North

Historic year for climbers — and rescues — on Canada's highest peak

A record number of climbers attempted to scale Canada’s highest peak in 2017. This past year, 54 people grouped into 16 expeditions attempted to reach the summit of Yukon’s Mount Logan (5,959 metres).

In 2017, 54 people in 16 expeditions tried to reach the summit of Yukon's Mount Logan

The ice fields of Kluane National Park with Mount Logan in the distance. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

A record number of climbers attempted to climb Canada's highest peak this year.

Fifty-four people grouped into 16 expeditions set out to summit Yukon's Mount Logan (5,959 metres) in 2017. Craig MacKinnon, a resource conservation officer for Kluane National Park and Reserve, says the annual average over the past 40 years has been 25 people in seven expeditions.

"I think there's an increased interest in mountain climbing in Canada's national parks," MacKinnon said.

He attributes this to Canada 150 celebrations creating awareness and interest in national parks. The word is also out that Mount Logan is quieter than some other mountains, like Denali in Alaska, MacKinnon said.

With the record number of climbers came a record number of high altitude rescues. There were three rescues in 2017, compared to the average of one rescue every second year. A high altitude rescue is anything above 12,000 feet (3,657 metres), according to MacKinnon.

"In my history this is the most high altitude rescues, on Mount Logan, in any one year," MacKinnon said.

An earthquake in May accounted for one of those rescues. MacKinnon says the other two were due to weather and injuries.

New technology like Spot devices make it easier for rescuers to communicate with and find stranded climbers, MacKinnon said.  The prevalence of the technology, he said, may give would-be climbers confidence to attempt more difficult peaks like Mount Logan.

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