Mount Assiniboine is one of highest, most striking, and most iconic peaks of the Canadian Rockies—it’s clichéd nickname is the “Matterhorn of the Rockies”. It’s popularity with photographers and tourists is matched by its climbing appeal—the north ridge is a scenic and classic scramble/climb to an airy summit. The ridge itself is on relatively good rock and the R.C. Hind mountain hut provides a convenient base, but peak is far from any roads and the approaches to the hut can be long, difficult, or expensive.
The three most popular way to get to the Hind Hut are (distances/gain approximate):
- Option 1: Hiking in from the Shark Mountain trailhead in Alberta via Assiniboine Lodge. Distance is 30 km with a gain of 1000 m and a loss of 50 m. This is a long hike and not noted for its scenery, but it is mostly on the straightforward Bryant Creek Trail. The ledges of the Gmoser’s Highway up the final stretch to the hut can be tricky scrambling.
- Option 2: Getting a helicopter ride to Assiniboine Lodge and then hiking Gmoser’s Highway to the hut. Distance is 6 km with a gain of 560 m. This option is obviously the easiest, but it is expensive, and flexibility is limited due to the helicopter schedule and making reservations.
- Option 3: Hiking in from the B.C. Side, near the BayMag mine, via Assiniboine Lake. Distance is 12 km with a gain of 1330 m and a loss of 50 m. This is a climber’s route that crosses a glacier and scales two sections of annoying steep scree, but it is cheaper than a helicopter ride and less than half the distance of the standard hike.
There are other options (from the Sunshine resort, from the Simpson River in BC, or via Marvel Pass, etc.) but they are all much longer. Reservations for stays at the spartan Hind Hut, the much more luxurious Assiniboine Lodge, or for helicopter trips, can all be made by calling 403-678-2883 (M-F 8:30 – 14:30)
From the Hind Hut, the North Ridge summit climb takes most parties between 6 and 9 hours round-trip (if there is no snow or ice on the route). The climb is rated YDS 5.5 but many parties do not use ropes or protection on the way up—given rising standards, these days 5.5 is treated as 4th class by experienced climbers. A rope is useful for rappels on the descent, and there are 4 bolted rappel anchors for the steepest sections.