Sunwapta Peak

 Posted by on August 25, 1999  Jasper National Park  Add comments
Aug 251999
 

Sunwapta Mountain

Sunwapta Peak This is how it looks from 2 kilometers south of the parking area

Sunwapta Peak has had a great deal of respect from me ever since the day I was driving back from Jasper in the late 1980’s. I was coming down a hill and I looked across a valley, green and verdant, with trees wrapping up the sides of mountains like a great carpet. At the end of the valley rose Sunwapta Peak, an enormous pyramid of
massive width and height. The sight of the mountain and the valley brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.

The tree which moves some to tears
of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in
the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some
scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination,
nature is imagination itself.

William Blake
1757-1827, British Poet, Painter

I was somewhere down there twelve years ago looking up at the peak. A long time ago and far away.

I was somewhere down there twelve years ago looking up at the peak. A long time ago and far away.

Next time I go that way I’ll be sure to get a picture of that view for you, to include in this page.

I scrambled up this mountain in late August of 1999, and was very impressed with the ease with which a single lone individual could access a 3315 meter summit. Aside from Mount Temple there are few if any summits that rival Sunwapta in terms of accessibility and size.

Getting near tree line

Getting near tree line

You start by going to Stanley Falls parking area just down the highway from the Columbia Ice Fields Center.

Above the trees you get much screes

Above the trees you get much screes

The trail is close by; It starts on the left side of a drainage that comes down from the lower slopes of Sunwapta Peak. The trail will take you from the highway to the tree line where you gain the vast open slopes of the upper mountain.

Overhang near summit

Overhang near summit

Once out in the open, about one hour from the road, the views are awesome. The going is low angle on firm scree and the entire route can be seen from top to bottom so there is no actual route finding.

Over the last thousand feet the air begins to thin, so if you are in so-so shape like I was the day I climbed, you may need a break or two. Just persevere, the summit is worth seeing, and some very cool overhangs and a vertical north east face wait to give you a thrill.

The summit cairn

The summit cairn

I hope to find the time to repeat this scramble, on a sunny day though, and get an earlier start so the pictures will be bright, blue and cloud free.

Sunwapta Peak Panorama

Sunwapta Peak Panorama

Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.

Jorge Luis Borges
1899-1986, Argentinean Author


W
e realize our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time; it is basically a problem of priorities. We confess, “We have left undone those things that ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.”

Charles E. Hummel

Sunwapta Peak Gallery

 

The ladies would put the
baskets on the table
And the men would sit beneath a shady tree
The children would listen to a fable
While something else came through to me
The river got no end, just roll around the bend
Then pretty soon the women would all join in
On the river hymn…

The whole congregation was standing on the banks of the river
We are gathered here to give a little thanks thanks

The voice of the rapids will echo
And ricochet like an old water well
Who d ever want to let go
Once you sit beneath its spell
It’s dark and wide and deep, towards the sea it creeps
I’m so glad I brought along my mandolin
To play the river hymn…

You can ride on it or drink it
Poison it or dam it
Fish in it and wash in it
Swim in it and you can die in it
Run, you river, run

Son, you ain’t never seen yourself
No crystal mirror can show it clear, come over here instead
Son, you ain’t never eased yourself
Til you laid it down in a river bed
If you hear a lonesome drone, it’s as common as a stone
And gets louder as the day grows dim
That’s the river hymn…
The whole congregation was standing on the banks of the river
We are gathered here to give a little thanks thanks

The Band
Cahoots
The River Hymn

Hey now, little speedyhead,
the read on the speedmeter says
you have to go to task in the city
where people drown and people serve.
Don’t be shy. Your just deserve
is only just light years to go.Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
ocean storm, bayberry moon.
I have got to leave to find my way.
Watch the road and memorize
this life that pass before my eyes.
Nothing is going my way.The ocean is the river’s goal,
a need to leave the water knows
We’re closer now than light years to go.I have got to find the river,
bergamot and vetiver
run through my head and fall away.
Leave the road and memorize
this life that pass before my eyes.
Nothing is going my way.

There’s no one left to take the lead,
but I tell you and you can see
we’re closer now than light years to go.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
Fall into the ocean.

The river to the ocean goes,
a fortune for the undertow.
None of this is going my way.
There is nothing left to throw
of Ginger, lemon, indigo,
coriander stem and rose of hay.
Strength and courage overrides
the privileged and weary eyes
of river poet search naivete.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
All of this is coming your way.

REM
Find The River