Abbott Ridge offers amazing glacier views in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
The Abbott Ridge hike from Glacier House Monument is about 12 KM (7½ miles) return, using both trail options, with elevation gain of 1,040 m (3,412 ft) to a maximum elevation near 2,290 m (7,513 ft). Abbott Ridge is a strenuous hike through a wide variety of terrain culminating in spectacular, sweeping views of many principal features in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada. This hike continues a half kilometer past the 2.5 KM (1⅝ mile) hike to Marion Lake on steep trail to a junction. Straight ahead, (left branch), is the longer, less steep alternative and to the right is the rugged, shorter, steeper trail through forest and large boulders. The hike right on the shorter, steeper trail is chosen with a plan for descent on the longer, more scenic trail.
Spectacular views of surrounding mountains unfold as the steep trail through rock rises above treeline into lush alpine meadows beneath Abbott Ridge near Abbott Observatory in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Mercifully, the steep climb through rocky terrain is short and 1.5 KM (1 mile) later, trail breaks the treeline into an exquisite meadow with clearly defined trail which meanders and switchbacks to successive tiers beneath the face of Abbott Ridge directly ahead. On the approach to the ridge, the first glimpse of Abbott Observatory reveals itself on the hilltop to the right. The white tower contains weather monitoring gear and the shed is an emergency shelter for personnel who visit regularly throughout the winter.
From past experience, the hike to the top of Abbott Ridge is not as bad as it looks. The trail ramping up the face is evenly graded, consistent and remarkably scenic. Soon the view looks down on Abbott Observatory and Marion Lake below.
The view north from the trail up the side of Abbott Ridge reveals the roof of Closed Glacier Park Lodge with Mount Tupper and the Swiss Glacier on the Hermit Range in Glacier National Park, BC. Avalanche Mountain is at photo right.
From the trail along the face of Abbott Ridge the view looks down on Abbott Observatory. Marion Lake is below and the highway interchange in the bottom of the valley is the left turn from the TransCanada Highway into Illecillewaet Campground within Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
The view across Abbott Observatory towards Mount Sir Donald hosting the Vaux (pronounced Vox) Glacier with Uto Peak on photo left and the Illecillewaet Névé on photo right in Glacier National Park, BC, Canada
The Abbott Ridge Trail curls around the end of the ridge on good trail, as more of The Rampart 2,576 m (8,451 ft.) and Mount Bonney 3107 m (10,194 ft.) expand into view. Soon, the magnificent Bonney Glacier creates a profound visual presence on the opposite side of the valley.
On the 2,736 m (8,976 ft) Dome, to the left of Mount Bonney, a tongue of the Asulkan Glacier wraps itself around in close proximity to the Bonney Glacier. The final hike to the official 'end of trail' sign is moderately uphill over rocky terrain on sketchy trail but the 360 degree views are breathtaking. WOW!
Summarizing surrounding highlights with a long lens occurs while lunch in the sun is enjoyed with a cool, wafting, glacial breeze against exposed skin in this natural paradise.
The hike proceeds further along the top of Abbott Ridge on rough, rocky and sketchy trail in search of different views. At the end of the ridge 2,454 m (8,051 ft) Mount Abbott provides incredible views into the incredible Asulkan Valley.
The Illecillewaet Névé on photo left and Asulkan Glacier above the amazing Asulkan Valley with the return route trail and the snow slope we will need to cross below in Glacier National Park, BC, Canada.
Glacial silt-laden water flow from the Vaux Glacier and the Illecillewaet Névé creating the Illecillewaet River which feeds the Columbia River at Revelstoke from Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Following a relaxing lunch and rest for the feet, the descent begins from the top of Abbott Ridge initially via the same trail used for ascent. Skies are more heavily overcast. The excellent trail travels rocky, artistic terrain with subtle, but colorful, shrubbery borders and sweeping views of glaciated mountain scenery is punctuated by the sight and reverberating sound of pounding, white water flow in mighty rivers and waterfalls.
The longer, more scenic trail will be engaged for descent as a better and different alternative than the shorter, steeper, rocky-terrain trail ascended earlier. Climbing on a steep trail is safer and easier than descending the same trail.
Gradual descent into the massive rock bowl with the gigantic snow slope beneath Abbott Ridge on the longer trail back to the Abbott Ridge trail-head in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
The snow is hard on an ice base. It is a long way to the bottom. A minor incident occurs which delays crossing and will require medical attention.
There is only 5.0 KM (3⅛ miles) of downhill hiking remaining. All the remaining pictures of this day are taken on my behalf.
Pressing on after the snow slope accident, hiking downhill into spectacular views on the home stretch with a single pole to Illecillewaet Campground parking in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada
A quick pace is maintained on the descent. Threatening, overcast skies are holding back and throughout the remainder of the edgy descent around the rock bowl, beneath Mount Abbott, the scenery and immensity of surrounding features create a visual extravaganza which consumes the senses.
Switchbacks provide rapid descent near the lower edge of the rock bowl and the trail levels at a meadow before hiking on relatively flat trail through lush, old forest punctuated by impressive sections of rock slide. It is a constantly changing and very interesting section of trail which returns to the junction with the original trail descending from Marion Lake to the parking area at the large and well-appointed Illecillewaet Campground.
Back at the Abbott Ridge trail-head the hike proceeds through the foundations of Glacier House. Interpretive plaques provide interesting history of this important historical resource in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
Skies begin to clear again as the hike continues on the 1885 Rail Trail over the stone arch bridge above the glacial silt-laden Illecillewaet River near Illecillewaet Campground in Glacier National Park, BC, Canada.
The long drive home through Glacier National Park over Rogers Pass to the Palliser Lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort above Golden, BC begins in the long shadows of late afternoon and ends late in the dark. On the drive up the road above Golden, a large owl narrowly avoids hitting the Dodge Journey as it flies into the path of our headlights on a hunt interrupted.
Hiking crampons would have made the crossing safe. Careful and slow progress would have made this crossing safe. Taking the alternate, and likely faster route, by scrambling scree above the snow slope would have made this crossing safe. Hindsight is always 20/20. Be careful and stay safe out there.
Photographs for this post were captured on August 7, 2013 in Rogers Pass, Glacier National Park and Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada.