After completing the easy scramble up Walcott Peak Bill Kerr and I started on the traverse to Mount Burgess. There are a few trip reports available on the scramble route to the summit of Mount Burgess from Walcott Peak. They all indicate that this is a difficult and exposed scramble. There are two acceptable routes, one that goes around two pinnacles on the south ridge (the second pinnacle is only bypassed with a very exposed ledge maneuver). The other route goes up a steep, narrow, loose gully which avoids the two pinnacles and exposed traverse. After the 2nd pinnacle the routes join up and continue on an exposed ridge to the summit. Sounded like fun to us!
Bill and I decided on the gully option since north aspects were holding snow and we couldn't see the ledge from our angle. The gully option also sounded a bit safer although Bill had left his helmet at home so the steep and loose stuff wasn't the safest for him either. According to Bill's logic at least falling off the ledge would not require a helmet - you'd be toast with or without it!
[The two routes seen on our way up Walcott (oos at upper right) a bit earlier in the day.]
[Another photo from our descent, looking back at the ascent gully and pinnacle you should look for.]
We angled down to two snow patches sitting below a number of obvious cracks on the north end of the south trending ridge (Kane's words, not mine). Once at the base of the gullies we had to choose one. All had signs of passage but one of them seemed more traveled than the others. It also had an obvious pinnacle at the top and we remembered that Sonny mentioned this in his description as the proper gully. (There were no cairns marking any of the gullies so we built some here on our return.) The correct gully is the third from climber's left or the second that you'll come across on your descent and traverse from the north peak. You should clearly see a very pointy pinnacle towering over this gully when you start up it.
[Bill starts up the loose gully.]
The gully on Burgess reminded me a lot of the gully on The Fist. Steep, loose and tight in places it is not for the beginner scrambler. I'm not sure if it'll get easier or tougher with more traffic but as it is now you do not want more than two people at a time in this gully - and don't leave your helmet at home either! After exiting the gully right at the 2nd pinnacle we examined the exposed ledge traverse that we had just avoided. At first Bill dismissed it as "not a huge deal" but after a few moments of poking around we both realized how exposed it actually is! ;-) Put it this way, I recommend the gully option for non-climbers...
[The ledge traverse is just to Bill's right - sorry about the blurry photos!]
After the pinnacles / gully there is still difficult scrambling left to the summit. The ridge to the south summit of Burgess is not as difficult as some of Kane's other scrambles but it's pretty close to being another "climber's scramble". Bill commented that the two peaks - Burgess and Walcott - are completely different scrambles. I agree. I'm glad that I can list them as separate peaks, since they deserve separate route descriptions with a common approach. They are completely different. The easy Walcott Peak has better views while the highest peak has much better but more difficult scrambling. Both are great for different reasons.
[Starting the summit ridge, views of the Presidents from the col near the pinnacle.]
[Summit ridge on Burgess.]
[Looking back along the summit ridge - Emerald Lake Lodge far below at lower left.]
[Now the ridge is looking a bit more serious as I look back at Bill.]
[Great view looking back at Walcott from near the summit of Burgess. ++]
[View down the TCH from the summit including Vaux and Chancellor in the clouds at left.]
[Looking across the TCH at Cathedral (L) and Stephen (C).]
We couldn't believe our luck with the weather as we sat on another windless summit to the same great views we had an hour earlier. It felt wonderful to "steal a day" given the weather forecast and our initial feelings towards our chances of success!
[Great view of Wapta (L) and Field (R).]
[President (L) and Vice President (R).]
[I would stand on the summit of Mount Carnarvon a week later - my final Kane scramble! Laussedatt to the left in the bg.]
[Bill approaches the summit with the Presidents on the left and Gordon in the far distance. Balfour on the right in the clouds.]
[Kane register, poking fun at Graeme Pole for not getting there before he did!]
[Gorgeous panorama of Cathedral, Stephen, Duchesnay and Dennis (L to R). ++]
[Emerald Lake isn't quite as visible from Burgess as it is from Walcott.]
[Peaks in the Van Horne Range, west of the TCH and the Ottertail Range (Vaux, Chancellor, Goodsir Towers).]
[Looking east up the TCH past Cathedral towards Lake Louise.]
[Close-up pano of the Emerald Lake Lodge resort. ++]
[Daly and Hector (R) show up behind Wapta (L).]
[Mighty Mount Balfour towers over Walcott Peak in the foreground.]
After 30 minutes on the summit we started our descent. The ridge was solid enough not to cause problems but the gully presented us with a few small showers of rock before exiting. After building some cairns to mark the proper access gully we descended into the bowl between Walcott and Burgess and trended to the toe of the ridge on skier's left. We easily ascended this ridge a short ways and came to our original easy/moderate access gully. After getting suckered down the wrong gully (still not sure how that happened) we regained the right one - that would be the one with all the ribbons / cairns!! :-), and easily descended out to the Burgess Pass hiking trail via an obvious shortcut.
[Bill starts down the exposed summit ridge of Burgess.]
[Loose and exposed.]
[Bill down climbs carefully to the col beneath him, Walcott Peak in the upper right with the cairn.]
[Bill on the ridge.]
[Don't slip here! Also don't attempt with snow or ice...]
[Near the top of the ascent gully - the pinnacle is just to the right of Bill in this photo.]
[Looking down the gully.]
[Looking back up the gully, you can clearly see the pointy pinnacle outlined against the sky here.]
[The gully marked as we exit the upper scree bowl.]
[Gorgeous views over the TCH from the top of the moderate gully. ++]
[Down climbing in the moderate lower gully.]
The long walk back was uneventful and went quickly with a good philosophical discussion. Walcott / Burgess was a great day out and is highly recommended for either or both peaks. Just make sure you're the first one up so nobody kicks a ton of loose rock on your head and don't forget the brain bucket.