After summiting Crown Peak we began the descent to the Crown / South Tower col. There were a few anxious moments of wondering what the terrain was going to give us but we managed to avoid all major difficulties by traversing the SW face below the ridge and around any cliff bands that we encountered.
[The amazing views continue as we ascend South Tower. ++]
[Looking back at Ben and Eric descending from Crown Peak. Note the cliffy terrain near the top that we avoided on skier's right (left side of photo)]
The slog up the easy NW ridge / slopes was mercifully short and soon we were enjoying yet another sunny, clear and cool summit view. After fueling up for the long descent and hike ahead of us, we descended to the col and scrambled back up to Crown Peak's summit (far easier than trying to traverse the whole way on slick slabby and rubbly terrain on the SW face). The descent back down Crown was interesting in places but we soon arrived back at the beautiful tarn between Crown and Willingdon and stopped for a breather here.
[Looking west over Devon Lakes with Willingdon and Crown Peaks on the right. ++]
[Amazing summit pano from the top of South Tower. ++]
[Eric comes up to the summit.]
[Temple and other Lake Louise peaks show up in the distance, including Quadra and Bident.]
[The Goodsir Towers with Mount Vaux on the right.]
[I love this shot of Willingdon with Forbes to the left.]
[The colors of the rock are amazing in this shot of Augusta and Recondite]
[Even Abraham Lake shows up from South Tower.]
[A sea of peaks from Lake Louise to the Columbia Icefields shows up. ++]
[Re-ascending Crown Peak with the South Tower in the back ground.]
[The terrain around the summit of Crown Peak is a bit exposed and slick with fresh snow.]
[Some tricky down climbing from Crown Peak to the Willingdon col]
[Willingdon with the tarn as seen from the descent slopes of Crown Peak. ++]
[One last zoomed in view of Willingdon's South ridge and summit from the descent slope of Crown Peak. The glacier / snow arete's just beneath the summit are not the easy scree that we were expecting from other trip reports.]
For our descent to camp, we utilized as much loose scree / snow as we could, contouring around the south ridge and avoiding the cliff bands on the lower part by contouring back to skier's right and around them into the valley where we bivied. After packing up camp we began the long hike back to the parking lot. The hike was awesome though. A stiff, cool west breeze kept the bugs away and kept us from over heating. The scramble back over Quartzite Col really sucked the energy out of us but again, the coolish breeze really helped.
[Loose scree slopes off the south ridge.]
[You can see the cliff bands (L) that we avoided on descent (and ascent).]
[Back near the bivy site.]
[Looking over at Dip Slope it's hard to believe it was snowing yesterday. ++]
[Willingdon, Crown and Tower with Devon Lake on the right and Devon Mountain on extreme right. ++]
[The amazing terrain and views of the Clearwater Valley on the trail to Quartzite Col. I'll be back for sure! ++]
[The valley is a sublime paradise.]
[Another few weeks and fall colors will be at their brightest.]
[The Quartzite Col is an ugly, ugly place compared to the beauty all around it.]
After the col it was simply a matter of finding the faint trail to the Mosquito Creek trail and then plodding back to the car while planning our next big adventure. :) Overall, this was a fantastic trip to an area that's been on my radar for many years already. I'll certainly be back to explore it more in the future! Our total height gain for the trip was around 4000 meters - and that's with a day of inactivity on Friday.
[Much nicer views west of the col! Mosquito Creek runs down the valley just north of Noseeum Mountain on the left.]
[The shadows are getting longer but we still have a ways to go yet! This upper valley under the Quartzite Col would make an excellent bivy location for anyone just seeking solitude for a while.]
[Descending steep banks out of the hanging valley and into the lower valley which will take us to Mosquito Creek.]
[Hiking on the main trail along Mosquito Creek - the end of another great adventure!]