Fraser Peak


Distance: 11 km
Elevation Gain: 949 m (3114 ft)
Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Difficult
Region: White Pass
Date Added: August 5, 2012
Last Update: May 1, 2013
Winter: alpine skiing 



Fraser Peak looks like a giant wedge with a rocky top from the highway at Canada Customs. The hike to the summit is fairly moderate, with a few steep, scrambling sections. The expansive view from the top includes numerous glaciers, towering peaks down the White Pass, and the beautiful lakes and the unique moonscape terrain in this area.


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Winter



Driving Directions

From Whitehorse, drive south to the Carcross Cutoff and turn right onto the South Klondike Highway. After 120 kms, you will reach Canada Customs. About 1 km after Customs, there is a large parking area on the left side of the highway - park here. The trailhead is on the other side of the highway, about 100 meters back towards Customs.

If you do not have a passport, or do not wish to cross the border, take a right on the road immediately before Customs. Follow this road to the end and park near a large highway maintenance garage and gravel pit area. Pick up a trail in the northwestern part of the open gravel area which leads to an old road. Follow this road for about 900 m until you reach a large metal gate (see trail description below).




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Trail Description

The trail starts in the trees along a fairly wide old road, gently angling upwards. After about 600 m, you will be at the intersection of another road. Turn left and continue along the road, walking around a metal gate, which is locked during the summer to stop people from driving in the area in order to protect important caribou habitat. The road continues to the east end of Fraser Lake (officially named Bryant Lake).

As you walk on the road, you will notice a large creek on your left - don't worry, there is a 'bridge' across the creek. The bridge is 1.5 kms down the road from the gate and is quite narrow, not very level, and has no handrails. That's because the 'bridge' is actually just wooden housing around a pipe, so if you are uncomfortable walking across it, this is also the best spot to cross on foot, as the creek is quite shallow and slower moving here.

Immediately after crossing the creek at this spot, head up the meadow to your left left, towards the side of the mountain. You will start by easily walking through a beautfiul meadow surrounded with numerous small creeks and alpine tarns. Head straight towards the lowest part of the ridge ahead of you that will lead up Fraser Peak, and climb straight up to gain access to the ridge. This part is a little steep, but quite short.

Once on the ridge, the terrain is a mix of large boulders, rocky gullies, snow and small tarns. It is best to avoid the very edge of the ridge at first so you don't have to walk up and down the steeper rocky crests on the ridge. You want to stay near the north side of the ridge, but not right at the edge until closer to the summit.

Pick your way up through the boulders, meadows, and tarns, aiming for the right (north) side of the rocky peak. There is a fair bit of scrambling and boulder hopping required along the way. If there is any snow still around, you can use it to your advantage in order to avoid walking on the rocks and boulders. Be careful on any steep sections of snow, because slipping would mean a slide down into the unforgiving rocks. If there is a lot of snow still present, a mountaineering axe would be handy or at least hiking poles. Otherwise, use your judgement to either walk up the rocks or the snow.

Near the top, you will have to navigate up to the summit on the rocks and may have to use your hands to scramble for a short time. This section is over quickly, and you will soon be at the summit of Fraser Peak. The summit is fairly flat and open. Marvel at all the glaciers to the west above the Chilkoot Trail. The closest mountain to the west is Taiya Peak, with it's beautiful hanging glacier. Far below you to the right is Fraser Lake, and following the valley to the pass at the end would lead you to Crater Lake and the Chilkoot Trail. You can see all the way down the White Pass towards Feather Peak, Mount Cleveland, Mount Carmack, the Sawtooth range, Laughton Glacier, and more.

Follow the same route back down. There is a couloir that leads from the summit all the way to the bottom at Fraser Lake, but a fall would be a 700 m ride down the snow at top speed. Unless you brought skis or a mountaineering axe with you, it is safer to follow the same route back down.


Winter

Fraser Peak is a great winter destination for backcountry skiing and splitboarding. The area offers a range of options for various skill levels. The route described here is different from the summer route, as it accesses the south ridge of the peak, and is suitable for beginner to intermediate skiiers/riders.

South Ridge
2.5 hours and 713 m elevation gain

This winter route is best accessed directly from the highway, 4 km south of the Canada Customs Building. There is a small pullout on the left. From the trailhead follow a small drainage uphill towards the southeast. The landscape is somewhat rolling with many small ridges and gullies. Follow the natural ridgelines as you continue gradually uphill, angling slightly to the east and eventually northeast in order to avoid a large gully draining towards the southeast. Continue northeast till you reach the top of a rocky lip, where you'll have to drop down to a small plateau at approximately 1260 m elevation. Snowmobilers often use this plateau to travel between the Fraser customs area and the Summit Creek area. There are small tarn lakes here in the late summer.

Countinue up to the east as you cross below a large bowl and head towards a subtle rocky ridgeline leading to the southern side of the Fraser Peak Summit. Follow this ridgeline up as high as you like, or at least until you can get a good view of the back side of Fraser Peak. Descend the line you came up.

Elevations

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Murray Lundberg
August 7, 2013

I highly recommend the trail to the head of Bryant Lake as well - it has a small sandy beach and the water warms up due to an extensive shallow area. The lush valley that continues west is enticing but I haven't had time to make that extension yet.