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Scrambling Up Coronach Mountain and Beaver Bluffs Near Celestine Lake

Moderate Scramble
Elevation [m]: 
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
YDS Difficulty: 
Very Dense In Patches Sustained Lite Otherwise
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

One of the most accessible backcountry campgrounds in Jasper National Park (bikable right to your tent) is at Celestine Lake, across the river from the highway east of town. I had been to the campground a few times but never wandered up any of the nearby peaks (including Roche Bosche, Roche Ronde, Coronach Mountain, and the neat looking Mount Aeolus). With an unplanned day free around Jasper heading into the area seemed like a decent plan. First order of business was cursing the fact that I didn't have my bike as the approach follows an old fire road and is eminently bikable.

To reach the trailhead the full length of the (timed one way) Celestine Lake Road has to be driven which can vary in quality year to year but was decent on this trip (there are even small barricades with chains on the cliffs now too!). Even still a 4wd with highish clearance is a very good call. Getting to the trailhead around 7 it was a good time to set off with enough of a chill in the air to keep a brisk pace without overheating.

The road to the campground isn't that interesting but does have a couple viewpoints looking out over the Snake Indian River and then later out over Princess Lake. In around an hour and a half I made it to the campground for a quick snack and then headed off towards Coronach Mountain taking 'the occasionally scenic route'. With no real info on how the bush was in the area I reckoned I would make a loop ascending the mighty Beaver Bluffs (an officially named treed ridge) on the way up and taking Coronach Creek on the way down. Beaver Bluffs really can't have seen traffic at any point, and there are precious few reasons to ever head up it, but there were some open patches near the ridgecrest visible from Roche De Smet so it seemed an allright scheme.

The Celestine Lake Trailhead has grown a little more wild since I was last here.


The Snake Indian River is quite a river indeed.


Nice views from near the start of the old fire road.


A Pretty Prarie Crocus (pulsatilla patens) beside the trail.


Looking across the valley with Pyramid Mountain just poking out in the centre-right.


The old fire road is quite bikable.


While fairly basic, the Celestine Lake Campground is a nice place to relax away from the hustle of Jasper-Town.


From the campground I picked a line up the least bushy slopes and after much sloggery made it to the less steep upper slopes of the Bluffs. Bush was sustained higher up but never too bad and sure enough the occasional clearing to the west did offer nice views of the Snake Indian Valley below (there were quite a few sheep trails too). The 'summit' of Beaver Bluffs was quite hard to discern and very bushy. After following a sheep trail a little further north I made a beeline downwards to intersect the ridge of Coronach before it became steeper.


Looking back down at Celestine Lake from the lower part of Beaver Bluffs.


The clear patches on the west of Beaver Bluff were actually quite nice.


The very bushy 'summit' of the Bluffs.


Ascending to treeline was wearisome but not tricky and had a couple short scrambly patches to stick on the nose. From treeline the route became a pleasant ridgewalk and thankfully some large snow patches were still hanging around. After a stop to break out the stove and melt some snow (yay for drinking water) I carried on towards the cairned false summit at GR 282980. There are a whack of neat low 5th lines that you could take to carry on upwards or an easy scree weakness to the climbers left.


Higher up on the ridge towards Coronach Mountain things start to get more scrambly.


Looking over towards Roche Bosche and Roche Ronde the summit ridges look quite straightforward.


A very pleasent ridgewalk towards the false summit. Coronach itself is in the centre of the image.


Good views looking to the west of the Snake Indian River.


Approaching the false summit.


Neat optional 5'th class cliff bands that would be fun to fiddle around on.


View from the cairn on the false summit.


From here it wasn't entirely clear if the ridge would nicely connect with Coronach or if there would be some notchy business right at the end. Thankfully after a few more false summits there was indeed a nice scree slope to reach the summit area of Coronach. After gaining a wee bit of height to not go right under a cornice an easy ridgewalk lead to the top. Oddly enough there were a fresh set of bird footprints leading from the summit cairn to a few steps down. Mount Aeolus is probably the most interesting view nearby but across the valley peaks like Mount Thornton are also quite neat.


The upper mountain of Coronach, the summit is on the far right.


Over on the summit plateau, just a walk up to the highpoint now.


A bird had beaten my to the summit apparently.


Summit view from Coronach Mountain.


Zoomed in towards the Snake Indian River area.


Mount Aeolus is quite an interesting looking peak.


On descent I retraced my steps down to the ridge below the cairned false summit and then took a more direct line down the nose of the ascent ridge reaching valley bottom near the merrily bubbling Coronach Creek (once again, yay for drinking water). Following Coronach Creek was actually fairly easy as the water was low and with hopping back and forth over the creek you could usually avoid major sections of deadfall. I wasn't convinced that this would remain true for the whole creek and back up to the lake so opted for 'the devil you know' and rambled up and over the shoudler of Beavers Bluff to get back to the campground. At the campground it was time to cook some dinner and then finish the hike back out to the car.


A bit of bush to get back to the lake.


Down in Coronach Creek travel wasn't actually that bad.


Almost back at Celestine Lake.


Stopping off at Princess Lake on the way back.


Neat aspen poplar groves along the trail.


This tree has been infested with dwarfs mistletow!


Quite a curious looking parasite.


Back down near the trailhead, interesting texture in the branches on the tree.


Back at the car, time to drive out.


Kind of a neat trip, have to head back for rambling up Aeolus and Roche Ronde/Bosche.

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