Jasper National Park

Amber Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Morrison P. Bridgland in 1916. The summit is covered with amber-coloured shale. Official name. (peakfinder.com)

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Thursday, September 4, 2003
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,540

Amber Mountain is even easier than Signal Mountain to tag "for free" while you're backpacking the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park. Whereas Signal Mountain requires off trail hiking, Amber Mountain has obvious scree highways right to it's lowly summit right off the main Skyline Trail. It's a no-brainer for peak baggers, but I would never head all the way up there just for this summit. 

 

It could possibly be combined with summits such as Centre and Excelsior which are nearby.

Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,334
Difficulty Notes: 

This summit is literally right next to the Skyline Trail and can be hiked with backpacking gear easily.

Androlumbia, Mount (Little Andromeda)

Trip Category: 
MN - Ski Mountaineering
Interesting Facts: 

Very nearly an 11,000er, Androlumbia is an unnamed peak lying immediately to the west of Andromeda on the Columbia Icefield (hence the creative name). The view from this summit is as good, if not slightly better than the view from Andromeda, thanks to it's situation on the eastern edge of the icefield.

Technical Difficulty Level: 
8
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,330

On Sunday, April 19th we awoke in -15 degrees feeling pretty darn good with ourselves. The previous day we'd skied into our camp beneath Mount Columbia and even managed to ascend the peak before collapsing into our sleeping bags after a long and hard 17 hour day.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2015/04/19/androlumbia-mount-little-andromeda/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
10,925
Elevation Gain (m): 
1350
Round Trip Time: 
9.00
Total Distance (km): 
20.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

Crevasses, seracs and avalanche risk are what makes Androlumbia a peak to ascend with caution and in good conditions.

Andromeda, Mount

Trip Category: 
MN - Ski Mountaineering
Interesting Facts: 

Named by Rex Gibson (a former president of the Alpine Club of Canada) in 1938. In Greek mythology Andromeda was the wife of Perseus who rescued her from a sea monster. It is also the name of the nearest galaxy to our Milky Way. The Andromeda Galaxy can easily be seen with binoculars Official name. First ascended in 1930 by W.R. Hainsworth, J.F. Lehmann, M.M. Strumia, N.B. Waffl. Journal reference CAJ 19-152. (from peakfinder.com

Technical Difficulty Level: 
8
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,450

I wasn't sure that I would manage to summit my last 11,000er on the main Columbia Icefield in the spring of 2016. Rumors were flying around that the Athabasca Glacier approach was toast this year thanks to an extremely warm winter / spring combined with low snow and an serac event that covered the route I've always used through the headwall with tons of ice and snow earlier in the year. I wasn't too concerned, as I knew I could approach the south ridge from the Saskatchewan Glacier if I had to, some other year. The South Ridge is the easiest route on Andromeda (there are a lot of routes on this particular 11,000er) and probably one of the technically easiest ascents on the Columbia Icefields - but it does have a lot of objective hazards so I didn't want to underestimate it. To be honest, I had mixed feelings about doing my last Athabasca Glacier ski mountaineering approach. It's true that this approach is full of objective hazards and I've been extremely lucky not to have had a single bad experience through the icefall, but it's also a gorgeous area with rock, snow, ice, wind, clouds and sun all competing for attention as skiers skin up steep snow through crevasses and under towering ridges of snow and ice a vertical kilometer above, staring coldly down at them as they thread their way through it's hard, blue detritus. It's an area that hundreds and hundreds of visitors to our beautiful province gaze towards every day and wonder who the heck goes up to that forbidding place and actually enjoys themselves while doing it! 

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2016/04/17/andromeda-mount/​ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,319
Elevation Gain (m): 
1650
Round Trip Time: 
10.50
Total Distance (km): 
24.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

The route itself is one of the easiest on the Columbia Icefield, but objective hazards should be respected including many crevasses, serac exposure and some avalanche slopes on route.

Antler Ridge

Interesting Facts: 

This summit is a minor highpoint on the south ridge of Antler Mountain along the Jasper Skyline trail in the Maligne Range.

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Wednesday, September 3, 2003
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,450

I call the summit on the ridge that connects to Antler Mountain 'Antler Ridge'. We climbed up this ridge from the Snowbowl campground along the Skyline Trail in Jasper National park. To gain the minor summit, simply scramble up the steepish slopes behind the campground and continue up the ridge through several small (and fun!) cliff bands until you can't go any higher without getting into serious terrain.

 


[Vern and Hanneke come up the lower ridge behind the Snowbowl Campground.]


[
Views from Antler Ridge are quite spectacular in late afternoon lighting.]


[Looking towards Antler Mountain from the ridge.]


[At the summit of Antler Ridge.]

 

An interesting and refreshing return route is to go down towards Antler Mountain and then to the east down scree slopes to a little tarn hidden in the high meadows above the Skyline Trail. Trust me. This lake is very cold! We went for a quick dip and my heart must have stopped for a few seconds in the process.

 


[Trust me. This tarn is VERY cold!]

 

The return to camp is via the Skyline Trail and a boggy meadow.

 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,158
Difficulty Notes: 

Simple off trail hiking from the Snowbowl Campground along the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park.

Athabasca, Mount

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Norman Collie in 1898. Athabasca is the Cree Indian name for "where there are reeds" and originally referred to Lake Athabasca. Official name. First ascended in 1898 by J. Norman Collie, H. Woolley Other reference Collie 105.

 

(from peakfinder.com)

Technical Difficulty Level: 
7
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,491

As the first peak of my 40's, I thought it would be nice to tag an 11000er that's been on my radar for many years. Mount Athabasca looms over the Columbia Icefields center along highway 93 - otherwise known as the Icefields Parkway. I'm sure it has the most tourist photographs of any 11,000er, except maybe Mount Temple in Lake Louise or Robson to the north. Some people might be surprised that I hadn't done Athabasca earlier in my climbing career, considering that I already completed many of the more difficult Columbia Icefields summits. The truth is, that I'd been saving Athabasca for the perfect time. 

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2015/04/08/athabasca-mount/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

 

 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,454
Elevation Gain (m): 
1500
Round Trip Time: 
9.00
Total Distance (km): 
14.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

The AA col route is exposed to rockfall and avalanches along the approach. In winter there is also significant avalanche hazard on the climb to the col.

Bivy Ridge

Interesting Facts: 

"Bivy Ridge" is an unofficial ridge running southeast from the Swan Pass bivy site that is usually used to access the Brazeau Icefield climbs. I am claiming it as a summit, since it is in an official guidebook (or will be soon).

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Thursday, July 30, 2015

After descending from the Brazeau Icefield and setting up our camp at Swan Pass, Ben and I decided that we were getting cold (that darn west wind again!) and so we would take a jaunt up a ridge just south of our camp which we dubbed "Bivy Ridge". We ascended so fast that we decided to keep traversing for a while and enjoyed the views over Swan Pass and back along our approach route. We also spotted yet another party of 3 coming to the bivy and after speaking with Rob again he confirmed that they were also going for Brazeau. This was a busy place! In a really frustrating twist, my bear spray that I'd left in 'our' bivy coral was missing! Someone had actually been up there in the two nights we spent camping on the glacier and taken my brand new spray and holster!! I wasn't too happy about that - but I guess I should have left a note. We didn't think it was that busy at Swan Pass!

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2015/08/01/henry-macleod-mount/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Round Trip Time: 
2.00
Difficulty Notes: 

No difficulties - should be easy scrambling to the high point above the bivy site at Swan Pass.

Boundary Peak

Interesting Facts: 

Boundary Peak is an outlier to the north of Mount Athabasca. 

YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,871

Since school was just around the corner (where does time go?!) and Hanneke, my wife, was on call for the weekend, we decided that the weekend of August 19-21, 2011 would be a good weekend for a father / kids adventure. After some debate, the kids and I decided that Yoho would be a cool place to camp and the Burgess Shale guided tour would be a pretty awesome thing to try! Of course, since I'm a peak bagger and we had another two days to do other things besides the shale tour, I found us a nice peak to bag on Saturday, August 20.

 

So Nakagawa had posted a report of a trip up Boundary Peak in Jasper National Park with amazing views of the Columbia Icefields and especially Mount Athabasca. When I queried him about details he mentioned that it was 'easy scrambling' so I filed it away as a possible hike for the family some day. That day came sooner than I thought it would!

 

So was right. Boundary is an easy scramble, but it is still a scramble, not 'just' a hike. With almost 900 meters of height gain and lots of it on extremely loose and unstable terrain with exposure near the summit on the final ridge, this is not just a walk in the park - it's a grunt in the park. :-)

 

We parked in the parking lot at the beginning of the Icefields tour bus / approach road. The sign by the road says no walking but we ignored it and walked to the climber's parking lot. Next time I'll just drive around the arm and park in the climber's lot. It saves about 100 meters of height gain and roughly 1 km of walking but more importantly you don't have 18 buses / minute passing you on the way down. (Update 2016: For the past two years, the climber's parking lot has been closed and replaced by the new staging area for the buses. Now you really don't have a choice but to walk the road.)

 


[Hiking up to the climber's parking lot in the morning. No buses yet...]

 

Right before the bridge at the climber's lot we turned up to climber's left and scree bashed mostly on an obvious trail all the way to the peak. We briefly considered taking the northeast ridge instead of the north scree face to the summit but on hindsight I'm glad we didn't. The final few hundred meters of height gain is on brutal scree - looser than I've experienced in a while! We found a pretty cool fossil on the way up which inspired the kids to keep going - thank goodness. I was very impressed with them. Between Boundary and the Burgess hike they did 1700 meters of height gain and 30km of walking in two days. Not bad for a 10 and 12 year old. They'll be hiking me into the ground soon... :-|

 

 
[Things look a lot different here now, but this was the view in 2011, looking over the climber's parking lot towards Snow Dome and Kitchener (R). ++]


[Following a faint trail in the scree.]


[Kaycie and Niko in front of the very popular Mount Athabasca.]


[The highway in scree!]


[Impressive views north and we're not near the summit yet - this is Woolley, Diadem and Mushroom Peak (L to R).]

 
[Great views back towards Wilcox (L) and Nigel Peak (R) which I did with my brother in a day back in 2007.]


[A trilobite fossil. Niko was very excited to find this!]


[Still on the scree highway - but it's getting loose now.]

 
[Up to this point we were only hiking, but there's some easy scrambling and limited exposure to get up onto the summit from here. ++]

 

The views at the summit make this minor bump totally worth it. Boundary is the same height as Wilcox with slightly more limited views (since it's so close to Athabasca). Of course the views of Athabasca are amazing the whole day. We spent over an hour at the summit in warm and windless conditions.

 

 
[Mind blowing views off the summit of Boundary Peak! Summits include, AthabascaSnow DomeKitchenerStutfield NEWoolleyDiadem and Mushroom++]

 
[The kids and Hilda Peak (R). Cirrus and Stewart in the distant background. ++]

 
[Panorama from Hilda on the left to Stutfield NE on the right. The first ascent of Athabasca ascended across the north glacier from right to left to the ridge in the foreground, which was followed to the summit. This route is very rarely repeated thanks to modern global warming. Click here for more about the many routes on Athabasca++]

 
[Looking north up hwy #93 over Mount Wilcox at center. Sunwapta to the right of Wilcox and Nigel at far right. ++]


[Telephoto of Woolley (L) and Diadem (R) with the two coulior routes on Diadem clearly visible.]


[Snow Dome (L) and Kitchener (R)]


[Looking carefully at the north glacier on Athabasca, you can spot tracks going up under the seracs and even a serac fall covering them at left!]


[The Silverhorn route is a classic and looks surprisingly snowy considering it's August!]


[There was rumored to be a scramble route up Hilda, but I've only heard of 5.5 climbing so maybe not... ;)]


[Cirrus, or Mount Huntington, is an impressive massif to the southeast.]


[Sunwapta is an impressive peak at just under 11,000 feet high.]


[Mount Columbia - the highest peak in Alberta - is just visible through clouds on the Icefields. I finally stood on her summit on a beautiful April evening in 2015.]

 
[Another gorgeous view of the north ridge of Athabasca.]


[Mount Saskatchewan is another near 11,000er.]


[Mount Amery is another peak that was rumored to be 11,000 feet but Eric and I conclusively proved it is shy of that mark in 2012.]


[The Wilcox Meadows and Pass area between Wilcox and Nigel Peak looks like an alien landscape from here.]

 
[Sublime view of Nigel (L) and Hilda (R) with Hilda Tarn at center. ++]


[Carefully descending the loose terrain under the summit.]


[More loose terrain - hikers may not be comfortable here.]


[Gorgeous views past Wilcox.]


[Hiking beneath giants.]


[Tourists clogging the lower Athabasca Glacier, the heavy glaciated ramp and ice fall approach to the Columbia Icefields in the distance. The Snow Dome seracs are obviously threatening the route!]

 

An outstanding scramble with amazing views, done with my kids. What could be better than that? I highly recommend this outing!

Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,420
Elevation Gain (m): 
880
Round Trip Time: 
5.00
Total Distance (km): 
8.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Mostly hiking and easy scrambling with some very loose terrain and minor exposure along the summit ridge. Only attempt if dry.

Brazeau, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Arthur P. Coleman in 1902. Brazeau, Joseph. E. (The mountain was named by Coleman in 1902. Hector had named the Brazeau River after an employee of the HBC. Mr. Brazeau served as a clerk and postmaster and was of great assistance as a translator to the Palliser Expedition.) Official name. Other names McGillivray

First ascended in 1923 by A. Carpe, W.D. Harris, Howard Palmer

 

(from peakfinder.com)

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
7
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Class: 
3rd Class
YDS Grade: 
I

Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Thursday, July 30, 2015 to Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mount Brazeau has been on my radar for many years already. I wasn't in a huge rush to do it however, because I knew it was a relatively easy 11,000er and could be done in almost any conditions and in any season, from full-on winter conditions to mid-summer ones. Or could it? Ben and I set out on July 30th 2015 from the Poboktan Creek trailhead to find out how Mount Brazeau and its neighboring peaks would behave in an extremely dry year in the Canadian Rockies. Considering other trip reports from around the same time, we wondered how different our conditions would be. I left Calgary at 04:00 and we found ourselves leaving the cars at a very non-alpine start time of 09:00 (!!) under a very warm and pleasant sun.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2015/07/30/brazeau-mount/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (m): 
3,479
Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,385
Elevation Gain (m): 
2500
Round Trip Time: 
15.00
Total Distance (km): 
24.50
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

Depending on conditions this is either a snow trudge with some scree / glacier thrown in or a scree bash with crevasse hazards.

Catacombs Mountain

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Interesting Facts: 

Named by Arthur O. Wheeler in 1920. The mountain has an alcove formation, which Arthur Wheeler felt was like the recesses in an undergound burial tomb. Official name. 

First ascended in 1927 by W.R. Maclaurin, Alfred J. Ostheimer, J. Weber, guided by Hans Fuhrer. Journal reference CAJ 16-23.

(from peakfinder.com)

Technical Difficulty Level: 
7
Endurance Level: 
Extreme
YDS Class: 
3rd Class
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, September 13, 2013 to Sunday, September 15, 2013
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,330

On Thursday evening on September 12 2013, I met Liam, Eric, Ben and Steven in the Sunwapta Falls parking lot at 21:00 hours for yet another Rockies adventure. This year has been a good one for long treks, climbs and scrambles for me and in part this is due to my friendship with these crazy guys. On the long hike out of the Devon Lakes area, after summiting Mount Willingdon, we were already discussing our next trip! Eric had visited the Fortress Lake area years before, with his brother, and fell in love with the surrounding peaks. Ever since then he's had a hankering for the summits of Catacombs and Fortress mountain.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2013/09/14/catacombs-mountain-possible-2nd-ascent/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
10,926
Elevation Gain (m): 
2100
Total Distance (km): 
60.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg

Difficulty Notes: 

Loose, steep scrambling to a high ice field that contains many crevasses - bigger than you'd expect.

Cinquefoil Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Morrison P. Bridgland in 1916. Cinqufoil is a bright yellow flower with five petals, a species of which grows on exposed slopes at higher altitudes in the Rockies. Official name. (from Peakfinder.com)  

YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,259

After scrambling Pyramid Mountain in 6 hours car-to-car, So and I decided that we'd better not waste the rest of a perfectly fine day on lounging around in our campsite so we went up Cinquefoil Mountain instead! Cinquefoil is rated "easy" and the short time that Kane lists is around 4 hours. This is fine except it sets the expectation for the mountain pretty low. Most people seem surprised both by the difficulty and length of this trip.

 

We didn't find the mountain difficult by any means, but it's also not the same "easy" that Heart, Ha Lin, Fairview or St. Piran are either. The access to the mountain is also outdated, especially if you're trying to scramble it before September when the lake covers the trail.

 

I would suggest a new access rather than the parking lot at N53 3 58, W118 3 44. Park closer to where the north west ridge descends almost to the highway and bushwhack across a small ditch and directly to the ridge. You can't park right under the ridge because there's a small lake right there - park as close as you can while still being able to jump across the narrow ditch. This spot will be somewhere around N53 4 17, W118 3 7. Gain the north west ridge after a short bushwhack, either via the Kane access gully or much earlier, basically as soon as possible. We gained the ridge quite quickly and had to detour around approximately 20 sheep rather than disturb them too much. The young ones were a pleasure to watch. That's about the extent of the 'pleasure' on this scramble too! :)

 


[So starts down a promising looking path to Merlin Pass.]


[So narrowly avoids death by "sheep". No one says that scrambling is safe.]


[The sheep narrowly avoid death by scramblers.]

 

Cinquefoil is probably my least favorite Jasper scramble so far. It's easy enough and the trail is fun to follow (keep your eyes out for cairns) but the mountain just isn't much of a challenge and doesn't have a lot of interesting terrain. The crux is somewhat interesting if you stay climber's left but otherwise it's a scree slog. Of course, being our second peak of the day meant that we were starting to feel all the elevation gain, not to mention the 4.5 hours of sleep! :D

 


[So ascends the trail under a blazing blue sky.]


[The crux looks very intimidating from far away. You can either choose a moderate / difficult line on the left or go up one of numerous gullies on the right. I chose the gully about "1 inch" from the left on this picture.]


[I love this view to the east from the ridge on Cinquefoil. The two differently colored lakes are Jasper (left) and Talbot (right). Edna Lake sneaks into the extreme lower left corner of the photo.]


[The crux. It's loose and steep but nowhere near as bad as it looks from afar!]


[You can just make out So on the left side of the easy route on more difficult and exposed terrain.]


[Making our way to the summit under brilliant skies.]


[More awesome scenery on the summit ridge.]


[So at the summit of Cinquefoil Mountain.]


[Summit panorama looking east and south. ++]


[Looking west off the summit. ++]


[Vern on the summit of Cinquefoil Mountain.]


[The Colin range and Hawk Mountain.]


[Mount Greenock to the north is a very cool looking mountain!]


[We were up there a few hours ago! Pyramid Mountain from the summit of Cinquefoil.]


[Roche Miette.]


[Another view of Greenock Mountain on the way down.]


[The clear cut on the ridge is a bit weird but apparently exists as a fire break? For a pretty small fire though!]

 

The views were better than I was expecting so that made up for the heat and the trudge. I'm glad I did it but I would never repeat this one. Our round trip time of 5.5 hours made us wonder how fast you'd have to go to do it in 4. You'd be running the whole way! I think Kane's time of 4 hours as a minimum is stretching it a bit. 6-8 hours would be more appropriate for planning purposes.

 


[A view back up Cinquefoil from our exit point to the highway. This is where I'd park next time and just thrash to the ridge from here directly. ]

Summit Elevation (ft): 
7,412
Elevation Gain (m): 
1285
Round Trip Time: 
5.50
Total Distance (km): 
11.90
Difficulty Notes: 

Easy to moderate scrambling on the Kane route.

Columbia Ice Fields - Winter Camping Trip

Interesting Facts: 

Read more on this interesting area of snow and ice at Wikipedia.

YDS Grade: 
I
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
No
Trip Date: 
Saturday, February 4, 2012 to Monday, February 6, 2012

IMPORTANT NOTE: Almost five years later, in late 2016, I find myself updating this post and feel the need to put a huge disclaimer up front. First of all, since this humble beginning on the Columbia Icefield, I've managed to summit every major peak that necessitates traveling and camping on this impressive expanse of snow and ice including the two summits I was chasing on this particular outing - Mount Columbia and Castleguard Mountain. I've also reached the summit of every main peak on the Wapta Icefield, including some fairly technical winter snow climbs. This experience makes me shudder at some of the rookie mistakes we made on this particular trip that I want to "disclaim" before you read any further;

 

  1. Traveling on the Columbia Icefields before March / April is not the safest time of year to be up there. Most years it's best to wait until April or May for really good coverage and much longer days and warmer temperatures.
  2. We definitely played fast and loose with crevasses on this trip. There are huge, scary, deep, killer holes up there - including any of the ascent slopes on Columbia herself. Proceeding up that ridge unroped was a very silly thing to do!
  3. Thinking we could "bag" Columbia from our camp near Castleguard in February was very silly too. It's a huge distance, very crevassed through the trench, consisted of short day light hours and cold nights, not to mention crappy mid-winter snow conditions. On hindsight we were very lucky to escape with no summits and nothing worse happening.
  4. Skiing back to our camp from Columbia unroped in the dark was also not smart. I've skied many times on glaciers unroped and I'm questioning the sanity of this move - especially on the Columbia Icefields. It's not worth dying for. Is it?

 

The first week of February 2012 was looking pretty promising for weather and avalanche conditions in the Alberta Rockies. Since Hanneke wasn't on call for the weekend of the 4th I decided to send out the "who's in?" emails to start organizing at least one day of backcountry skiing - hopefully involving a summit of some kind.

 

After a few back and forth emails I found myself planning a trip to the Columbia Icefields with So and Ferenc for an attempt on Mount Columbia and a possible shot at Castleguard Peak. This would be a serious winter ascent of Alberta's highest peak (12,274 feet) which is infamous for being technically 'easy' when in good shape but with a serious bite of avalanches, hidden crevasses and temperamental weather conditions when not. Castleguard is a comparatively easy ascent, but has the same 'bite' as any peak on the icefields, you need a good weather window and good snow combined with a bit of luck or you're not going to summit.

 

I've heard a statistic that it takes most people several attempts to reach the summit of Mount Columbia and now I know why. When you add up all the factors that can prevent a successful summit bid on Mount Columbia I think we were a bit too optimistic about our chances of summitting, simply because we only concerned ourselves with two main factors, weather and avalanche conditions, and didn't consider some of the others;

 

  • Snow conditions on the glacier itself. i.e. are you breaking trail or is there an existing one? Is the snow surface hardpack or soft?
  • Snow conditions on the final 400-500m ascent slops regardless of avalanche conditions (normal east face or southeast ridge routes). Is it hard snow, ice or soft snow?
  • Condition of the 'schrund. Is it filled in? Barely covered?
  • Approach distance. Lines on a map look so easy! Skiing 20km with an over night backpack with winter and mountaineering gear is a lot of work.

 

We should have known that there's a reason Columbia is considered an April, May or June ascent and is rarely ascended in the middle of winter and even more rarely from the Saskatchewan Glacier approach in winter. I assumed that with the great weather forecast of light winds, clear sky and very reasonable avalanche conditions, the Columbia Icefields would be a busy place. Boy was I wrong!! To make a long story short, we ran into a trackless glacier (we broke trail all the way up the Saskatchewan Glacier and from our camp to Mount Columbia), snow that was up to our ankles and to top it all off, a 'schrund where there shouldn't have been one.

 

After 30km of skiing and nearly 2000 meters of height gain we found ourselves over 11,000 feet on Mount Columbia's Southeast ridge staring into a black hole with the sinking realization that this quest was over for us. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

 

Saturday, February 4 2012 - Big Bend to Base Camp

 

At the early morning hour of 03:30 I met Ferenc and So in front of Ferenc's house. We must have been excited because within 6 minutes the truck was loaded and we were off! I was just thankful that my migraine of the night before was gone - that was some bad timing, or really good timing that it didn't wait a day or two.

 

There are different options for the approach / egress to the Columbia Icefields. The safest / quickest option if you know where you're going is to ascend the Athabasca Glacier and exit via the Saskatchewan. The Athabasca approach is quicker for every peak on the icefield except Castleguard but has much more objective hazard from both icefall off of Snow Dome and crevasses on the headwall. Descending the Athabasca safely requires roped skiing which isn't easy even for good skiers. More accidents seem to be happening over the last few years - possibly due to the glacier changing or simply people underestimating the dangers of the headwall. Because none of us had ever been on the Columbia area glaciers before and due to the fact that Ferenc did not have a high comfort level or experience on back country skis, we decided to do the safest route possible - both ascending and descending the Saskatchewan Glacier. On hindsight I'm very happy that we erred on the side of caution!

 

The drive went by quickly with stories from Ferenc about living in Hungary and Denver and before long we were parked at the Big Bend parking lot on highway 93 looking at a pair of ski tracks disappearing over the snowbank next to the parking area. This was a big relief since none of us knew exactly where the old bridge over the North Saskatchewan River was, and with all the snow next to the highway and the darkness (it was only just after 07:00) we had no hope of finding it easily either. As we struggled into our heavy winter camping backpacks and followed the tracks over the snowbank we could only hope that they crossed the river - and thankfully they did. We found and followed ski tracks up the old road around the canyon and back down the 75 meters back to the valley floor and the North Saskatchewan river.

 


[Crossing an avy slope on the way down from the road that accesses the Saskatchewan Glacial Valley.]

 

I've read some accounts on the approach to the Saskatchewan Glacier in spring and summer which include crossing a raging river over a bottomless gorge on a stack of loosely piled logs - but the winter approach is very easy in comparison! We simply skied up the valley a little on skier's left, crossed a lake or two and some pretty cool ice jams on the way and 'bumped' into the glacier at the end of it. Easy stuff so far.

 


[Crossing the lake, it's still early morning. On the right in the foreground is an outlier of Mount Athabasca. In the right background is Mount Andromeda.]


[Sunrise on Andromeda and Athabasca as we can now see the Saskatchewan Glacier in the distance.]


[As we approached the Saskatchewan Glacier the terrain became much 'wetter' - of course it was all ice now but I would think that in the late spring / summer / fall this makes the approach to the glacier MUCH more involved. Ferenc is crossing a glacial outflow lake here.]


[Another shot of the lake with more of Mount Athabasca on it.]

 

The glacier was easy travel for the first 2km on hard pack snow. It was quickly becoming apparent that all the peaks on the icefield move away from you as you approach them. They must be shy or something. As we slowly picked our way up the wide Saskatchewan Glacier, Castleguard and the Castleguard Meadows never seemed to get any closer! Eventually we shuffled slowly past the meadows and could finally see around the lateral moraine on our right at the crown of the glacier far in the distance above us. Just before the Saskatchewan Glacier runs into the main massif of the icefield (there are 6 main glaciers comprising the Columbia Icefields, the Athabasca, Saskatchewan, Castleguard, Dome, Stutfield and Columbia - see this map for more details), it steepens considerably. I think this is where So and Ferenc tired themselves out breaking trail. Since I was in the middle of the rope I got lucky on day 1 with little trail breaking duties. So's hip flexors started giving him problems and we decided to call it quits somewhere under the impressively rimed north face of Castleguard with views of Bryce, Columbia and Andromeda thrown into the mix.

 


[Now we're experiencing the full pleasure of the day! Straight ahead is Mount Castleguard, just barely showing up. To our left (out of sight) is Castleguard meadows and to our right is the lateral moraine that can be your 'hand rail' on the Saskatchewan Glacier in a whiteout. Don't go too close though, there are some holes near it.]


[So and Vern take a break just before stopping to set up camp. Doesn't Mount Columbia look close? Not after you actually try to get it from here! :-) (Picture by Ferenc)]

 

We dug out a nice, cozy little camp and set about making supper and staying warm. The temperature dropped to about -10 once the sun set over Mount Bryce. The sunset views to the east were crazy, with bright hues of purple-tinged sky below an orangish glow. With the almost-full moon it was a very impressive sight which we all enjoyed immensely. We were in bed by around 19:30 and I inquired about setting my alarm. Ferenc replied that he would "never sleep more than 8 hours" so we didn't have to worry about getting up early for an attempt on Mount Columbia. I must have been tired because I didn't set my alarm "just in case". Another mistake was not melting all our water for the next day. NEVER save this task for ascent day if you have a choice. ALWAYS boil water for the next day beforehand. Another lesson learned!

 

 
[Panorama of our cozy camp. On the left is Andromeda and on the right is Castleguard++]


[So eating supper with Mount Bryce showing up behind him.]


[Brilliant sunset colors on Mount Castleguard as seen from our camp. I think the ascent route from here would go up on climber's right and contour around the summit block to the left. Would be a great ski descent too!]


[Our approach tracks with the moon and a plane catching the setting sun.]

 
[Sun set panorama from camp looking south and east. Castleguard in the middle and Mount Bryce on the right. ++]

 

Sunday, February 5 2012 - Base Camp to Columbia and back to Base Camp

 

I slept pretty good in my new -20 sleeping bag, waking up every hour or so to shift around. I was sleeping with my boot liners in a mummy bag so there wasn't a ton of room in there! :-) This worked really well for drying them out over night and warming them up for the morning though.

 

It turns out that we all slept too good! Ferenc woke us up and informed the tent that it was already 07:00!! I was instantly quite angry with myself for not setting my alarm. I won't make that mistake again. We knew that we had a full moon and good avalanche conditions so we weren't too concerned with descending Columbia and returning to camp in the dark - we were actually counting on it. Another thing that sort of annoyed me was the hour or more that it took to leave camp after waking up. We had to boil water for the day and this took a long time even with two stoves going. Our late departure didn't ruin our summit chances on this particular day but it easily could have and I won't let myself sleep in again on a summit day!

 

About 1km into our day (a glorious bluebird sky and fields of snow all around us), So had to turn back to camp. His one hip flexor was still bothering him and considering the distance and the fact he had to ski out the next day, he wisely chose to save Columbia for another day. Ferenc and I decided to continue on. We could not risk a crevasse accident of any kind with only 2 people on the rope but the weather was so nice and the conditions so stable that we choose to accept that risk. (NOTE: On hindsight I'm not sure I completely understood the seriousness of this risk.)

 


[So is sad! :-) This is where he decided that he wouldn't be attempting Columbia. His hip flexors were shot from the 20km approach with the heavy packs the day before.]

 

The next 9 km were beautiful and tough. I think we were the only ski team on the entire Columbia Icefield! This was both awesome and tiring. Awesome because we were alone in a huge expanse of snow, ice, rock and sky and tiring because we were breaking trail the entire way. Just before reaching the trench I started running low on energy. I probably didn't eat enough and that, combined with the deep trail breaking just wore me down mentally. I wanted to turn around since I didn't think we'd summit anyway. Ferenc talked me into skiing "just a bit further" and by the time we were down the trench and had some lunch my energy levels were improved. The view of Mount Bryce and the Twins from the trench was very cool. There were a lot more crevasses than I was expecting on both sides of the trench and we carefully wove our way through them.

 

I broke trail up the 200m from the bottom of the trench. At one point Ferenc was asking me to slow down, so I think my lunch break must have helped! :-) Ferenc and I took turns breaking trail in boot top snow from the top of the trench slowly towards Mount Columbia in beautifully warm and clear weather with a very slight breeze cooling us off. Before you think the journey to Columbia is over once you're done re-ascending the trench - it's NOT. There's about 5km of traveling from the trench to the base of Columbia yet and by the time we were finally within striking distance of the giant peak we were both more than ready to kick our skis off and start kicking steps up the east face.

 

 


[Vern on the approach with the trench and Columbia. (Photo by Ferenc)]

 
[Approaching the trench. Columbia on the left (at least 6km away at this point) and the Twins on the right. ++]

 
[Another panorama from the east side of the trench. Bryce on the left, Columbia in center and the Twins on the right. The fighter jet we saw flew in from Bryce and dove into the trench just in front of us (we were above the jet on Columbia when we saw it) and disappeared below the Twins! ++]


[Vern breaks trail towards Columbia, which is slowly getting larger. Key word is SLOWLY... It's still about 5km away at this point. (Picture by Ferenc)]

 

The east face was looking very much like the same snow we'd been skiing on for the past 4 hours - well bonded (i.e. low avalanche risk) but reasonably deep. We knew that we'd be sinking for sure calf, if not knee, deep on the entire east face slope and the 'schrund didn't look completely filled in yet either. We hummed and hawed about it (mostly using the decision as a break from trail breaking), and eventually we concluded that trying the southeast ridge would be the most realistic shot at a summit for us. We reasoned that the west winds would have packed the snow on the ridge or at least blown it clear so we'd have a much easier time ascending it than the east face. The only 'problem' was that now we'd be on skis longer - more trail breaking! We skied up to the ridge, traversing underneath the south face of Columbia on the way - a giant brooding face of ice and snow with a 'grin' of a bergschrund splitting across it's entire width. We assumed that the 'schrund stopped at the southeast ridge...

 

As we gained height on the approach we heard a jet engine behind us to the south, near Mount Bryce. Passenger jets were flying overhead all day but this sounded a lot closer and a lot louder than those. Then we saw the coolest thing I think I've ever witnessed while in the mountains. A fighter jet came screaming in from the west, between us and Bryce, no more than 100 meters over the icefield, banked a hard left turn between Mount Andromeda and Columbia and dove down the trench (Columbia Glacier) under the towering walls of North and South Twin and vanished! We both stood there, not quite believing our eyes! What a cool thing to see. I'm glad we weren't underneath him though, it was LOUD.

 

Once off the skis, Ferenc regained his energy and began an enthusiastic charge up the steepening ridge. The snow was absolutely perfect, our kick steps were solid and just deep enough to give confidence. Ferenc shouted down to me that, "we might actually make the SUMMIT!!". I was starting to agree with him - I honestly didn't consider it before that moment - until Ferenc started to mutter to himself above me. I was going slow, taking pictures of Bryce and the cloud-filled valley as I ascended so at first I just though Ferenc was going through some soft snow but then I realized he was stopped and was doing weird gymnastics with his ice axe. We had run into the 'schrund, which apparently goes right through the southeast ridge rather than stopping at it. Oh well.

 


[A nice-sized hole sitting below the normal ascent route (east ridge) on Columbia. We decided the snow was too soft on this slope and went for the wind pack on the southeast ridge instead.]


[Vern with our approach track, the trench and mounts Andromeda and Athabasca - which I'd climb in 2014 with Ferenc - in the background. (Photo by Ferenc)]


[A zoomed shot of the Lyells. In 2015 I would climb 4 of the 5 Lyells in perfect summer conditions.]


[Mount Saskatchewan looks awesome from the icefields!]

 
[Panorama looking south from the southeast ridge on Mount Columbia. Note the clouds in the valley far below us. ++]


[Feeling good! At this point we thought we might actually make the summit! Ferenc kicks steps up the firm southeast ridge.]


[And that's the end of this attempt! Look carefully how deep this goes. Now remember, we're on a 35 degree slope with softening snow and there's another slot just behind this one. You can't jump 2.5 feet uphill on soft snow! Ferenc tried desperately to get across (see his ax marks) but the snow was too soft to properly anchor anything. Sometimes you just have to do the smart thing and turn around. With an hour of daylight left and facing this obstacle I knew our summit bid was over.]

 

I was amazingly OK with turning around. It's not that I was so tired I couldn't keep going, my energy was coming back now that we were off the skis. I just realized how lucky we were to be out in the middle of nowhere - two guys climbing high up on Alberta's highest mountain with 11,000 foot views all around us. Everywhere we looked there were waves of snowy mountain tops with cloud-filled valleys beneath. The sun was warm, the wind was light and the sky was a brilliant shade of winter blue. The only sign of humans was the faint winding thread of our approach track disappearing into a white void of rolling ice and snow. I'm glad that I get to back to that place again some day and feel privileged that I've been there in such great conditions.

 

 
[Panorama from our turn-around spot on the southeast ridge. Snow Dome, Athabasca, Andromeda, Castleguard, Saskatchewan, Lyells, Bryce and many, many other peaks are visible. ++]

 
[The southeast ridge on descent. You can see why we couldn't just traverse onto either side slope to get around the slots - they were both very steep and full of their own crevasses. ++]

 
[Ferenc skis down in front of me as the sun starts to set. ++]

 

The ski back to camp was great too! As I did little kick turns down the trench I tried to freeze the moment into my brain. The rising moon over Andromeda, the cool breezes blowing through the trench, the setting sun on Bryce and the Twins - it was a sublime moment for me. It was good to be alive.

 

Reality hit on the way back up the other side of the trench but after topping out it was a nice easy ski back to camp. So had his headlamp flashing near the tent to give us a 'beacon' and it was a nice touch! It was a little depressing to see the flashing light from over 3km away but... ;-) Ferenc got into camp shortly after me and we both agreed that it was a fantastic day even though we were denied a summit. We decided to get up at 03:45 on Monday morning for an attempt of Castleguard to hopefully garner at least one summit for our efforts! After boiling water and eating supper we turned in around 09:30 - my alarm was set this time! ;-)

 


[Looking back at Mount Columbia on retreat. I'll be back... ;-)]


[The Twins with the late day sun emphasizing their amazing forms. From left to right we have West Twin, South Twin, Twin's Tower and North Twin.]

 
[Panorama of Mount Bryce while re-ascending the trench going back to camp. ++]


[The moon rises as I come up the trench on the way back to camp.]

 

Monday, February 6 2012 - Base Camp to Parking Lot

 

I was up before my alarm, feeling pretty good and ready to tackle Castleguard. Ferenc was a bit tired but agreed to give it a shot. Before long we were making our way to the mountain. Clouds were hanging over various bits of the icefield but we weren't too concerned for the moment. This quickly changed about 1km from camp. As we were skinning up for the ascent we noticed a low bank of cloud coming in from the north between Columbia and Andromeda. I knew that our attempt was over. Any low cloud on the icefield means a complete whiteout and sure enough! Soon we couldn't see more than 20 or 30 feet in front of us! We reluctantly plodded back to camp, following our tracks.

 


[Our views are gone! Packing up camp.]

 

Ferenc dove back in his warm sleeping bag while I hung around camp for 2 hours waiting for sunrise. My new down jacket certainly came in handy for those hours! Eventually daylight came and the whiteout was even worse. We took down camp and shouldered our heavy packs for the ski out. Following our tracks back down the Saskatchewan Glacier proved quite difficult. We were in a world of white and gray - it was almost impossible to make out the little ridges of our ascent tracks! Eventually we started to dip under the clouds and soon we were back in a world of towering peaks and blue sky with puffy white clouds. The ski back out to Big Bend was relatively easy and fast.

 


[So skis out of the clouds on the Saskatchewan Glacier.]


[Looking back up the glacier on descent. The clouds are lifting.]


[So and Ferenc looking small against the terrain.]


[A rare section of the Saskatchewan Glacier that was steep enough to do turns on!]


[So and Ferenc come off the Saskatchewan Glacier with an outlier of Mount Andromeda towering above them.]


[So and Ferenc approach the Big Bend parking lot after crossing the North Saskatchewan river.]

 

My impressions of this trip are that we learned a lot about winter camping in general and traveling on the Columbia icefields in particular. It was a great time with good friends in one of the most spectacular areas of the Rockies. I'll be back!

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,000
Elevation Gain (m): 
2500
Total Distance (km): 
62.00
Difficulty Notes: 

The Saskatchewan Glacier approach to the Columbia Icefields is much safer than the Athabasca approach but is still a serious winter objective.

Columbia, Mount

Trip Category: 
MN - Ski Mountaineering
Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Norman Collie in 1898. The mountain takes its name from the Columbia River. The river was named after the ship captained by Robert Tray who first ventured over a dangerous sandbar and explored the lower reaches of the river. Official name. Other names Gamma

First ascended in 1902 by James Outram, guided by Christian Kaufmann. The highest point in Alberta and second only to Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Columbia lies on the northern edge of the Columbia Icefield.

(from peakfinder.com)

Technical Difficulty Level: 
8
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Grade: 
II

Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, April 18, 2015 to Monday, April 20, 2015

I've been waiting many years to climb Alberta's highest mountain and the 2nd highest peak of the Canadian Rockies. Ever since reading Dave Stephen's day trip report in 2004 and a trip by JW and Raf in 2006 it's been on my radar and in 2009 when a whole bunch of friends climbed it (but not without incident). I really thought I'd have done it by now, so what exactly was I waiting for? I was trying to be smart about it. While the "Big C" isn't technically a very difficult climb, there are many hazards that can seriously challenge one's summit push including;

 


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Summit Elevation (m): 
3,747
Summit Elevation (ft): 
12,294
Elevation Gain (m): 
2000
Round Trip Time: 
23.00
Total Distance (km): 
41.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

Crevasses, avalanches and a remote location in the middle of a large ice field are the main difficulties when climbing Colubmia. Don't underestimate it just because it's not technically that hard!

Cromwell, Mount

Trip Category: 
MN - Ski Mountaineering
Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Monroe Thorington (name suggested in 1967) in 1972. Cromwell, Oliver Eaton (Oliver Cromwell was an American who began climbing in the Canadian Rockies in 1928 and made many first ascents.) Official name. 

First ascended in 1938 by E. Cromwell, E. Cromwell jr., F.S. North, J. Monroe Thorington, guided by Edward Feuz jr.. Journal reference AAJ 3-61.

 

(from peakfinder.com)

Technical Difficulty Level: 
7
Endurance Level: 
Extreme
YDS Grade: 
I
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Thursday, May 7, 2015 to Sunday, May 10, 2015
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,340

2015 was an interesting winter in the Rockies. Many ski resorts had to close early, thanks to low snow and temperatures that soared above normal. Calgary didn't even seem to get winter at all! In a strange twist, however, we started to notice that the glaciers and mountains along the Divide had plenty of coverage - even though valley bottoms were completely melting out. I'm still not sure what caused this, but one theory is that the snow that fell, stuck - more like a coastal snow pack than a regular Rockies 'crap' pack. Whatever the case, when Ben, Steven and I traveled up the Athabasca Glacier and to the summit of Mount Columbia in late April we were delighted to discover great coverage and a fully formed ramp to the main glacier. When schedules lined up and the weather started to look good for the second weekend in May, we made plans for another trip to the northern peaks of the Columbia Icefield.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2015/05/08/cromwell-mount/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
10,958
Round Trip Time: 
10.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your wrist
Difficulty Notes: 

Glacier travel in an extremely remote location and some avalanche risk to the Cromwell / Stutfield NE2 col make this a peak to be taken seriously. No technical difficulties to the summit - beware the cornice!

Curator Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Morrison P. Bridgland in 1916. The mountain is adjacent to Shovel Pass and Morris Bridgland felt that it was the "custodian" of the pass. Official name. (info from peakfinder.com)

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Thursday, September 4, 2003
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,622

Curator Mountain was a very enjoyable scramble. Next to Tekarra it's the one I would recommend most for a side trip off of the Skyline Trail backpacking route in Jasper National Park. It is just off of the Big Shovel Pass to the west and there are several routes up. The most obvious may not always be possible if the snow isn't melted enough. If there is no way up through the snowfield you can get to the summit by tracking back a bit and going up through some steep scree and cliff bands to gain the summit ridge.

 

This summit is mostly a strenuous hike but does get somewhat steep in sections. The view from the top is absolutely fantastic with a view of the Skyline Trail along Curator Lake with the steep route up The Notch along with a host of other peaks to the south and the east including Centre, Excelsior and others.

 

If you get to Big Shovel Pass and you think you have the energy, it shouldn't take you more than a couple of hours to go up and down and that includes some good quality view-time at the top.



[Curator Mountain from Big Shovel Pass.]


[Vern coming up Curator.]


[Vern and Kev coming up just above the snow patch.]


[Kev coming up the final ridge before the summit.]


[The cairn at the summit.]


[View from the top of Curator Mountain looking south towards Amber Mountain.]


[Vern and Kev on the summit.]


[The Skyline trail winds it's way across this picture, far below the summit.]


[The summit of Curator Mountain.]


[The Notch with Curator Lake just visible at center.]


[Coming down past the snow patch on the east ridge above Big Shovel Pass.]

Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,603
Elevation Gain (m): 
400
Difficulty Notes: 

An easy ascent from the Skyline Trail which passes right past the mountain on its east ridge.

Diadem Peak

Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Norman Collie in 1898. When Collie, Stutfield, and Woolley reached this summit they found that, a "'diadem (crown)' of snow proved to be about a hundred feet high, set on the nearly flat top of the rocks." Official name. First ascended in 1898 by J. Norman Collie, H.E.M. Stutfield, H. WoolleyJournal reference AJ 19-461. (from peakfinder.com)

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
8
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Class: 
5.0-5.2
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, September 6, 2014

Once we descended the North Ridge of Mount Woolley to the col, we found ourselves staring up at the easy, snow and scree covered South Ridge of Diadem Peak. There wasn't much in the way of difficulties or route finding to the summit of Diadem. It was one tired foot in front of the other! As I crested the snowy summit bump, I immediately noticed what looked to be a slightly higher, rocky summit tower to the Northeast of us. I remembered a discussion on the old RMBooks forum about this summit and wondered if we should wander over to it, to give it a look.

 


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Summit Elevation (m): 
3,371
Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,060
Elevation Gain (m): 
1200
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 5 : you fall, you are dead
Difficulty Notes: 

Steep snow or ice couloirs to 45 degrees. Glacier travel and steep, wet, scree covered rock in between the couloirs. A final rock step to the true summit may catch you by surprise - many avoid it.

Edith Cavell, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Named in 1916. Cavell, Edith Louise (An English nurse, Edith Cavell was executed by the enemy during WW I.) Official name. Other names La Montagne de la Grande Traverse, Geikie, Fitzhugh First ascended in 1915 by A.J. Gilmour, E.W.D. Holway Journal reference CAJ 7-63. (from peakfinder.com

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
9
Endurance Level: 
Extreme
YDS Class: 
5.3
YDS Grade: 
III
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, August 2, 2013
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,363

Scott Berry and I completed a east-west traverse of the impressive Edith Cavell on a glorious summer day on August 02 2013. Edith Cavell has been tempting me for years already, ever since I started seeing trip reports from friends who swore up and down that the east ridge has some of the best hands-on scrambling / low 5th class climbing to be found in the 'chossy' Rockies. They weren't kidding!

 

There is some minor discrepancy on the rating of the east ridge when doing research on the internet. I've seen it rated from a hard scramble to a 5.5, alpine III climb but the official rating is 5.3, alpine III and I think in dry conditions this is a fair rating given my limited alpine experience of course! :) Scott and I had first brought up the idea of Edith Cavell while hiking up Numa Mountain a few weeks previous. Scott had a few days off to "dirt bag" and I'd been looking for an opportunity to climb Cavell's east ridge with someone who knows rope work for a while already. Of course we couldn't control the weather or conditions on the mountain so it was a bit of a hail Mary to plan this climb so far in advance.

 

As the day approached the weather didn't look very good at all. I kept waffling on whether we should go for it or not and finally on Wednesday evening we decided to go for it and see what would happen. On Thursday morning TJ shared a guide report from the day previous which indicated good conditions on the east ridge with the caveat that ax and crampons would be necessary to ensure success. The rumor on the east ridge of Cavell is that a short ice / snow slope near the summit is actually becoming the crux rather than the steep rock on the upper ridge. Armed with this recent conditions update and feeling rather optimistic about the improving weather forecast, I drove the 5 hours to the Edith Cavell parking lot on Thursday evening and met Scott in the parking lot just as the last of the (hordes of) tourists cleared off.

 

I'd never actually been this close to Edith Cavell before, never having hiked the Tonquin Valley or even the Cavell Meadows. As I drove up the long, winding road to the parking lot I was thinking two things. First of all I was thinking of all the many meters of height gain this delightful road was saving me and second of all I was in awe of the way the north face of Edith Cavell kept getting bigger and bigger as I kept driving closer towards it! It started with a "meh - I've seen bigger" and ended with "holy crap this thing's big!!". :)

 

The mosquitoes were brutal in the parking lot but they were swarming more than biting and I struck up a conversation with another climber who was sleeping in his van beside us - Leif from Canmore. Leif (sp) was planning to solo the east ridge and exit via the west and was also planning on getting up around 03:00. He'd scouted out the approach trail already that afternoon and claimed to have reached the col in about an hour rather than the stated two from the guide books. I should have done the same that evening but was tired from 5 hours of driving and since Scott had already done the first half the east ridge I assumed the way would be really obvious. I should know better by now - nothing is obvious at 03:00...

 

After gazing at the north face and musing about the various intimidating routes up the various buttresses and couloirs on it we turned in for the night around 21:30. I don't sleep that well in my truck and the few mosquitoes that managed to sneak in didn't help any. By the time my alarm went off at 03:00 I think I dozed off for about 3-4 hours at most. Leif was determined to be the first on the ridge and set off from the parking lot around 03:15 while we took a bit longer and were gone by 03:45. Almost instantly I realized that I should have taken the 30 minutes to scout out the approach the evening before. We got to the end of the obvious tourist trail and didn't know where to go from there! It was pitch black outside and Leif was so far in the distance he was of no help. I really don't like getting 'lost' on the approach, especially when bothering with alpine starts. A similar thing happened on Mount Assiniboine when we left early and didn't find the highway approach trail until we were on the ridge. The approach is never as obvious as you'd think when you are relying on head lamp to find it.

 

I'm still not 100% sure where we went wrong but I think we should have been much more climber's left, but instead we ended up at the lake shore until we trended up left straight to the col at the east ridge. We were never on a real trail and never saw any cairns so I know we weren't anywhere close the regular route which is probably a highway! Oh well, the approach route was obvious enough even without a trail and we probably only wasted about 15-20 minutes or so - not a huge deal but I was a bit grumpy about it for a few minutes. ;) As we gained the col on a steep snow slope we were catching up with two other climbers. We spoke to them at the col - they were two young guys from Jasper out for a day of practice with the rope. They couldn't have picked a nicer day or a better objective to practice on! They got ahead of us on the scramble to the upper shoulder as we took our first break at the col. The weather was beautiful and the views were already stunning as we started the scramble up to the shoulder on the east ridge. I especially liked the view of Mount Fryatt to the southeast in the morning light.

 

The scramble to the shoulder is longer than it looks - like usual on large mountains. I was feeling the heavy pack by the time we finally topped out to the exciting view of the east ridge.

 


[The early morning sky above the truck at 03:00]


[Scott approaches the col beneath the east ridge after ascending a steep snow slope on crampons]


[Looking up at the scrambling route to the shoulder from the col. We stayed to climber's right of the snow gully. Remember, there was two guys climbing above us here and we didn't want to be right in line with any rocks coming down.]


[Looking south from the col. Fryatt is just barely showing up here but we're already well above tree line. The short approach on EC is glorious compared to the approaches for most of the 11,000ers.]


[Scott scrambles to the col in early morning light]


[Looking south down hwy 93]


[The Watchtower looks cool from the ridge!]


[The views towards Fryatt keep improving as we get higher on the ridge. ++]

 
[Scott takes in the views. ++]


[The sun rises over the ridge to the east]


[The scramble section is still over 500 meters of height gain - don't under estimate it. He's hard to spot but you can see one of climbers ahead of us on this photo near the top, against the snow slope.]


[The scrambling section is steep and very loose.]

 


[The sun is now up. ++]


[The tarn under the Angel Glacier and Cavell Lake are already far below us.]


[Cavell Lake]


[Scott comes up the snowy section before the shoulder. You can spot the two climbers below him now. We passed them as they put crampons on for this section.]


[Scott comes up to the upper shoulder - we're already far above the valley floor.]


[Scott comes up the shoulder on the east ridge - notice how high we are already and still have 500 meters of climbing to go yet!]

 
[Great views off the top of the scrambling section as Scott traverses towards me. ++]


[The exciting view of the upper east ridge of Edith Cavell!]


[Oh yeah! We're going up that.]

 

When I finally saw the upper east ridge from the shoulder I was delighted to NOT see snow or huge amounts of ice greeting us. We ate our breakfasts under a windless sky and warm sun, trying to spot Leif on the ridge above us and trying not to be intimidated by the steep and narrow ridge itself. I was feeling great and looked forward to getting my nose into things and soon we were off and climbing onwards and upwards to the summit.

 

The ridge was steep almost right away. The exposure down the north face was fairly intense but the solid quartzite lived up to it's good reputation and the climbing was fun. It reminded me a bit of Assiniboine's north ridge. We managed to climb most of this upper ridge solo. The first 5.3 section almost brought out the rope but I suggested we "get our noses into it" first and this proved a good call. We solo'd up this section with no issues and kept going. The climbing goes on for quite a while with some really exposed sections but nothing I found too ridiculous. I'm not saying I'd be delighted to down climb this ridge but going up it on dry rock was a pure delight.

 

Eventually we got to the upper 5.3 section and decided to pull out the rope since I'd hauled it all the way up this far! :) Technically we didn't NEED the rope here but it felt steeper than the first pitch we solo'd further down and was again, very exposed so neither of us minded the comfort of some protection. After half a pitch we took the rope back off and solo'd the rest of the way up. Near the top of the east ridge the rock suddenly becomes much looser than lower down. I had one incident where a ledge I was traversing actually came completely off the mountain and thundered down a steep gully below! I guess Edith Cavell is still in the "chossy" Rockies after all...

 

 
[Pano from the shoulder ++]


[Mount Fryatt is still one of my favorite 11,000ers and Rockies peaks due to it's gorgeous surroundings and fun climbing on the SW face.]


[Mounts Brown and Hooker show up - I think this is probably the best view I've ever had of these two mountains.]


[Approaching the steep ridge]


[Scott starts up the upper east ridge - the shoulder section on the left behind him.]


[The Angel Glacier tarn and Cavell Lake from the ridge.]


[Oh yeah! This is fun stuff - just don't slip.]


[The ridge looks intimidating but there's always an 'easy' way when you need it.]

 
[Another pano off the ridge looking south at Fryatt and Brown, Hooker and many others. ++]


[Exposed free solo'ing on the ridge]


[You should probably like heights and exposure before attempting the east ridge of Cavell. Note the great holds directly under me here.]


[Great holds, sunny, warm weather and tons of exposure made this an instant favorite.]


[We decided to pull the rope for about 35 meters here.]


[Looking down at the two guys behind us as they wait for us to clear the section we roped up for.]


[This was probably the steepest part we encountered on the ridge but the climbing was easy here. Snow or ice would make this spicey.]


[Robson shows up in the distance]


[The steep stuff doesn't stop after the crux but the holds are great and when dry it feels relatively easy - but exposed.]


[Taking a break before continuing up. I think Kane took a break here when he did it too... ++]


[Close up of Brown and Hooker]


[Another view of Fryatt with Belanger and Lapensee to the right.]


[The ridge has lots of small benches on it. Spot Scott coming up one behind me here.]


[Another view of the terrific exposure down to Cavell Lake far below]


[The upper ridge has amazing color in the rock.]


[Traversing another ledge system back to the ridge.]

 

At the top of the ridge we encountered what's becoming more of a crux on the route than the rock - an exposed snow / ice traverse that leads to the cornice on top of the summit. This traverse is very short and only involves 4 or 5 exposed steps but if you slip here it's not going to be pleasant. I had to use my steel crampons and plant a firm ax in order to over come this piece and so did Scott. I don't recall if this section is very easy to protect but I could see some folks not liking it. Soft or loose snow would be even more of an issue here than ice, IMO.

 

​We topped out on the summit about 7 hours after starting from the parking lot. It was windless and gorgeous with views forever in all directions and clouds just starting to build in the valleys below us.

 


[Just under the snow traverse looking south west to the Verdant Meadows.]

 
[In some ways this was the crux - 4 or 5 exposed traverse moves on snow / ice just under the summit. It's much more exposed than it appears here because we're over the steepest section. ++]


[The Tonquin Valley and Ramparts from the summit.]

 
[A great pano looking west over Verdant Pass and peaks like Chevron, Black and Throne. ++]

 
[Looking over Cavell Lake to the north. ++]


[Dramatic views into the Tonquin Valley, Oldhorn on the right and Throne on the left.]


[Gorgeous Jasper colors north of Cavell.]


[The clouds are starting to build already.]


[Mount Fryatt in the distance]


[Looking towards Brown and Hooker again.]


[The Angel Glacier, tarn and Cavell Lake from the summit.]

 

We weren't 100% sure which of the summit ridge 'bumps' was the true summit so we ended up traversing to the westernmost one before realizing that the first one (easternmost) is the highest point. This is when we also realized that most scramblers probably don't attain the true summit, since it is covered in snow and ice and has some tricky traverse sections on the upper ridge if there's snow. There's also a huge cairn on the lowest summit and nothing on the highest so if you're scrambling up the west ridge, make sure you traverse all the way east. 

 

We stopped for about 40 minutes on the lower summit and I was amused to find I had full cell service at the top of Edith Cavell - a useful thing to have if you get into trouble on this mountain. I used the privilege to book a tee time and text my wife that I was OK and not to expect me home for supper. :)

 

 
[Pano from the lower summit showing many surrounding peaks and areas from Verdant Pass to the Tonquin Valley. ++]


[There's a lovely lake just north in the valley far below. There's lovely lakes all over the place up here! ++]


[Vern, the "angry moose" on the summit of Edith Cavell. (I forgot to switch my sleeping shirt for my climbing shirt at 03:00 and ended up climbing in my cotton t-shirt instead!)]


[Hard to believe that some routes come up this face...]

 


Sidebar : Various Routes on Edith Cavell

As I've done in several other trip reports (e.g. Woolley), I thought it would be interesting to do some basic web research on the various climbing routes on Edith Cavell and try to link some armchair mountaineering trip reports for my readers.

  • West Ridge, 3rd class | 1915 by A.J Gilmour and Edward Holway
    •  
  • East Ridge, III 5.3 | 1924 by Joseph Hickson guided by Conrad Kain 
    •  
  • North Face, Main Summit, IV 5.7 | ? by 
  • North Face, East Summit, IV 5.8 | ? by
    •  
  • North Face, Colorado Spur, IV 5.7 | ? by
    •  
  • McKeith Spur, IV 5.7 | ? by 
    •  

 

After a nice summit break we headed down the west ridge. A few reasons made us decide against rapping the east one, I was exhausted and worried about concentration for the whole way down, we still had a party of two coming up the east ridge, the clouds were building and we didn't want to get into any weather issues while on the exposed ridge. I also wanted to scout out the Verdant Pass hiking trail / area.

 

Some people have told me about issues either they, or their friends have had, with getting lost on the west ridge descent. If you have visibility this really shouldn't be an issue anymore. There's a highway beaten into the scree for most of the way - if you're not following it or obvious cairns you're off route. We briefly went skier's left before cutting back to the right staying above a snow patch and then following the ridge almost to the Sorrow col. At this point the trail is obvious down the south bowl from the west ridge and we spent an hour or two working our way down on ledges, loose scree and waterfalls. This was a long, moderate scramble and wasn't difficult but did require a certain amount of concentration to be safe. I certainly wouldn't want to be stuck with more parties here - it was very, very loose and we kicked off quite a few rocks while descending.

 

There is only one 'easy' way down this south bowl so if you get off route you'll have to find it somehow. The key is to traverse almost all the way to the Sorrow col before descending into the bowl. From there you should be fine. You can even go right over the first summit after the col and then descend very easy slopes to skier's left down to the Verdant Pass trail but this involves some more ascent and isn't really necessary. You could probably also bag Mount Sorrow quite easily but this seems to be a let down after such a gorgeous climb and we didn't have the will or energy anyway.

 

 


[Verdent Pass from the West Ridge of Cavell]


[Looking down the west ridge]

 
[Looking back along the summit ridge and over Cavell Lake. ++]


[Looking towards Throne Mountain and down our route to the meadows below.]

 
[Getting back onto the west ridge proper, the snow patch we traversed above from the left is on the left. The Sorrow col is above Scott's head. ++]


[Clouds are building in the Tonquin Valley]
 


[I love the colors of the area north of Edith Cavell]

 
[Scott descends the west ridge proper. ++]


[Somehow you have to find your way down this bowl. There's trails and cairns to make this task quite easy - thank goodness!]


[Looking back up the west ridge of Cavell. The upper triangular section is by-passed to the right - staying above the snow and then taking the upper ridge back left again to the summit ridge. If you're ascending this way remember that the true summit is the third one along the upper ridge and an ice ax and crampons will be needed to attain it in most years.]


[Easy scree if you're on route]

 
[A special place - looking over Verdent Pass. ++]


[Looking down the south bowl towards Verdant Pass and Chevron Mountain.]


[Typical terrain on the south bowl descent. Not easy but not hard either.]


[We are delighted to be down the south bowl and off the mountain finally!]

 

The walk out from the bowl along the Verdant Pass and then the Astoria River trail is long - much longer than we expected. Scott was having some knee issues so I went ahead in order to save him 2km back up the highway to the parking lot. I was so tired by the time I was on the pavement that I had a few halucinations including a bear and a dog on the road in front of me! That was wierd but kind of fun too. I always seem to halucinate dogs when I'm really tired. No idea why...

 


[Back on easy terrain]


[Nice alpine meadows, looking back where we came from.]


[Blackhorn Mountain, Throne and Oldhorn (L to R)]


[A last look at the west ridge / south bowl exit.]


[These pine cones were unique - black and oozing a sugary substance. The weather was beautiful for the hike out but the bugs were annoying.]


[The trail was in great shape considering it's decommissioned.]


[The Verdant Pass trail is easy to follow but was a bit overgrown in spots and hasn't been maintained recently. It's also unmarked from the Astoria River trail so make sure you know where it's supposed to be or you'll miss it.]


[Finally on the main trail to the highway!]


[I was all alone on this final 5 or 6km stretch and with a thunderstorm booming in the background and hallucinations for company it was a bit spooky. :)]


[On the final 2km back to the parking lot with our objective towering 1700 meters or so above. It's hard to believe we completed a traverse from left to right and all the down and around Sorrow but we did! And my feet can feel it at this point...]

 

Edith Cavell proved to be worth the wait for me. I'm glad I waited so many years to catch it in perfect condition and to have a climbing partner like Scott to celebrate with on the summit. This was a deeply satisfying climb for both of us - not too difficult but lots of fun hands-on stuff and incredible views and environs to explore all around the mountain. The history of this mountain is also facinating and interesting to contemplate while on it. The upper mountain has enough spice and exposure to keep almost any climber happy and the final snow / ice traverse adds a bit of kick just for good measure.

 

Many people wonder if the east ridge really is "just a scramble" or not. After climbing it, I can say that in dry conditions it can be solo'd by experienced and confident scramblers or climbers - assuming they're comfortable with ax / crampons for the final traverse under the summit. That being said - this is certainly NOT a scramble and if you go up without rope or protection you are taking significant risk if you run into conditions en route that require you to back down it or climb on in less than ideal conditions. Even a rain shower or short t-storm could ruin your day big time on the quartzite rock. The west ridge is a scramble unless you run into snow before the true summit which will require ax / crampons. This is not the same section as above the east ridge, but is just after the middle summit when traversing to the far east (true) summit. Be warned though - the west ridge is a SLOG compared to the fun and exciting east ridge!

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,034
Elevation Gain (m): 
1700
Round Trip Time: 
13.00
Total Distance (km): 
21.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 5 : you fall, you are dead
Difficulty Notes: 

An easy climb or climber's scramble up the east ridge. A moderate scree bash up the west descent route. Wait until it's dry!

Evelyn Peak

Trip Category: 
SC - Scrambling
Interesting Facts: 

Located in the Maligne Range, about 1.5 km west of the lake at the head of Evelyn Creek, and 3 km south of Evelyn Pass.

 

(from bivouac.com)

Technical Difficulty Level: 
6
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, September 5, 2015 to Sunday, September 6, 2015

Of course when I started my two week vacation in September, the weather turned for the worse in the Rockies. And when I say "worse", I mean way worse... First of all was the dump of snow that covered the entire range of the Alberta Rockies from north of Jasper to Waterton Lakes National Park. While a bit of snow isn't a huge issue, especially in the fall - it definitely limited my choices for peak bagging. I had to dial down my ambitions from lofty 11,000ers to trips that involved more hiking and backpacking. I didn't mind, to be honest. I was in the mood for more reflective trips anyway - sometimes the intensity of larger peaks can distract from the beauty and peacefulness of the area that you're traveling through. Not a terrible thing necessarily, but it's nice to stop and smell the roses every once in a while.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2015/09/05/evelyn-peak/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (m): 
2,855
Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,367
Elevation Gain (m): 
1700
Round Trip Time: 
13.50
Total Distance (km): 
20.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

Remote travel up a rarely visited valley with tight, dense bush that's a challenge even with a faint trail.

Fortress Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Arthur P. Coleman in 1892. The mountain resembles a fortress. Official name. 

First ascended in 1896 by R.L. Barrett (alone)Other reference Wilcox Pg. 174.

(from peakfinder.com)

Trip Category: 
SC - Scrambling
Technical Difficulty Level: 
7
Endurance Level: 
Extreme
YDS Class: 
4th Class
YDS Grade: 
I
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, September 13, 2013 to Sunday, September 15, 2013
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,020

After a successful summit bid on Catacombs Mountain we woke up on Saturday with lots of energy to tackle our next objective - crossing two passes before attempting to summit Fortress Mountain via her southwest slopes. 

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2013/09/14/fortress-mountain/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,909
Elevation Gain (m): 
2000
Total Distance (km): 
60.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 4 : you fall, you are almost dead
Difficulty Notes: 

Avoidable crux on ascent involved some very steep and exposed scrambling - avoided on descent by traversing under the summit ridge instead of on it but this increases risk of rockfall incidents.

Fryatt, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Named in 1920. Fryatt, Captain Charles Algernon (Capt. Fryatt was a British merchant seaman who was executed during WW I.) Official name. Other names Patricia. First ascended in 1926 by J.W.A. Hickson, Howard Palmer, guided by Hans Fuhrer. Journal reference CAJ 16-44, App 16-430. (from peakfinder.com

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
9
Endurance Level: 
Extreme
YDS Class: 
5.4
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,361

On August 25/26 I joined Kevin Barton and Eric Coulthard for a trip up Mount Fryatt in Jasper National Park. This mountain has been on my radar for a number of years due to its remoteness and the beautiful bivy site that was rumored to exist under the SW face. When Raf climbed Fryatt back in 2009 I was quite disappointed that I couldn't join him. I waited patiently for three years and made my ascent in perfect conditions. Sometimes I get the sense that I'm rushing to complete peaks - this trip proved once again that it's the journey that counts - not the summit. The hike in along all the Geraldine lakes was also very appealing to me. I've never done the other route up the Fryatt valley but the Geraldine Lakes route is just that - more of a 'route' than a 'trail' in places, but much shorter distance-wise and extremely scenic.

 

We approached the base of the SW face on Saturday, August 25. After a long drive to the not-so-obvious trailhead we geared up and started up a muddy approach trail to the first Geraldine Lake. The entire route past the five Geraldine Lakes and up to the alpine meadows north of Fryatt was gorgeous, but a bit under-developed (not really a bad thing). The two images that stand out most in my mind from the approach hike is "boulders" and "mud". It's one of the most beautiful areas I've been to in the Rockies. Wild flowers were still blooming but a month ago it must have been stunning with carpets of endless flowers everywhere! Towering peaks reflected their brooding faces in the crystal clear lakes while loons and bubbling streams added a symphony to an image that is truly remarkable and unique. Like anything worthwhile though, you have to work for it. Reaching the fifth and final Geraldine Lake takes determination, some scars (from boulders and trees) and route finding. Not making our lives any easier was the recent snow / rain that continued to fall on the first half of our approach, making the quartzite boulder hopping around the third Geraldine Lake very slick and somewhat disconcerting.

 


[A wet trail to the first lake.]


[At the first lake the trail follows the lake shore closely.]


[A wild stream at the inlet to the first lake.]
 


[After the first lake we arrive at a much smaller lake - presumably the "second" lake. This is the view of the waterfall at the end of it, coming down from the third Geraldine Lake.]


[The terrain to the waterfall draining the third lake is already less traveled than around the first lake.]

 
[Looking back along the 2nd Geraldine Lake. ++]


[Avalanche debris has been cleared up to the second lake. From there you're on your own!]


[Heading up beside the large waterfall draining the 3rd Geraldine Lake.]


[Looking back over the 1st from near the 3rd Geraldine Lake.]


[Looking along the 3rd Geraldine Lake, you can see rain drops on the water surface which made the rock-hopping very treacherous]

 
[Looking back over the 3rd Geraldine Lake with Geraldine Peak rising on the left. ++]


[This might have been fun for about 5 minutes. I sucked after that though. Note the cairn in the foreground.]


[Heading up wilder terrain to the fourth lake.]


[Thank goodness there's a trail in this stuff!]


[Just don't expect an obvious trail all of the time. ;)]


[Steep grunt to the fourth lake.]


[The gorgeous fourth lake where we crossed the outlet stream. Fryatt in the clouds - we're hoping it's drying off!]


[Hiking along the shoreline of the fourth Geraldine Lake with Fryatt looming in the bg.]

 
[Looking back at the fourth lake. ++]

 

We were a little bit disappointed in the weather. Light rain showers made the boulders slick and worse, there was a considerable dusting of fresh snow up high on the local peaks. The sun started to shine more and more throughout the day and our spirits lifted with each ray of its warmth. We hoped that the snow up high was melting fast enough to ensure dry pitches of climbing the next day.

 

As we made our way up to the fourth Geraldine Lake the wild flowers started coming out in full force. We had a few moments of searching for a route across the outlet stream of the fourth lake, but we all managed to cross without taking our boots off. (Some were drier than others after this effort...) Hiking around the fourth lake with Fryatt looming above us was quite spectacular. With fresh snow, the north face / ridge looked fairly intimidating but it was exciting to know that I'd finally be up there in less than 12 hours after waiting many years for this opportunity.

 


[Having a trail between the 4th and 5th lakes was nice.]


[The gorgeous environs of the fifth Geraldine Lake]


[The fifth lake is the second largest and beautiful. Wild flowers are everywhere and Mount Fryatt looms in the distance. ++]


[After the fifth lake we went through carpets of wild flowers to reach the alpine meadows beyond.]


[A small waterfall along the way to the alpine meadows above the fifth lake.]


[Looking back to the 5th lake and the small stream feeding into it.]


[Looking back over the fifth Geraldine Lake.]


[Back on an obvious trail now - heading into the alpine meadow section.]

 

We wanted to reach "Iceberg Lake" directly under the SW face of Fryatt before settling in for the night. After the fifth and final Geraldine Lake we made our way up to the alpine meadows north of Fryatt on a surprisingly clear trail that seemed to come from nowhere (!) and made our way up and around the west ridge of Fryatt. For some reason the bugs were relentless up in the alpine meadows here! We hardly noticed them down by the lakes but at the meadows they swarmed us. Not a lot of biting, but a ton of swarming - we were breathing them in there was so many. Raf's team bivied in these meadows and it wasn't fun due to the bugs - I would suggest going further into the alpine if you can, even though the meadows are a perfect place to camp.

 

 
[The alpine meadows above the 5th Geraldine Lake provide great views of the north ridge and east face of Fryatt.]

 
[Amazing views confronted us as we hit the alpine meadows beyond the fifth lake. Mount Fryatt is most impressive with the right skyline ridge the West Ridge alpine route.]

 
[Looking back over the fifth, fourth and third Geraldine Lakes. ++]

 
[The alpine meadows are a magical place. ++]

 
[Pano of Fryatt with Mount Belanger and Lapensee just peaking (pun intended) out on the right. ++]


[How many bugs do you count? :) Gorgeous alpine meadows and great views of Fryatt - note the north glacier.]

 
[Geraldine S4 is the prominent peak from the alpine meadows, looking north, just before we traverse above Divergence Lake (to the left). ++]

 

The west ridge looks like a good route - even if you bypass the 5.8 climbing at the top to join up with the SW face route. It would likely have much less rock fall issues than the face. We contoured around the steep slopes above Divergence Lake (gorgeous but painful on the feet) before using as much snow as possible to hike up underneath the headwall protecting Iceberg Lake and the SW face. We made our way past a scenic waterfall coming down the wall and found a decent route on the south end. I could see this headwall being a pain in the dark - I would suggest bivying above it if you can. Via head lamp you'll probably end up doing more difficult climbing than necessary to get through it - it should only be a scramble. Again, I've heard of folks rapping here and this is completely avoidable if you just go far enough south.

 

Eric kept talking about skiing up "Fat Bastard" - the bump to the west of Iceberg Lake. I think he just liked the name!

 

 
[Looking over at Fryatt (L) and Fryatt SW2 (C) and "Fat Bastard" (R) before we start the traverse above Divergence Lake. ++]


[This is the painful side-hill traverse that brings you under the final headwall to access the SW bowl / face of Fryatt. We traversed all the way to the third snow patch to cut through the headwall. Lots of sheep here, Divergence Lake is out of sight to the right and Fryatt SW2 is the prominent peak visible here - you can ski or walk up from the other side.]

 
[Upper Divergence Lake with the lower one just visible and Curl Peak rising in the distance at center.]


[Looking back at the meadows as we start the grinding traverse.]


[Gorgeous Upper Divergence Lake.]


[Can't get enough of these views!]


[Looking ahead to the flatter bowl between Fryatt (L) and Fat Bastard (C). This area is understandably heaven for goats!]


[Using snow patches to gain height to the headwall guarding Iceberg Lake.]


[We take a break before heading for the sliver of snow in the background (first one - barely visible) which we'll follow through a break in the lower cliff band.]


[Routefinding through this terrain can be problematic in the dark, so I recommend bivying up at the lake rather than below it.]


[Finally breaking through the headwall, Fryatt towering over Eric here.]

 

Once through the headwall we were presented with a head-on view of Fryatt's SW face and Iceberg Lake sparkling in front of it - complete with an 'iceberg' - sort of. We didn't like the fresh snow on the upper slopes but the sun was starting to finally warm things up so hopefully some melting could take place over the next 2-3 hours before dark. We contoured around the lake on it's northern shore and found a perfect bivy under the SW face on top of several waterfalls plunging into the lake far below us. This is probably a top 2 bivy spot for me, and I've bivied in some pretty gorgeous places in the Rockies. With plenty of running water, towering peaks, protection from the weather and a nice flat area this lake front property is an extremely excellent bivy! We spent the beautiful late afternoon / evening scouting out the SW face and our nice location, taking many sunset shots of Iceberg Lake.

 

After some consultation we decided to take an obvious scree slope to the NE of our camp up to the Fryatt / 9900' col before traversing north to the SW face of Fryatt. This would avoid some of the more serious rock fall hazards on the lower SW face and would be an easy exit once the climbing was done. It took us just over 7 hours to reach the bivy. We were in bed by 21:30 with a wakeup time of 04:00. 

 

 
[Iceberg Lake and the slope we used to access the SW face rising on the left. Fryatt SW2 on the right. ++]


[Eric eats supper at our delightful bivy. Iceberg Lake is about 40 feet below us here.]

 
[Looking at our bivy with Fryatt SW2 on the right and peak 9900' rising on the left. ++]


[It doesn't get any better than this. Waterfalls run down all along our bivy above the lake, providing us with an endless supply of fresh, cold water.]


[Water pours over the steep cliffs dropping into Iceberg Lake near our bivy site]


[Looking at our bivy from above. I put rocks around mine (left) because of the 40 foot drop to the lake right by it!]


[Setting sun on Iceberg Lake. ++]


[More sunset - looking west over Divergent Lake at Elephas and Mastodon Mountains in the far distance with the Elaphas Glacier.]

 

I slept great (I love my Exped with its down warmth and goodness... ;)) and woke up 10 minutes before my alarm, psyched to start the climb. The Milky Way was in full display above us and I took a few photos as the other guys got ready. I saw 3 shooting stars which made me optimistic for the long day ahead of us. I was excited rather than nervous, I get this way more often on bigger objectives. I can be nervous the day or week before the climb, but on the morning of the action, I get really psyched and can't wait to get moving.

 


[Waking up early to a nice night sky reflected in the lake.]

 

We had made the decision the evening before, to traverse the SW face from the col with peak 9900' before ascending obvious gullies to the west ridge and then to the summit block. We made good time up the endless scree slope to the col, under head lamp, and popped out at the col at 06:30 - just as the sun was starting to rise. This was perfect timing as we needed daylight for the SW face. The morning views, especially to the west, were absolutely mind blowing already. It was shaping up to be one of the most special days I've had in the Rockies. The SW face looked reasonably dry as the sun rose, which was a relief after seeing the fresh snow the day before. There was some snow, but we were hoping it would help instead of hurt our chances of success.

 


[The SW face of Fryatt looms ominously in the pre-dawn dark as we gain height to the 9900' col. There's still fresh snow, but hopefully not enough to be an issue.]


[It's still very dark as we make our way up the first scree slope.]

 
[A gorgeous sunrise to the east as we pop onto the 9900' col.]


[Incredible lighting to the southwest including Belanger (L) and Lapensee (R). The north face of Serenity Peak at center.]

 
[Morning panorama from the 9900' col includes from L to R, Belanger, Serenity, Lapensee, "Fat Bastard", Scott, Alnus, Divergence, Evans, Oventop Ridge, Beacon and of course many, many others in the far distance. ++]

 

From the col we followed cairns and the odd bits of trail up the SW face. It's impossible to describe the route perfectly - basically go up and traverse towards the west ridge (climber's left). We used solid snow in the gullies to gain quick elevation but this did involve some steep snow climbing with sections of pretty hard ice for good measure. Aluminum crampons felt a bit under-tooled for the icy sections. We didn't protect any of the snow climbing, but we all feel comfortable on steep snow. I think some of the moves we made on the ice / snow were the trickiest part of our day. There was one section in particular where both Eric and I were clinging to the tiniest little holds on our front points and the tip of our axes thinking, "why didn't I bring ice tools?!". Of course Barton made it look pretty easy. ;-)

 

The rock was pretty loose lower down on the face too. A large climbing party could be an issue here. Route finding is key to keeping the lower face within the realm of 'scrambling'. If you stick to the ridge from the 9900' col you will be on 5th class terrain pretty quickly. 

 


[Traversing easy scree from the col before heading up the SW face.]

 
[The sun finally rises on the surrounding peaks - notably peak 9900' on the left, with Belanger and Lapensee catching alpine glow over Fat Bastard. ++]


[The mighty Mount Clemenceau rises in the morning sun with Mount Shackleton to the left.]

 
[Gorgeous sunrise on 9900' peak, Mounts Belanger and Lapensee with Fat Bastard in front. ++]


[Some of the scrambling on the rising traverse was exposed and steep. And LOOSE.]


[The odd cairn was a nice touch but we certainly didn't follow a line of them to the summit - it was more that we accidentally stumbled on them as we climbed.]


[The SW face wasn't terribly difficult but it was loose and exposed enough that care was needed, especially considering my climbing partners coming up beneath me - another benefit of a rising traverse...]


[We took the most obvious 'easy' route and usually found cairns approving our choices.]

 


[Kev front points across an icy gully. Thankfully there was a few inches of fresh snow on top or my aluminum crampons and single mountaineering ax may not have been enough to cross some of these sections.]


[This little tiptoe over a short section of ice was far trickier than it looked!]


[Eric enjoys the confidence-inspiring snow climb up a gully on the face.]


[You know you're becoming a mountaineer when you start looking for snow lines up faces instead of scree lines.]


[Looking down at Eric as we ascend another steep snow gully on the face.]

 

We were just nearing the top of our final snow slope before the roped climbing started, when I thought I heard yelling from slopes to the east! Sure enough - there was Ferenc traversing towards us on crampons from the south ridge!! I had a feeling he might join us after he sounded bitterly disappointed earlier when it didn't seem like he would be able to make it. He was extremely lucky that he caught up with us where he did - namely just before the roped climbing sections where he could benefit from our rope. After greeting him (this was his first time meeting Kev) we continued upward, soon arriving at a crux, with a party of four now, instead of three. It was nice to have Ferenc since both he and Kev are more experienced with roped climbing.

 


[Ferenc crosses a steep snow gully (we climbed it from below-right) to join up with our ascent party. He came up the southeast ridge on rock straight above the col before traversing over to us and claimed this was 5th class terrain.]


[Getting much higher now, looking over peak 9900' towards Clemenceau and Bras Croche (R)]

 

Most trip reports that I could find (including the linked ones up above) mention or show pictures of a notch in the west ridge with a chock stone plugging the top of it. We didn't traverse over this chock stone on the ridge (like Rick Collier did) and we didn't ascend to the left or to climber's right of it either (like Dow Williams group did). I think, based on photos from Raff's trip report, that we ascended just to climber's right of this gully / notch along the rappel route. Ferenc actually tried ascending the notch route but it was plugged with ice near the top and he didn't want to risk the one move that he had to make - probably the same 5.7 move that Dow's group made. I noticed a possible route to climber's right of this chock stone gully from below and suggested we try it. Some difficult scrambling led us up a short section to a ledge / crack running under a bulge to climber's right, away from the notch route. Just past this bulge was a nice platform to belay a climb up some 5.4 terrain. At the time I didn't know it was the rappel route, but after Kev led it he stopped at a large rap station so it became rather obvious that it was.

 


[Looking over the difficult looking north ridge. The 5.7 chockstone route visible in a steep crack.]

 

Once again, my "scrambling nose" saved us from climbing terrain above our comfort level. I have found on numerous 11,000ers that having a scrambling background and mentality is really nice for finding the easier routes that others can miss because they're too focused on using the rope they've lugged all the way up. Of course there's nothing wrong with climbing harder terrain, but on a big mountain I believe that speed and efficiency are the key to being safe and with one rope for the four of us, we were going to be slow enough on the unavoidable terrain and on the descent rappels. We didn't need to make things harder.

 

From this section on the face, we passed several well-used rap stations and did some short pitches of 5.2 to 5.4 climbing. The rock was surprisingly stable on the climbing pitches - it was horribly loose everywhere else! We topped out on the West ridge just before the scree traverse under the summit block. We had no difficulties on the ridge from our ascent line. The summit was easily gained via a narrow scree gully on the east end of the summit block. 

 


[Eric comes up the first pitch (5.4) which is also the rap route. Iceberg Lake and our bivy spot far below him now.]


[Looking north towards the Ramparts (Tonquin Valley) and even Mount Robson in the distance!]

 
[Ferenc gets ready to lead the second pitch (5.2). ++]


[Might be 'easy' but it's still 5th class...]


[What a belay perch for Kev!]


[Looking up as Kev nears the end of the last climbing pitch before the summit block.]


[Kev follows me up the west ridge.]

 
[The scree traverse around the summit block, east of the topping out point from the face. You can see Ferenc standing on the final summit ridge.]


[A final, easy, scree chimney to the summit ridge.]


[Eric is pretty darn pleased with himself as he strides to the apex of another 11,000er with views for miles in every direction.]

 

We spent half an hour enjoying spectacular views in every direction including some very impressive summits - even Robson was visible. We didn't linger too long due to concerns about melting and rock fall on the face. It took us 6.5 hours to the summit from our bivy site which included two pitches of climbing. The second pitch could probably be free soloed by competent parties - we certainly could have soloed it if we knew how easy it was going to be.

 

 
[Incredible summit view over the Geraldine Lakes towards Edith Cavell and Geraldine Peak. Kerkeslin on the right. ++]

 
[Looking southeast over Kerkeslin (L). Many familiar peaks around the Columbia Icefields to the right, including Alberta, Woolley and Diadem. ++]


[Mount Unwin at left with Brazeau looking quite sharp at right. Warren to the left of Brazeau with Monkhead on the left end of it's long ridge.]

 
[Incredible summit panorama includes from R to L, Edith Cavell, Ramparts (Geikie, Paragon and more), Parapet, Simon, Scarp and others. Robson is the snowy giant in the far distance, just right of center. ++]


[Looking west towards the Monashees. Hallam Peak at center-left, Mallard and Pancake to the right.]


[One of the highest peaks in the Rockies - Mount Clemenceau with Shackleton and Tsar to the left.]


[Tsar at center left.]

 
[Looking down on Iceberg Lake with Fat Bastard a tiny bump now! ++]


[The north face of Serenity Peak (left of center) is impressive!]

 
[Looking south (L) and west. Catacombs is at distant left with the northern Columbia Icefield peaks visible beyond. ++]


[Mount Edith Cavell from the summit. Robson to the left.]


[Mount Geikie is the striking peak on the center left (scene of the tragic Rick Collier incident a week or so ago) and Mount Robson is the massive peak in the distance.]  


[A Hans Gmoser register! Becoming rare these days...]


[Remembering Rick Collier. His name is in so many registers on so many obscure peaks through the Rockies. I don't think his accomplishments will ever be repeated.


[Vern on the summit of Mount Fryatt!]


[Traversing back along the spectacular summit ridge towards our descent route.]


[Reluctantly leaving the sublime views to descend the face before things heat up too much and rock fall becomes an issue.]

 

We rapped 3 times on the descent and then picked our way back down and across to the col and down scree / snow slopes to the bivy. From there it was a long (long!) trek back to Ferenc's bivy under the Iceberg Lake headwall and then all the way back to the parking lot, past all the Geraldine lakes. The boulder hopping was the most unpleasant part of the hike out - thank goodness we didn't have rain or heavy dew to make things even worse on those blasted lichen-covered, Quartzite rocks. :)

 


[Eric on rappel.]


[Finishing a rappel.]
 


[Cleaning up the first rap - note the chock stone gully to the left? We ascended just above Kev (in the green jacket) to climber's right, ducking under that bulge he's standing by.]


[Finishing another rappel on the SW face of Fryatt. ++]


[Ferenc waits for his turn to rap - enjoying the incredible weather and views. ++]


[Another rap.]


[A 5th class section that we climbed on ascent / rapped on descent.]


[A careful descent down the SW face of Fryatt now that the raps are complete.]


[Pretty good rock steps on the face if you look for them, but still exposed and loose for a group of four.]


[Careful not to kick rocks!]


[Downclimbing the face as we traverse skier's left to the 9900' col.]


[The SW face from near the 9900' col, looking much drier after another warm day in the sunshine. We couldn't have timed our climb better.]


[Off the hard stuff! It's a great feeling as we scree ski back to our bivy.]


[Last look back at our bivy with 9900' rising above.]


[Back to the side-hilling above Divergent Lake! Back to the incessant bugs too!]

 
[Looking ahead to the long march in front of us. The 5th Geraldine Lake visible here from on top of th alpine meadows.]


[A very satisfied Kevin Barton takes a well-deserved rest break in the alpine meadows above the Geraldine Lakes.]


[Descending the meadows with the dry north ridge of Fryatt rising at left.]


[Shadows grow long as we make our way beneath the north face of Fryatt. We've been on the move for 15 hours at this point.]


[Still a beautiful trail to distract our sore feet and minds. Soon we were too exhausted to enjoy it. ;-)]


[Fryatt is reflected in the 5th lake as the sun gets low in the west.]

 

We managed to do Fryatt in 36 hours instead of the more standard 3 days, but I wasn't home until 04:30 on Monday - and the drive wasn't so pleasant after being awake for over 24 hours either!  A long and tough mountain, Fryatt is never going to be a popular peak but for those willing to do some "quality suffering" in gorgeous surroundings it should be very high on your mountain list. It's setting in the back country of Jasper couldn't be more sublime and the bivy by Iceberg Lake is a top 5 for sure.

 

Fryatt has to be one of my top 10 peaks up 'til now. Maybe even a top 5 if I think about it long enough. Whatever it is, I miss it already and will almost certainly be back to climb some of the surrounding summits or back pack through some of the amazing terrain nearby.

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,027
Elevation Gain (m): 
2000
Round Trip Time: 
36.00
Total Distance (km): 
30.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 5 : you fall, you are dead
Difficulty Notes: 

Typical Rockies 11,000er with loose access slopes, some decent 5.4 climbing on grippy limestone and then more loose rock to the summit. :)

GR660745 - Mount King Edward Approach

Interesting Facts: 

The approach to the Mount King Edward bivy site has always interested me. What's not to like? Stories of raging rivers, choked up logging roads and sublime alpine meadows with incredible views of some of the Rockies most striking mountains had me salivating to experience this for myself. Even though we didn't get the King, we did manage to summit a small rise on the edge of the icefield that was adorned with a small rock cairn and amazing views.

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, June 3, 2016 to Sunday, June 5, 2016
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,500

On Friday, June 3rd 2016, I found myself in the back of Ben's SUV, turning off the Trans Canada Highway just past Golden at the Donald weigh station, onto the now familiar road leading to Kinbasket Lake and eventually the Bush and Sullivan River forestry service roads. Our destination this time was the very end of the Bush River FSR followed by a trek into the bivy site for Mount King Edward. Of course, our original intent was to also climb King Edward, but for a variety of reasons this didn't happen as I'll detail a bit later in the account. 

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2016/06/04/mount-king-edward-attempt/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Elevation Gain (m): 
1600
Round Trip Time: 
12.00
Total Distance (km): 
22.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Crossing the Bryce River is by far the hardest part of the approach and should be done with caution. Know that it increases in size very quickly during the day - especially with day time heating.

Geraldine Lakes

Trip Category: 
TL - Trail Hiking
Interesting Facts: 

The Geraldine Lakes are a group of 5 lakes located one valley east of the Whirlpool River Valley in Jasper National Park. A rustic trail / route can be followed up into the alpine north of Mount Fryatt where a paradise awaits those who perservere. 

Technical Difficulty Level: 
4
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Attained Summit?: 
No
Trip Date: 
Saturday, August 25, 2012

On our trip to climb Mount Fryatt we passed through the Geraldine Lakes hiking route. I thought the area deserved a separate hiking trip report - it's that beautiful! Like anything worthwhile though, you're going to have to pay to enjoy the benefits of the Geraldine Lakes. Although it's a mind-blowing experience of alpine lakes with loons giving their haunting calls, waterfalls plunging down rocky faces, acres and acres of wild flowers and peaks soaring over 11,000 feet it's also an area of relentless bugs, mud, boulders and bears.

 

For families with young or inexperienced kids I wouldn't bother with this hike at all. The first lake isn't really worth it on its own and already had plenty of tree roots and slimy muck on the approach - and this is the best maintained part of the trail! Save your vehicle the rough 5.5km approach road from the highway and enjoy other hikes in Jasper that are more suited to runners and day packs.

 

If you have good hiking footwear (i.e. not flip flops or runners!), a keen sense of adventure and a nose for directions this trail is for you. Make sure you bring a good camera and flower lens - you'll need them.

 

Start up the trail for the first lake. This trail will have some muddy sections - possibly even VERY muddy. Quickly you'll reach the first lake (2km) and start around it's right edge on a root-filled rolling 'trail'. The first lake has fish in it and is worth it as a fishing destination - but not as a hiking endpoint. The views from the shoreline are mediocre at best. You need to go much higher and further to really enjoy the scenery.

 


[As we approach the first lake the trail is already deteriorating a bit.]


[Traversing on climber's right along the first lake.]

 

After the first lake you'll get to the second one via some scrambly bits though bush and some boulder hopping / mud. This is just the very beginning - if you don't enjoy boulders you should NOT continue. We had to deal with avalanche debris just before the 2nd lake. The 'lake' is just a small pond so don't expect anything too dramatic yet. You'll spot a large waterfall coming down from the 3rd lake and this is the first worthwhile endpoint IMO. But you have a ways to go before you get to enjoy it...

 


[Boulder hopping begins after the first lake already!!]


[Some nice falls in the stream coming from the 2nd to the 1st lake.]


[Looking back at the first Geraldine Lake from the ascent to the 2nd.]


[Here's where you cross the outflow of the 2nd lake to climber's left, on avalanche and scree debris following signage.]

 

Skirt over to the climber's left side of the 2nd lake, following yellow labeled signs on metal poles across the outflow boulders. More boulders lead into trees / bush / avi debris and a fairly decent trail towards the waterfall and a steep hill guarding access to the third lake.

 


[Telephoto of the large waterfall coming down the headwall from the third lake - taken from the 2nd lake. The hiking trail goes up on climber's left on scree slopes.]


[The second lake is quite small. The trail is rough on rocks and boulders and through some bush.]


[Panorama looking back along the 2nd Geraldine Lake. Click for full size.]


[Uncleared avalanche debris between the 2nd lake and the waterfall. This would be a very tough section for kids or inexperienced hikers with large packs! It reminded me of canoe trips I've been on. Imagine lugging a bloody CANOE through here!! :-)]


[The waterfall starts looking smaller when you gain the hiking trail up the headwall on it's left side.]

 

After checking out the waterfall you owe it to yourself to check out the 3rd and largest lake. This isn't free access - you have to gain over 100 meters of elevation on a steep, hard scree track running up climber's left of the waterfall. This track is rough but very obvious and even marked with a few marker signs. Remember, you have to come down this way too. This is the first place where improper footwear will really hurt you on the way down. After grunting up the scree trail you'll top a small rise through stunted trees and get your first glimpse of the 3rd lake. It's a gorgeous setting with Geraldine Peak rising across to your right. Once again though - this isn't the best that Geraldine Lakes has to offer.

 


[Looking back from the top of the scree grunt. The first lake is just visible far below. Geraldine Peak rises out of sight to the left.]


[View of the 3rd lake from the near-end. It's a LONG way to the far end which is where the campground is.]

 

You're going to hate boulder hopping after this (remember you have to come all the way back!) but to enjoy really sublime views you have to continue all the way around the 3rd lake on climber's left - this is also the route to the campground at the far end. Take it from me - boulder hopping with an overnight pack is not easy... The boulders get long after awhile but eventually you will end up at the far end of the 3rd lake. Now the trail becomes difficult.

 


[Boulder hopping isn't SO bad under this beautiful sunshine but when the rocks get wet the green lichen makes them very treacherous and almost impossible to hike over safely. Remember this when planning your trip or attempting the traverse along the 3rd lake.]


[Getting near the end of the lake.]


[Gorgeous Geraldine Peak on the left and the 3rd lake. Click to view full size.]

 

The terrain between the 3rd and 4th lake is not for the faint of heart. Downed trees, mud, raging streams and very faint trails make this an adventure! You should always be on a trail of some sort or following cairns, but you will be in such thick growth that your feet will have to feel out the trail in places! Don't discourage though. The final complication to the 4th lake is re-crossing the stream to climber's right at the outflow - not easy with high or fast water but it can be done with judicious use of hiking poles and rock / log hopping! :-)

 


[See what I mean? Not for the faint of heart...]


[Getting an impression? :)]


[It's a little bushy between the 3rd and 4th lakes... ;-)]


[Thankfully there's lots of water on route - we drank from the streams with no issues but you have to decide for yourself if you trust the water. It's cold and fresh and tastes so good on a hot day!]


[Re-crossing the stream at the outflow of the 4th lake. See how the terrain is opening up as you approach treeline? Mount Fryatt looms in the distance - over 11,000 feet high!]

 

When you finally get to the 4th lake you have arrived at a paradise on earth. Wildflowers start showing up in earnest and towering peaks, including Mount Fryatt and Geraldine are reflected in it's blue waters. Since you've come this far you might as well check out the final and most impressive gem - the 5th lake.

 


[The fourth lake is simply awesome. Click for full size.]


[Panorama from the end of the fourth lake (looking back). Click for view full size.]

 

Follow the trail around the 4th lake and eventually work your way up to the 5th and 2nd largest of the Geraldine Lakes. Greenish blue waters shimmering in the sun along with carpets and acres of wildflowers will take your breath away. The reflections of surrounding snow-covered peaks and towering rocky cliffs adds to the scene. To experience the best part of this valley you must continue around the 5th lake and work your way up the end valley until you spot a small waterfall as you walk through a paradise of flowers along a small stream (some hints of a trail but not always obvious).

 


[Arriving at the fifth and final of the Geraldine Lakes.]


[THIS is what you came for! In July the flowers would be even more stunning. Mount Fryatt in the background.]


[Pano of the 5th lake. Click for full size.]

 

If you have the energy you should continue up open slopes above the small waterfall (trail on climber's right) - don't bother following trails above the waterfall, simply work your way above treeline through meadows of the most concentrated expanse of wildflowers that I have ever seen - truly remarkable! Once up these slopes you will have views of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Geraldine Lakes and epic panoramas of the alpine areas all around you. The major downside of the alpine will be BUGS. Unless it's September and you've had a hard freeze they will likely be absolutely relentless above treeline.

 


[The meadows upstream of the 5th lake are remarkable and unique. Treat them with respect - not a lot of folks make it back here and it's a wild and beautiful place with hardly any signs of humans - let's keep it that way.]


[The waterfall at the end of a small draw is the icing on the cake.]


[Looking back down on the 5th lake. Geraldine Peak on the left.]


[Once again - the alpine meadows above the 5th lake are an amazing place. I have to come back in July for the flowers (this is taken in late August...) Mount Fryatt in the background.]


[Looking back at the 3rd, 4th and 5th lakes from the alpine meadows.]


[The alpine meadows are a lovely spot to have lunch - just beware the bugs!]

 

After enjoying all this goodness you are a LONG way from you car (10+km) and have an epic hike back - but also a camera and mind full of great memories and views. I've done a lot of hikes around the Rockies and for hard-core hikers this one's a winner for sure.

Elevation Gain (m): 
900
Round Trip Time: 
8.00
Total Distance (km): 
20.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your wrist
Difficulty Notes: 

Wet trail to the first lake, boulder hopping around the third and potential deadfall / avalanche debris to the fourth. Not an easy hike!

Hawk Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Morrison P. Bridgeland in 1916. A hawk was flying around the summit when this mountain was named. Official name. First ascended by Joe Weiss. (info from peakfinder.com

YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,544

After bagging Roche a Perdrix and Morro Peak the day before, we were ready for an easy day out. So, naturally we chose the 5.5 hour trip up Hawk Mountain. Of course we knew that the 5.5 hour time is actually only ONE WAY but still, it sounded short. :-)

 


[A friendly neighbor likes my morning cup of mocha.]


[Mount goats on the road to the trail head.]

 

After negotiating our way through the usual hordes of sheep (!!) at the Overlander's Trail head we were on our own. I was feeling very tired. Our friendly teenage neighbors from the Whistler's Campground had done their best to thwart our sleep and in my case it worked wonderfully. I had maybe 4 hours of restless sleep. Good thing Hawk is a long and difficult outing.

 

Kane mentions a creek that you cross about 40 minutes in from the trail head. Then there is a trail on the right side of the creek heading up towards Hawk. At about 35 minutes you will cross a trail that comes down from the left side of the creek. There is a ribbon on a tree about 10 meters up the hill. I suggest you take this trail. This trail is much more traveled than the one Kane references and should take you across the stream near a waterfall and back up the other bank to the right side. Follow this trail to the crux - you may get slightly confused by all the sheep trails on the lower mountain but this main trail is pretty obvious. A pleasant diversion exists for anyone who wishes to look down at the canyon separating Hawk and Morro Peak. Good thing we didn't traverse into it the day before!

 


[Looking back at Wietse on the very well traveled Overlander Trail with the Athabasca River at left.]


[Looking up the SW face of Hawk - our route is somewhere up there.]


[Neat canyon terrain between Morrow and Hawk.]


[Wietse follows me up to the crux with the long Palisade Ridge in the bg.]

 

I'm not sure what I think about the crux on Hawk Mountain. On the one hand it's pretty tough but on the other the real 'Kane' crux is by-passed quite obviously on climber's right. Most people mention that the by-pass is 'easy'. This is a bit misleading IMHO. The by-pass is easier to get up than the crux, but it's much more exposed. A slip on the crux would hurt. A slip on the by-pass would probably kill you or hurt even worse! I'm calling it "class 3" but there are more than one no-slip zone on and around this crux.

 


[Looking down at Wietse coming up the crux bypass - note the sling that assists greatly with one move.]

 

The other thing that I don't think is clear from other trip reports that I've read is how nasty the terrain above the crux is. I actually think that this terrain is getting worse, the more people that use it. Instead of just loose dirt and rocks (like the guidebook says), you now have hard-pan dirt, basically dried clay with sand on it, and very loose scree and larger rocks. I knew already on the way up that this was going to be a much harder section to come down than the crux, simply because one tiny misstep and you would plunge down the SW face of Hawk - there is no room for error on this section, which makes it 'difficult' in my books! It's also quite sustained. There are trees to hold on to for some of the moves, but even they are showing signs of stress with all the traffic. We sent some pretty big rocks down this section on the way back so I would not ascend this part of the route without a helmet, or if anyone else is coming down it. I prefer crux's that are steep, exposed rock to ones that are loose and sandy slabs!

 


[Bearberries on route.]


[Loose, no-slip zone above the classic crux section.]

 

Once above the crux section, you can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the rest of the trip up the spine of the mountain. We knew that Morro Peak was around 700 meters so we weren't surprised when we realized we still had a long ways to go once on the ridge. It was good to look back at Morro getting smaller and smaller and we continue on. There are lots of flags and cairns the rest of the route - no worries about getting lost! Where the first ridge ran out we spotted two mountain goats on the west face, scampering around. It was pretty cool the way they handled the exposure.

 


[Done the tough stuff - for now - pleasant hiking from the top of the first ridge to the second one.]


[Wietse on the surprisingly treed SW ridge.]


[Looking back down the second ridge at the first one with views opening up to the west.]


[Finally getting above tree line but a long way to go yet!]


The upper mountain still had a fair amount of snow. I was quite nervous about our chances of making it and I knew that Wietse wasn't so sure either. Thankfully, the closer we got the more confident we became and as we gazed up at the final 300 meters we knew we would most likely make it. (Yes - the top is almost 300 meters vertical, even though it looks like nothing from the road!) The steep snow-filled gully was bypassed on climber's left. The terrain here is loose and steep but we made it through no problem. If you need them, there are cairns guiding your way up this section too. The final section was knee deep snow, but didn't pose any significant problems for us.

 


[Looking back over our ascent route and Wietse coming up to the summit ridge. The Snaring River is at far left and mountains visible include Esplanade, Cliff, Whitecap and Gargoyle.]


[There is still over 300 meters of elevation to go at this point. The snow was starting to concern me here.]


[Looking down steep terrain near the summit ridge.]


[The snow wasn't an issue up close - note the old tracks.]

 
[Looking down the summit ridge - note Wietse below me here - the Snaring River at center joining the mighty Athabasca River. The Victoria Cross Range at left and towards center. ++]

 

The summit view was awesome! We spent almost an hour enjoying our success.

 

 
[Summit view looking south and west includes, Colin, peaks of the Maligne Range including Center, Excelsior and Tekarra (L to R). On the right is Mount Edith Cavell in the far distance with the Trident Range to its right. ++]

 
[Looking further west than the last panorama (Edith Cavell now on the far left) over the Athabasca River towards Marmot, Indian Ridge, Pyramid, Zengel, Buttress and many others including the large peaks of the Tonquin Valley - Geike and others. ++]


[Wietse enjoys the views on the way up to the summit.]

 
[Looking up the Snaring River towards the Victoria Cross Range and peaks such as Pyramid, Zengel, Buttress, Oliver, Snaring and Chetamon along with many others. ++]

 
[Vern on the summit of Hawk with Colin in the bg. ++]


[The always impressive and somewhat terrifying view of the Ramparts.


[More impressive summits up the Snaring River - rarely climbed almost certainly.]


[Mount Colin is a striking peak next to Hawk.]


[Edith Cavell looms over the Jasper area and even Mount Fryatt shows up at far right.]


[Incredible colors of the Palisade Tarns across the Athabasca River.]


[Another shot of Fryatt (R) and surrounding peaks. The peak that sticks out like a sore thumb is Brussels Peak with Mount Christie to the right of it.]

 
[Massive panorama of the surround area from south to west to north and even east to the front ranges. ++]

 

The trip down was largely uneventful. The crux section was steep and nasty but we made it through. We took the alternate trail through the creek on the way back and I put my head under the small falls in the creek - boy did that feel good! I highly recommend this trip if you're comfortable with difficult terrain. The ridge section is long, but fun.

 


[Looking back on descent.]


[Back in the trees, traversing ridge lines.]


[Flowers and limestone.]


[A cairn marks the way back across to the western ridge.]


[Typical terrain down the SW face of the ridge to the top of the crux.]


[Wietse descends the crux - don't slip!]


[Another shot of the crux.]


[Back on easy terrain and a large trail.]


[Descending to the creek.]

Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,348
Elevation Gain (m): 
1550
Total Distance (km): 
17.00
Difficulty Notes: 

The crux can be bypassed which makes this more of a 'moderate' scramble but the terrain above the crux involves a lot of 'no slip' zones.

Henry MacLeod, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Arthur P. Coleman in 1902. MacLeod, Henry A.F. (Henry MacLeod was a surveyor under the direction of Sandford Fleming of the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1875 he was the first non-native to travel up what is now the Maligne River from the Athabasca and see Maligne Lake. Official name. 

First ascended in 1923 by A. Carpe, W.D. Harris, Howard PalmerJournal reference AJ 36-103.

 

(from peakfinder.com)

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
6
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Grade: 
I
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Thursday, July 30, 2015 to Sunday, August 2, 2015

I don't think either Ben or I really cared if we summited another peak on the Brazeau Icefield or not, after two grueling days spent ascending Brazeau and Warren in marginal conditions. We already had the two 11,000ers and obviously the best views, but did we have ALL the best views? We suspected that there were still a few more good views we didn't have yet. Most people traverse from Brazeau to Valad and Henry MacLeod on their way back to the high bivy. We had already noticed that there were a number of crevasses on Valad and we didn't feel like traversing back over them, but Henry MacLeod looked dead easy from our camp. Since we were already at 3,000 meters, MacLeod should only be around a 300 meter height gain and my GPS put it at only around 2km distance. After a leisure breakfast (still in that infernal cold west wind), we set off for one last peak before getting off this melting icefield for good.

 


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Summit Elevation (m): 
3,288
Summit Elevation (ft): 
10,788
Elevation Gain (m): 
230
Round Trip Time: 
2.50
Total Distance (km): 
3.50
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your wrist
Difficulty Notes: 

Travel on a very crevassed glacier - much easier with a good snow base.

Indian Ridge

Interesting Facts: 

Named by E. Deville (Director of the Geological Survey of Canada) in 1916. The mountain is named after the hoary marmot, also known as the whistling marmot. Official name. (info from peakfinder.com

YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Monday, June 30, 2008
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,752

I decided early on in 2008 that it was time I bagged a few of the Kane peaks in Jasper National Park. In the span of two weeks I've now completed over half of them! Indian Ridge and The Whistlers were my latest Jasper peaks. I shared the pleasure with two nephews and two brother-in-laws on June 30 2008.

 

Part of me hesitates to claim The Whistlers as a summit on my summit log, but since I down-climbed the whole trail and ran into an aggressive bear for all my efforts, I'm claiming it. I've done a lot less work for a summit in Jasper before! (Amber Mountain is a simple hike up about 20 meters and off to the side of the main trail when you're already on the Skyline trail. Signal Mountain isn't much more of an effort than Amber.)

 

We were the first ones at the tram and soon were rocketing up the first part of The Whistlers. I hate trams. It didn't help that there were only teenage summer students running the thing and they seemed very fresh at it. I also happened to know that the week before, the tram was shut down for maintenance so I wasn't in the best of spirits as we rode the 1" cable up the mountain!

 

We stepped off the tram station at around 9:30 AM and began the trudge up The Whistlers (about 200 meters height gain). The weather was beautiful with mostly clear skies and only a bit of haze off to the south. My two brothers-in-law were doing pretty good and my two nephews didn't seem to have any issues with the first part of the ascent either. We were all huffing pretty good by the top of Whistlers but we made good time (25 minutes) and the views were great in all directions - especially Mount Robson off to the Northwest. It wasn't that strange to think that there were some people just stranded for 18 days on that mountain - it looks pretty intimidating from 80km away!

 

After some drinks and photos on The Whistlers (named after the numerous Marmots up there), we descended into the tranquil valley between The Whistlers and Indian Ridge. This height loss is important to note, as you have to regain it on the way back! It's about 180 meters and it feels like it. I was looking at the snow on Indian Ridge, just before the summit, and thinking that we were going to have to be lucky to summit in those conditions, but I kept silent about it. Sometimes things look a lot easier when you're a bit closer, especially mountains. As we went higher the route became a bit more exposed to climber's right. One of the boys began to get a wee bit nervous and even my brothers-in-law were getting a bit overcome with the views and the airy feeling that comes with ridge walking. I love scrambling with people who have never done it because it helps me remember why I do it!

 


[Harold hikes up from the tram station to The Whistlers.]


[Indian Ridge looks fantastic in the clear morning light. The peak is on the upper left of the photo. The entire traverse is visible here.]


[Looking back at The Whistlers summit. We lost about 180 vertical meters before going back up Indian Ridge.]


[Calvin coming up Indian Ridge. Pyramid Mountain in the background just left of The Whistlers.]

 

Eventually we came up to the snow. It was actually a cornice that hung out over the north face of the ridge - not a good place to fall down. I thought the snow was pretty bomber and would most likely hold but there was no way I was letting my two nephews take that kind of risk! My sister would kill me if anything happened to them. They were done anyway as the route steepened considerably above this point. We agreed that I would tag the summit and come back to the group before heading back down. I quickly went over the ridge, trying not to stray onto the cornice. The last part was the best in terms of scrambling with good holds and pretty solid rock. I still think this is more 'low-moderate' than 'easy', especially when compared to other easy scrambles I've done. At the summit there were great views in every direction. The mountains to the west were especially colorful and Edith Cavell and Robson tried to steal the show in opposite directions. When I peered down at the group waiting below, my one brother-in-law yelled that he was coming up. I went down a bit and helped him up some of the steep stuff which made him a bit nervous but also exhilarated. Now my sister's really going to hate me - when her husband decides to bag peaks! :-) He was really blown away by the views and the feeling of a summit - his first real Rockies summit ever! (He's done Tunnel Mountain but that hardly counts...)

 

 


[Summit view from Indian Ridge looking North. Robson is tiny dot in middle...]


[Mount Robson.]


[Mount Edith Cavell.]


[The Ramparts.]


[Beautiful valley behind Indian Ridge, looking west.]


[Harold and Vern on the summit of Indian Ridge.]


[Another look at the beautiful valley.]


[Summit panorama. ++]

 

The way back was without incident. When we got to the tram there was a huge backup of people. Apparently something wasn't quite working with one of the cars. This made me VERY anxious since I hate those things at the best of times. When we were told it would be "at least an hour", I mentioned that I was hiking down the Whistlers hiking trail and they could meet me at the bottom.

 

 


[Descending the ridge. Not that easy...]


[There is some risk here - that's why I went first! :-)]


[Coming back down the ridge.]


[Typical terrain on the ridge.]


[Clouds add drama to the Indian Ridge valley.]


[Looking over the north end of Indian Ridge.]


[Another shot of Robson as we descend.]


[The colors are amazing as is the terrain!]


[Awesome lighting created by moving clouds. |]


[More drama.]

 


[The namesake of The Whistlers.]


[The tram station with the descent trail clearly visible.]

 

Of course, my nephews didn't want to sit around for 1.5 hours either so they right away volunteered to come with me. Now my two brothers-in-law weren't going to be out-hiked by a couple of youngsters so they also decided (reluctantly) to follow me down! Ooops. The Whistlers trail is not a great one. Don't say I didn't warn you. The views are very limited. There are mosquitoes and water on the trail and after descending quite quickly the trail drags on and ofor way too long. It got very annoying the more east (away from the parking lot) we got. I knew that the trail head was different than the tram parking lot but didn't think it was that far away.

 

Right before getting to the trail head (we could see the vehicles in the parking lot) I brought up my nephews with a shout. Just below us, on the trail was a rather large black bear! We had been yelling for bears the whole way down, and even ran into some people going up, so I was surprised when the bear just looked at us and started coming up the trail - straight for us!! This wasn't cool. I expected the bear to run into the bush - I knew that an aggressive bear isn't to be trifled with so I coaxed my (nervous at this point) nephews back up the trail towards my two brothers-in-law who were a bit behind us. I knew that it would take an insane bear to challenge 5 people. Once the brothers-in-law caught up to us we all slowly went down the trail to the parking lot with no more signs of the bear. We did hear an air horn and someone yelling though. As we trekked the trail from the hiking parking lot to the tram parking lot I conjectured that the yelling and the air horn was some idiot trying to scare the bear away from the road. I wondered why they didn't just shut up and leave the bear alone.

 

 


[Descending the trail that never ends!]


[Some sections were easier than others.]

 

As we got closer to the hostel (it sits between the two parking lots) the air horn and yelling got louder and louder. We were all yelling because we knew the bear was close by and soon the yelling started over-lapping. "Get out of that bush", someone yelled at us. "What the heck do you think we're doing?", we yelled back. The most bizarre sight greeted us in the hostel's back yard. Some dude with no shirt was standing on a pile of logs with an air horn in his right hand and both hands raised above his head! When I asked him what the heck he was doing he replied that we had scared no less than 4 bears into the hostel area on our way down The Whistlers and he was busy scaring them right back up the trail!! I told him that he was not doing the single girl or the two Japanese tourists (with a yippy little dog) any favors but he didn't seem to care that he was disturbing 4 bears back up a popular hiking trail towards unsuspecting hikers. What an idiot. I really do hope that no-one else ran into those bears because that's why they were so aggressive. It was either some hikers or a dude with an air horn - most smart bears would take their chances with the hikers. That is why the bear we saw wasn't scared of us like he should have been. The good news is that yelling while hiking definitely works, the bad news is that sometimes you end up chasing the bears right down to the parking lot where they have little choice but to come straight back up at you!

 

The short hike up the highway in 32 degree heat almost killed us but we made it. A highly recommended scramble but I would suggest waiting till the snow clears and doing the whole traverse of Indian Ridge on a clear day. That would be a much better use of your energy then hiking down the Whistlers trail!

 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,059
Elevation Gain (m): 
460
Total Distance (km): 
20.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Moderate scrambling on the Kane route.

King Edward, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Mary Schaffer in 1906. King Edward (King Edward became the King of England in 1901.) Official name. Other names Manitoba. First ascended in 1924 by J.W.A. Hickson, Howard Palmer, guided by Conrad Kain. Journal reference AJ 37-306. (from peakfinder.com

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
9
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Class: 
5.0-5.2
YDS Grade: 
II

Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Sunday, August 27, 2017 to Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Despite the odds that seemed to be stacked against us, and lingering doubts, Ben and I finally completed our Sisyphean Odyssey to the summit of Mount King Edward on a beautifully clear and pleasant summer day on August 28, 2017. After three attempts, driving a total of approximately 36 hours, hiking 105km and climbing over 6,500m of elevation in pursuit of this peak, it was supremely rewarding to finally stand on the top. Ferenc Jasco joined us in our quest and was a valuable contributor to our eventual success. As any follower of this blog will know by now, Mount King Edward has been a thorn in my side for a few years now. 
 

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Summit Elevation (m): 
3,453
Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,329
Elevation Gain (m): 
2500
Round Trip Time: 
21.00
Total Distance (km): 
30.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 5 : you fall, you are dead
Difficulty Notes: 

Not particularly difficult climbing but a mix of everything alpine. Wild stream crossings, routefinding, glacier travel, snow / ice gullies and low 5th class climbing on loose terrain.

Kitchener, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Named in 1916. Kitchener, Horatio Herbert (Viscount Kitchener was a British Field Marshall who organized the British armies at the beginning of WW I. He was lost when HMS Hampshire struck a mine in 1916.) Official name. Other names Douglas, Mount (see summary) First ascended in 1927 by Alfred J. Ostheimer, guided by Hans Fuhrer. Journal reference CAJ 16-21. (from peakfinder.com

YDS Grade: 
I
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,505

The day after our exciting ascent of West Twin and attempt at South Twin (including a crevasse incident) we were in the mood for a slightly easier approach and summit.

 


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Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,500
Elevation Gain (m): 
1900
Total Distance (km): 
40.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Columbia ice fields route includes severe crevasse issues and snow slopes. Don't minimize these risks and learn how to manage them before attempting this trip.

Little Alberta

Trip Category: 
SC - Scrambling
Interesting Facts: 

Named in 1984. The mountain was named for its proximity to Mount Alberta. Official name. First ascended in 1924 by , guided by Conrad Kain. (from peakfinder.com

Technical Difficulty Level: 
6
Endurance Level: 
Extreme
YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, September 5, 2014
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,956

For my last weekend off at the end of the summer holidays, I was joined by Ben and Steven for a shot at some peaks in the Woolley / Diadem area just north of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. Obviously Woolley and Diadem were the main objectives for us, but we also had some other summits in mind - naturally!! :)

 


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Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,700
Elevation Gain (m): 
2000
Round Trip Time: 
9.50
Total Distance (km): 
18.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

This is a long bloody slog from the Woolley bivy site, over 2500 meters total vertical from highway #93. Isn't that difficulty enough?!

Morro Peak

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Morrison P. Bridgland in 1916. Morro is Spanish for "round hill." The name probably is derived from the feature's castellated appearance and is related to a structure in Puerto Rico. Official name. (info from peakfinder.com

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, June 20, 2008
Summit Elevation (m): 
1,678

After scrambling up Roche a Perdrix it was time to try Indian Ridge. We drove all the way back to Jasper and to the Tramway station only to find that it was closed for maintenance! That was a bugger. Time for a new plan. Since we were all psyched up for another peak we thought we'd give Morro a try. Wietse had come across it while perusing onBivouac.com. I remember seeing it on there a while back and wondering if it was worth a shot.

 

Morro looks tiny compared to it's big brother, Hawk Mountain. I thought it only looked about 400 meters high. We set off with the route description in hand, but quickly decided to do a 'variation'. As you probably know, variations are not always a good thing when you're on a mountain that you've never been up before...

 

I decided that the Northwest ridge looked like more fun than the west ridge so we headed up on sheep trails. (There are way too many sheep and goats in Jasper - the tourists like them but I think they're not the brightest animals around which is a nice way of saying that I think they're dumb!) Eventually we hauled ourselves up the final bit of ridge before traversing west to the summit block. We had already gained over 500 meters at this point, much to my surprise!

 


[As you can clearly see, there are a lot of options here! We already well off route at this point, not 10 minutes from the car! We kind of knew that but decided we wanted to explore. Morro Peak on the upper right of photo.]


[Not sure what these are. Not in my flower book... ;-)]


[Shrubby Cinquefoil. (Belongs to the rose family.)]


[The ridge was easy to ascend.]


[Looking back down our route, towards the northwest.]

 

We weren't done with the surprises just yet. We continued around the southeast side of the summit block, looking for an easy line up. The problem was that the line never looked easy! It was comprised of steep slabs with small, ball-bearing scree, the worst kind of scrambling terrain. Eventually we had a choice. Turn around, drop way down on the south side of the mountain or go up.

 

We choose the latter option. Half way up the slabs it was obvious that we'd better keep moving or risk sliding right off the backside of Morro! The terrain was steep and unrelenting - the toughest terrain of the entire weekend and it's on a minor Rockies bump! That figures though. The small peaks are the ones that get you because you underestimate them. Or anyway, I do. We hauled ourselves up to the trees on the southeast side of Morro but the battle wasn't over yet. We could see very steep terrain immediately above us and it wasn't trivial to work our way up and to the south side of the peak before finally overcoming the last cliff band and breathing a huge sigh of relief at being done that 'route'!

 

 


[From here it still looks possible to ascend the northeast ridge of Morro. It's not as easy as it looks!]


[Hawk Mountain in upper left, goat trail straight ahead, Morro Peak out of sight on the upper right.]


[Steep, slabby terrain. A slip would really hurt here - it was steep enough that you'd slide a ways.]


[We ascended steep cliffs through the trees on the southeast slopes of Morro Peak to reach the summit.]

 

The views at the top were actually quite good, and the way down (the right way) was pretty straightforward. We figured we'd claim an "FT" of Morro Peak - First Traverse! (There was no sign of human activity on the last part of our ascent...) As long as you take the Overlander's trail to the "Don't Turn Left" sign you should have no trouble on Morro. Just make sure you DO turn left here and follow an obvious trail up and around the west and then southwest side of the mountain. I would rate this scramble as easy/moderate if you don't do our 'variation'.

 


[A dramatic summit view. Pyramid Mountain is the white one just to the right of the cross.]


[Summit in B&W.]


[Hawk Mountain to the left.]


[Summit panorama. ++]


[Vern on the summit of Morro Peak.]


[Gorgeous colors in the Jasper valley. Highway #1 snaking through the picture along with the Athabasca River. Jasper town site in far right distance. Pyramid Mountain just out of sight to the left, Hawk Mountain just out of sight to the right. Edith Cavell in far distance, center.]


[View to the northwest from the summit of Morro Peak.]


[The climbing cliffs on the way (proper) down.]


[Wietse coming down the trail on the southwest side of Morro Peak.]


[The trail is easy to follow through open forest lower down.]


[A last view of Morro Peak as the skies begin to clear. Scrambling route goes up the climber's right and around to the back of the summit before completing at the top. You can see the climbing cliffs (lighter grey) on the right side of the mountain.]

Summit Elevation (ft): 
5,506
Elevation Gain (m): 
500
Total Distance (km): 
4.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Easy hiking and light scrambling - this trail is very well travelled and should be obvious from the parking area.

Mushroom Peak

Interesting Facts: 

Named in 1947. When N.E. Odell completed the solo first ascent he found that the summit rocks, "...were carved out of dark limestone into fantastic, mushroom-like forms." Official name. First ascended in 1947 by N.E. Odell. (from peakfinder.com)

Trip Category: 
SC - Scrambling
Technical Difficulty Level: 
7
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Class: 
4th Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, September 6, 2014

I have to admit that I was not feeling 'it' on Mushroom Peak. I was ready for some warm soup and a few hours lounging around our excellent bivy site, maybe even reading my e-book for a bit. But there were a few factors that made it sensible to attempt Mushroom while we were half way up it already;

 


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Summit Elevation (m): 
3,210
Summit Elevation (ft): 
10,532
Elevation Gain (m): 
1000
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 4 : you fall, you are almost dead
Difficulty Notes: 

Our route involved crossing the Diadem Glacier but this can be avoided if ascending from the bivy site on climber's right. Steep, loose rock through the lower cliffs to access easy slopes to summit.

North Twin Peak

Trip Category: 
MN - Ski Mountaineering
Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Norman Collie and Hugh M. Stutfield in 1898. "The Twins" is a double headed mountain, the northern one known as North Twin Peak and southern as "South Twin Peak." Official name.  First ascended in 1923 by W.S. Ladd, J. Monroe Thorington, guided by Conrad Kain. Journal reference CAJ 14-40. (from peakfinder.com)

Technical Difficulty Level: 
7
Endurance Level: 
Extreme

YDS Grade: 
I
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,730

After 2 full days of constant wind in the 50-80km/h range we were ready for a calmer day on Saturday, May 12th. Luckily when we woke up around 0600 the wind had indeed calmed down somewhat, probably in the 30km/h range.

 

Due to the constant wind threatening to tear apart our tent all night and my cramped sleeping bag I was more than ready to get out and stretch my legs when the sun started peeking into our front door on Saturday morning. I resolved to try not sleeping with so much gear the next night. Sleeping with wet gear works wonderfully to dry it out but I'm 6 feet tall in a 6 foot mummy (not barrel) bag so there's not a lot of extra room in there. I ended up having one boot liner near my feet, one liner tucked in my stomach (yes, I'm spooning with my boot liners now! :)), one heavy winter mitt behind me and one in front of my chest. Add a few finger mitts and my down booties along with the fact that I'm sleeping in most of my clothing (i.e. 2-3 layers) with my avy beacon and camera battery in my chest pockets to keep the batteries warm and some granola bars (so that they're thawed enough in the morning for breakfast) and you may understand why I was getting restless sleep and slightly claustrophobic at night...

 

Another trick I have yet to master is the "pee bottle". The pee bottle is a technique whereby you don't have to get up (or even out of your sleeping bag if you're any good at it) to pee at night. Because high altitude is a diuretic, pretty much no matter what you do, you're going to have to pee several times at night. This gives you the wonderful opportunity to get out of your warm sleeping bag in the middle of the night in a raging wind storm, trying not to lose any of that c_ap you're sleeping with, put on the down jacket, stumble to the biffy and do your business. Then you have to re-assemble your sleeping bag with all the afore-mentioned stuff in it and try to fall asleep. Hopefully your partner has ear plugs or is a good sleeper or you just woke them up too. So the pee bottle is a nice technique to master. JW was ticked off because he took a Gatorade bottle of fuel for his pee bottle, hoping that we'd empty it the first day and he'd get to use it after that. Instead, we were consuming so little fuel that he had to wait until the 3rd night to get his precious pee bottle! :-)

 


[Nice and warm in my sleeping bag! TJ Nault photograph.]

 

Ferenc didn't seem to be doing well at all on Saturday morning. As we skied out of camp Ferenc prompted a hilarious moment (that I'm sure he didn't think was very funny at the time) when he insisted that we "go around the 50 meter high bump" in front of us rather than over it. The funny part was that we could easily see over that "50 meter bump" - meaning it was around 6 feet high at most! Obviously we were in for a rather long day...

 

Raf's team was just ahead of us on the slope. TJ insisted, to my slight dismay, on breaking his own trail up the south ridge. I do have to admit that TJ's track certainly switch backed far less than Raf's and was probably less work as a consequence. (Sorry Raf!) TJ set a very slow pace up the south ridge which made for a nice easy ascent in the thin, cold air.

 


[Raf's team skis beside us in the early morning light. Mount Columbia is unreachable across the Trench]


[TJ breaks a nice gentle trail up North Twin.]


[TJ points out his next objectives as we take a break on the way up the south ridge.]


[Panorama from the ascent of North Twin showing the long approach to Mount Columbia from the trench (around 6km) and the summit of South Twin on the upper right. ++]


[Getting higher on the south ridge. You can just make out the other ascent party near the summit ridge.]

 

Ferenc simply couldn't maintain any sort of pace and by the time we reached the summit shoulder he was hyperventilating while trying to catch his breath. Not cool.

 

TJ emphatically stated that Ferenc was too spent to continue to Twins Tower and almost too spent to even make the summit of North Twin. Ferenc must have been a little bit delirious at this point. He began unclipping from the rope to "walk the rest of the way", but we were only 100 meters (horizontal) from the natural ski drop point and definitely standing on more than one crevasse. Finally he seemed to grasp that he could ski 20 seconds more to the ski drop and walk from there. As TJ, JW and I prepared for the final 150 meters along the summit ridge and an ascent of Twins Tower, Ferenc lay over his skis, completely blown out.

 


[Raf, Adam and Jay make their way, on foot, to the summit of North Twin]


[At the ski drop just under the main summit.]

 

As we began to the summit I noticed that Ferenc didn't have crampons on. I asked him about it and he said we could take a break after the summit to put them on. I responded that he wasn't going on (to Twins Tower) after the summit and that his day was over. He seemed a bit surprised by this. "All I need is 10 or 15 minutes to breathe through it and then I can continue", he insisted. We looked at each other and TJ once again asserted in very clear language that this wasn't happening. 

 

"This always happens at high altitude to me", was Ferenc's response. Say wha' now?!?!

 

"When I climbed the (Colorado) 14ers I would lay there gasping for air and then continue on. Climbing high mountains was always quite the tough experience for me because of this", he continued.

 

This was surprising news and I thought that maybe Ferenc should have shared this affliction with us before the trip, or at the very least before leaving camp that morning when he was obviously not feeling 100%. Three full days above 11,000 feet including the exertions of our approach day, now climbing a 12,000+ foot peak and two 11,000+ foot peaks the day before was obviously having a very negative effect on Ferenc.

 

Ferenc mumbled something about "going home tomorrow" to me. Notwithstanding a bit of gloom, the views from the highest peak completely in Alberta (Columbia is on the border with British Columbia) were simply outstanding!! We had clear conditions, not too much wind and an endless sea of snow clad summits in every direction, the vast majority of them underneath us. One of the most amazing summit views I've ever had.

 


[TJ on the final summit ridge of North Twin - note the nice drop to our right and Twins Tower visible at the center. About 20 seconds after this photo TJ stepped into a crevasse right under the summit bump. We were ready for it so it wasn't a huge deal - but be warned that there are a lot of holes in this area of the ice fields.]


[TJ on the summit ridge of North Twin, looking down at Twins Tower - our next objective! Notice how every visible peak is lower than us?]


[Ferenc on the summit of North Twin with Columbia, South Twin, West Twin and King Edward visible. ++]


[Summit panorama from North Twin showing a myriad of peaks including Columbia, South Twin, West Twin (tiny bump!), King Edward and many, many others. ++]


[Summit panorama looking off the east side of the summit ridge on North Twin includes from left to right, Twins Tower, Alberta, Little Alberta, Woolley, Diadem, Thorington Tower, Stutfields, Cromwell and Kitchener - and of course hundreds more in the far distance. We're higher than all of them! ++]


[Looking over South Twin at Mount Columbia - one of only a very few Rockies summits higher than North Twin.]


[West Twin looks tiny from North Twin's summit ridge and even King Edward looks small.]


[The Adamant Group on the left with Clemenceau on the right (fourth highest in the Rockies).]


[Mount Alberta is almost as high as North Twin.]


[Mounts Warren and Brazeau in the far distance with Little Alberta in the lower left foreground and Woolley and Diadem at center. Mushroom Peak right of center.]


[Looking south towards Castleguard (tiny!!), Forbes, Lyells, Farbus and Alexandra]

 
[Great shot looking down 2 vertical kilometers into the Athabasca River Valley. ++]

 

Ferenc untied from the rope at the summit and turned back to wait for us at the ski drop while the rest of us started down the very steep north east slope of North Twin to the Twins Tower col.

Summit Elevation (ft): 
12,238
Total Distance (km): 
42.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

Columbia ice fields route includes severe crevasse issues and extremely steep snow slopes. Don't minimize these risks and learn how to manage them before attempting this trip.

Panther Falls

Interesting Facts: 

Panther Falls are a series of waterfalls in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. It is developed on Nigel Creek and its waters originate in Nigel Pass, between the slopes of Cirrus Mountain and Nigel Peak in the Parker Ridge of the Canadian Rockies. (from Wikipedia.org)

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
No
Trip Date: 
Saturday, August 20, 2011

After scrambling the gorgeous Boundary Peak near the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park, the kids and I stopped at the Bridal Veil lookout on highway #93 on our way back to Yoho, where we were camped for the weekend. I wanted to show them the impressive Panther Falls, which is easily reached via a somewhat exposed, but very short hike starting at the lookout.

 

Follow an obvious, wide trail down from the parking lot straight to the east and then follow another trail to the north (left). This trail goes up and through a narrow rock gap before traversing a very exposed ledge to a massive cave behind Panther Falls!

 


[The kids on the trail to Panther Falls.]


[This interesting rock flake is a landmark to watch out for.]


[Looking back at our approach - note the ledge behind Kaycie that squeezes around a rock outcrop - this is very exposed and you should use caution here!]


[Behind Panther Falls!]


[Looking out of the cave behind the falls towards Bridal Veil Falls and outliers of Cirrus Mountain.]


[Kaycie with Cirrus Mountain in the distance.]

Total Distance (km): 
1.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Some exposure around the waterfall - make sure it's dry and hang onto little kids tightly!

Poboktan Mountain

Trip Category: 
SC - Scrambling
Interesting Facts: 

Named by Arthur P. Coleman in 1892. Poboktan is the Stoney Indian word for owl and Arthur Coleman saw some in the area. Official name. First ascended in 1928 by Topographical Survey. (from peakfinder.com)

Technical Difficulty Level: 
5
Endurance Level: 
Extreme
YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,335

The weather in mid October 2015 was sublime. So sublime, in fact, that with the weekend fast approaching, I found myself invited on a number of trips that would normally be done in the summer - certainly not in the last half of October! Phil and I have been on a bit of a roll the past month, so it seemed appropriate to continue on it that vibe. Poboktan Mountain first came onto my radar while climbing Mount Brazeau with Ben this past August. As the sun was setting on us near the summit of the 11,000er, we got a great glimpse of Poboktan's twin summits and they looked wonderful. I wondered aloud if Poboktan was a scramble or a climb, but neither Ben nor I knew anything about it at the time. Since then, I've also had a great view of the other side of Poboktan from Mount Stewart and Mount Willis.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2015/10/17/poboktan-mountain/​ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
10,942
Elevation Gain (m): 
2100
Round Trip Time: 
15.00
Total Distance (km): 
41.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your wrist
Difficulty Notes: 

No difficulties with good route finding. LONG day trip though!

Pyramid Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named by James Hector in 1859. The angle of mountain''s smooth, even slopes reminded Hector of a pyramid when he first saw it from the Athabasca River Valley to the east of the mountain. Official name. Other names Priest''s Rock. First ascended by George Kinney, guided by Conrad Kain. (from peakfinder.com)

Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, June 26, 2010

On the weekend of June 26, 27 I was joined by So Nakagawa on a quest to finish up my remaining "Kane" scrambles in Jasper National Park. The plan was to scramble both Pyramid and Cinquefoil on Saturday and finish up with Utopia on Sunday. Secretly I was thinking that this was a slightly aggressive plan and it would take a small miracle to pull it off but what's life without a few aggressive, unrealistic goals? :-)

 

We camped in the Pocahontas campground, which worked nicely for Cinquefoil and Utopia but was a bit of a drive for Pyramid. The fastest I'd heard of anyone doing Pyramid was around 8-9 hours and Kane calls it an "all day" affair so we decided that if we were going to scramble 2 peaks we'd better get up nice and early! Cinquefoil is rated as "easy" according to Kane, with a minimum time of 4 hours but we were a little wary of those statistics after reading some reports that this trip is longer than most expect.

 

My alarm didn't go off for some reason but the lightening skies still woke me after only getting around 5 hours of sleep at 04:30. After a quick bite to eat we were on our way to the Pyramid Mountain fire road.

 

 
[Pyramid Mountain and Patricia Lake from the ride up in the morning. ++]

 

We had no trouble finding the fire road and soon were grunting up steep hills. I do a lot of running and walking to stay in shape when I'm not going up mountains, but biking is something I haven't been doing a lot of recently. I could tell. :-) We managed to grunt up a few long hills before we decided to start conserving some energy for the mountain and pushed our bikes up a few of the steeper sections. At the junction we turned left and found that the road was in much rougher shape for the last 3-4km. It was more enjoyable for mountain biking though.

 


[There were some long uphill sections which necessitated pushing our two-wheel steeds.]

 
[The gorgeous alpine meadows at the end of the bike ride - Pyramid Mountain is to the right, out of the frame. ++]

 

The weather was incredible on this particular day! Sun mixed with clouds and a nice cool breeze kept us from sweating too much. I would hate to do this bike ride in 30 degrees. We made our way up the ridge on scree and snow as Kane describes in his book.

 


[So checks the description. We headed up here, through the trees and krummholtz.]


[Hiking up the first ridge, above tree line now.]


[So on the first ridge with the main ridge of Pyramid in the bg.]


[The Victoria Cross range is to the west of the ascent ridge on Pyramid. From L to R, Kinross, Unnamed and Zengel.]


[The rest of the ascent looks straight forward from here.]


[I love the rock in Jasper.]


[Colorful quartzite with Maligne Lake showing in the distance now.]


[Some steep snow on the ridge.]


[After the first snow, there was a boulder field.]

 
[Looking down our ascent ridge with an incredible panorama opening up to the east including Maligne Lake. ++]


[More snow to the summit.]

 
[Great summit views with clouds swirling and deep greens in the valleys. ++]

 

The summit was windy and cold (0 degrees) so we didn't linger long. The panorama of summits was stunning and made all the work worth it. Probably my favorite summit view of all the Kane Jasper peaks.

 


[Looking down on Pyramid Lake with Patricia Lake just visible on the right.]

 
[Looking across Pyramid and Patricia Lakes towards Jasper and down Hwy 93. The Skyline Traverse on the left and Mount Edith Cavell in the distance on the right. ++]


[Mount Edith Cavell dominates the skyline to the south.]


[To the southwest lies the Tonquin Valley and the Ramparts including Mount Geikie and Turret Mountain.]

 
[Fantastic pano over the Victoria Cross Range. In the foreground from R to L, Kinross, Unnamed and Zengel. ++]


[Looking over Cairngorm to Fitzwilliam on the right.]


[Geikie and Turret]


[Mount Bridgeland]


[Mount Clairvox]


[Mount Edith Cavell]


 


[Snaring Mountain]

 

We descended our ascent route since any large snow slopes looked pretty unstable. The bike ride back to the parking lot was fast but I didn't really enjoy it because my rear brakes weren't working at all and my front brakes weren't very good either! Kane isn't kidding when he says to make sure you check your brakes before this trip!!!

 

 
[Leaving the summit - Esplanade and Buttress on the left. ++]


[More gorgeous scenery on the ridge.]


[A plateau on the ridge.]

 
[Pyramid Mountain looms over Pyramid Lake. ++]

 

We were very surprised with our round trip time of 6 hours. I admit that we did move pretty quickly, So is in very good shape and I had a hard time keeping pace with him but even so, this was much quicker than I expected. Overall I really enjoyed Pyramid Mountain. Fantastic views keep you entertained once you finally start the scrambling. The bike ride is a grunt but if your brakes are working properly you'll have a blast on the way out!

 

Summit Elevation (m): 
2,766
Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,075
Elevation Gain (m): 
1575
Round Trip Time: 
6.00
Total Distance (km): 
28.60
Difficulty Notes: 

No major difficulties but make sure your bike brakes are maintained for the ride down or you could end up with more adventure than you bargained for.

Roche Miette

Interesting Facts: 

Naming: The name "Miette" likely comes from the Cree "Myatuck," which means "bighorn sheep." These animals frequent the lower slopes of the mountain and are often seen at the highway below the peak. "Roche" is the French word for "mountain." Official name. Other names Millet's Rock [Fraser]. (info from peakfinder.com

YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,316

After bagging Roche a Perdrix,Morro Peak and Hawk Mountain over the past two days, Wietse and I decided to try our luck on Roche Miette in Jasper National Park. We weren't assured of success with the sound of rain on our tent the morning of June 22nd but we got up anyway. The rain soon died down as we drove out to the trail head and by the time we put on our hiking gear it was cloudy but mostly dry.

 

Like on Hawk Mountain, the trail has changed a bit since Alan Kane put out his scrambles book. There are two significant changes on the first 15 minutes of the trail that could make or break your day! Thanks to Bob Spirko's misadventures, one of these was already pointed out to us and we were prepared for it. The first problem, however, was not mentioned by any trip reports that we read.

 

Kane mentions a gravel dike about 2 meters high that you cross before going left on a track. There is no 2m gravel dike anymore! Instead go right till you see a big green box 'thing' and then turn left on a road. The second thing is to make sure you walk down this road for at least 10 minutes or until you come to the top of a small rise where you will be directed by cairns (and trees laid across the road when we were there!) to the trail on your right. The first cairn is now marked with an 'x' of tree branches and a big stone arrow on the tracks points you to keep going - but there's no guarantee that those markings will be there when you do it so just walk until you come to the rise and look to your right for flagging and a very obvious trail through the forest.

 

 


[Can't miss this turn-off!]


[Wietse on the steep approach trail. Miette looms in the background.]


[Still a ways to the saddle but Miette is getting bigger!]

 

For the rest of this trip you should not get lost unless you have no visibility at all - the trail is a beaten highway to the summit. This is a very steep trail but the scenery helps to distract from the grunt. The wildflowers are simply amazing - carpets of them are everywhere, even on the scree as you get up to the high saddle just before the final summit block. The final scree section before the saddle is very steep but the good news is that it's pretty easy scree to walk up and pretty good, loose scree exists off to the side of the trail for coming back down.

 

Once at the saddle we gazed up at the steep, loose slope ahead with a wee bit of apprehension. It didn't look terribly difficult but we both quickly put our helmets on! Don't do this trip with a big group - you will end up knocking rocks on each other, no doubt about it!

 

The weather wasn't getting any better and I was feeling a lot of energy so I kind of took off on Wietse, trying not to knock anything down on him. I met up with a couple of mountain sheep about half way up the first part of the slope and they started kicking rocks down on Wietse, which I found kind of humorous. Wietse did not share my sense of humor at this point. I think the sheep did though.

 

 


[Grinding up very steep scree to the high saddle.]


[The ascent route to the summit block of Miette goes through the rock bands running from upper right to lower center of picture.]


[Wietse follows me up the loose terrain. This is where the sheep knocked rocks down on him!]

 

The top part of the scramble is definitely 'moderate'. There are lots of cairns and flagging but the terrain is steep and loose so you have to watch out. I topped out on the very broad summit plateau and began looking for the summit cairn. I couldn't really see anything so I followed the line of cairns like a bread crumb trail. It didn't take long to spot a large cairn on a high point off in the near distance. The rain clouds were moving in fast so I determined to move even quicker. As I bounded towards the cairn I noticed that there's other highpoints on the plateau, way off to climber's left. I really hope none of these are the true summit. My altimeter agreed with Bob Spirko's GPS that the total elevation gain to the summit is 1300 meters, not 1400+ like Kane states. I wonder if he bagged a different summit? The register was in the cairn so that's a summit to me! I quickly signed and then waited for Wietse who was nowhere to be seen. As the storm clouds raced towards me I thought that I would descend a little bit and wait for Wietse. As I was descending off the summit plateau, Wietse showed up. I yelled that I would wait and he nodded and kept going for the summit.

 

 


[Looking ahead to the summit bump from above the steep, loose slopes of the summit block.]


[Rain is coming!]


[Vern on the summit of Roche Miette.]


[Wietse heads for the summit.]

 

I found a nice little shelter under a rock over-hang right near the top of top of the steep section of rocks. I watched the marmots with mild amusement as they scampered around and took shy peeks at me from behind their rocky homes. There was even a tiny ground squirrel all the way up there! The rain storm came through and was quickly over with hardly any rain actually hitting the mountain - more of a rush of thick cloud. Wietse joined up with me after about 25-30 minutes and we descended quite quickly. As we descended, we met up with a few people coming up. They had to duck behind shelter as we came down because of the rock fall but no-one got hurt. It was surprising to see someone with a very small dog trying to summit Miette. I hope they had boots for that dog!

 

 


[I have some curious company as I wait for Wietse.]


[This picture clearly demonstrates how steep the final bit before the summit plateau is.]

 

The rest of the descent was quick and painless (except for Wietse's blistered feet of course!). A recommended trip - short, steep with good views provided you're not in a cloud!

 


[Alpine Cinquefoil.]


[Globeflower.]


[Bladder Locoweed.]


[Rock Jasmine.]


[White Mountain Avens. (Stabilizes slopes and helps build up soil.)]


[Double Bladder Pod. (Long, tenacious roots - usually found where other plants can't survive.)]


[Not sure...]


[Leafy Aster.]


[Not sure...]


[Prickly Wild Rose. (Alberta's flower.)]


[Blue-eyed Grass. (Iris family - only lasts one day!)]


[Wild Blue Flax. (Only lasts one day!)]


[The long walk back.]


[Yellow Mountain Avens. (Nitrogen-fixing organisms on root nodules help this plant to live in very marginal conditions.)]


[Shrubby Cinquefoil.]


[A view of where to start. Turn left down road when you see this 'green thing'. Roche Miette in the background.]

Summit Elevation (ft): 
7,600
Elevation Gain (m): 
1300
Total Distance (km): 
13.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Moderate scrambling on the Kane route.

Roche a Perdrix

Interesting Facts: 

Named by George Munro Grant in 1872. "Roche" is the French word for rock and Roche a Perdrix was named by Rev. Grant because he felt that the folding of the layers of rock in the mountain resembled the tail of a partridge, partridge being "perdrix" in French. Official name. (info from peakfinder.com

YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, June 20, 2008
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,134

On June 19th Wietse and I drove up to Jasper National Park to camp for the weekend and bag a number of local peaks. We were slightly disappointed by the campsite that we were assigned in the Whistlers campground because it seemed very open and public (no trees offered any sort of privacy) but we quickly got over it and settled in for the night. June 20th was the day we planned to summit Roche a Perdrix and if time permitted we would attempt Indian Ridge too. If nothing else, apparently this peak is the highest point in the Fiddle Range. Hmmm.

 

There was some high cloud but nothing serious as we drove out of Jasper and found the trail head for Roche a Perdrix. Well, actually we turned off at exactly 800 meters from the Jasper park gates and ended up about 100 meter too close to the park on a different trail head than Kane mentions! We realized our mistake quickly enough and found the proper start of the trail no problem.

 

The trail was obvious enough as it wound it's way up the west side of the north ridge. As we got higher, I noticed an obvious rock cairn built next to some pretty thick trees (some had fallen over quite recently). I headed over to the cairn and peered into the trees but there was nothing there so we continued up the ridge. Pretty soon I was suspicious that we were too high up, above the cliffs that we should have been traversing underneath. I was right. We had to lose about 75 meters of height gain where we found the trail again and traversed under the cliffs. This was a cool little hike. The hike soon changed back to scree bashing as we continued to gain height.

 


[Wietse starts up the steep hiking trail.]


[The morning sun is bright as we gain the open slopes on the first ridge.]

 


[Wietse coming up under the cliff band that we were originally much higher on, before descending and picking up the right trail again.]


[The terrain you traverse under is quite impressive. I wished I wore my helmet for this section. Rockfall is a hazard here.]


[The trail skirts right under the cliffs.]


[Wietse catches the early morning views from under the cliffs.]


[Globeflowers.]


[After the first cliff band you get a nice scree slog up a ridge crest. It's not that nice.]

 

The last 200 vertical meters is moderate scrambling with loose rock on slabs. The summit views were great in all directions and we made it back to the car with plenty of time to try to bag another peak! On the way down we realized that the first part of the forested trail is windblown but the trail definitely starts at that cairn!

 


[Once you get to the top of the first long scree bash you get slabs and trees and scree! Stick to climber's left for less exposure.]


[View of the connecting ridge and mountains to the west from the summit of Roche a Perdrix.]


[Vern and Wietse on the summit of Roche a Perdrix.]


[Roche a Perdrix summit panorama. ++]


[Summit cairn and view to the east.]


[Wietse coming down after the summit cliffs.]


[Moss Campion (can take up to ten years to first flower after seed!)]


[Yes. The cairn is obvious. The trail, however, is NOT. It's straight into the trees on the left about 20 feet in.]


[Rock Jasmine.]


[Early Blue Violet. The only Rockies violet that's actually violet colored.]


[Yellow Lady's Slipper.]


[Where you should park your car and start the scramble (on climber's right).]

Summit Elevation (ft): 
7,002
Elevation Gain (m): 
1110
Total Distance (km): 
6.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Moderate scrambling with loose terrain and some easy route finding.

Signal Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Morrison P. Bridgland in 1916. "Old Fort" was an HBC post just below this low mountain. Signal fires were often built on the ridge and for this reason it became known as Signal Mountain. Official name. (from peakfinder.com)

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, September 5, 2003
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,255

Signal Mountain is easily done off the Skyline Trail backpacking route in Jasper National Park. I would never do it as a stand-alone peak but it could be combined with an ascent of nearby Mount Tekarra via the Signal Mountain fire road from the Maligne Canyon parking lot.

Summit Elevation (ft): 
7,400
Difficulty Notes: 

Easy hiking off the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park.

Skyline Trail - Jasper National Park

Interesting Facts: 

The Skyline Trail in is one of the premier backpacking trails in the Canadian Rockies and with 25kms of the trail at or above treeline it is easy to understand why. Can be hiked as a point to point backpack of 2-6 days or as a there and back again for a quick over-nighter. (from trailpeak.com

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
No
Trip Date: 
Wednesday, September 3, 2003 to Saturday, September 6, 2003
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,510

On a nice warm week in September 2003, a group of us spent 3 days, 2 nights hiking and backpacking the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park. The Skyline Trail can be run by fit people in a day, so why did we take 3? Simply because we wanted to enjoy it and because we bagged a number of summits along its length of course! I am a peak bagger, after all... ;) I would recommend taking at least 3 days for this trail if you want to enjoy its many vistas. I think even 4 days would not be overkill.

 

This route is not a loop but rather a point-to-point hike between Maligne Lake and Maligne Canyon. The trail can be done in either direction, either from Maligne Canyon on the west end or Maligne Lake on the east end of the trail but the vast majority of folks do it from the lake to the canyon for the very simple reason that there is over 500 meters less height gain that way.

 

We parked a vehicle at the Maligne Canyon parking lot and crowded into Jon's truck for the short drive to Maligne Lake. The day was already hot but clear as we started up the steep trail from the Maligne Lake parking lot.

 


[Starting out from the Malign Lake parking lot.]


[The trail starts gaining height quite soon.]

 

As we worked our way up steep switchbacks in the hot September sun, we inhaled the fresh air and enjoyed the smell of rotting vegetation that is a classic Rockies scent when summer comes to an end. Eventually we took a nice break in the forest at Evelyn Creek, where the first campground was already located. This campground is fairly close to the trail head but it was nice. We were headed to the Snowbowl campground on our first day.

 


[Hann enjoys some open views on the trail.]


[The group takes a break at the Evelyn Creek campground.]


[Above Evelyn Creek the trail keeps climbing towards the Little Shovel Pass and Snowbowl Campground at tree line.]


[Here we are just breaking tree line after about 2.5 hours of hiking uphill through the forest.]


[Near tree line now and nearing the Snowbowl campground which is ahead in the distance.]


[The group keeps hiking, note that we're above tree line now - other than a few pockets of trees.]


[Gus and Gwen as we near the Snowbowl Campground.]

 

After setting up camp at the Snowbowl Campground we still had plenty of daylight left. So we did what any peak bagger does and went to bag a nearby peak! After a delightful, easy scramble up Antler Ridge which included a dip in a delightful nearby tarn, we enjoyed playing cards at camp and turned in for the night - sleeping quite well thanks to a full first day!

 


[We have set up camp and are exploring the area. Our destination is a peak that rises on a ridge behind the camp. Here Hanneke and Vern are coming up the ridge.]


[Views from Antler Ridge are quite spectacular in late afternoon lighting.]


[Looking towards Antler Mountain from the ridge.]


[Hann and Vern on Antler Ridge.]


[A refreshing tarn that we took a dip in on the way back down from Antler Ridge.]


[Back at camp with a setting sun. This camp would be kind of muddy if there was any rain in the forecast!]


[Making supper at the Snowbowl Campground.]


[Playing cards on a perfect night.]

 

Day two dawned clear and cool. After a hearty breakfast we broke camp and started off up the trail again. This particular day we were planning to make it all the way to the Tekarra Campground and were hoping to scramble Curator Mountain along the way.

 


[Good morning! Hann HATES being cold... ;)]


[Heading up to Big Shovel Pass with Curator Mountain looming on the left.]


[Hann and Vern hike out of camp.]


[The area around Big Shovel Pass is gorgeous! ]


[The trail runs high above the canyon below.]


[Beautiful, clear streams that I drank straight out of. You should always know the consequences of drinking untreated water but I've been drinking straight out of Rockies streams for over 15 years and I've never gotten sick.]

 

Curator was an easy scramble from the pass and soon we were standing on her summit enjoying great views in all directions. We could easily see the Skyline trail continuing on to the infamous 'notch' near Curator Lake.

 


[Looking back to Antler Ridge and Mountain from the ascent of Curator Mountain.]

 

After descending back to the pass we continued to Curator Lake. Here things got a wee bit depressing with some height loss followed by the biggest gains of the hike up to 'the Notch'. Thankfully the weather was perfect and so were the conditions. We made sure to fill up on water at Curator Lake.

 


[Chatting with other hikers.]


[If you want to camp at the Shovel Pass campground, you have to lose quite a bit of height from the main trail. The campground and cabin are at lower right in this photo. Curator Mountain at upper left.]


[A gorgeous Ram in the Curator Meadows.]


[A gorgeous view of the Watchtower at right.]


[Looking back at Curator Lake and mountain (R) from the top of The Notch.]


[It's a steep grunt up The Notch!]


[Vern and Hann are delighted to be finishing the steep hike up The Notch.]


[At The Notch.]


[We scrambled up a small summit directly to the south of The Notch - this is Gwen and Gus at the summit.]


[From The Notch traversing to Amber Mountain at upper right.]


[Looking ahead from near Amber Mountain's summit to Mount Tekarra at right. We will descend to the Tekarra campground out of the photo on the right.]


[Looking back at Amber Mountain (C).]

 

From the top of The Notch we spotted a very easy route to the summit of Amber Mountain alongside the trail. The trail literally goes right beside the peak, so there's very little reason for a peak bagger like myself not to tag it and claim it! ;) After that easy summit it was time to descend many hundreds of meters down the Tekarra switchbacks to the southeast of Mount Tekarra, eventually leading to the Tekarra campground and our home for the second night.

 


[Incredible views down the Tekarra switchbacks including, of course, Mount Tekarra which we'd scramble the following morning.]


[Vern, Hann, Kev and Jon just before dropping down the Tekarra switchbacks.]


[Heading down the Tekarra Switchbacks.]

 

After reaching the Tekarra Campground we set up the tents and enjoyed another great night under the stars.

 


[Hann and Gwen enjoying the Tekarra Camp.]

 

The following morning Gus and Gwen hiked out to the Maligne Canyon in order to do the car pickup from Maligne Lake while Jon, Kev and I rambled up Tekarra Mountain from the campground. We enjoyed route finding to the summit and were back in camp after a few hours.

 


[Eating breakfast after bagging Tekarra Mountain first.]


[Jon likes breakfast - looks like hearty oatmeal to me!]

 

While hiking out along Signal Mountain, we decided that we might as well bag that last summit too, since it was "right there". :) Yes, we managed to lug our large backpacks across alpine meadows before standing on the fifth summit of the trip. I'm not going to lie. The hike down the Signal Mountain Fire road sucked big time. In the heat and with all the kilometers that we'd scrambled and hiked over the past 2.5 days, I was *not* enjoying that long, concrete-hard surface! Not to mention, we lost many hundreds of meters of height gain. Eventually we made it down and it was with great relief that we finally hiked into the Maligne Canyon parking lot where Gwen and Gus were waiting with the vehicles.

 


[The main trail in the background as we head south to tag Signal Mountain.]


[The mighty summit of Signal Mountain! ;)]


[As we drop to tree line we still have some views.]


[The trail is obvious and easy to follow towards the Signal Mountain Fire Road.]


[The fire road sucked. BIG TIME. But we had great memories to keep us entertained while swearing at it... ;)]


[Kev, Jon, Vern, Hanneke, Gus and Gwen at the end of our trip in the Maligne Canyon parking lot.]

 

With over 1400 meters of height gain and 1900 meters of height loss, the Skyline Trail is a lot of work. But it's worth it. Add a few peaks and soon you're doing over 2200 meters of height gain, but again, it's worth it! I would recommend doing this trek from east to west and in the fall when the bugs are gone and the trail is dry and snow free (not to mention - tourist free). Don't bother if the weather is closed in though - this trek needs clear skies and stable weather to be safe, considering the many kilometers you spend above or at tree line.

Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,236
Elevation Gain (m): 
1400
Total Distance (km): 
42.00
Difficulty Notes: 

With 25km of trail at or above tree line the Jasper Skyline trail is a fantastic back country hiking experience.

Snow Dome

Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Norman Collie in 1898. The mountain is dome shaped and covered by the Columbia Icefield. Official name. Other names Dome, The. First ascended in 1898 by J. Norman Collie, H.E.M. Stutfield, H. Woolley. (from peakfinder.com)

YDS Grade: 
I
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,456

After ascending Mount Kitchener in the morning, we casually packed up camp and started heading back out, around the west side of Snow Dome. It was another gorgeous day with warm (almost too warm) sun and very little wind. Last year we had exactly the same conditions around the same time of the year - early May.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2013/05/05/snow-dome/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,339
Elevation Gain (m): 
1900
Total Distance (km): 
40.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Columbia ice fields route includes severe crevasse issues and snow slopes. Don't minimize these risks and learn how to manage them before attempting this trip.

South Twin Peak - Unsuccessful Attempt

Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Norman Collie and Hugh M. Stutfield in 1898. "The Twins" is are a pair of high mountain adjacent to the Columbia Icefield., the northern one is known as North Twin Peak and the southern as "South Twin Peak." Official name. First ascended in 1924 by F.V. Field, W.O. Field, L. Harris, guided by Edward Feuz jr., J. Biner. Journal reference App 16-147. (from peakfinder.com)

YDS Class: 
4th Class
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
No
Trip Date: 
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,581
After successfully summiting West Twin we were excited to finally nab the final of the four Twin peaks on the far north end of the Columbia Icefields.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2013/05/03/south-twin-peak-attempt/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,749
Round Trip Time: 
8.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Glacier travel over many crevasses, steep snow or low-angle ice climb to a spectacularly exposed ridge to the summit apex.

South Twin Peak

Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Norman Collie and Hugh M. Stutfield in 1898. "The Twins" is are a pair of high mountain adjacent to the Columbia Icefield., the northern one is known as North Twin Peak and the southern as "South Twin Peak." Official name. First ascended in 1924 by F.V. Field, W.O. Field, L. Harris, guided by Edward Feuz jr., J. Biner. Journal reference App 16-147. (from peakfinder.com)

Trip Category: 
MN - Ski Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
8
Endurance Level: 
Extreme
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Thursday, May 7, 2015 to Sunday, May 10, 2015
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,581

Finally, on May 9, 2015 I managed to summit South Twin Peak on my third attempt of this beautiful mountain. I have some history with the north end of the Columbia Icefield, and with South Twin in particular.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2015/05/09/south-twin-peak/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,749
Elevation Gain (m): 
1700
Total Distance (km): 
46.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 4 : you fall, you are almost dead
Difficulty Notes: 

Glacier travel over many crevasses, steep snow or low-angle ice climb to a spectacularly exposed ridge to the summit apex.

Stutfield Peak (NE2)

Interesting Facts: 

A subpeak of Stutfield Peak, the Northeast Summit of Stutfield is just over 2000 meters to the northeast of the Main Summit. This subpeak is usually included as a separate peak on peakbaggers lists of Canadian Rockies peaks above 11,000 feet. (from bivouac.com)

YDS Grade: 
I
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, May 11, 2012
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,383

In spite of a tough approach the day before and just ascending Stutfield Peak in very windy conditions, TJ, JW, Ferenc and I decided we might as well take advantage of the clear conditions and bag Stutfield NE Peak while we were in the vicinity anyway. ;-)

 

The Stutfields or "Stuts" are not technical summits by any stretch of the imagination. What makes them difficult is the fact that they are in the middle of nowhere with a very lengthy approach, are often very icy or windblown and are known for their generous number of crevasses where people least expect them. In our case, we got kind of lucky. Sure, our weather wasn't optimal but we had no ice, only some very hard wind-pack and very good snow coverage, i.e. very few open crevasses. We picked the perfect conditions for these peaks.

 

As we headed to the col between the two Stuts I was reminded of the other reason the Stuts are a bit of work to attain. You basically have to climb 3 11000er's to get the two summits;

 

  1. Descend from camp to the North Twin / Stutfield col.
  2. Ascend Stutfield.
  3. Descend to the Stuts col.
  4. Ascend Stutfield NE Peak.
  5. Descend to the Stuts col.
  6. Ascend Stutfield.
  7. Descend to the North Twin / Stutfield col.
  8. Ascend back to camp.

 

Arg. It's as tiring as it sounds, especially in high winds with little food in your stomach! My lesson on this particular day was that if I was to be successful for the rest of the weekend I had to somehow figure a way to eat more food when we got back to camp.

 


[Woolley and Diadem.]


[Cromwell is considered a "baby" 11000er. I did it three years later and skied off the summit.]


[You can barely see JW skiing ahead of me towards the Stuts col with Stutfield NE in the background (right). In the Centre of the photo is Mount Cromwell. ++]


[TJ and JW ski up Stutfield NE with Stutfield Peak, North Twin and Twins Tower poking up behind them]

 
[Nearing the summit of Stutfield NE looking back at Stutfield with Columbia, North Twin, Twins Tower and Alberta behind. ++]

 

The ascent of Stutfield NE went easily, but again Ferenc seemed to be lagging a bit as we neared the summit. A huge cornice prevented us from peering over the edge but the views were gorgeous nonetheless. We stayed unroped for the remainder of the trip back to camp which allowed us a couple of nice ski runs down each peak. Obviously we stayed in our approach tracks for safety reasons.

 


[On the summit of Stutfield NE]


[Summit panorama including Clemenceau, Alberta and Woolley / Diadem. ++]


[Summit panorama showing Columbia, North and Twins Tower and Stutfield Peak. ++]


[TJ skis down the west face of Stutfield NE Peak]

 

On the way back I stuck behind the group. Sometimes I like to take my time on the way back from a climb because there's no pressure and in this case it was early afternoon and we had a ton of time to whittle away until evening.

 


[Panorama from the re-ascent of Stutfield Peak with Mount Cromwell in the background. ++]


[Up and down, Up and down! All at over 11000 feet - good times! Re-ascending Stutfield Peak after skiing Stutfield Peak NE]


[Gorgeous views of Mount Kitchener from the re-ascent of Stutfield Peak. As you can see there is nothing technical about the ski ascent of the west slopes other than not falling in a crevasse of course!]


[Taking skins off before the run down Stutfield Peak.]


[TJ looks ready to rock 'n roll North and Twins Tower!! This image shows that despite appearances it was cold in the wind - note he's wearing his down jacket and full Gore-Tex.]


[Panorama from the descent of Stutfield Peak. Our camp is just to the left of the bump in front of Mount Columbia. ++]


[GULP. That's for tomorrow boyz!! Yeah!! Psyched.]


[JW skis down Stutfield Peak]


[Scoping out the route for tomorrow on North Twin and Twins Tower. ++]


[Skiing towards camp (on the right) with Hwy #93 to the left and Kitchener in the center. ++]

 

Back at camp JW, TJ and I started to worry out loud about Ferenc as we all felt he wasn't eating enough and he seemed to be coughing a lot. The three of us set about keeping ourselves occupied for the hours of daylight remaining. TJ and I spend a lot of time building up the walls around our tents. JW and I dug out a nice biffy and the three of us sat around swapping stories, eating as much as possible and trying to stay reasonably warm in the strong wind that just wouldn't give up and die down.

 


[A major part of winter camping, especially on windy and exposed ice fields is digging in a good camp.]


[Back at camp. Note the wall - it kept getting larger and larger as we got more and more bored at camp ;-). The wind was relentless and the tent flapped like crazy even behind the 6 foot high wall!]


[Cooking in your tent is usually not a great idea but due to the relentless wind we didn't have much choice and tried to keep the ventilation as open as possible.]


[A view from my sleeping matt. We are drying out our ski boot liners and boiling water. Down hut booties are a key piece of equipment out here - it gives your feet a break from sweaty liners and tight ski boots.]


[TJ looks out from camp.]


[Note that the wall is higher already then on the pic a few photos ago! ;)]

 

TJ was the water champion of the trip. He faithfully kept the stove going for hours each day, melting snow and boiling water for us to stay hydrated and eat our meals. Because we cooked in a tent we used FAR less fuel than expected and we ended up carrying over half of it out again!

 


[JW eating supper. You never really get a break from the cold up there - but thankfully we had big down jackets!!]


[Panorama from camp looking east towards hwy #93, Stuts on the left and Kitchener on the right. It was weird to be up there in gale force winds and cold, knowing that down in the valley people were walking around in t-shirts and shorts! So close, yet so far away!]

 

As evening drew in around us we noticed another group slowly approaching. When they finally got close we recognized Raf - the crazy Pol (!) as one of them. Raf came over for a quick chat and mentioned that he was going for Twins Tower on Saturday - his last peak on the Columbia ice fields. We told him we'd be joining him and as he skied off to set up camp with his rope team we set about eating supper and preparing for the next day.

 


[Raff, Adam and Jay set up their camp about 200m away from us.]


[An evening panorama from camp showing Raff's party, Snowdome, Forbes, the Lyells, Bryce and Columbia from left to right. ++]


[Vern eating supper.]

 

The whole time we were bustling around camp, Ferenc was in the other tent - he only came out very briefly to eat a little supper and urinate. When I asked him how he was doing I only got a "not good" and an unhappy look - this was certainly not the Ferenc I had skied Columbia and Castleguard with earlier in the year! He was obviously not feeling great. We turned in for the night, excited to try North Twin and especially Twin's Tower the next day.

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,099
Total Distance (km): 
45.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Columbia glacier route includes severe crevasse issues and steep snow slopes. Don't minimize these risks and learn how to manage them before attempting this trip.

Stutfield Peak

Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Norman Collie in 1899. Stutfield, Hugh E.M. (Hugh Stutfield climbed and explored with Norman Collie in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He co-authored, "Climbs and Explorations in the Canadian Rockies" with Collie.) Official name. First ascended in 1927 by Alfred J. Ostheimer, guided by Hans Fuhrer. Journal reference CAJ 16-20. (from peakfinder.com)

Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, May 11, 2012
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,450

Sometimes in life you get a chance to do something that you've always wanted to do but scares you a little at the same time and you have a choice to make. Is it one of those moments that you jump in or jump out?

 

Monday May 7 2012 I was presented with such a chance. Since our failed attempt at Mount Columbia in February, Ferenc and I had been planning a repeat 2 day trip to get redemption. Our plan was to wait for optimal conditions in May before our next attempt. TJ was also keen on Columbia so I agreed to keep him in the loop. We all agreed that the weather was setting up quite nicely for the end of the week of May 7 and started throwing around some ideas. The forecast became so promising that soon TJ was proposing we take as much as 5 days and 4 nights off to bag as many of the northern Columbia ice fields peaks as possible in one nice push. Jason Wilcox (JW) was added to the email chain as another interested and very fit and experienced mountaineer.

 

(NOTE: TJ is a super-fit aspiring ski guide who, unlike Ferenc and I, doesn't have a wife and kids yet - so he didn't realize that he was asking us to miss Mother's Day and what a huge ask this was on our part!! ;-))

 

Because of the weather forecast, the excellent snow coverage this year and the fact that we'd have experienced and strong partners in both TJ and JW, Ferenc and I decided that it was worth bringing the idea of the trip up at home with our families. Hanneke graciously agreed that this was a unique opportunity for me and obviously Ferenc received the go-ahead too and before long we were preparing for the trip. I've done some remote trips in my lifetime and planned some physically aggressive days in the mountains and what experience has taught me is that sometimes enthusiasm for a trip overcomes the realities of actually doing the trip. More on that later, but I believe this happened somewhat on this trip too. It's so easy to sit in a comfortable chair in front of a keyboard, planning summits and days on a glacier but the reality is that the summits we were planning on are all over 11,000 feet and even our approach day to base camp was nearly twice the distance most ski parties make in a single day push.

 

The plan was quite simple. Thursday, May 10 was looking like a mix of sun and cloud with the odd flurry thrown in. This was a perfect approach day (we reasoned) as the seracs falling off Snowdome would be less active than on a sunny day and we were only setting up base camp anyway so we didn't need perfect weather. Most parties give up after 4-6 hours of lugging a heavy winter pack up the glacier and set up camp kilometers away from the peaks at the northern end of the ice field, but for fit parties it's highly recommended to get as close to North Twin as possible in a single push. From Friday-Sunday we hoped to bag as many 11000ers as the weather and our conditioning allowed. The big dream was to get all four Twins (South, West, North and Tower) and the two Stutfield peaks at a minimum. Monday would be our exit day.

 

With an obvious high pressure system building on Thursday night and lasting until at least Monday or even longer, we felt pretty psyched about the next few days. One of our key strategies was traveling as light as possible while maintaining safety. This meant absolutely no extras;

 

  • One pair of socks (yes, for 5 days!)
  • One shirt. (Tip - Merino wool apparently doesn't retain smell like the synthetics do.)
  • Light carabiners and gear (aluminum crampons, light axes etc)
  • Minimal shelters. For example JW brought a four season tent, but only took the outer shell, poles and ground cloth (not the main tent). TJ had an even more minimalist shelter, the Mega Light from Black Diamond, a tarp-like shelter with no poles, no floor and no extras.
  • Enough food to survive, but not enough to live too comfortably either - no baking pizzas on back country ovens on this trip!
  • Small packs are essential for packing light. If you use an 80 liter pack, you'll fill it. I had a 55 liter pack which fit everything inside while JW had a 38 liter pack but he had to attach stuff to the outside.

 

I got up at 0300 on Thursday and met the others at 0400 at our meeting area. We quickly piled our gear into JW's deluxe "approach tank" and off we went! We used the snow coach road to get us and our gear as far up the Athabasca Glacier as possible before skiing which meant dumping our gear at the snow coach parking lot and waiting while JW parked at the climber's parking lot about 1km back down the road and walked back up to us.

 


[JW gets his skis ready in the snow coach shelter before we head out to the glacier. As you can see, it's a pretty grey and blustery morning!]

 

The weather wasn't ideal as we started our trip with a steep walk down the gravel road to the Athabasca Glacier. The air temperature was fairly warm but there was wind driving snow into our faces and very limited views around us. As we skied up the snow coach road I wondered what our day was going to look like considering how ugly it was this low already. Once on the main glacier we realized that there were no tracks to follow thanks to the wind and snow and so we decided to trade the climber's left approach through heavily crevassed terrain for the route under the Snowdome seracs instead.

 

(FYI - The route on climber's left is generally considered a bit safer for ascent if you know where you're going because the route under the seracs could result in a house-size chunk of ice on your head without any warning. For descent the serac route is usually a better option because you're skiing downhill and race under the ice fall in about 60 seconds as opposed to picking your way through the more crevassed route.)

 

Since only JW had been up this approach before, we relied on his memory for the correct route. We couldn't see very far ahead, which didn't help any. JW has a good memory and did an excellent job guiding us up a few steep snow ramps to the serac fall zone. On a cloudy day such as ours the seracs are generally fairly inactive. On this particular day we witnessed 2 small ice falls and a small avalanche in the 5 minutes we were waiting to cross! All the ice fall activity made us nervous enough to consider descending and trying the crevasse route instead but eventually we worked up the nerve ("let's just go a bit further and see how it looks") and raced through the ice fall runout zone in about 5 minutes - thankfully no activity started up while we were under it. The risk was minimized by going climber's left almost out of the debris field and we still had the issue of not knowing the exact route through the more heavily crevassed terrain, so I believe we made the right decision on ascent.

 


[Snow and ice come tumbling down from the seracs overhanging our route from Snowdome as we debate whether to go through this route or back down - we chose to go as far below the serac debris field as possible rather than risk the crevasses of the other route.]

 

Our trip continued up the ramp to the main Columbia neve. Near the top of the ramp we ran into a couple of guys returning from a two day attempt of Mount Columbia. They looked pretty tired with huge packs and told us not to follow their tracks since they'd gotten a bit lost in the whiteout depproaching from the mountain. They never did get up Columbia due to the high winds and snow. Things were looking good for us already! :-)

 


[Past the seracs and part way up the ramp to the Columbia Glacier neve. We're still smiling at this point...]


[We stop to talk to a couple of guys coming out from an attempt at Mount Columbia. They were thwarted by high winds and lots of fresh snow and warned us of slabs on lee slopes and getting lost on the neve.]

 

We contoured up and around Snowdome's lower south and west slopes on a bench plateau, using TJ's excellent GPS navigation skills which he'd recently honed in whiteout conditions on the Spearhead Traverse near Whistler, BC. The weather was rapidly deteriorating the further we went. 

 


[The last picture I have from Thursday - just before heading into blizzard conditions when the only thought I had for about 3 hours was getting to camp.]

 

By the time TJ was getting dizzy from staring at the GPS and then trying to peer into a world of grey and white, I was questioning why the heck I wasn't at home playing a round of golf in balmy 15 degree temps or at work sipping a Starbucks! Nobody was having much fun as we slogged our way along the endless stretches of the icefield in extreme gusts of wind, icy snow sandblasting exposed skin, glasses fogging up from trying to breathe into face masks and all this while carrying packs and trying to avoid skiing into crevasses which you couldn't see until they were literally right under you!

 

On hindsight there's some humorous moments that I remember from our approach. In one of them TJ is completely disoriented. He's absolutely convinced that we are standing in a crevasse field and going the wrong way. He repeatedly stares at the GPS and then peers into the white void, desperately trying to pick out any land feature, but all he sees are gaping holes all around. Up seems down and down seems up. He skis forward a few feet but then stops and repeats the confusion. We have to yell in order to hear each other even though we're only a few meters apart and this complicates things. I stand there in my own little world of grey imagining what my family is up to right now. Maybe I do have a problem that I insist on joining trips like this... Eventually we figure out that TJ's 'crevasse field' is really just some snow drifts (!!) and JW takes a turn at lead with TJ on the back of the rope with the GPS, yelling directions at the top of his lungs. This leads to another humorous moment.

 

JW was convinced he was skiing in a straight line ahead of me at the front of the rope. This would be fine except for the fact that I could clearly see from behind him that he was curving hard to the left!! I kept yelling, "more right!" but he kept insisting he was going perfectly straight! Finally TJ confirmed my analysis and told us to keep at a certain contour level on the slope rather than trying to navigate perfectly. Ferenc wanted to pull out a compass but this wasn't going to work either, since our route wasn't in a straight line and we would spend a lot of time navigating off a map in a full-on blizzard which is never fun.

 

As the day progressed we got more miserable (except for TJ who doesn't get miserable unless he has nothing to do... ;-)). By the time TJ suggested we stop and set up camp I was exhausted and seriously questioning my own sanity. Exposed skin was numb from the blasting snow and we couldn't see anything around us, never mind any of our destination peaks! Other than the GPS info, we had no visual confirmation that we were anywhere near our mountains! All we knew was we were tired, cold and wet and needed to dig in our shelters and get some warm food in our stomachs. 

 

Setting up camp was another adventure. Since both shelters were minimal, they did require some extra work to set up properly. After probing for crevasses we figured we only had about 3 feet of snow on the glacier so we took care with how deep we dug. We built a quick snow wall for some (limited) wind protection and set up the tents. TJ's mega light was set up first and he started boiling water in the tent while JW and Ferenc set to work on the other shelter. I was completely toasted but when JW yelled for help I went to assist. I was shocked how windy and cold it was outside after spending 30 minutes in the tent. After a hurried supper (warm food was excellent) we made preparations for Friday and turned in for the night.

 

Sleeping was an issue for most of us. TJ slept pretty well with his ear plugs in but my sleeping bag was so crammed with stuff that I was trying to dry out that I was feeling very claustrophobic in it (boot liners aren't small). Add to that the condensation from the inside of the tent snowing down on me all night and the furious wind threatening to the tear the tent in half and creating a din that made it hard to ignore and I got maybe 3-4 hours of restless sleep on Thursday night. Combine this with the 4.5 hours on Wednesday night (we got up at 0300 remember?) and I was lacking a bit in the rested department by the time the sun was shining into our tent on Friday morning.

 

But at least the SUN was shining!

 

Eating is never easy at higher altitudes and since our camp was just shy of 11,000 feet it was especially nasty trying to choke down breakfast, especially while trying to stay warm and out of the wind which was still blasting away at us. I was a bit tired after the efforts of the previous day but Ferenc seemed especially out-of-sorts.

 


[Vern is happy the sun is shining Friday morning, after a tough day the previous 24 hours!]

 

We decided on the Stutfields since they're technically very easy and can even be done in full whiteout conditions via GPS. We had great views of North Twin and Twins Tower as we dropped to the North Twin / Stutfield col from camp. Our camp was nice and close to all of our objectives - we felt pretty good about making it so far in such daunting conditions the previous day! My gut tightened at the sight of Twins Tower with it's super-exposed snow arete stretching thousands of feet above the valley floors beneath! I couldn't quite believe that I might be on that snow ridge some time in the next few days...

 

The ascent of Stutfield Peak was straight forward. We had a great snow pack so no crevasse issues. The going was slow - Ferenc had a hard time with the pace, pretty much no matter how slow we went. I figured he was just tired from the previous day and I noted that he hadn't eat much that morning either. The views of North Twin, Twins Tower and Mount Alberta were simply stunning from the summit of our first 11,000er of the weekend!

 


[TJ and JW on the summit bump of Stutfield Peak.]


[Mount Columbia - I was part way up that ridge over 11000 back in February!]


[The stunning exposure of Twins Tower as seen from Stutfield Peak]


[Summit panorama looking west including (L to R), Columbia, South Twin, North Twin and Twin's Tower. ++]

 
[A closer view of the other 11,000ers in the area. ++]


[Mount Clemenceau]


[Ferenc on Stutfield Peak]


[Mounts Woolley and Diadem on the left and Thorington Tower on the right]

 

After trying to soak in the views and ignore the biting chill of the ever-present wind, we turned our attention to the next mountain, Stutfield NE.

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,319
Total Distance (km): 
45.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Columbia glacier route includes severe crevasse issues and steep snow slopes. Don't minimize these risks and learn how to manage them before attempting this trip.

Sunwapta Peak

Interesting Facts: 

Named in 1906. The mountain rises from the Sunwapta River. Sunwapta means "turbulent river" in the Stoney Indian language. The mountain takes its name from the river which was named by Coleman in 1892. Official name. First ascended by Jimmy Simpson. (info from peakfinder.com

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, April 8, 2006
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,315

As I inch closer and closer to that magical 100th summit of my illustrious (!!) scrambling career that started with Ha Ling peak about 6 years ago, I am realizing how unique each and every one of those peaks has been - and at the same time how similar they start to get!

 

Case in point is Sunwapta Peak. Most people wouldn't dream of attempting the second highest (to Temple) peak in the Kane book in early April but then again, Sonny and Vern are not most people! ;-) I was originally planning to tangle with Tangle Ridge but Sonny 'forced' me to reconsider since he's just completed that one. It didn't take much to convince me and apparently Kelly Smith is also a sucker for punishment because he was in the parking lot at 05:00 along with Sonny when I got there.

 

 
[This is the first wolf I've seen in the wild. The funny part is he just laid down and looked at us after we stopped along hwy 93 to look at him.]

 

Sunwapta reminded me mainly of two other peaks. The lower part reminded me a bit of Mount Stephen but mostly it really got me thinking about Mount Sparrowhawk. If you've climbed Sparrowhawk you'll realize that this isn't necessarily a compliment to Sunwapta.

 

For anyone considering a ski ascent of Sunwapta I would have to say, "Good Luck with that"! I wouldn't even try it with less than 10 feet of fresh snow at the highway level and even then good luck with all that snow on the slopes higher up. We were quite surprised by the roughness of the initial trail through the trees. There must have been a wicked wind storm in the recent past because like on Sparrowhawk, whole sections of the trail were completed covered with a huge mess of fallen timber.

 

Sonny and Kelly set a good quick pace up the steep section of trail and soon we were passing by an impressive frozen waterfall set in a narrow, deep canyon. After snapping some pictures we continued up the trail, it was so warm I was in my t-shirt. Eventually we started to crack tree line and the massive open slopes of the mid and upper mountain were staring back at us. It looked like there was quite a bit of snow and I started to wonder if we'd make it.

 

 
[Every trailhead is different. Every trailhead is a place of anticipation.]

 
[Kelly poses beside the beautiful waterfall on the way up the trail beside the creek.]

 

As we started out of tree line I became even more doubtful. We were going through pockets of snow that swallowed us past the knees and I knew there was no way we could do 1000+ meters of that! We pushed on and surprise! The snow began to hold our weight! I think the snow still slowed us down a bit because we'd sink a couple of inches with every step and sometimes I'd still plunge past the knee.

 

I picked a small notch on the ridge high above and started angling over to the right (east) to some exposed scree on the skyline ridge. On hindsight we should have gone straight up the broad slope but since I didn't know what the avi conditions were above it and since the angle was right around 33-37 degrees I played it safe on the way up and cut across the slopes to a thinner snow base further east.

 

 
[Just to get to this point involved 700 meters of height gain through the trees. The notch on the ridge near the label is what I kept concentrating on. I didn't realize that I had 350 vertical meters from there yet!]

 
[Can you find Sonny? The open slopes above tree line are quite vast. You walk for half an hour and you're no closer to the goal...]

 
[Sonny is a bit more obvious in this picture! Doesn't he look happy? ;-)]

 

This is where it would've helped to have a clear blue sky. The temps where fantastic and there was no wind but that slope is bloody long! Honestly, it seemed to go on forever. It took so long to finally reach that small notch on the ridge I could hardly believe it. Then I made the mistake of looking at my altimeter. We still had 350+ meters vertical to go!! I asked Kelly at this point if he wanted to break trail for a while but he politely turned down what I thought was a very generous offer...

 

 
[The views off the ascent slope towards Mount Kitchener were very nice - even with sub-par weather conditions.]

 

From this point to the summit is kind of a blur. We all turned around as the roar of an avalanche filled the air but none of us spotted anything. I noticed a very dark and thick band of clouds coming at us from the south and figured we had about 45 minutes to greyout conditions. My estimate was bang on and soon we were trying very hard to determine where ridge ended and cornice started. It was actually kind of scary for a bit because the clouds were really thick. Upon a momentary thinning in the fog, Kelly are I were in disbelief as we realized that our 'summit' was really another false bump and the real summit looked to be miles away yet! We cramponed up because some sections were becoming icy. A little bit further on and optical illusions started to fool us.

 

 
[Looking the other way off the ascent slope reveals more lurking giants ready to be climbed!]

 
[Tangle Ridge is another scramble along the parkway. It's only 1100 meters height gain.]

 

In one of the weirdest illusions I've ever experienced in the mountains, Kelly and I had a long discussion about a cliff band that appeared far up on the slope and wondered where the ridge ran and how to break through it. I started to walk up the slope and about a minute later our 'cliff' turned out to be a rock about 2 feet high! This experience gave me a healthy respect for climbing in foggy / whiteout conditions - i.e. try not to! ;-) In another twist, we topped out at the summit cairn almost right after the 'cliff' - when we thought the slope still looked enormous.

 

 
[The first false summit on the way up held some beautiful cornice scenery.]

 
[A panorama on the way up, looking over the Icefields Parkway includes from L to R, Tangle Ridge, K2, Kitchener, Cromwell, Mushroom, Diadem, GEC, Nelson, Smythe, Gong and McGuire. ++]

 
[Another panorama on the way up, looking east towards Le Grande Brazeau from the ascent slope. I couldn't get any pictures from the top since it was buried in clouds. ++]

 
[An impressive view from the ascent slopes looking at the north face of Diadem.]

 

After clicking a few pictures (no view at all due to the clouds) and placing a new register we started back down. This is where the trip got more fun - anyway for Kelly and I! Sonny's pants wouldn't slide because the angle of the slope was almost not enough to glissade and the snow was not quite hard enough, but Kelly and I could just get enough speed to make it worthwhile. Kelly and I proceeded to take a ride down about 2,500 feet (at least) of Sunwapta - the longest glissade I've ever had, and the slowest!

 

 
[Sonny makes his way up to the summit under thick cloud cover.]

 
[Kelly, Sonny and Vern at the summit of Sunwapta Peak.]

 
[I look back at Sonny as I leave the summit - again, in very thick clouds.]

 

After waiting for Sonny at the bottom of the open snow slopes we proceeded back to the car on a muddy / slushy trail and arrived back at the trailhead about 8 hours and 15 minutes after starting out. I would seriously recommend making Sunwapta an early season object IF snow / weather conditions permit. That endless slope is not too bad to kick up and it certainly is among the longest glissade you'll ever get. It does have potential to avalanche but I would think it's pretty low - especially in the conditions we had. I would not recommend skiing this mountain unless there's a pile of snow because you'll be carrying your skis up at least 700 meters through pretty thick tree cover first, followed by marginal skiing.

 

 
[Kelly descends the trail back though the trees.]

 
[One of many broken and twisted trees that make the lower trail of Sunwapta a veritable tangle to navigate through. Have fun in this section if you attempt to ski this mountain! About 10 feet of the white stuff will help!]

 
[Sonny celebrates the victorious scramble by emphatically stomping on the trailhead cairn.]

 

One regret I have is that we didn't have clear weather for such a lofty peak. The view was good but it could have been incredible with clear skies.

Summit Elevation (ft): 
10,875
Elevation Gain (m): 
1750
Total Distance (km): 
13.00
Difficulty Notes: 

No difficulties - this one is a long, steep hike. When done in winter it can present significant avalanche exposure.

Tangle Ridge

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Mary Schaffer in 1907. The name was applied because of the difficulty early parties had descending Tangle Creek to the north of the ridge. Official name. (info from peakfinder.com

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,001

Foolishly I decided that if Sunwapta Peak was in shape for scrambling two weeks ago, and since it's even higher than Tangle Ridge, I would have no problems what-so-ever on Tangle. To be fair, I was aware that temperatures were going to be very warm and the snow would be going isothermal already early in the day. I was also aware that the Columbia Icefields area had gotten some snow over the past week but being an eternal optimist I was of the opinion that the objective was going to be a cakewalk.

 

It wasn't a cakewalk. It wasn't even a five-course-meal-walk. It wasn't even a walk. It was a brutal snow slog! Sonny warned me after Sunwapta that Tangle may be a lot less elevation gain ('only' 1240m compared to over 1750m) but it still was a slog in its own right. I kind of scoffed at the idea that a peak with over half a kilometer less height gain could be in the same league but now I admit I was wrong.

 

 
[This is what Tangle Ridge looks like from about 1km up the road towards the Icefields Center at a tourist stop. The route follows the left side of the drainage in the middle of the photo to the summit which is not in view here.]

 

Of course when Sonny and Linda did Tangle Ridge back in December 2005, they didn't have to wade through ankle to crotch deep snow! That's not to belittle their trip but with the amount of snow we had I think Tangle came close to being more exhausting then it's giant neighbor to the north.

 

Jeff hasn't scrambled in over two years so I thought he did very well to make the summit on this particular day. We started out under a mostly cloudy sky but the weather continued to improve over the course of the day. There was a tiny bit of confusion when the trail dipped down near the ruins of an old log cabin and we initially considered crossing the stream here. We continued down the Wilcox Pass trail and after climbing through the forest we descended to creek level again and quickly spotted three obvious cairns on the opposite side of the creek.

 
[The morning started off cloudy but by the time we started to break tree line the clouds were lifting.]

 

We quickly climbed up the left side of the creek. Well it wasn't 'quick' with all the snow but it wasn't too bad. We were really hoping that once we broke tree line we'd have to use our crampons but no such luck. We continued to sink between 6 inches and 2.5 feet for the rest of the way up the ridge. Once in a while we'd hit some screen patches but they were very rare. It became a battle of the mind. I would find the next rock sticking out of the snow and head for it. Once I reached that rock I would look for the next one. I broke trail the whole way because Jeff wasn't feeling too good after only 3 hours of sleep (I had 4.5) and this was the first scramble he was on in a long time so I didn't want to scare him off! ;-)

 

 
[An outlier of one of the larger peaks across the Parkway shows up as we break tree line.]

 
[We started to worry as the amount of snow increased and became softer and more isothermal. At least the views were improving!]

 
[These cliffs break the monotony of the lower mountain and show the upper bowl. Don't worry - you're not very close to the summit yet! (About 700m vertical to go yet from here).]

 
[Jeff stopped for a break along the cliff band. He had a nice view from there.]

 
[This is a small panorama looking back at the cliff area. You can see the ridge and Mount Wilcox in the background at right.]

 

There are 2 or 3 false summits on Tangle. Thanks to Sonny and Linda I was ready for them and kept a close eye on my altimeter to estimate how close we were to the summit. As we climbed higher, the wind began to blow very hard and snow was coming down. Also, we were getting into pockets of pretty thick clouds. I guess you can't have good views on every summit but it seems like the peaks near the Icefields are more temperamental than most. Finally the tower was in sight and 10 minutes later we were on the summit. After some quick pictures and hastily searching in vain for the register we were headed back down.

 

 
[A south-facing panorama from about halfway up the big snow slope. You can see the upper bowl on the left and Wilcox Pass and Nigel Meadows in the distance at center. ++]

 
[Jeff is still behind me as we get closer to the top and enter the clouds and wind.]

 
[Finally I can spot the radio tower through a break in the clouds.]

 
[Jeff and Vern on the summit of Tangle Ridge.]

 
[Jeff walks past the gadgets at the summit. They're watching us!!]

 
[You can barely make our Sunwapta's slopes from the summit of Tangle Ridge. This is as clear as the view north got from the summit while I was up there.]

 

As the weather improved, the snow condition deteriorated rapidly. Whereas on the way up were sinking up to our knees, on the way down we were plunging up to our crotches. This says a lot because Jeff is 6'4" and I'm 6' so you know there was some nasty feelings being thrown down at all the white stuff we had to wade through! Of course going down was much easier but it got tricky when there was rocks under all that snow. You had to make sure your ankle wasn't wedged behind a rock after each plunge.

 

 
[A panorama looking south from just under the cloud cover on the way back down. Peaks visible include Wilcox, K2, Kitchener and part of Cromwell (L to R). ++]

 
[I'm wondering how the heck I broke trail through all this snow! This is on the way down. Mount Kitchener is still in the clouds to my left.]

 

The views opened up as we got lower and we spent quite a bit of time soaking them in. The mountains around Canmore sure seem tiny when you spend time along the Icefields Parkway!

 

 
[Jeff is descending back through some rubble as we navigate towards tree line. You can just make out the Athabasca Glacier in the distance to the mid-left with Andromeda buried in clouds behind.]

 
[A view towards Mount Kitchener from the Wilcox Pass trail.]

 
[As I descend the Wilcox Pass trail the views towards Woolley, Diadem and Mushroom (L to R) continue to open up. ++]

 

Eventually we were back at the car and agreed that although we had a fantastic trip, we both felt rather lucky that we had summitted. A bit more snow or a bit later start would have ruined our chances of success on this one. I guess sometimes it's worth getting up at 03:30 on a Saturday morning!

Summit Elevation (ft): 
9,845
Elevation Gain (m): 
1240
Total Distance (km): 
12.00
Difficulty Notes: 

No difficulties - this one is a hike. When done in winter it can present avalanche dangers.

Tekarra, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Named by James Hector in 1859. Tekarra (Tekarra was an Indian guide who accompanied Hector on his explorations up the Athabasca River during the early months of 1859.) Official name. (info from peakfinder.com)

YDS Class: 
3rd Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, September 5, 2003
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,694

Ahhh. It's fitting that the belle of the ball was the last major summit we tried. After doing Antler Ridge, Curator Mountain, Amber and GR403502 by the Notch we were ready for a real challenge. We got our challenge in the form of Mount Tekarra.

 

(NOTE: I've mapped the GPX track from the Maligne Canyon trailhead since I would do this peak from there as a one day ascent. You could easily combine this one with Signal Mountain for a two peak day, but it's 30km and a vertical mile of elevation gain.)

 

The night before I challenged the boys if they would join me getting up at 0600 to try tackle Tekarra from the 'other side'. I had noticed from Amber Mountain summit that we could have quite easily walked up the back side of Tekarra from the Skyline Trail. It would have been about 2km out of our way and we were to tired to bother so I thought we would try from the other side, going up a ridge that touched down near the Tekarra campground and wound around to the North side of the mountain.

 


[Mount Tekarra from the Skyline Trail from just before the summit of Amber Mountain. It's much easier to ascent Tekarra from this end (south) than from the north like we did.]

 

I'm not sure if they took me serious but sure enough at 0600 I woke up and went to get the guys. After getting our toques on and fumbling into our clothes in the dark we were across the stream and bushwhacking our way up the ridge. There was a smattering of trails - probably from sheep - making their way up the ridge so we followed them. Eventually we worked our way to the col between the cliffs of Tekarra and the ridges from Signal Mountain. This is where I thought our morning was about to come to an end.

 


[A smoky sunrise from the lower slopes of Mount Tekarra.]

 

When we topped out at the col. I immediately noticed that we were in trouble. There was no gentle slope meeting the ridge but instead a line of cliffs marched off into the morning mists with no obvious way through. I have done enough scrambles that I know that cliffs can have amazing weaknesses when they are observed up close so I decided to keep going. Good thing.

 

As we got even closer to the line of cliffs we noticed a steep rubble chute cutting through the cliff to the ridge. We originally tried to go straight up a ledge system on the cliff but were forced to go to the chute by the exposure. When we got to the tail out of the chute we realized that we could make it here. After scrambling up loose rubble and scree we topped out at the bottom of a scree ridge. On top of the ridge was a communications tower and we could spot two other promising looking peaks past this.

 


[Here is a picture of the steep notch we found through the cliff bands. There were some cairns marking the way once we started up.]


[A beautiful early morning shot from the summit of Mount Tekarra with Kev coming up a ridge and the mountains across the valley just peeking above the smoke and clouds. You can also spot the communications hut on top of the ridge.]

 

Once we got to the communications hut we realized that the third (and furthest) peak was probably the summit. We lost a bit of elevation working our way over to it but quickly made it up again by climbing big boulders and rock to the high-point. A large cairn greeted us with a stony stare. As we waited for Kev, Jon and I took in the wonderful views and I felt a deep satisfaction with our accomplishment. Using only the map and our sense of direction we had found a way to the top. I'll be doing a lot more of these unknown scrambles - I guarantee it!

 


[Vern and Jon at the summit.]

 


  
 

 


[Vern, Jon and Kev at the summit.]


[Steep rubble on the way down through the cliff bands.]


[A peaceful tarn on the way back to camp.]

Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,839
Elevation Gain (m): 
1500
Total Distance (km): 
30.00
Difficulty Notes: 

Loose, steep scrambling to gain the summit bowls. There was no trail from the north / west side that we did it from. We did it from the Tekarra Campground.

Twins Tower

Interesting Facts: 

Named in 1984. This tower is adjacent to "The Twins." Official name. (from peakfinder.com)

Trip Category: 
MN - Ski Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
9
Endurance Level: 
Extreme

YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, May 12, 2012

After summitting the highest mountain completely within Alberta and the third-highest in the whole Canadian Rockies at 12,238 feet high, we were ready to tackle one of the most exposed snow ridges and high altitude snow arete climbs in the Canadian Rockies - Twins Tower. In his book, The 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies, Bill Corbett writes;

 

The sudden view of Twins Tower from the summit of North Twin is one of the most striking and sphincter-tightening in the Canadian Rockies.

 

I have to agree with Mr. Corbett on this one! My sphincter certainly agreed with his assessment as I gazed over at our next objective from high on the summit shoulder of North Twin!! ;-) The descent slope down the north ridge of North Twin is already a serious undertaking, even before you get to ascending Twins Tower. First we had to descend over a slightly open 'schrund right near the top of the ridge before plunge-stepping over numerous (thankfully covered this year - but certainly still an unseen hazard) crevasses to the col. (NOTE: I have friends who have descended this slope in less ideal conditions and it is arguably the most serious and hazardous sections of Twins climbing.)

 


[This is what it looks like to descend the north ridge of North Twin to the Twins Tower col. Note Raf's party far below at the col already. Also note the ridiculous amount of air between us an the valley floor. We are off the steep roll already, see other photos for a complete picture of this slope.]


[This photo from Raf more accurately depicts the serious terrain on the north ridge descent from North Twin to Twins Tower col. This is JW, TJ and I on the descent. Most years there are gaping crevasses to deal with here.]

 

At the col we met up with Raf, Adam and Jay who were preparing to lead the ascent of the tower. We agreed to wait at the col while they broke trail up the sharp snow arete - I think it was Jay who led them up. Amazingly the wind almost died off completely for the short period we were on Twins Tower - except for the odd fierce gust. This was very fortunate.

 


[Amazing view down the Athabasca River valley - Twins Tower rising on the right.]

 
[Raf, Jay and Adam start up the arete to the summit of Twins Tower. From L to R, Alberta, Little Alberta, Woolley, Engelhard. ++]

 

It was quite something to watch the other team inch their way up that ridge with nothing but air on each side! Sometimes it's much worse to watch someone else do something 'on the edge' than do it yourself and this was one of those times. Almost impossibly they inched their way up to the summit. I was holding my breath sometimes watching them, half expecting them to stop completely at some points.

 


[Jay leads Adam and Raf up Twins Tower in this view from the col. Terrific exposure on each side of the ridge drops right to the valley floor thousands of feet. The sun is also starting to warm the left side (facing) of the arete prompting some urgency to getting up and down ASAP while it was still safe.]


[JW is FREAKING OUT!!! He wants to be as anchored to the slope as possible!! :-) We had a nice break to drink some fluids and goof off while Raf's party ascended Twins Tower - we didn't want to be stuck underneath them for any longer than absolutely necessary. Note how steep the north ridge of North Twin is above JW. Lots of hidden crevasses in this slope, although we didn't find any with the amount of coverage we had.]


[At this point I was totally psyched and ready to tackle the climb. And also a wee bit nervous. This is one of my favorite shots from the whole trip. ++]


[TJ and Vern with Adam and Jay behind us on Twins Tower.]

 

The biggest danger with Twins Tower isn't necessarily the climb itself. At 45-50 degrees or less it's manageable - its the terrific exposure on each side of the narrow arete that allows for absolutely zero degree of error that makes it a serious endeavor. A snow sluff, avalanche or slip by any one rope member will be an issue for the whole rope team with thousands of feet of air waiting to swallow you on either side.

 

As Jay neared the summit we started up. Kudos to Jay, Adam and Raf as they made our job technically quite easy. We simply had to take firm steps into their tracks, plant a 'firm' ax (the snow was actually a bit too soft to get a really solid placement) and take the next step up. Concentration was key as we quickly scampered up behind the other team. I didn't look down at the exposure too much on the way up, rather I concentrated on not falling and on keeping the rope between JW and I reasonably snug. Soon the angle got even steeper and Raf was surprised with JW bumped into him just before the angle eased off near the summit.

 

"You guys are quick", he exclaimed.

 

"Yeah well, we didn't take the kitchen sink with us", was JW's glib reply.

 

Raf's team had taken their alpine packs up to the summit while we left ours at the col, reasoning that we wouldn't be lingering on the small summit of Twins Tower any longer than necessary. Of course the fact that we had a broken trail also helped our speed - another big THANKS to those guys.

 


[A look back down the arete at TJ who is obviously loving it!]


[TJ and Raf congratulate each other on the summit of Twins Tower. This was Raf's last Columbia Icefields summit!]


[JW on the summit of Twins Tower - obviously quite pleased with himself!]


[View of South Twin, Columbia, West Twin (TINY!) and Kind Edward (L to R) from the summit of Twins Tower.]


[Looking over Stutfield (L) and Kitchener (R).]

 

The summit views were stunning but we didn't take much time to enjoy them. There wasn't really room for the 6 of us and we wanted to get back down our steps before the sun got any stronger. We wanted to get out of there before the south aspect snow slope got any more baked than necessary. TJ led the way down the ridge without wasting time. We went backwards down the slope with the following pattern;

 

  1. Plant the ax as firmly as possible on the right side of the ridge.
  2. Look down to the right for the next foot hold.
  3. Step carefully and firmly into the foot hold with the right foot.
  4. Place the left hand down firmly into the snow on my left.
  5. Look down to the left for the next foot hold, while still maintaining a firm grip on the ax with my right hand.
  6. Step carefully and firmly into the foot hold with the left foot.
  7. Lift up the ax with both feet and the left hand firmly on the slope.

 

Repeat a hundred or more times until you feel the angle slack off and you turn around and tramp back to the col - ecstatic that you've climbed Twins Tower.

 


[Raf's view of the two teams carefully down climbing the snow arete from the summit of Twins Tower.]


[TJ descends the upper ridge on Twins Tower. Note the ridge on North Twin that we have to re-ascend. Still plenty of exposure and hazard, we had to descend Twins Tower facing inward due to the extreme exposure and steepness of the arete.]

 

I couldn't believe it when we turned forward again and walked across the col to our packs. I had done it! Crazy! I was pumped. I owe TJ and JW for trusting me enough to drag me up something like Twins Tower - probably my most technical snow climb yet and one of the most beautiful I'm likely to ever do in my life. It was a very special moment for me when I realized I could (and did!) do a mountain like Twins Tower. (NOTE: Since climbing Twins Tower, I've done other steep snow climbs including Mount Collie, Ayesha and Trapper on the Wapta Icefield. These are very similar in nature to Twins Tower - possibly even more hazardous then the conditions we had, which were perfect.)

 


[TJ  waits at the col for JW and I to get back to our packs.]


[From the col, looking up at North Twin (L) and the other team still descending Twins Tower (R). ++]

 

TJ kicked steps up the north ridge of North Tower as payment for Raf's team leading on Twin Tower. It felt so great to be climbing with the cool air, terrific exposure on each side and views over a sea of peaks that for just a minute or two I forgot how tired I was. I can assure you that not once from breakfast to climbing North Twin to Twins Tower and back to camp again did I think about work. Not even once. :-)

 


[Raf's photo of JW, TJ and I climbing back up North Twin.]


[Vern pops up North Twin from Twins Tower. TJ Nault Photo.]


[JW on the summit of North Twin]


[Vern on the summit of North Twin. ++ - TJ Nault Photograph.]


[JW peers down the east face of North Twin, trying to see into another crevasse right beneath the summit. You can just see the hole that TJ found on the way up, below him to the left of the rope. ++]
 

Once at the summit of North Twin we snapped a few more pictures and then had a great ski down the south ridge and back to camp. The wind was slowly picking up again as we approached camp and we realized that Ferenc had only just arrived back too.

 


[We get closer to the ski drop near the summit of North Twin]
 


[TJ skis the south ridge of North Twin]


[JW's turn for turns!]


[TJ again]


[Impressive views of the lower ice fall on the south ridge of North Twin and the impressive summit of South Twin as I re-ascend up to our camp]


[A panorama of Mount Columbia and South Twin from the trip back to camp. ++.]

 

Ferenc was bitterly disappointed that he hadn't gotten Twins Tower with us, which I can totally understand. It's extremely difficult to get time off work / family at the exact time that friends, conditions and weather are perfect on the remote northern part of the Columbia Icefields. When the dust settled and I didn't get South and West Twin, I was pretty disappointed too! It took me another two expeditions and three years to finally complete South and West Twin and based on Raf, Adam and Jay's trip, we would have easily bagged both those peaks the next day... Oh well!, life throws surprises and you have to roll with them or get swallowed by them.

 


[Setting up the tent when we get back - the tent pole was made from my ski poles so we had to collapse it during the day when I needed them for skiing.]

 

We spent Saturday afternoon the same as the day before, Ferenc in the other tent most of the afternoon, not feeling well, and the other three of us building the wall even higher (!) and trying to hydrate and eat as much as possible for the next days effort when we would be going for South and West Twin. I couldn't believe I had gotten Twins Tower - I stayed pumped the rest of the day. Ferenc seemed to be OK with the idea of taking a rest day on Sunday and even talked to Raf about joining his rope team for their trip out on Sunday afternoon rather than wait until Monday for us, to which Raf agreed. I remember TJ making an off hand comment to Ferenc about having altitude sickness but none of us took it very seriously - we weren't high enough for that were we? It didn't seem possible that he was truly suffering from the altitude.

 


[Hanging out at camp and trying to stay hydrated and healthy. TJ Nault Photograph.]

 

We turned into our tents around 1930 and tried to get some sleep. TJ fell into a deep sleep by 2100 and I was going in and out - I certainly felt better without all the extra stuff in my sleeping bag! The wind was picking up again and was whipping and flapping the tent furiously, raining moisture down on my face constantly but I managed to drift off for about 30 minutes at a time anyway.

 

Sleep didn't come for the other tent at all.

 

I woke up from a weird dream at around 23:30 on Saturday night to the sound of coughing and talking in the other tent. This went on for about 45 minutes before I heard the voices get louder and saw a light come on. This went on for a while before JW started yelling over at our tent that "something's wrong with Ferenc!". I woke up TJ, who was fast asleep and we started to earnestly discuss what to do. Ferenc felt like he had water in his lungs and was desperately trying to get air in between minutes of steady hacking and coughing. It was quite the experience to lay there in a howling wind storm in the dark and listen to someone dying in the next tent. Not good. :(

 

Soon I yelled over that they should hit 911 on Ferenc's SPOT if they felt the situation was getting out of hand. JW yelled back that it had been going on all night and was certainly out of hand by this point. Ferenc must have felt really awful because he agreed to hit 911 and call for help. He knew what this would do to his wife and he knew what it would do for his future climbs as well but he still hit the button - that's how I know that he knew he was in deep trouble at this point. Of course we knew the rescue wouldn't come until Sunday morning at the earliest so we found ourselves with at least 5 or 6 hours of more coughing and more helplessness as we waited for day light. We obviously couldn't sleep due to Ferenc's condition so we made some warm water and visited in TJ's tent while Ferenc coughed and struggled to breathe in the tent beside us.

 

 
[A gorgeous sunrise belies our situation early on Sunday morning. ++]


[TJ sets out marker wands early on Sunday (borrowed from Raf's team) to mark our camp for the chopper]


[Sunrise on Sunday morning from camp. ++]

 

We had some good discussions and disagreements about our situation. The problem with SPOT is that you send a message and cross your fingers until help arrives - it's a one way conversation. This means you either have to trust in the technology or try to self-rescue anyway. There's good arguments for both positions but at the end of the day we decided to trust the technology and stay warm and protected at camp.

 

On hindsight the best option (other than a SPOT heli rescue) was to send out two fast skiers (i.e. JW and TJ) to get help from the Columbia Icefields Visitor Centre. They could have skied out in 3 hours (in the dark, if necessary) and called for help within 4 hours, whereas trying to sled out Ferenc would have taken many more hours and resulted in much more risk to everyone involved. 

 


[It was extremely windy again on Sunday morning near camp]

 

We managed to get confirmation of our SPOT signal from emergency dispatch personnel by making a call on Raf's teams' satellite phone before it ran out of batteries. We waited for what seemed like a long time on Sunday morning, trying to reason how we got to where we were and what our options were to avoid this situation again before we finally heard the sounds of chopper blades from the North Twin / Stutfield col. We dashed out of the tent to signal the chopper to our camp.

 

The chopper landed and within 5 minutes Ferenc was on it, we passed on the numbers of our wives (to let them know we were OK) and Ferenc was whisked quickly off the glacier towards Jasper.

 


[The rescue guide takes some info from us and asks us to pick up Ferenc in Jasper on our way home]


[The chopper landed in the high winds no problem. It seemed pretty full - our theory is that they picked up some friends for the incredible flight over hwy #93 in such clear conditions. :-)]

 

Silence settled over camp as we turned to the task of disassembling camp and heading out. We were exhausted - especially JW who'd had a few nights of basically no sleep already by this point. We had some interesting discussions while cleaning up camp. We were disappointed because other than a fierce wind, we had perfect conditions for summiting South and West Twin and we knew that Raf's team were going to climb them successfully. Oh well. Stuff happens and you have to deal with it when it does. It was a LOT of work to get all the way into the north end of the ice fields but we did manage 4 11000er's in 2 days and we will be back for the remaining two or three (Cromwell).

 

As we were packing up camp we got a nice surprise. Fabrice and Josee from GoldenScrambles.ca stopped by on their way up North Twin! I have never met either of these two and it was great to finally meet them out in the middle of nowhere! They were shocked by our story of Ferenc's situation and eventually they slowly went on their way up North Twin.

 


[Fabrice and Josee stop by for a visit on their way up North Twin. Note the howling wind in the background!]


[Digging out camp on another gorgeous day.]

 

The ski out went without any major issues. We met a group going for North Twin on our way out, but their base camp was under Snowdome's west flank - which meant they wouldn't even be on North Twin until late afternoon - never mind Twins Tower. We realized that most teams leave themselves a very long day trip into the Twins area due to not moving base camp close enough to North Twin. This is understandable, thanks to the long approach, but ruins a lot of potential summits, I'm sure.

 


[Mount Bryce seen from the west shoulder of Snowdome]

 
[Panorama from the west shoulder of Snowdome showing Columbia, King Edward, South and North Twin. ++]

 

The run down the ramp and through the ice fall was very quick from high on Snowdome and we weren't alone on it - several other groups were also coming down. Columbia looked like a busy peak to be climbing this particular weekend. It's funny how much bigger the terrain on Columbia is compared with the Wapta.

 

 
[Skiing down the ramp off the ice fields, Andromeda at upper right and Snow Dome's seracs on the left. ++]


[Time for the slog back up the snocoach road.]

 

It was also quite funny when we finally got back off the glacier and up to the snocoach sheds. There was a group of around 75 Japanese tourists waiting for their turn on the snow coach and they were delighted by the sight of 3 tall, stinky guys with skis on their backs and sun burnt faces appearing over the edge of the parking lot! We were forced into the group while many pictures were snapped! It was quite embarrassing for us because we knew that we must have smelled something nasty. After our brief shot at 'fame' we walked down the road to the climber's parking lot and JW's truck.

 


[Coming up the snocoach road. TJ Nault Photograph.]


[Walking down the road at the end of a good adventure.]


[Walking to the climber's parking lot]


[It felt wonderful to be in the warm sunshine again.]

 

We ended up driving to Jasper before I could connect with Hanneke via cell phone, and she informed us that Ferenc had been taken by ambulance to Edmonton. We were more concerned now that his health had been seriously compromised and we realized that it was a very good thing we called for help when we did. It was a long ride home with lots of good conversation and big future climbing plans.

 

A week later as I write this, Ferenc is still recovering. He is probably going to be fine but there was some confusion with the doctors over what he exactly suffered from. It seems obvious to us that it was HAPE but the doctors also found some evidence of pneumonia - which doesn't really have anything to do with HAPE. In the end I guess it doesn't really matter, what happened, happened and we all learned from it.

Summit Elevation (m): 
3,627
Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,900
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 5 : you fall, you are dead
Difficulty Notes: 

Columbia ice fields route includes severe crevasse issues and extremely steep snow slopes. Don't minimize these risks and learn how to manage them before attempting this trip.

Utopia Mountain

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Morrison P. Bridgland in 1916. From the summit Bridgland was able to look down upon their comfortable camp Official name. (from peakfinder.com

YDS Class: 
4th Class
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,602

After bagging both Pyramid and Cinquefoil mountains the previous day, So and I were ready to help me close out my "Kane" Jasper scrambles with an ascent of Utopia Mountain. It turns out that I left the best for last. 

 

After packing up our campsite at 05:00 we started to feel rain drops. Uh oh. Was I going to have to drive a round trip of 10 hours from Calgary just to get my last Kane scramble in Jasper? It turns out we got very lucky (again) with the weather. By the time we started our hike the sky was clearing and there was no more rain for the remainder of our scramble.

 


[This old hotel / pool complex was decommissioned in 1988. It looks a lot older than that!]

 

As others have pointed out, this scramble unfolds exactly how the guidebook says it will. The only thing different is that the trail on climbers left of the creek is more than just a "smattering" but is rather, a continuous ribbon of trail complete with cairns and (green) flagging where appropriate. Also, if you stick to the trail you will end up going up the correct drainage because that's exactly where it takes a very steep but unmistakable turn left, up the mountain!

 

 

 


[A nice paved path to start with. Utopia looming in the background.]


[A bit of a bushwhack to after leaving the stream.]


[A ribbon shows the way as we break tree line! ]

 

We negotiated the obvious break onto the first ridge and then proceeded towards the second. We didn't like the looks of the endless scree slog around the second ridge (crux) so we went straight up it instead - as Kane describes. This proved to be a very good choice! The second ridge is fun hands-on scrambling. Neither So nor I found it very difficult, more on the "moderate" side of difficult if anything. The one tricky move wasn't that bad and the exposure wasn't any worse (we felt) than the little bit you'll experience near the summit.

 

 


[So starts up the break to the first ridge. There are some cairns here and different route possibilities from moderate to difficult depending on your choice.]


[So ascends the first ridge.]


[Looking ahead to the crux on the second ridge. You can see the crux bypass to climbers right, in the scree at the center of the photograph. Not worth it IMO, unless the ridge is wet or icy or something.]

 

The little bit of snow on our route had prompted us to take our alpine axes but we didn't need them. The stretch between the false and true summit was almost as tricky as the second ridge - not bad but don't trip or slip here! We were the first party to sign the register for 2010, someone else was up there though - we could see tracks in the snow, and not many parties seem to make this summit considering how close it is to a national park monument (Miette Hot Springs).

 

 


[So starts up the crux.]


[Fun, hands-on scrambling!]


[Another fantastic day in Jasper.]


[More fun on the ridge.]


[Off the fun part, now back to scree bashing up to the third and final ridge.]


[We find some snow to make our ascent a bit less tedious up the rubble slopes.]


[Ahhhh. A gorgeous morning! The crux ascent ridge is highlighted by sunlight in the lower part of this photo.]


[So, with the false summit on the right and the true summit in the center background.]


[The final section of ridge to the true summit looks harder than it is.]

 

The views from the summit did not disappoint. They were incredible, even with some cloud cover lurking. The prairies to the east and the giants of Jasper to the west contrasted with the deep blue sky, white puffy clouds and green valleys with sparkling lakes to remind me what I love so much about Jasper. Just because I don't have any more Kane scrambles to do, doesn't mean I won't be back. There's tons of great hikes, backpacking trips and mountaineering adventures to keep a person busy in Jasper for the rest of their life.

 

 


[Summit view.]


[Summit view northwest to Mount O'Hagan, including the false summit.]


[Summit views.]


[More views to the south west towards Colin and Hawk Mountain.]


[Vern on the summit of Utopia Mountain.]


[Very distinctive peaks to the west.]


[Charlton and Unwin with Warren at far left.]


[So descends the summit ridge crux.]

 

For our descent we backtracked to the col between the second ridge and the scree slog to the third ridge. From there we tried our best to scree surf on the thick scree, following the obvious trail down. It kind of worked. We lost height very quickly and traversed out skier's left on green slopes to a rushing stream. We followed this back to the ascent valley and found the ascent trail. Some gorgeous waterfalls kept us distracted before hooking up with the trail at the steep gully, which we followed back to the Utopia Pass trail.

 


[Descending the scree gully, the crux second ridge is on the right.]


[In the feeder canyon to the main ascent creek.]


[Lots of unexpected beauty in this alternate descent route. And no. I'm not talking about So!! :-)]


[Another waterfall.]


[Waterfalls and blue skies. It doesn't get much better than this.]


[Utopia Mountain rises above the creek on the way out.]

 

Did I mention how much I love Jasper? Oh yeah. I'll be back.

Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,537
Elevation Gain (m): 
1400
Round Trip Time: 
5.50
Total Distance (km): 
10.90
Difficulty Notes: 

A fall on the crux would severely injure or kill so take necessary precautions.

Warren, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Named by Mary Schaffer in 1908. Warren, Billy (An early outfitter in the Rockies, Billy Warren guided Mary Schaffer to Maligne Lake in 1908.) Official name.

First ascended in 1928 by W.R. Hainsworth, M.M. StrumiaJournal reference CAJ 17-25.

 

(from peakfinder.com)

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
7
Endurance Level: 
Extreme
YDS Class: 
3rd Class
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Thursday, July 30, 2015 to Sunday, August 2, 2015
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,359

If I'm totally honest about it, I didn't really feel like climbing Warren after a long day of approaching and climbing Mount Brazeau the day before, not to mention a very restless night spent sleeping in a very noisy and cold mid, thanks to a strong west wind blasting our exposed bivy site on the glacier. Somehow, I'd miscalculated how chilly it was going to be at around 10,000 feet on a large icefield at the beginning of August! I was really wishing for my down jacket during the night and it took all we had to force ourselves out of bed at 06:30 to put on soaking wet boots and get the stoves fired up, all while feeling the bite of a cold morning wind no matter where we sat or how small we tried to make ourselves.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2015/07/31/warren-mount/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,030
Elevation Gain (m): 
1400
Round Trip Time: 
15.00
Total Distance (km): 
17.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 4 : you fall, you are almost dead
Difficulty Notes: 

Depending on conditions, there are either avalanche or crevasse risks. The steep slopes under the summit can also be ice.

West Twin

Trip Category: 
MN - Ski Mountaineering
Interesting Facts: 

A snowy subpeak of South Twin, less than a kilometer to the northwest. This snow bump is included on usual peakbaggers list of Canadian Rockies peaks above 11,000 feet. Height notes: It was not listed at all in Putnam 1974. (from bivouac.com)

Technical Difficulty Level: 
8
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Grade: 
I
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Friday, May 3, 2013
Summit Elevation (m): 
3,360
In 2012 I made my first attempts at peaks on the massive playground of rock, snow and ice that's known as the Columbia Icefield.

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2013/05/03/west-twin/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,024
Total Distance (km): 
45.00
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 3 : you fall, you break your leg
Difficulty Notes: 

Columbia ice fields route includes severe crevasse issues and extremely steep snow slopes. Don't minimize these risks and learn how to manage them before attempting this trip.

Whistlers, The

Interesting Facts: 

Named by E. Deville (Director of the Geological Survey of Canada) in 1916. The mountain is named after the hoary marmot, also known as the whistling marmot. Official name. (info from peakfinder.com)

YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Monday, June 30, 2008
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,464

I decided early on in 2008 that it was time I bagged a few of the Kane peaks in Jasper National Park. In the span of two weeks I've now completed over half of them! Indian Ridge and The Whistlers were my latest Jasper peaks. I shared the pleasure with two nephews and two brother-in-laws on June 30 2008.

 

Part of me hesitates to claim The Whistlers as a summit on my summit log, but since I down-climbed the whole trail and ran into an aggressive bear for all my efforts, I'm claiming it. I've done a lot less work for a summit in Jasper before! (Amber Mountain is a simple hike up about 20 meters and off to the side of the main trail when you're already on the Skyline trail. Signal Mountain isn't much more of an effort than Amber.)

 

We were the first ones at the tram and soon were rocketing up the first part of The Whistlers. I hate trams. It didn't help that there were only teenage summer students running the thing and they seemed very fresh at it. I also happened to know that the week before, the tram was shut down for maintenance so I wasn't in the best of spirits as we rode the 1" cable up the mountain!

 

We stepped off the tram station at around 9:30 AM and began the trudge up The Whistlers (about 200 meters height gain). The weather was beautiful with mostly clear skies and only a bit of haze off to the south. My two brothers-in-law were doing pretty good and my two nephews didn't seem to have any issues with the first part of the ascent either. We were all huffing pretty good by the top of Whistlers but we made good time (25 minutes) and the views were great in all directions - especially Mount Robson off to the Northwest. It wasn't that strange to think that there were some people just stranded for 18 days on that mountain - it looks pretty intimidating from 80km away!

 

After some drinks and photos on The Whistlers (named after the numerous Marmots up there), we descended into the tranquil valley between The Whistlers and Indian Ridge. This height loss is important to note, as you have to regain it on the way back! It's about 180 meters and it feels like it. I was looking at the snow on Indian Ridge, just before the summit, and thinking that we were going to have to be lucky to summit in those conditions, but I kept silent about it. Sometimes things look a lot easier when you're a bit closer, especially mountains. As we went higher the route became a bit more exposed to climber's right. One of the boys began to get a wee bit nervous and even my brothers-in-law were getting a bit overcome with the views and the airy feeling that comes with ridge walking. I love scrambling with people who have never done it because it helps me remember why I do it!

 


[Harold hikes up from the tram station to The Whistlers.]


[Indian Ridge looks fantastic in the clear morning light. The peak is on the upper left of the photo. The entire traverse is visible here.]


[Looking back at The Whistlers summit. We lost about 180 vertical meters before going back up Indian Ridge.]


[Calvin coming up Indian Ridge. Pyramid Mountain in the background just left of The Whistlers.]

 

Eventually we came up to the snow. It was actually a cornice that hung out over the north face of the ridge - not a good place to fall down. I thought the snow was pretty bomber and would most likely hold but there was no way I was letting my two nephews take that kind of risk! My sister would kill me if anything happened to them. They were done anyway as the route steepened considerably above this point. We agreed that I would tag the summit and come back to the group before heading back down. I quickly went over the ridge, trying not to stray onto the cornice. The last part was the best in terms of scrambling with good holds and pretty solid rock. I still think this is more 'low-moderate' than 'easy', especially when compared to other easy scrambles I've done. At the summit there were great views in every direction. The mountains to the west were especially colorful and Edith Cavell and Robson tried to steal the show in opposite directions. When I peered down at the group waiting below, my one brother-in-law yelled that he was coming up. I went down a bit and helped him up some of the steep stuff which made him a bit nervous but also exhilarated. Now my sister's really going to hate me - when her husband decides to bag peaks! :-) He was really blown away by the views and the feeling of a summit - his first real Rockies summit ever! (He's done Tunnel Mountain but that hardly counts...)

 

 


[Summit view from Indian Ridge looking North. Robson is tiny dot in middle...]


[Mount Robson.]


[Mount Edith Cavell.]


[The Ramparts.]


[Beautiful valley behind Indian Ridge, looking west.]


[Harold and Vern on the summit of Indian Ridge.]


[Another look at the beautiful valley.]


[Summit panorama. ++]

 

The way back was without incident. When we got to the tram there was a huge backup of people. Apparently something wasn't quite working with one of the cars. This made me VERY anxious since I hate those things at the best of times. When we were told it would be "at least an hour", I mentioned that I was hiking down the Whistlers hiking trail and they could meet me at the bottom.

 

 


[Descending the ridge. Not that easy...]


[There is some risk here - that's why I went first! :-)]


[Coming back down the ridge.]


[Typical terrain on the ridge.]


[Clouds add drama to the Indian Ridge valley.]


[Looking over the north end of Indian Ridge.]


[Another shot of Robson as we descend.]


[The colors are amazing as is the terrain!]


[Awesome lighting created by moving clouds. |]


[More drama.]

 


[The namesake of The Whistlers.]


[The tram station with the descent trail clearly visible.]

 

Of course, my nephews didn't want to sit around for 1.5 hours either so they right away volunteered to come with me. Now my two brothers-in-law weren't going to be out-hiked by a couple of youngsters so they also decided (reluctantly) to follow me down! Ooops. The Whistlers trail is not a great one. Don't say I didn't warn you. The views are very limited. There are mosquitoes and water on the trail and after descending quite quickly the trail drags on and ofor way too long. It got very annoying the more east (away from the parking lot) we got. I knew that the trail head was different than the tram parking lot but didn't think it was that far away.

 

Right before getting to the trail head (we could see the vehicles in the parking lot) I brought up my nephews with a shout. Just below us, on the trail was a rather large black bear! We had been yelling for bears the whole way down, and even ran into some people going up, so I was surprised when the bear just looked at us and started coming up the trail - straight for us!! This wasn't cool. I expected the bear to run into the bush - I knew that an aggressive bear isn't to be trifled with so I coaxed my (nervous at this point) nephews back up the trail towards my two brothers-in-law who were a bit behind us. I knew that it would take an insane bear to challenge 5 people. Once the brothers-in-law caught up to us we all slowly went down the trail to the parking lot with no more signs of the bear. We did hear an air horn and someone yelling though. As we trekked the trail from the hiking parking lot to the tram parking lot I conjectured that the yelling and the air horn was some idiot trying to scare the bear away from the road. I wondered why they didn't just shut up and leave the bear alone.

 

 


[Descending the trail that never ends!]


[Some sections were easier than others.]

 

As we got closer to the hostel (it sits between the two parking lots) the air horn and yelling got louder and louder. We were all yelling because we knew the bear was close by and soon the yelling started over-lapping. "Get out of that bush", someone yelled at us. "What the heck do you think we're doing?", we yelled back. The most bizarre sight greeted us in the hostel's back yard. Some dude with no shirt was standing on a pile of logs with an air horn in his right hand and both hands raised above his head! When I asked him what the heck he was doing he replied that we had scared no less than 4 bears into the hostel area on our way down The Whistlers and he was busy scaring them right back up the trail!! I told him that he was not doing the single girl or the two Japanese tourists (with a yippy little dog) any favors but he didn't seem to care that he was disturbing 4 bears back up a popular hiking trail towards unsuspecting hikers. What an idiot. I really do hope that no-one else ran into those bears because that's why they were so aggressive. It was either some hikers or a dude with an air horn - most smart bears would take their chances with the hikers. That is why the bear we saw wasn't scared of us like he should have been. The good news is that yelling while hiking definitely works, the bad news is that sometimes you end up chasing the bears right down to the parking lot where they have little choice but to come straight back up at you!

 

The short hike up the highway in 32 degree heat almost killed us but we made it. A highly recommended scramble but I would suggest waiting till the snow clears and doing the whole traverse of Indian Ridge on a clear day. That would be a much better use of your energy then hiking down the Whistlers trail!

Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,084
Total Distance (km): 
20.00
Difficulty Notes: 

A long hike up beneath a tram - not the best scenery or route. Tons of bears when I did it (3 or 4!)

Woolley / Diadem Approach and Bivy

Interesting Facts: 

The approach to the Woolley / Diadem bivy site located under the east faces of the two mountains and just south of Mushroom Peak is one of the prime spots to bivy in the Rockies and fairly easy to reach.

Trip Category: 
OT - Off-Trail Hiking
Technical Difficulty Level: 
3
Endurance Level: 
Med
YDS Class: 
Hiking
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
No
Trip Date: 
Thursday, September 4, 2014

I had the whole week of September 1-7 off, but ended up working a couple of days on Tues / Wed due to bad weather. By Thursday I was ready to resume my break. Steven, Ben and I had plans for Fri-Sun so I had an extra day to do something myself. Originally I had a peak in mind but after thinking about it I decided to hike into the Woolley / Diadem bivy area by myself on Thursday and spend an extra night just chilling and reading or taking photos at one of the best bivy sites in the Rockies.

 

I arrived at the parking area along hwy 93 at around 13:00 and by 14:00 I had easily crossed the river flats in my hip waders (knee deep at most) and was ready for the approach hike. The next 3.5 hours were a lovely hike up steep forested hills, along a rushing stream with wild views of snow covered peaks and waterfalls. I certainly felt alone as I steadily worked my way to tree line and by the time I grunted up the last rise to the bivy area I was ready to drop my rather heavy pack. I couldn't believe my altimeter watch when it told me I'd done over 700 vertical meters! That explained why I was feeling the approach... There is a clear trail the whole way up, if you pay attention to rock cairns and faint paths through the boulders and rocks higher up. Mostly you should be near a stream running down on your right, but the trail does vary a bit in sections. I walked through the stream bed a few times rather than spend time in the trees, but with high water you couldn't do that.

 

The rest of my afternoon and evening were a wonderful few hours of relaxing in my warm tent with an e-book and warm cups of hot chocolate and coffee. Honestly, I'm not sure why I don't do just this more often. Hike to a gorgeous bivy and spend a few days reading and just relaxing. I might do more of this in the future.

 


Looking across the Sunwapta River flats with Mushroom Peak at upper right and the start of the hiking trail near the obvious scar at right where Woolley Creek comes down.


Crossing the Sunwapta River was easy in late summer.


Immediately after crossing the Sunwapta River you go up an obvious trail on climber's left of Woolley Creek.


The trail is very obvious at first, and when it winds through forest.


A very impressive waterfall at the beginning of the trail.


Once above the waterfall the trail varies between forest and stream bed (sometimes both) but should still be pretty obvious. For an 11,000er approach, it's a highway.


Being in this wild place alone was a wonderful experience.


Wild beauty all around. It doesn't get better than this in the Rockies.


Mount Engelhard is an impressive peak at 10,729 feet high.


Looking back down Woolley Creek towards Tangle Ridge.


The easiest place to lose the trail (right Ben and Steven?! :)) is near the big boulder field where the trail starts off well to climber's left of the stream before taking a 90 degree turn through the boulder field (cairns) directly towards it and then heading up beside the stream in the boulder field (cairns).


Looking back down at the ascent valley - Tangle Ridge in the distance across hwy #93.


Cairns mark the way.


Getting closer to treeline. I had a few flurries and a brief snow squall on approach.


Finally three of our objectives come into view. Woolley, Diadem and Mushroom Peak from L to R.

 
Looking back down the approach from above treeline. Peaks in the distance include Cromwell and Engelhard. 

 
Just before the bivy site - views are stunning! There's quite a bit of fresh snow on our route but this means less ice in the couloirs, which is a good thing.


Views from my tent.


More views from my tent.


My little nest of isolation and relaxation in the midst of snow, ice and rock. I should do more of this...

 

As the evening shadows grew long the realization that I was very alone in a wilderness setting became more acute but I was fine with it. As a matter of fact, I loved it! I've spent so much time outdoors, sleeping in bivy sacks and tents over the past 10 years that doing it alone didn't seem that scary at all. I drifted off to sleep eventually and didn't wake until something started rustling around my tent at 03:00.

 

 
I went for an evening stroll near camp and got this view of the Woolley Tarn with Woolley, Diadem and Mushroom in the background. 


The sun sets and casts a nice glow on clouds to the east.


A subtle sunset over Woolley and Diadem.

 

I wasn't scared by the creature, but rather annoyed. I was tired, the wind was blowing quite strong and I just wanted to sleep, so I ignored whatever it was that was turning over rocks and bumping my tent for a few minutes - trying to fall back asleep. Eventually I gave up, put my head lamp on and stumbled out of the tent with my fixed blade knife in hand- ready to do battle if necessary with whatever was out there. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't locate the creature with my head lamp. This told me that it was small or very, very quick. As I got ready to go back into the tent I looked up and noticed the incredible night sky above my tent - it was unbelievable! The Milky Way was lit up over Mount Woolley, kind of reminiscent of my Robson experience a year ago. Since I was up anyway I spent the next 1.5 hours taking photographs of the night sky.

 


The Milky Way lights up the night sky over Mount Woolley and Diadem Peak near my bivy.


Looking east isn't as impressive as the Milky Way, but there's still a lot of star action going on there.


Looking directly overhead at the Milky Way and meteors lighting up the night sky. The M31 (Andromeda) galaxy is even visible here (top left)! It's one of the most distant objects in the night sky that's visible to the naked eye at 2.5 million light years away. The Andromeda galaxy will eventually collide with our Milky Way galaxy, ending our puny existence on Earth in case we're still around then, which is very doubtful!

 

Just as I was about to go back to bed, I heard a creature coming towards me from the empty bivy corral next to mine! I shone my light on a huge pack rat, moving right towards me! I yelled and threw small rocks at it, but it totally ignored me and started rooting around near my tent where I did my cooking. It was getting ready to take my stove or other things of value, when I decided this was getting crazy and went into full battle mode. To make a long story short - I ended the reign of that giant rat at 04:30 on the morning of September 5th, 2014. Battle weary, I went back to bed and slept until warm sunshine woke me at 08:00 on Friday morning.

Summit Elevation (m): 
2,200
Elevation Gain (m): 
700
Total Distance (km): 
6.50
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 2 : you fall, you sprain your wrist
Difficulty Notes: 

Crossing the Sunwapta River is your biggest challenge by far. Don't underestimate it during spring or summer months!!

Woolley, Mount

Interesting Facts: 

Named by J. Norman Collie in 1898. Woolley, Hermann (Hermann Woolley climbed extensively with Norman Collie.) (see biog.) Official name. First ascended in 1925 by S. Hashimoto, H. Hatano, T. Hayakawa, Y. Maki, Y.Mita, N. Okabe, guided by Hans Fuhrer, H. Kohler, J. Weber. The first ascent of Mount Woolley was completed by the Japanese Alpine Club's party four days after their first ascent of Mount Alberta. (from peakfinder.com

Trip Category: 
MN - Mountaineering
Technical Difficulty Level: 
8
Endurance Level: 
High
YDS Class: 
4th Class
YDS Grade: 
II
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, September 6, 2014

Steven, Ben and I spent a few days in early September 2014 in the Woolley / Diadem area, just north of the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park. I approached the bivy site on Thursday and spent the first night there solo, a wonderfully relaxing afternoon and night despite doing battle with an aggressive pack rat (I won btw).

 


!!Attention!! explor8ion.com is being updated and trip reports migrated to a new site while this one is still operational. The new version of this trip report can be found at https://verndewit.com/2014/09/06/woolley-mount/ and contains more photos in a modern format. For more information on this move and possible future changes please click here.


 

Summit Elevation (m): 
3,405
Summit Elevation (ft): 
11,171
Elevation Gain (m): 
1250
Quick 'n Easy Rating: 
Class 4 : you fall, you are almost dead
Difficulty Notes: 

Steep snow or ice couloirs to 45 degrees. Glacier travel and steep, wet, scree covered rock in between the couloirs.