North American Classic Climbs

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Mount Edith Cavell

East Ridge

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Sean Doughtery (ref G15) calls this "the most recommended route on the mountain" and "A must-do." This is one of the the most highly sought after alpine climbs in the Canadian Rockies, on one of the most significant and beautiful mountains. The climbing is not difficult technically; indeed in good conditions it is often soloed by skilled alpinists. However, according to the Park wardens this is also the most frequent rescue site in the Jasper area. The fickle weather, the length of the outing, the variety of skills needed, and the difficulty of the descent conspire to get a lot of parties in trouble. Not a beginner's route - if you don't have an experienced alpinist to lead this, consider hiring a guide. The climbing is typified by long sections of 3rd and 4th class scrambling on ledges with constant route-finding decisions to keep the difficulty from escalating. Interspersed are pitches of steep snow, which can be anything from mush to ice. The finest section is on the upper ridge: several pitches of 5th-class climbing on aesthetic solid quartize, with wonderful views down the North Face to the glacier and lake below. A route appreciated by even the most jaded hard-person.

The descent down the West Ridge is underrated in the guide. It is very long, often taking as much time as the ascent, and is characterized by seemingly endless scree over terraces with constant route-finding to keep from doing really difficult (in addition to dangerous) down-climbing. The East Ridge is occasionally descended just to avoid this ordeal, but that is fraught with route-finding problems as well, and is much more difficult technically.

The naming of the mountain as well as the route development is full of history. Edith Cavell was a British nurse executed by the Germans during World War 1 for helping allied soldiers escape.


Alpine Mixed




Jasper Nat'l Park, Alberta, Canada



G15. G42, I2, I9, W16


III, 5.3 mixed


Route Descriptions & Maps:

Route Description

First Ascent:

L. Coolidge, G. Higginson, J.E. Johnson, A Stretch, August 1924


Trip Reports:

Clark 8/99