White Pyramid
3275m (10745ft.)

Located 1 km southwest of Mount Chephren and 3 km north of Howse Peak; 4 km west of Waterfowl Lakes. Banff Park, Alberta Major headwater Saskatchewan River.
Latitude 51; 50; 10 Longitude 116; 41; 35, Topo map 82N/15

Panorama viewpoint: Bow Pass; Saskatchewan River Crossing. Can be seen from Highway 93N

Named by J. Norman Collie in 1901. J. Norman Collie named the mountain in contrast to its darker neighbour, Mount Chephren, which was known as Pyramid at that time. Official name.

First ascended in 1939 by Katie Gardiner, guided by Edward Feuz jr.. Journal reference CAJ 27-40.

Photo: Looking north-northwest to White Pyramid (left) and Mount Chephren from the Icefields Parkway
More photos

Other Information
Photo: Looking south to White Pyramid from the Icefields Parkway

White Pyramid is one of the few mountains which does not have the word "mount" before the name or "mountain" or "peak" after it.

When seen from the south with its partner, Mount Chephren, the reason for its name is not apparent. However when viewed from the north, the glacier covered upper slopes make it very obvious why Norman Collie chose the name White Pyramid, when its neighbour was named The Pyramid. The Pyramid, was renamed Mount Chephren to avoid confusion with Pyramid Mountain near Jasper.


There are at least seven mountains in the Canadian Rockies that have been known as "Pyramid." Only two officially carry the name, a third having had the name removed in order to avoid confusion with the other "Pyramids.”

Peter Fidler was the first European to enter the Canadian Rockies and the first to name a peak. He noted in his journal on December 7, 1792 that he saw a, “remarkable high cliff…very much resembling a pyramid –from which very near resemblance I shall call it by that name.” He measured bearings to the feature and used it to calculate his position. It is likely that he was referring to what we now know as Mount Glasgow in the headwaters of the Elbow River.

While travelling in the Bow River Headwaters near White Man Pass in 1845, Catholic priest/explorer Pierre-Jean De Smet wrote, "The valley is bounded on either side by a succession of picturesque rocks, whose lofty summits, rising in the form of pyramids, lose themselves in the clouds." On his map he noted only one of these, naming it "The Pyramid." This must have been the peak now known as Mount Assiniboine.

The best known of the "Pyramids" is located nine kilometres north of Jasper. Its near-perfect triangular shaped profile when viewed from the east must have impressed James Hector of the Palliser Expedition who named the mountain in 1859. Although the mountain's slopes from this angle are similar to those of the Egyptian pyramids, the peak lacks the three-dimensional aspect that a true pyramid requires.

Mount Chephren was originally named Pyramid Mountain by Norman Collie in 1897. At the same time he named its neighbour, which was covered in snow, White Pyramid. Pyramid Mountain, in contrast, had very little snow. In 1918 the Interprovincial Boundary Commission decided that Pyramid Mountain's name must be changed in order to avoid confusion with the Pyramid Mountain near Jasper. J. Monroe Thorington, a prominent mountaineer and author of the era, liked the association of the peak with the pyramids of Egypt and recommended the name Mount Chephren. Chephren, or Khafre, was the fourth pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt and built the second of the three Great Pyramids. White Pyramid's name was thought to be different enough from the Pyramid Mountain near Jasper and that name was retained.

In 1892, Arthur Coleman named the fourth highest peak in the Rockies “Pyramid.” It was subsequently renamed Mount Clemenceau by the Interprovincial Boundary Commission in 1919 after Georges Clemenceau, the President of France during the final years of the First World War.

Mount McPhail, in the upper Highwood Valley, was known locally as "The Pyramid" until it was officially named by the Boundary Commission in 1918. The surveyors at that time were influenced by the number of Canadian casualties during the First World War and named the peak to honour N.R. McPhail, a member of the Surveyor General's staff, who was killed in action in 1917.

Of the seven mountains that have carried the name "Pyramid," Mount Glasgow, Mount McPhail, and Mount Assiniboine are the closest to the correct three-dimensional shape when viewed from the appropriate angles, but they are among those that never, officially at least, have carried the name.

Climbing Routes
East Ridge II
A straightforward exposed climb up a prominent snow/ice arete. The drop down the north side of the ridge makes the route quite exciting. Sometimes combined with an ascent of Chephren, depending on how much time you have after you return to the col. 6-7 hours round trip from the south end of Chephren Lake. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 178
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