Canadian Rockies’ 11,000ers

[COMPLETED 58/58 in August 2020]…

The 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies is one of the most aesthetic lists out there. There are three editions of Bill Corbett’s books dedicated to the climbing history and routes of this group of peaks. This is also considered as one of the most difficult and dangerous lists at least in the scope of North America. There are only a handful of these that can be done without mountaineering skills and at least a dozen that boast significant objective hazards that can easily kill. One needs to be proficient in a variety of skills from 5th class choss to steep snow to skiing and winter camping, as well as possessing a reliable high clearance, 4×4 vehicle. Additionally, the timing of the 11,000ers is generally very tricky with the climbing window no more than a couple weeks per year, and in some particular years such that 2019 and 2020, the window for peaks like Mt. Alberta never opened.

How many 11,000ers are there?

The original list contained 54 peaks but the 3rd edition of Corbett’s book added 4 extra peaks. The 4 additional ones aren’t the most aesthetic nor difficult so in my opinion, whether you choose the original 54 list or the new 58 list doesn’t really matter. Two of the 4 added ones – Mt. Cromwell and Mt. Murchison are recently disputed as measurements done in 2019 had shown them as marginally under the 11,000 feet (3353 m) elevation. It’s also worth noting that the concept of prominence never seemed to have caught in the Canadian side so there is no prominence cut-off for this elevation-based list. There are quite a few peaks that have absurdly low prominence such as North Victoria, Goodsir Center and Lunette Peak. The good thing is that none of these can be considered as “easy” from peak-bagging perspective.

How many have finished this list?

As mentioned above, if you have finished the original 54-peak list then I consider it’s done. Adding the 4 bonus peaks is recommended but not absolutely needed, especially as they were added only a couple years ago, when there were already a dozen finishers. Two of the 4 extras were even disputed to be under the 11,000 foot mark.

(The information isn’t complete. And if I somehow missed anyone then please let me know).

  1. Don Forest – Finished in 1979 on Lunette Peak
  2. Rick Collier (58) – Finished in 1994, and climbed the 4 extras later. First to finish self-propelled
  3. Bill Corbett – Finished in 2002 on Twins Tower
  4. Forbes MacDonald – Finished in 2003 on Mt. Alberta
  5. Roman Pachovsky – Finished in 2003 on Mt. Alberta (together with Forbes)
  6. Nancy Hansen – Finished in 2003 on Mt. Forbes. First female finisher. Second fastest time in 7.5 years
  7. Jason Thompson (58) – Finished in 2005 on Mt. Alexandra, then finished the 4 extras in 2016 on Mt. Murchison.
  8. Colin Jones (58) – Finished in 2007, and finished the 4 extras in 2017
  9. Andy Evans (58) – Finished in 2010 on Recondite Peak, then the 4 extras in 2017 on Mt. Murchison
  10. Robin Sandau (58) – Finished in 2011 and then the extras in 2017 together with Andy Evans.
  11. Nathan Bernadet (58) – Finished in 2013 on Recondite Peak, then finished the extras in 2015. All solo and self-propelled after decommission of Sullivan FSR
  12. Helen Sovdat (58) – Finished in 2018
  13. Dean Lister (58) – Finished in 2018 on Tusk Peak. Longest time span in 39 years.
  14. Robb Schnell (58) – Finished in 2018 on Tsar Mountain.
  15. Mark Klassen – Finished in 2018 on Recondite Peak. First to guide all 11,000ers
  16. Ben Nearingburg – Finished in 2018 on Tsar Mountain, all self-propelled after decommission of Sullivan FSR. Fastest time in 5.5 years
  17. Steven Song (58) – Finished in 2020 on Lyell 4. Youngest finisher at 27 years old.
  18. Roy Stadlwieser (58) – Finished in 2021 on Mt. Alberta

Which are the hardest?

It seems like most would agree that Mt. Alberta and Mt. Robson are the most difficult from nearly all aspects. In addition to the shear technical challenges of these two beasts the timing game of these is by no doubt the most difficult in the 11,000ers family. For amateur peak-baggers like myself to reach the summits of Mt. Alberta and Mt. Robson is only possible via the easiest route in the easiest timing window, and in some years the window would never open. The Goodsirs, particularly the south tower are considered by some as the most “dangerous” thank to the worst rock quality and the sustained high-notch scrambling on the terrain. From glacier-travel perspective, The Helmet has the most challenge navigation that resembles terrains in the Himalayas. Deltaform Mountain is also up there as one of the more difficult rock 11,000er. From the access perspective, it’s no doubt that Tsar Mountain is the most challenge, followed by Mt. Clemenceau and Tusk Peak. These three peaks would require either some expedition styled approach or by taking a helicopter. Among those working on the list after the decommission of the key Sullivan River FSR, only two (Ben Nearingburg and Nathan Bernadat) had climbed the three remote ones without air support.

My sequence of finishing the list:

  1. Mount Temple   2011-09-24
  2. Mount Hector   2013-03-29
  3. Mount Athabasca   2013-07-16
  4. Mount Brazeau   2013-07-24
  5. Mount Cline   2013-08-01
  6. Mount Edith Cavell   2013-08-05
  7. Mount Assiniboine   2013-08-14
  8. Recondite Peak   2013-08-17
  9. Mount Willingdon   2013-08-31
  10. Crown Peak (Willingdon Center)    2013-08-31
  11. Mount Andromeda   2014-04-13
  12. Mount Joffre   2014-06-21
  13. Mount Victoria North Peak    2014-07-09
  14. Mount Lefroy   2014-07-10
  15. Mount King George    2014-08-09
  16. Mount Harrison   2014-08-30
  17. Mount Woolley   2014-09-06
  18. Diadem Peak   2014-09-06
  19. Mount Alexandra   2014-09-27
  20. Mount Columbia   2015-04-18
  21. Snow Dome   2015-04-19
  22. Stutfield Peak   2015-05-08
  23. Mount Cromwell  2015-05-08
  24. Stutfield NE2  2015-05-08
  25. South Twin  2015-05-09
  26. West Twin  2015-05-09
  27. North Twin  2015-05-09
  28. Twins Tower  2015-05-09
  29. Mount Bryce  2015-05-18
  30. Mount Forbes   2015-06-01
  31. Lyell 3 (Ernest Peak)   2015-06-26
  32. Lyell 2 (Edward Peak)    2015-06-26
  33. Lyell 1 (Rudolph Peak)   2015-06-26
  34. Lyell 5 (Christian Peak)    2015-06-27
  35. Mount Victoria   2015-07-04
  36. Mount Huber   2015-07-04
  37. Mount Sir Douglas   2015-07-19
  38. Mount Murchison   2015-08-01
  39. Resplendent Mountain   2015-08-27
  40. Mount King Edward   2017-05-29
  41. Mount Robson   2017-07-18
  42. Deltaform Mountain   2017-07-27
  43. Hungabee Mountain   2017-08-03
  44. Whitehorn Mountain   2017-08-10
  45. Mount Alberta   2017-09-06
  46. The Helmet   2018-06-16
  47. Mount Bryce Center Peak   2018-07-27
  48. Tsar Mountain   2018-08-06
  49. Mount Goodsir North Tower   2018-08-14
  50. Mount Goodsir Center Peak   2018-08-14
  51. Mount Goodsir South Tower   2018-08-15
  52. Mount Fryatt   2018-08-21
  53. Mount Kitchener   2019-04-21
  54. Mount Clemenceau   2019-08-05
  55. Tusk Peak   2019-08-07
  56. Mount Warren   2020-08-05
  57. Lunette Peak   2020-08-23
  58. Lyell 4 (Walter Peak)   2020-08-26