Mount Edith Cavell is a favorite spot for hikers and climbers in Jasper National Park for good reason. The mountain offers trails that wind through pleasant alpine meadows full of wildflowers, pristine glacier-fed lakes, steep cliffs, and stunning glaciers. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll on the Path of the Glacier trail, or test their stamina and strength on a challenging trip up one of the many climbing routes. No matter which path visitors take, there are sure to be plenty of incredible views and natural beauty.
History of Mount Edith Cavell
This picturesque peak has been called many names over the years. It was originally named "la Montagne de la Grande Traverse" because it looms over the Athabasca Pass. It has also been called "Fitzhugh" and "Geikie". In 1916, the mountain was officially named Mount Edith Cavell after a historically significant English nurse from Norfolk, England.
Edith Cavell worked in Brussels, Belgium as a nurse during World War I. She tended to injured German soldiers after the German occupation, but fell in with an underground group that helped allied soldiers escape to Holland. In 1915, a spy for the Germans asked her to help him escape, and when she agreed she was promptly arrested. She was tried with treason and sentenced to death. Despite consternation by the international community, she was executed on October 12, 1915. The Premier of British Columbia named the mountain after her as a testament to her bravery and strength.
Hiking Mount Edith Cavell
There are many trails that split off in different directions on Mount Edith Cavell. Some are simple strolls through forest and meadows, and others are extremely challenging ascents up steep cliff faces and piles of loose rocks. Visitors should be realistic about their fitness and experience level, and choose their trails accordingly.
Easy to Moderate Routes
The beginning of the Mount Edith Cavell hiking trails begin behind the parking lot. Visitors can opt for the relatively easy Path of the Glacier Trail, which branches out to the right of the Edith Cavell memorial. The path bridges over rivers and streams, and snakes through piles of rocks that were left as the glacier retreated. The path eventually comes out at Cavell Pond. Cavell Pond offers fantastic views of the Cavell Glacier, which spills into the lake, and Angel's Glacier, which is spread out above the lake in the shape of an angel with spread wings and flowing robes.
For a slightly more difficult and longer walk, visitors can turn right at the memorial and follow the path to the Cavell Meadows junction. At this point, hikers can keep going straight to the Cavell Glacier, or turn left to Cavell Meadows. The Cavell Meadows trail passes through sublime alpine meadows that come to life every spring and summer with colorful wildflowers. The trail is about 3.8 km long, and offers incredible views of the Cavell Pond below, the Angel Glacier, and the Cavell Glacier.
Mount Edith Cavell also offers a number of climbing routes to the summit of the mountain. These routes range from medium to difficult, and should only be attempted by experienced climbers, or those with a trained guide. There are five common routes up the mountain:
North Face, Main Summit IV 5.7
This is the original route, and one of the most popular. The route follows a rock buttress past snow covered ledges, ice falls, and loose rock, and eventually opens up to steep snow slopes that make their way up the summit. Although it is advertised as 5.7, climbers may find it to be more challenging, depending on the weather and snow conditions.
East Ridge III 5.3
This route is also very popular with climbers as it can be ascended relatively quickly and easily when the conditions are ideal. However, there are still many snow ledges, ice patches, and a solid quartzite ridge to traverse, so it is not recommended for beginners.
West Ridge II
The West Ridge is the easiest route to the summit, but it is also one of the longest. Climbers must scramble up rocky ledges and a snowy ridge to the summit. Many people opt to take the West Ridge route on their descent down the mountain.
North Face East Summit IV 5.8
This is the most challenging route to the summit of Mount Edith Cavell. Although it does avoid climbing the Angel Glacier, the terrain can be difficult, and the route is not recommended in the winter months.
What to Bring on a Trip to Mount Edith Cavell
Even if it is sunny and warm at your lodge, cabin or accommodation in Jasper or Hinton, you will want to bring sufficient gear with you to Mount Edith Cavell as the weather can be quite unpredictable. The following is a list of items to bring on a hike or climbing trip up the mountain:
- A warm fleece pullover or jacket
- Sturdy hiking boots
- A small day pack
- A lunch or snacks
- Breathable rain gear
- A hat and gloves
In addition, for serious climbers who plan to climb to the summit, crampons and an ice axe are highly recommended, as are helmets and a harness.
How to Get to Mount Edith Cavell
Mount Edith Cavell is about 28 km south of the Jasper townsite, about a 45 minute drive. To get there from town, take the Icefields Parkway south, and turn right onto Highway 93A. Follow Highway 93A for 5.5 km and turn right onto the Edith Cavell Road. This 14 km road can be very bumpy and full of potholes, and it features a number of tight switchbacks. Drivers should take caution here. At the end of the road there is a parking lot, and the beginning of the hiking trails.
The Overlander Mountain Lodge is a great base to explore Mount Edith Cavell, as it offers a true mountain lodge experience on the edge of Jasper National Park. The lodge is located just off Highway 16 offering comfortable and cozy cabin and lodge rooms with spectacular views over Jasper National Park.