American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Locations at Maligne Lake

  • Feature Article
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1929

Locations at Maligne Lake

Allen Carpe

WHEN Howard Palmer and I visited Maligne Lake in 1923, we encountered topographical inconsistencies which had not been anticipated. Looking into the matter after our return, we were surprised to find that the lake had never been surveyed, and that existing maps were based on nothing more substantial than sketches by early travelers and estimates of distances by trail. The difficulties were eventually resolved by the discovery of an error of nearly 10 miles in the location of the lake, correction of which allowed Mt. Brazeau and the Brazeau Icefield to assume their proper positions relative to the head of Maligne Lake.

An accurate location of the mountain peaks about the lake, and from this of the shore-line of the latter, was undertaken on our return. It was found that the mountains are visible on photographs taken by the Bridgland survey of Jasper National Park in 1915. Although distant from 30 to 50 miles, the images were clear and gave good intersections. Photographs by the Interprovincial Boundary Survey from points about the Columbia Icefield, and views from the same vicinity kindly loaned by Dr. J. M.. Thorington, although also distant, came in almost at right angles. At least six rays were obtained on each of the principal summits (Sampson, Unwin, Warren, Brazeau) and fix these points with an error which is probably to be reckoned in hundreds of feet.

Views from Mt. Henry MacLeod and other summits showed Maligne Lake and enabled it to be put in with reference to the known points. The detail provided by these views was, however, insufficient to determine the exact shore-line or to fix accurately the distant (lower) end of the lake.

On inquiry, Mr. A. O. Wheeler very kindly placed at my disposal prints of survey photographs taken by him in 1911 from stations about the lake. These covered much of the shore-line in detail; but there was some ambiguity in working from them because neither the locations of the stations nor the scale of the prints (enlargements) was known, while low clouds hid possible reference points in the landscape. The shore-lines were taken out from the individual views and fitted together by photographic enlargement or reduction; fortunately there was much overlapping. The result is thought to be accurate to a small fraction of a mile at the upper end of the lake, with a somewhat greater error at the outlet.

Altitudes are related to Mt. Sampson, which was taken as 10,000 ft. They were obtained from the photographs, and from levels and barometer readings. Secondary or distant summits, as Coronet Pk. and Mt. Poboktan, are less well located than those mentioned above; the Rock Tower (Mt. Mary Vaux?) has a long ridge of nearly uniform height, the true summit of which is uncertain. No attempt has been made to locate stream courses. The map has been drawn on a township grid, scale uniform with the 1:125000 Bridgland map of Jasper Park, to fix the relation of the Maligne Lake region to the adjacent mapped areas.

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