The impressive MOUNT ROBSON PROVINCIAL PARK borders Jasper National Park and protects Mount Robson (3954m), the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and surrounded by scenery that equals anything in the region. Mount Robson is one of the most staggering peaks you’ll ever see, thanks mainly to its colossal south face – a sheer rise of 3100m – and to the view from the road, which frames the mountain as a single mass isolated from other peaks. A spectacular glacier system, concealed on the mountain’s north side, is visible if you make the popular backcountry hike to Berg Lake. Local Aboriginal peoples called the peak Yuh-hai-has-hun (the “Mountain of the Spiral Road”), an allusion to the clearly visible layers of rock, which resemble a road winding to the summit. It was first climbed in 1913, and is still considered a dangerous challenge.
The park begins 24km west of Jasper at Yellowhead Pass (1131m). Long a vital Aboriginal and fur-trading route across the Rockies, today it’s a railway with regular hundred-car-freight trains, that meanders alongside Hwy-16 for much of its length. Otherwise the park loosely divides into two parts: an eastern hub around Yellowhead Lake and a western hub around the park visitor centre some 50km away on Hwy-16.
Park facilities are minimal, so stock up on food beforehand; otherwise most of the few amenities, including a café and a garage, are near the visitor centre.
Backcountry helicopter-accessed downhill skiing, or heli-skiing, is a big deal in the Northern Rockies thanks to plentiful terrain and great snow. The longest-established operator in the area is Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing (t 250 673 8381, t 1 800 661 9170, w wiegele.com), an operator based in a Bavarian-style village roughly midway between Kamloops and Jasper. With 3000 square kilometres of terrain in the idyllic Monashee and Cariboo mountains to choose from, the skiing is magnificent, and places are booked up far in advance. Also in the area, Robson Helimagic (t 250 566 4700, w robsonhelimagic.com) is based in Valemount, 135km west of Jasper. Some 132km north of Valemount at Crescent Spur, Crescent Spur Heli-skiing (t 250 553 2300, t 1 800 715 5532, w crescentspurheliski.com) is the northernmost operator in the region, a small setup accommodating only sixteen guests and offering some of the lightest snow anywhere. All three charge a sizeable whack – the norm for heli-skiing – for the pleasure of pristine snow. For three days you’ll have to budget at least $4000, more like $8000 for a week – though prices vary by thousands over the season.