Mount Robson was a provincial electoral district for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Canada from 1991 to 2009.

Prince George-Valemount

Prince George-Valemount is a provincial electoral district in British Columbia, Canada established by the Electoral Districts Act, 2008 out of mostly Prince George-Mount Robson and small parts of Prince George North, Prince George-Omineca and Cariboo North. It came into effect upon the dissolution of the BC Legislature in April 2009, and was first contested in the 2009 provincial election.

Rainbow Range (Rocky Mountains)

The Rainbow Range is a small subrange of the Park Ranges subdivisions of the Northern Continental Ranges of the Rocky Mountains on the border between Alberta and British Columbia in Mount Robson Provincial Park.

Its highest summit, and the highest in the Canadian Rockies, is Mount Robson 3959 m (12989 ft), followed by nearby Resplendent Mountain 3425 m (11241 ft) and Mount Kain 2863 m (9393 ft).

Resplendent Mountain

Resplendent Mountain, or Mount Resplendent is a peak in the Canadian Rockies, located within Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. It is a part of the Rainbow Range, and is a sister peak to the more famous Mount Robson, its nearest neighbour. Together they form a classic panorama seen by travellers from the VIA railway and Highway 16. The mountain was named by Arthur P. Coleman, and A.O. Wheeler wrote, "On the east side it is clad from top to bottom in pure white snow, and presents with the sun shining upon it a spectacle of such wonderful brilliance that the aptness of the name became immediately apparent." The first ascent was achieved on the same historic 1911 trip in which Conrad Kain first scouted the climbing routes later to be used on the first ascent of Mount Robson.

The east face of Resplendent towers above the sources of Resplendent Creek, feeding into the Moose River, and its north face emerges from the Robson Glacier, feeding the Robson River, another tributary of the upper headwaters of the Fraser River. Resplendent holds an important place in the history of Canadian Rockies ski mountaineering, and from the time of Peter L. Parson's first ski ascent (solo) in 1930, it has been a highly sought objective for winter ascents, with a ski descent of over 1800m from the summit to the toe of the Robson Glacier.

South Jasper Ranges

The South Jasper Ranges are mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.

It is a part of the Central Main Ranges of the Canadian Rockies, located on the Continental Divide, in Jasper National Park (Alberta) and Mount Robson Provincial Park (British Columbia). It contains the Meadow-Clairvaux, Fraser-Rampart, Trident Range and, most prominently, the Cavell Group of mountains and the headwaters of the Athabasca and Fraser River.

The South Jasper Ranges covers a surface of 1,196 km² (462 mi²), has a length of 39 km (from north to south) and a width of 49 km.

Tonquin Pass

Tonquin Pass, 1948 m (6393 ft), is a mountain pass in the Canadian Rockies, linking Tonquin Valley in Jasper National Park, Alberta, to Mount Robson Provincial Park and adjoining areas of British Columbia. It is at the headwaters of Tonquin Creek, which flows into British Columbia. Located on the interprovincial boundary, it is on the Continental Divide.

Also at the headwaters of Tonquin Creek is Vista Pass.


Valemount is a village municipality of 1,018 people in east central British Columbia, Canada, located 320 kilometres (200 mi) from Kamloops, British Columbia. It is situated between the Rocky, Monashee, and Cariboo Mountains. It is the nearest community to the west of Jasper National Park, and is also the nearest community to Mount Robson Provincial Park, which features Mount Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. Outdoor recreation is popular in summer and winter—hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, and horseback riding are common activities.

As a flag stop Via Rail's Canadian calls at the Valemount railway station two or three times (depending on the season) per week in each direction.

Yellowhead Pass

The Yellowhead Pass is a mountain pass across the Continental Divide of the Americas in the Canadian Rockies. It is located on the provincial boundary between the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, and lies within Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park.

Due to its modest elevation of 1,131 m (3,711 ft) and its gradual approaches, the pass was recommended by Sir Sandford Fleming as a route across the Rocky Mountains for the planned Canadian Pacific Railway. This proposal was rejected in favour of a more direct and southerly route through the more difficult Kicking Horse Pass, opened in 1886. However, both the Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian Northern Railways used the Yellowhead Pass for their main lines built c. 1910–1913, and the main line of their successor, the Canadian National Railway, still follows the route. Via Rail's premier passenger train, the Canadian, uses the CN tracks as does the Jasper – Prince Rupert train and the Jasper section of the Rocky Mountaineer. The pass is now also traversed by the Yellowhead Highway.

It is believed that the pass was named for Pierre Bostonais (nicknamed Tête Jaune, French for "yellow head", because of his blond hair), an Iroquois-Métis trapper employed as a guide by the Hudson's Bay Company. Bostonais led one of the first expeditions for the company to what is now the interior of B.C. through the pass in 1820.

Climate data for Mount Robson Peak 1981-2010 (53.110 -119.156)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −9.3
Daily mean °C (°F) −12.9
Average low °C (°F) −16.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 271
Canadian Rockies
Parks and protected areas
Ski resorts
Ecozone and ecoregions

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