Wilderness Adventures in British Columbia & Yukon since 1988
Getting to Whitehorse, Yukon
Air Canada [www.aircanada.ca], WestJet [www.westjet.com] and Air North [www.flyairnorth.com] have scheduled flights to Whitehorse. Please check with them or your travel agent for details. .
Level of Difficulty
The trip is open to people of all abilities; however, it requires physical endurance and psychological stamina. Participants should prepare by executing an exercise program coupled with some walking or running or cycling.
Weather conditions in northern mountainous environments range widely between extremes. The only fact you can bet on with mountain weather is that it can change instantly. This means that although we may enjoy fine weather, we must also be prepared for changes. On any given day you may experience sunny, hot, dry weather that is interrupted by periods of rain or, on rare occasions – even snow. In general, the weather is moderate with average temperatures of 16oC (62F) in July and 14oC (56F) in August. When packing, please be prepared for heatwaves and cold spells.
Maximum group size is 10, two of which are guides. Guides are licensed by Canada Parks and carry Wilderness First Aid credentials. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities. People come by themselves or with family/friends. The youngest can be 13 and the oldest in their 70s. We would need to be comfortable that, at either end of the age scale, the hiker is capable of taking on the demands of hiking in Kluane.
This is a camping trip. At night you will sleep in a top-of-the-line tent. Typically, tenting is double occupancy and partners are arranged by gender. You are welcome to bring your own tent but you should contact our office to ascertain the suitability of your tent to the environment. Bathroom facilities will range from outhouses to wilderness sanitation practices.
The food we bring is plentiful, nutritious, and primarily vegetarian (because this keeps better than meat). Food is divided and carried by participants. A food drop helps to reduce the overall weight that will be carried. You can expect meals to be varied, and delicious: burritos, rice, pasta, and stir-fry for dinner; bagels and sandwiches for lunch; oatmeal, and granola for breakfast. Beverages include herbal and regular tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cider. If you have special dietary restrictions or preferences, be sure to list them on your registration.
We will supply you with a list of outdoor clothing and articles you will need. We supply all the group equipment including kitchen, water filters, tents, and weather cover. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing, backpack, and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. We do rent packs, sleeping bags/pads for a nominal charge (cleaning).
Kluane is part of the largest non-polar icefield in the world with examples of some of the world’s longest and most spectacular glaciers. Characterized by high mountains, icefields, and glaciers. It has a high biodiversity of plant and animal communities ranging from montane, sub-alpine, and alpine tundra, all in various successional stages.
Day 0: Arrival in Whitehorse. This denotes the day or days spent in Whitehorse before the listed start date of the trip. We will meet around 7 pm at the Yukon Inn the day before the expedition to deliver any rental gear and have a short orientation session. All this will be confirmed in our phone call to you at your accommodation.
We will collect you at your accommodation around 9 a.m. We will be driving by van from Whitehorse, along the Alaska Hwy. to the Village of Haines Junction. The route is picturesque and about 155 km west of Whitehorse.
We will visit the Kluane National Park interpretation centre for our permits and orientation session. The centre has some interesting displays highlighting the park, flora and fauna, and First Nations history. We will have lunch in Haines Junction before driving west to Kathleen Lake and our camp for the evening.
After breakfast we will head to the Kings Throne trailhead for a day hike to the summit for some outstanding views. The trail begins with a steady climb in the trees to the treeline and will be following the rest of the path through loose rocks. You will get your first view of Kathleen Lake and the surrounding valley. The path switchbacks upward to.an obvious plateau in the seat of the King’s Throne with an ampitheater of rocky ridges surrounding you. This is a popular lunch stop with an amazing view, and is a good point to end your hike if you are not interested in climbing along the ridge to the summit. If you decide to continue up towards the summit, the trail becomes more difficult, but is well worth the effort for the extra view of the other side of the mountain.
Break camp and drive to our camp at Kluane Lake. After establishing camp we will head out for a day hike up Sheep Mountain, named for the Dall Sheep that favour its slopes. It is a steady uphill climb. There are a number of viewpoints along the hike. It is possible to see the toe of the Kaskawulsh Glacier as you gain elevation. The trail ends on the edge of a gully.
The hike up the valley will be mostly flat. We will follow the river flats or hike closer to the mountains depending on how wet the area is.
We begin by following an old mining road that eventually narrows to a trail. There is a marshy area near Coin Creek with a boardwalk to minimize damage to the marsh. Around 6 km we will reach Bullion Creek.
Crossing Bullion Creek can be difficult in the afternoon or after it has rained or snowed. We may have to cross further downstream where the creek is braided and work our way back up to the trail. The route over the next 6 km will determined by: dry – river flats, wet – closer to mountains.
We will continue to a large alluvial fan at about 14 km. This will be our camp.
A shorter hike today. We will hike off the alluvial fan and through the forest for a short period. Will reach another, smaller fan after about 3.5 km. Trail will climb to avoid a marsh, on through the forest. Ends at a boardwalk around 18.5 km.
We will climb some steep hills and follow a narrow path above some cliffs. This is the most difficult part of our day. At around 21 km we will descend to our campsite at about 22 km on the flats.
Today is our big day hike to Observation Mountain (OM). Early in our hike we will cross Canada Creek and continue to the base of Observation Mountain. The day will be a lesson in route finding as there is no defined trail up. We will continue along Canada Creek to Columbia Creek. It’s here that we begin our climb. The cliffs above Columbia Creek are a good place to see mountain goats. A game trail leads (erosion may affect our ability to pick up this route) to a narrow ridge into the alpine. This route is considered one of the easiest up to OM
Hiking the ridges will bring us to a large open alpine plateau. Staying on the plateau until its end, will bring us to a spectacular view of the South Arm of the Kaskawulsh Glacier. For those that want to continue to OM, it will open panorama views. It is not necessary to climb right to the top of Observation for a view of the Kaskawulsh glacier as it can be seen from the edge of the plateau.
Day 7: Return to Bullion Creek at km 6 for the evening.
Day 8: Cross Bullion Creek and hike to our van and our return to Whitehorse.