We set out for our trip to Jasper with our trusty Rocky Mountain Rides guidebooks. There ride description to Canoe Mountain has always intrigued me. It didn't take too long for me to get Sharon thinking too.
Canoe Mountain is the northernmost mountain of a spur of the Monashees a fabled heli-skiing destination frequented by CMH and Mike Wiegele's outfits.
It is also a very very big mountain
How big? Valemount and the valley at the foot of Canoe is at an elevation of 800m or approximately 2400 ft.
The peak of Canoe is 2695m or 8085 feet
Total elevation gain is 1895m or 5685 feet.
It's enough that its high. The Canoe access road is also steep. It climbs that 1895 m in 12 km. That's painfully steep; granny gear steep. Just to show you steep it is take a look at this picture of Sharon working hard. That's a tiny mere 2,300 m peak in the background.
Most climbing pictures don't do justice to the climb. I like to think this one does.
We started relatively early in the morning from our gorgeous campsite at Kinbasket lake in the Valemount valley. It was a slightly overcast day but the views were inspiring
Canoe Mountain is to the right of the picture; the glacier and icefield are on Mt Thompson a subpeak.
This part of Kinbasket Lake is called Canoe Reach. It's a floodplain formed when the Revelstoke Dam went into operation some 50 years ago for power generation. Apparently, the floodplain and lake is so big, it actually altered the valley climate moderating the winters somewhat. This view to the south shows the erosion and hanging valleys from the Canoe River.
What can I tell you about the climb? Climb's are generally boring. This one wasn't boring so much as it just plain out and out hurt. I didn't even think about trying to force my legs on a climb this long and heinous and started out in granny. Sharon has her own pace and I have mine. Every 20 minutes I would stop and wait and rest, Sharon would catch up and off we would go. I was a little concerned when after 40 odd minutes Sharon asked me how far I thought we were and volunteered her thoughts that we were a quarter of the way.
We actually got to the HALFWAY point at about 1 hour and 45 minutes. In the meantime we cross and climb several different climatic zones; lower deciduous and evergreen mix; alpine boreal and then right into full blown alpine tundra. This portion is just after we hit the snowmobile shelter hut at the alpine boreal zone flowers are blooming red, purples sun is shining and all seems well. Legs hurt a little at this point.
While waiting I chat with a truck coming down. He has an altimeter and confirms the news elevation of 1660 odd m and about 6km. Well, at least I know the trail doesn't get any steeper.
Another group in a Jeep Grand Cherokee pulls up while we are waiting and a group of 3 pull out their bikes for a ride to the top a mere 830m cheaters!!!
The rider is Sharon plugging away like the little machine she is. The mountains in the background are the Premier Group of the Cariboo range looking almost due west as we arc around the first climb on Canoe traversing the mountain to the final peak assault. You can't see the storm clouds coming up behind us but you can catch the chasing group.