Skyline Hikers of the Canadian Rockies

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2016 at Whiteman Pass

Our 2016 camp was located on the British Columbia side of the continental divide and on the Banff National Park boundary. This was a popular site with our hikers and was last visited in 2009 (see video).

This year's camp dates were:
  • July 11 to 16
  • July 18 to 23
  • July 25 to 30
  • August 1 to 6
  • August 8 to 13

The camp was located inside of Whiteman Pass (as shown below) between White Man Mountain and Red Man Mountain. The camp offered easy access to the trails along the continental divide, such as Redman Shoulder (shown below).

Photo courtesy of Kristina Sinzig  Photo courtesy of Gerry Sinzig

The easy trail into camp starts at the Cross River road and was about 4 km in length, with 2 bridges each approximately 1 km apart and a total elevation gain of 470 meters.

A choice of 5 or 6 hikes was offered each day from camp. Each day hike was led by an experienced volunteer leader. Hikers were prepared to hike over rough trails (many above the tree line) for 5 to 25 km per day with elevation gains of 200 to 1000 meters. Hike times averaged 6 to 7 hours per day including stops.

Photo coutesy of Susan Harris  Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Sinzig

Photo courtesy of Wendy Aitkens

Photo coutesy of Kristina Sinzig  Photo coutesy of Kristina Sinzig

Camp life provided an interesting contrast to the peacefulness of the trail. Meal times in the dining tent were happy, noisy affairs. The camaraderie continued around the evening campfire where a description of hikes planned for the following day were given. It was also a time for singing, recounting of the day's events and telling of tall tales.

Photo courtesy of Dawn Nordman  Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Sinzig

  Photo courtesy of Robert Vanderzweerde

Maps

Topographical Map References:

  • Mount Assiniboine 82 J/13
  • Spray Lakes 82 J/l4
  • Kananaskis Lakes 82 J/l1

Gem Trek maps:

  • First choice: Kananaskis Lakes, Scale 1:50,000
  • Second choice: Banff & Mount Assiniboine, Scale 1:100,000

Shown below is a topographical map from the Government of Canada's GeoGratis service (used under license). Click on the map to see a larger image.

History of the Area

Captain John Palliser (see picture) was the leader of the Palliser Expedition which explored the prairies and southern Rockies from 1857 to 1860. Can you imagine approaching the front ranges of the Rockies with no map of any kind and nearly all of the features unnamed? Palliser split his expedition into three groups. Lt. Thomas Blakiston went south into Waterton; Dr. James Hector explored the Bow Valley, Vermillion Pass and Kicking Horse Pass, the North Saskatchewan and Athabasca River regions. Palliser travelled to the headwaters of the Kananaskis River and went down the Palliser River to the Kootenay River valley. The Palliser Expedition produced some of the first maps of these mountain areas and named many of the prominent features.

White Man Pass (2149m / 7050 ft) (also known as Cross Pass) was named by Palliser in 1858. Father Jean de Smet had crossed this pass in 1845 and may have been the white man the natives referred to in conversation with Captain Palliser. It could also have been the white men in James Sinclair's Red River group of immigrants that traversed the pass earlier in 1841. Father de Smet built a "Cross of Peace" at the summit of the pass; hence the name of Cross Lake near the pass and the Cross River west of the pass. White Man Mountain, 2977m /9768 ft , is on the south side and Red Man Mountain, 2905m / 9531 ft, is on the north side of White Man Pass.

Spray Pass (1935m /6350 ft), River, and Lakes carry a descriptive name associated with swiftly moving water.

The majority of the peaks and lakes in this area were named by the Interprovincial Boundary Commission Survey team who surveyed the 1000 kilometre long Continental Divide between 1913 and 1924. These men were working in the peace and beauty of the Rockies while many of their friends, relatives, and former co-workers were among the troops fighting the horrific battles of WW1 in Europe. Patriotism was high during and following WW1 and many names relate to this conflict commemorating military people, battlegrounds, and warships.

R.W. Cautley was the Alberta representative on the survey and was responsible for detailed work in and near the passes. The British Columbia representative was Arthur Wheeler who mapped the high mountains between the passes. Wheeler was co-founder of the Alpine Club of Canada. He probably saw more of the Canadian Rockies than any other person with the boundary survey and four decades in the Alpine Club.


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