Backpacking in the Yukon's Kluane National Park

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of March 26-April 1, 1998
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Backpacking in the Yukon's Kluane National Park
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Backpacking in the Yukon's Kluane National Park
Question: My 12-year-old son and I are going to the Yukon to climb the mountain named after my grandfather — Mount Barker in Kluane National Park. How far is Whitehorse from the Dezadeash entrance to the park? What will the temperatures be like in July? Where can I get literature on the park? Are there vans or trucks to get to the trailhead? Do you have any other advice?

Edward H. Barker
Falls Church, Virginia

Adventure Adviser: Upon making a few phone calls to Kluane National Park and outfitters in Whitehorse, I found that very few people have heard of Mount Barker — no offense to your grandfather. If park officials don't know much about the climb, it may be difficult to find anyone who has intimate knowledge of the mountain. That said, Mount Barker is described in The Kluane National Park Hiking Guide, by Vivien Lougheed (New Star Books, Vancouver). You may want to pick up a copy of the book to do some research before you begin your trip.

After digging around a bit, the park ranger finally found some information on Mount Barker and told me that it is accessed by the Shorty Creek Trail in Kluane National Park. If you start in Whitehorse, you need to drive 100 miles to Haines Junction, and then another 34 miles to the Mush Lake Road turnoff. From there, you'll need to drive four miles down a dirt road where you'll find the start of the Shorty Creek trail. Right now, the only outfitter that offers transportation to the trailhead from Haines Junction is Paddle Wheel Rentals and Tours (867-634-2683). The Kluane Park Adventure Center (867-634-2313) doesn't open until June, but it can help you try to organize a ride as well. According to park rangers, May is the best month for climbing because it has the most reliable weather. The average temperature in July is 54 degrees, but the weather is very unpredictable so be prepared for anything. You'll need to register with the park and have a license to climb as well. For information on park details, call Kluane at 867-634-7250.

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