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Sir Donald to Macdonald Traverse

Glacier National Park (Canada)

A one-day mini traverse through the Sir Donald Range

Ski Touring Severe

18 km
2.3 km
2.2 km
1 day +
Low Point
1.2 km
High Point
2.7 km
Sir Donald to Macdonald Traverse Map

For a deeper dive into the route and detailed terrain photos, check out the post on Beyond Our Peak: https://beyondourpeak.com/sir-donald-macdonald-traverse-glaciers-couloirs/


The Sir Donald to Macdonald Traverse is an amazing route that takes you through some of Rogers Pass’ seldom-travelled glaciers, couloirs and cols. The route circumnavigates most of the Sir Donald Range, notably Uto Peak, Eagle Peak, Avalanche Mt and Mt Macdonald, delivering striking vistas. Apart from its 20km length and 2400m vertical gain, it’s an advanced ski-mountaineering objective requiring rope work (belays, rappels) on at least two occasions – much more if you decided to rope up for the glacier traverses. Since climbs are performed on south aspects and descents, on the north, it’s the perfect traverse for a warm spring day where solar aspects are heating up and sheltered aspects arbour excellent, dry snow. How convenient! All in all, the traverse is a LONG day, but one that’s well worth the effort.

Starting at the Illecillewaet parking lot, follow the gentle grade of the Sir Donald Trail along the winding Illecillewaet River. Ascend to the Sir Donald-Uto Col. Ski the steep roll on the north face of the col leading to the gentle incline of the Uto Glacier. Traverse a high col at 2365m, an unnamed notch along the east ridge of Uto Peak. Ski a couloir (45-50°, 2m choke) that dumps you on the Eagle Glacier. Ascend the Eagle and Avalanche Glaciers. Climb the NE ridge of Avalanche Mt to the high point of 2705m. Enjoy the stunning views of the Avalanche Glacier and Bald Hills to the east from your alpine perch. Ski the Avalanche North Glacier, cutting high along the east slope of the Avalanche NW Ridge/NRC Col. Ascend the SE face of Mt Macdonald towards either the Banana or Herdman Couloir.

If taking the Banana Couloir, rappel 10m into the Banana Couloir (40-45°, 3m choke) and revel in the sweet, dry powder stacked in its guts. Ski the rolling moraines of Crossover Bowl and tour back along the highway to your vehicle, parked at the Hermit parking lot



Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between January and April


  • Bowl
  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Couloir
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area