She likes to play 'hard to get'.... (1 of 6)Author:
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 02:53 PM
She`ll make you sweat and suffer before she lets you arrive at her highest point. Alexandra is a tough one, no doubt about it. There`s a reason why many climbers save it for last. What you need for this climb is perserverance and motivation, otherwise you will not make it. On my first attempt last tuesday I tried the Lyell Creek approach. Big mistake! It`s by far, the world`s worst bushwack! Thick stands of eight-foot devil`s club, tangled alders, fallen timber, and several creek crossings are some of the delights on this approach from hell. It makes the Mt. Wilson approach look like a walk in the park (even if you`re carrying your skis on your back). After 10 hours of top quality suffering we decided to turn around. On my way back to Calgary I was constantly thinking of Alexandra. I couldn`t get her out of my head! She was calling me, so 2 days later I was back on the logging road to try another approach, the Rice Brook. This approach avoids the bushwacking, but it involves a lot of elevation gain and loss on challenging terrain. It is not as straighforward as Bill Corbett describes in his book. After 4 hours of hiking we were still about 2 km from the car. It was, however, the most beautiful alpine hike I have ever done. The views included vast icefields, beautiful meadows, lovely alpine lakes, flowers and impressive waterfalls. Some of the big peaks you see on this hike are Mt. King Edward, Mt. Columbia, Mt. Bryce, the Lyells and of course Alexandra. I did not expect this hike to be so scenic. We arrived at the base of Mt. Alexandra on the second day and I still had time to explore the headwall, in order to find the easiest route up it. I ended up climbing some easy 5th class rock, but on the way down I found an easier way through the headwall. This way we didn`t waste any time searching for weaknesses on the day of our climb. Alexandra glacier is one of the toughest glaciers to get to. You have to climb halfway up an unnamed peak and then traverse on an exposed ledge towards the glacier. Once you hit the glacier, it gets easier. It only takes 40 minutes to walk across the glacier to the Whiterose/Alexandra col and from there you kick steps to the summit. The snow was perfect for step kicking, so we decided to take a direct line to the summit, even though the snow slope was very exposed near the top. After soaking in the views, we downclimbed the mountain, returned to our bivy site, packed up and left the same day. On the way out, we decided to cut across the bush for the last 2 km, instead of gaining and losing all the elevation in order to stay above the treeline. The bushwack wasn`t so bad coming down, but I wouldn`t want to do it going up. Despite all the suffering, it was a fantastic trip and it was nice to knock off a remote 11,000-er.
This is what the Lyell Creek approach is all about. Eight-foot long Devil`s Clubs, fallen logs, raging river and thick bush.
One of the terrific views from the Rice Brook traverse.
After hours of sidehilling and bushwacking we finally reach our objective: Mt. Alexandra.
Part of the traverse towards the glacier.
Looking towards Mt. Fresnoy.