Skiing Alberta’s Highest Mountain
Mount Columbia was first climbed over 120 years ago and is on the list of the 50 classic ski lines of North America
Mount Columbia sits atop the hydrological apex of North America and is the highest mountain in Alberta at 3,747 metres. While it’s a popular ski tour, those who attempt it should be experienced backcountry skiers.
On his journey to ski the 50 classic ski runs of North America, Cody Townsend teams up with local Rockies climber Taylor Sullivan for the ascent and descent. From the car to the summit is a 42-kilomtre trek one way.
The difficulties of climbing and skiing it don’t come in the form of technical steeps or scary exposure, but more from the marathon of a ski tour it takes to get to its base and timing a perfect weather window in a zone known for instantaneous weather changes and blinding whiteouts.
The mountain was named by J. Norman Collie in 1898 by after the Columbia River, which was named after the American ship Columbia Rediviva. Mount Columbia was first climbed by James Outram, guided by Christian Kaufmann, in 1902. The north ridge is one of the 25 climbs in The Bold and Cold book.