President, The


Trip Details
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Trip Date: 
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Summit Elevation (m): 
Summit Elevation (ft): 
Elevation Gain (m): 
Total Distance (km): 
Difficulty Notes: 

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

Trip Report
On Friday evening, July 25th 2008, Raf, Keith, Wietse and I hiking into the Little Yoho campground in Yoho National Park with plans to ascent both the President and the Vice President early on Saturday morning.

We left Calgary at around 17:00 and arrived in the Takkakkaw Falls parking lot around 19:30. By 20:00 we were hiking into the Yoho Valley on a good trail. This is the 4th time I've gone into the Little Yoho Valley and it's never let me down before. You can count on several things happening to you every time you enter into this wonderful area of the Rockies. They would be, gorgeous views, rain, rain and rain. We experienced all of those things. :-)

[Leaving the parking lot on Friday afternoon after work.]

[A raging Yoho River]

My 3 previous trips to the Yoho Valley had me staying at the luxurious Stanley Mitchell Hut but this time we were going to cram 4 guys into my MEC Wanderer 4-person tent to keep things more 'real', or something like that anyway. My record time for hiking into the hut is 1 hour, 52 minutes with a big pack. I set that pace with Dave Stephens on our RMB hike into the area a few years ago. I tried to match that pace but couldn't quite manage it again. I'm going to blame the extra glacier and tent gear for the extra 18 minutes it took me this time!

[A view of our objectives the evening before.]

It was nice to get the tent set up while there was still some daylight left. By 22:00 I was in bed while the other boys enjoyed a stiff shot of Jagermeister (Raf carries that stuff everywhere - I'm starting to wonder about that lad...) and one of our crew even decided that mixing it with Advil would be a good idea. I never did find out how that worked for him but he didn't talk in his sleep so I guess it certainly didn't hurt any.


Everyone survived the cramped quarters and precisely at 04:00 two alarms went off simultaneously. We all leaped out of our sleeping bags, refreshed and ready to tackle the climb. (Ok, the truth is that we dragged our sorry butts slowly out of our warm sleeping bags and reluctantly decided to climb now that we were awake anyway. Plus we figured that climbing a mountain would warm us up a bit.)

On our way out of the campground we could see 3 head lamps bobbing their way along the opposite side of the river. Obviously we wouldn't be the only ones on the Presidents this day. We were actually a bit relieved because now we wouldn't have to do any route-finding (or so we thought). There are two or even three route choices you have within 30 minutes of embarking on this climb. You can either cut off to climbers left immediately upon arriving at the sign indicating Kiwetinok Pass is still 4km ahead. If it's pitch dark and you're not familiar with this area I would not recommend this approach. You could end up climbing Barometer Peak by accident. Or you could end up on the knife-edge moraine and slip off. Wouldn't it be embarrassing to miss your climb because you fell off of a moraine?! That would be seriously uncool. Trust me.


The other two choices are a bit easier to negotiate in the dark. As it turns out, we did one way while the other ascent party did the other. Most recent trip reports and advice that we got from climbers who had done the Presidents in the past 5 years all advised us to go up the climbers left hand side of the glacier before traversing over and crossing the 'schrund on climbers right. This is to avoid the rock fall coming off the President on the way up the glacier. I liked the sound of not having rocks falling on me so when we got to the terminal moraine I followed an obvious trail going up the left side of it. We caught up to the other 3 climbers at this point and after a brief "hello", we went our own ways. (It looked to me like there was a guide and two clients, and we found out later that the guide was Tom Wolfe, a well known local guide.) The other party started ascending a lateral moraine after crossing the stream coming from the Presidents glacier. We stuck to the left side of the stream and followed cairns and a good trail all the way up past a waterfall and right up to the glacier just left of center. The other party gained some extra height and we stayed just ahead of them the rest of the trip.


After roping up at the base of the glacier, Raf led the group up towards the col between the President and Vice President. We started out on bare ice but soon were in supportive snow. Raf set a slow-but-steady pace and we inched our way up through the fantastic early morning light. Alpine glow lit up the President as we started to inch towards the right side of the glacier. The bergschrund (where the glacier breaks off of itself and opens a huge crevasse) started to look quite large as we approached it. We had a clear track to follow and Raf wisely did just that! We all had to stop to take photos of the 'schrund as we climbed over and above it on a firm snow bridge to climbers right. The size was more obvious when Tom and his clients walked up next to it. Not a good place to fall into! Once over the 'schrund we found ourselves at the col, staring up at a steep, snowy slope that led to the summit of the President.


[Getting close to the glacier under the light of the moon, looking back at Kiwetinok, Pollinger and McArthur (L to R) which I climbed in 2006 with Bob Parr.]
[Looking back down the glacier - morning light just starting now.]

[Early morning light as we head up the glacier - Vice President on the left, President on the right.]

[The glacier is melted out pretty good by this point. Alpine glow starting to show on the President.]

[It's shaping up to be a glorious day as we approach the firn line - the point where glacial ice is replaced by permenant snow.]

[The glacier was very easy to climb, thanks to the firm snow]

[Looking back down the glacier at Tom Wolfe with his clients.]

[Approaching the large bergschrund]

[The size of the 'schrund is obvious when Tom and his clients approach it!]

[Taking a break at the col where we ditched the rope.]

We decided to leave the rope at the col and proceeded up the President without crampons, although we could have worn them as there was quite a bit of snow above the col. The climb to the summit was only moderate scrambling, even with all the snow. (Raf led us all up a 5.10 section that was over hanging but since it was only 3 feet high we didn't think the whole route deserved this rating. :-)) The snow may have actually made it easier than without, in any case we were on the summit pretty quickly after leaving the col. It was a bit strange being on the summit before 08:00 in the morning but the views were incredible and the air was crisp and cold and clear so we did not regret getting up so early. We could also see clouds building up off to the west and knew that with thunder storms in the forecast we should not linger too long at the risk missing out on the Vice President. Looking over at the Vice President we became very curious about a pointy little peak to the Southeast across the Emerald Glacier. Could that be Micheal Peak? If it was we determined that we were going to give it a shot since we were so early anyway.


[Coming up the steep slope of The President. You can see how high we are relative to other Yoho peaks such as Gordon and Balfour in the far distance.]

[Raf follows old foot prints up The President]

[Incredible views of the Vice President and Michael Peak as Keith and Wietse follow me up to the summit slopes.]

[Higher than the VP now, on scree to the summit thanks to the big melt]

[Summit view down the Little Yoho Valley towards Mount Balfour - the highest peak on the Wapta at 10,735 feet.]

[View over Kiwetinok, Pollinger, McArthur, Isolated towards Arete, Des Poilus, Yoho and Mount Collie in the distance at right.]
[Looking over Mount Kerr's double summit and Kiwetinok Pass towards Amiskwi, Keays and Ogre Peak. ++]
[Looking towards the Wapta]

[Group shot at the summit!]

[Vern enjoying the gorgeous morning on top of the world.]
[Peaks in the distance include Laussadat and Mummery. ++]

On our descent back to the col we met Tom and his clients coming up the President. We exchanged brief pleasantries and continued on our ways after confirming that they too were going up the Vice President next. It worked out perfectly that we were not right behind or in front of each other because the rocks were very loose on both peaks. We sent Wietse across the col to the VP to make sure there were no hidden crevasses before Keith, Raf and I followed him across. There were actually some big cracks at the col but we could see them clearly and there were tracks leading beside them so we felt fairly safe being unroped here. If there's snow covering the col I would seriously not recommend crossing it without a rope. I've heard of people being surprised (and not in a good way) by the cracks up there!

[The snow is already getting soft as we descend back to the col]

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