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.
Since TJ, JW and I were 'only' looking for one more day on the Twins, we'd set up our camp much closer to the exit on the ice fields and on the southwest side of Kitchener instead of going the extra 5km closer to the Twins / Stuts area. This was fine for our group but didn't work out for the other group of Anton, Ian and Kev. I think if they were closer they could have at least gone for the Stutfield Peaks and still managed a few more of the northern ice field summits. As it was, they were feeling to tired on Sunday to go all the way back to the Stuts.
Anton, TJ, Ian and I had never done Kitchener and Anton, TJ, JW and I had never done Snow Dome so the decision for Sunday was to get up on time and first ski up Kitchener. Then we would pack up camp and carry the heavy packs up and around Snow Dome's west side. From there we would drop the packs and take just the safety gear on a short ski to the summit. Ian and Kev would join us about 1 hour later at the bag drop location and we would all head home. If the conditions were too nuclear we were prepared to hang out for a bit above the headwall and ramp on the Athabasca Glacier until the snow (hopefully) firmed up a bit.
[A gorgeous sunrise on South and North Twin]
[The west side of Kitchener rises right behind our camp - providing easy access to her summit]
[Sunrise on the Columbia Icefield. ++]
[Note the shadow that Mount Columbia is throwing towards King Edward? ++]
The night was very warm but the snow was still supportive as we worked our way up Kitchener. We avoided any unnecessary height gain or loss and managed to make the summit from camp within about 1.5 hours of leaving camp! No fuss - no muss but it was HOT at the summit. I'm not talking 'warm' - the sun was actually burning down and there wasn't a breath of wind either. TJ very cautiously probed around the summit area and we stayed well back of any possible cornices / ice falls on the edge. This is not an area to play cute with and we didn't.
[Ian skiing up Kitchener with Mount Columbia in the background. It's only 09:00 but very warm already.]
[The north side of the Stutfield Peaks have some impressive cliffs]
[TJ skis to the summit block of Kitchener with South, North Twin and the Stuts on the left. ++]
[Looking past Snow Dome towards Athabasca and Andromeda]
[Getting higher. As you can see - the terrain is very gentle here.]
[TJ probes carefully around the summit area while the rest of us enjoy the fabulous views and HOT sun! ++]
[Mount Athabasca with the Silverhorn route showing ice and the AA route visible too.]
[Mount Andromeda's impressive Skyladder route also shows quite a bit of ice for this time of the year.]
[The Adamant Range and Sir Sanford are clearly visible.]
[Columbia and Edward]
[Looking over at Snow Dome from part way down Kitchener]
[Mount Alberta shows up over the Stuts as I ski down Kitchener]
[Panorama from part way down Kitchener showing much of the Columbia Icefield to the west. ++]
[Panorama looking south towards Athabasca and Andromeda from part way down Kitchener. ++]
[I can't get enough of these views! This shows the route from Kitchener to the northern end of the ice fields. It's much further than it looks and more work too - it's not flat! ++]
[Edward with Tsar in the background]
[Looking back up at the summit of Kitchener - you can barely see the others from my group and another group just above them.]
[Looking down on our camp. What an impressive piece of real estate!]
[A pano showing the context of our camp. ++]
The ski back down to camp was fast and easy - a glorious morning with so many peaks all around it was impossible to count or even take notice of all of them. There is nothing quite like skiing down an easy-angled glacier on such a day. Those moments tend to stick with me through the years as snapshots of pure happiness. This is why I enjoy skiing summits and take the risks to do it!
[Time to pack up camp. Another glorious blue bird day!]
[Our shelter with Columbia]
[Nobody is in a hurry today...]
[Putting the skins back on the skis for the trek up Snow Dome]
[Raf's team is also packing up]
[TJ's enjoying the spring weather]
[JW's trying to fit all his gear!]
Kitchener is not a difficult peak if you ski it from the west side but don't get too casual with the crevasse hazards either. Like any area of the ice fields it demands attention and respect and then it'll give back amazing views and a nice ski run back down.
After packing up camp it was time to head over to Snow Dome and then home.