If you’re planning to climb Mount Logan or any of the other peaks in Kluane National Park and Reserve in 2020, there are some major rule changes for expeditions coming from Parks Canada.
There’s now a moratorium on winter expeditions to the Icefield Ranges of the St. Elias Mountains: a moratorium on solo climbing on Mount Logan and mandatory insurance and charges for rescues.
The St. Elias Mountains represent a portion of the most extensive non-polar icefield in the world. Major mountains found within the Icefield Ranges of Kluane National Park and Reserve include: Mount Logan (5,959 m), Mount St. Elias (5,489 m), Mount Lucania (5,226 m), King Peak (5,173 m), Mount Steele (5,073 m), Mount Wood (4,842 m) and Mount Vancouver (4,812 m).
Mountaineering in the Icefield Ranges is permitted from March 15 to Nov. 15 and the climbing season extends from mid-April to mid-June. Climbing parties must apply in advance of their trip and all climbers are required to register.
Over the years there have been a number of rescues from Canada’s highest peak, with one of the most talked-about being that of Monique Richard. She was attempting to become the first woman to solo Mount Logan but required a rescue. Most mountaineers do not consider a summit official unless the climber returns safely to the base of the mountain.
Thankfully Stephane Gagnon, a Quebec-based ACMG Ski Guide and his 19 year-old son Guillaume, were also on Logan and the first on the scene to save Richard. A Parks Canada rescue helicopter was able to reach the at 5,200 metres.
“Stephane and Guillaume made an informed decision to rescue the stranded climber based on their skill levels,” said a press release from the ACMG. “A strong desire to help, their own acclimatization, and personal safety. They likely saved the climber’s life. The ACMG and guiding community are very proud of their actions.”
There were three rescues on Logan in 2017, compared to the average of one rescue every second year. “In my history this is the most high altitude rescues, on Mount Logan, in any one year,” said Craig MacKinnon, a resource conservation officer for Kluane National Park and Reserve.
The Southern Tutchone name for Kluane Lake is “Łù’àn Män” which means “big fish lake.” The coastal Tlingits called the area “ùxh-àni” meaning “whitefish country.” The name ‘Kluane’ was derived from these two names.