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Topic "Yet another trip report from Mount Columbia (1 of 4)" started by Eric Coulthard on Jun-10-2009
Topic "The one with the capital C (1 of 6)" started by Jp S on May-12-2009
Topic "Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (1 of 15)" started by Dave Stephens on Jun-04-2004

Topic: Yet another trip report from Mount Columbia (1 of 4)
Author: Eric Coulthard
Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 12:53 PM

On May 10 I summited Mount Columbia with the Edmonton Section of the ACC. Fortunately our trip was without incident. We had whiteout conditions on our day in. Our summit day was much better and our day out was awesome. We chose to avoid the icefall of Mount Snowdome on the Athabasca Glacier since with the 6 of us we could easily get anyone out of a crevasse if they broke through in most cases. Getting crushed by seracs is far more serious. My trip photos are on my website at the bottom of the front page. Just click the link below. I just finished labeling all of them.

Eric Coulthard

http://eric-coulthard.com

Topic: Yet another trip report from Mount Columbia (2 of 4)
Author: Kerry Vizbar
Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 02:51 PM

The clouds made for some cool photos - I particularly liked this one: Link

I don't remember any sign of the enormous cornice on that subpeak SE of Columbia, must have been a lot of melting in the intervening 2 weeks!

Topic: Yet another trip report from Mount Columbia (3 of 4)
Author: Vern Dewit
Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 06:39 PM

Wow - nice to see so many summitting the big "C" this spring! Good job!

Vern Dewit
http://www.explor8ion.com
http://verndewit.com/

Topic: Yet another trip report from Mount Columbia (4 of 4)
Author: Jp S
Date: Thursday, June 11, 2009 12:39 PM

Congrats! It looks like a great trip. Skiing with Reinhold is always a pleasure. Sheri is a machine!

jp

Topic: The one with the capital C (1 of 6)
Author: Jp S
Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 01:50 AM

Columbia

This one felt good - well at least with the light summit pack - and then later at the car.

Photos

http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/571988736pmyPeh?vhost=outdoors

Short Report

Day 1 - May 1

To base camp at about 3000 meters.
Distance � Over 15 kms
Elevation � Over 1000 meters
Time - 9 hours (including breaks)

Day 2 � May 2

Summit
Distance � 8 km return
Elevation � 750 meters
Time � 6.5 (including breaks)

Out
Add - 15 kms
Add - 200 meters
Add � 5 hours (including breaking camp and breaks)

I think the difficulty with Columbia is getting good weather and just covering off the distance.

The actual climbing (in early May) is pretty easy. We did not place any protection or use crampons � although I imagine conditions could very substantially on this mountain. Crossing the bergschrund was easy. We ditched our skis shortly after it.

We short-roped the steep parts and lengthened part of the rope at the top as it seemed like we were back on the glacier (there appeared to be cracks). Higher up there is a good drop to the left (but even that is a little ways away). By comparison, in May conditions it was technically easier than Joffre was last August. Of course, the Athabasca glacier access is always a little treacherous.

Columbia�s east face slopes are definitely steep enough to avalanche. It was cooler than the previous day and there had been parties on the slope later in the day. The overnight freeze was excellent. Other than day time warming, there was nothing to destabilize the slope. We were early (but not super early). Our weather was actually not overly warm despite being clear. The snow showed minimal and inconsequential warming while we were on it. No formal tests were done but a hand shear on ascent did reveal that a 10-15 cm upper layer that came off rather cleanly after a fair bit of force.

jp

Topic: The one with the capital C (2 of 6)
Author: Vern Dewit
Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 07:42 AM

Way to go man! That's a great feather in the
climbing cap for sure. Great pics too.

Vern Dewit
http://www.explor8ion.com
http://verndewit.com/

Topic: The one with the capital C (3 of 6)
Author: Kerry Vizbar
Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 09:33 AM

You guys likely had the best conditions of the whole season to do that trip. Very nice. I'm jealous! :)

Topic: The one with the capital C (4 of 6)
Author: Scott Berry
Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 12:23 PM

Good job,

Good job on lengthening the rope. I found that
slot just below summit last time I was up
there.

Did you camp in the trench or above it? I know
a couple of guys that climbed the Stutfields
and North Twin last weekend and they said there
was tons of fresh snow.

Scott Berry

Topic: The one with the capital C (5 of 6)
Author: Kevin Papke
Date: Saturday, May 16, 2009 11:39 AM

Hi Scott, the guys just up there included a good bud of mine. He was with a guide. Did everything possible except Columbia because the weather suddenly got very warm.
Lets coffee next week.

Topic: The one with the capital C (6 of 6)
Author: Jp S
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 08:23 AM

We camped well above the trench (at about 3000 meters and 4 km from the summit). There was no new snow and travelling conditions were excellent (but that was way back on May 2).

jp

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (1 of 15)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Friday, June 04, 2004 08:29 AM

Woo hoo. After 5 unsuccessful attempts, I finally bagged Mt. Columbia. Dan Ronsky, Harvey Brauer, and myself noticed the high pressure system that set up over BC, and we took off for the trip. 12.5 hours up and 7 hours down. We had perfect conditions - extremely bright full moon, 0430 sunrise, +15 degree weather, no wind, and no clouds.

I'll write up the trip report later today, but as you can imagine, I'm pretty darn excited about getting this one out of the way. I just had to tell someone.


Dave Stephens
www.dave-stephens.com

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (2 of 15)
Author: Sonny Bou
Date: Friday, June 04, 2004 01:11 PM

Congrats, Dave! Well done! Look forward to your pics!

Sonny
http://www.ucalgary.ca/~ssbou

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (3 of 15)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Friday, June 04, 2004 01:35 PM

I took 33 pictures. Now I just need to flip through them and pick out about 12 to put on the website. I also did a full 360° panorama from the summit. If my daughter would ever take a nap, I'll be able to work on the pictures.

Dave Stephens
www.dave-stephens.com

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (4 of 15)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Friday, June 04, 2004 01:40 PM

On Thursday, 03 June 2004, Dan Ronsky, Harvey Brauer, and I climbed Mt. Columbia as a day trip (19.5 hrs - not including the 45 mins we spent on the summit).

In 1999, I got my first backcountry skiing experience when Adam Iwaniszyn got in touch with me and suggested that we do Mt. Columbia as a day trip. Having no idea that I was biting off more than I could chew, I accepted and we gave it a try. As you can tell, we didn't reach the summit on that attempt, but I always knew it could be done as a day trip. I would need to improve my skiing ability and endurance. Since that time, I have had over 70 backcountry ski days, and over 100 days skiing at the resorts. With the improved skiing ability, all that was left was the endurance part. Well....I guess you can't have everything.

Since that trip, I've made four other attempts at Columbia at a more leisurely 3-day pace, only to find myself in a whiteout each time. Then, last year, Adam went back with his regular partner, and they climbed Mt. Columbia as a 21.5 hour day trip. This only confirmed to me that it could definitely be done.

From another angle, Alan Kane has always suggested to me that I just watch the satellite images and when a big high pressure system covers BC, you take off and give it a try. In my last attempt at Columbia (11 May 04), Dan Ronsky and I decided we would take Alan's advice, but instead of the typical three day outting, we would take Adam's idea and do it as a day trip.

On Tuesday of this week, Dan and I found a high pressure system which was going to establish itself over BC from Wednesday afternoon until Saturday morning. That was enough for us. Blair was unable to go this time, so Dan found a third person to go with us. I won't go up to the Columbia with just two people. Harvey lives in Edmonton, but has a condo in Canmore. Dan and I packed Tuesday night and were set to go Wednesday after work.

On Wednesday, we left work mid afternoon, I picked up Dan at his place, then we picked up Harvey from the bus station and headed to the mountains. We stopped in Canmore for dinner and to allow Harvey to pack up his gear. By the time we got to the Columbia Icefields, it was 2330. We didn't see much use in trying to sleep for 30 minutes, so we just put our gear on, and at midnight, we left the Climber's Parking Lot.

As we hiked up the SnoCoach ice road, the full moon was starting to appear. The moonlight reflecting off the glacier was great. You hardly needed the headlamps. We quickly made our way around the SnowDome seracs, then up the Athabasca Headwall. It was really nice to go up the headwall with only day packs. Soon afterward, we arrived at the high point of the icefield (where I usually set up camp). We took the skins off, had a quick snack and drink, then headed to the Trench. We made pretty good time as we arrive at the Trench at 0445. We quickly put the skins back on and headed up the other side. The sunrise was starting around 0430, so we were quickly trying to get Columbia back in view in order to catch the alpenglow on the east face.

We continued our slog over to the face of Columbia. Once there, we took a much needed extended break. We broke out the stove and melted snow to refill our waterbottles. From there, we started up the face. We skied up to just below the 'schrund, then we continued the rest of the way on foot. We took turns kicking steps up the face. Boot penetration was about 6-12 inches.

The face is 2,000 ft of height gain, and that was the hardest 2,000 ft I've ever done. Exhaustion was starting to take over. I had been awake since 0400 Wednesday morning (when I typically get up for work). It took us nearly three hours to ascend that face, and I had a difficult time convincing myself to continue. But knowing if I gave up now, I'd have to do this all over again. I ascended that face thinking with each step, it would soon be over, and I wouldn't have to go back again.

At 1230, we reached the summit. What a great view. No clouds, no wind, 15 degrees, sunny, etc. Reaching the summit was very uplifting. Suddenly I had energy again (within reason). We spent 45 minutes on the summit, taking pictures, etc. Then it was time to go home.

We plunged stepped our way down the face, packed up the stove, grabbed the skis, and made our way back to the Trench. From there, we'd have to ascend about 1,000 ft back up to the highpoint of the Icefields. What a long slog!!!! It just kept going up and up. Finally, we could see Nigel Peak across the highway, and we knew we were almost there. When the terrain starting rolling downhill again, we took the skins off and headed down the headwall. This was very frustrating. The snow conditions were horrible. There was a weak melt freeze crust making it difficult to turn. Dan and I were both on AT gear, and we found the terrain challenging to say the least. Harvey was on old-style tele with leather boots and he found the terrain impossible.

Coming down, the headwall was one of the worst experiences of my life. There were times when I just wanted to unrope and ski down solo, but safety was more important. I have skied down that headwall many times while being roped up, and I've never had a problem, but this time was aweful. It took us nearly three hours to get down.

Eventually, we made our way below the headwall. We traverse the snow-free Athabasca Glacier to the SnoCoach ice parking lot. Then we skied down the bone-jaring ice road, where we took off the skis, hiked up the moraine, and down the road to the truck.

We made it to the truck at 2015, turned on the radio (AM960) and caught the end of the Flames game. We were all cranky, tired, and hurting. More emphasis on the cranky part. We started that long drive home, switching drivers on a frequent basis. Nobody could seem to stay awake. We got coffee in Lake Louise, and more coffee in Canmore (where we dropped off Harvey). From there, Dan and I returned to Calgary, where I dropped him off around 0100. From there, I made my way back to Strathmore, where I arrived home at 0200.

It was a good trip, and we made fairly good time, but more importantly, on my sixth attempt, I finally bagged Columbia.

Dave Stephens
www.dave-stephens.com

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (5 of 15)
Author: Adam Iwaniszyn
Date: Friday, June 04, 2004 03:24 PM

Holy cow, Dave, that's excellent...

You even beat my and Leszek's time. Yes, skiing down the headwall after the long day was one of the most painful mountain experiences for me. Yet, for me even more painful was the climb from the Trench onto plateau on the way back from the summit. I thought I was stuck in one of those "Groundhog day" moments.

We thought of doing Snowdome and Kitchener (and maybe, if strength allowed, Stutfield) in one day this spring. However, Leszek is stuck finishing his basement before his in-laws visit from Poland, which is quickly upcoming. I on the other hand, concentrated on training for speed skating (returned to it after many years for fun - my kids started speed skating program at the Oval last winter). Couple of months ago, at the end of the season I managed to beat my two personal best times on long distances from 19 years ago. I train quite hard now to be even better for next season, so it's a shame that I won't be able to take advantage from my current fitness and kick some mountain's butt. :) Well, we have interesting goals for the summer. We'll see what the weather is like then. So far pretty much all weekends sucked on the Icefield (with the exception of first one in May, when my son had his first communion).

Well, congrats Dave. I am glad that you finally bagged it. It for sure was worth it.

Any crevasses just below the summit? I fell into one last June. Glad I was roped up at the time, or I wouldn't be here writing to you...

Adam

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (6 of 15)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Friday, June 04, 2004 03:34 PM

I didn't find a crevasse on the face (other than the 'schrund), but I did manage to find one between the two summits. I put my leg in that one.

When you top out on the face, you get on that summit ridge, and the summit is just off to your right about 20 feet, but there is another summit (about the same height) about 50 feet to the north. The crevasse seems to run between these two summits.

Snowdome and Kitchener as a day trip would be shorter than the Columbia trip. Stutfields as a day trip would be a VERY long day.


Dave Stephens
www.dave-stephens.com

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (7 of 15)
Author: Adam Iwaniszyn
Date: Friday, June 04, 2004 04:28 PM

We didn't see any crevasses between the summits. However there was one very well hidden on the face about 150 m from the summit running parallel to the ascent path. That's were I fell in, stepping maybe a foot to the right from our ascent tracks. Not much fun at this altitude trying to climb out of it.

Yes, I know that Kitchener and Snowdome would be a walk in the park compared to Columbia in a day, but I just wonder if bagging Stutfields the same day would be possible. I guess that anything is possible. Look at the Flames this year!! :)

Adam

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (8 of 15)
Author: Deleted User
Date: Saturday, June 05, 2004 07:54 AM

Dave:

Way to go, I now will have to look for a new way to forecast weather up there! Good summit hey?

Cheers
Rod Plasman

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (9 of 15)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Saturday, June 05, 2004 09:52 AM

Yep. No more "If Dave is going, the weather will suck" forecast. Of course, I still need the four Twins and two Stutfields.

Who knows how many attempts those will take.


Dave Stephens
www.dave-stephens.com

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (10 of 15)
Author: Kyle Oak
Date: Sunday, June 06, 2004 06:15 PM

Good work Buddy! I just got back from hiking up the Cline River. We hiked 15Km's up and I couldnt see Mt. Cline anywhere. There was quite a bit of snow above treeline on most of the peaks in the surrounding area, so its probably plastered too.

Dave, you gotta give yourself a little rest before you think about bagging Mt. Cline. Your Nutzz Jr!

Kyle Oak

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (11 of 15)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Monday, June 07, 2004 07:51 AM

Yeah, I noticed there was a lot of snow in that area. I guess Mt. Cline will wait for 4-6 weeks. I'll probably focus on the Waterton area for a while until things dry out a bit up north.


Dave Stephens
www.dave-stephens.com

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (12 of 15)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Friday, June 11, 2004 10:12 AM

Well, I finally got arounding to posting my pictures. Collectively, Dan and I had over 100 pictures, so narrowing it down to 10-12 was difficult. The best I could do was picking the top 21 pictures.

http://www.dave-stephens.com/touring/columbiaicefields/columbia/columbia6.htm


Dave Stephens
www.dave-stephens.com

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (13 of 15)
Author: Sonny Bou
Date: Friday, June 11, 2004 07:26 PM

Superb photos, Dave. I really liked the summit panorama shot. Well done!

Sonny
http://www.ucalgary.ca/~ssbou

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (14 of 15)
Author: David Wasserman
Date: Friday, June 11, 2004 10:05 PM

I agree with Sonny.

Topic: Mt. Columbia - Day Trip (15 of 15)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Saturday, June 12, 2004 03:46 AM

Thanks. A lot of the photos are Dan's, so he deserves credit too.

As for the panoramic shot, I am having problems getting it to load in Netscape. It loads in IE, but Netscape only wants to display a clear picture. Really strange. This will give me something to do on Sunday. For now... I've got to head to Waterton for Carthew and Buchanan.


Dave Stephens
www.dave-stephens.com