After summiting Little Hector, Wietse and I began our descent and traverse over to the rubble ascent slopes to the unnamed peak and Andromache's summit. We chose to keep as much elevation as possible and thankfully passed over some snow patches on our traverse. The sun was really hot and with the cold snow we could have very refreshing Gatorade slushies for the remainder of the day!
The traverse from Hector Pass to the base of the ascent to the unnamed peak was no problem. About 1 hour and 20 minutes after leaving Little Hector's summit we were staring up at a depressingly large pile of loose rock again! ;-) The 'Chossies' were once again living up to their reputation of loose, crappy rubble. We both tackled the slope head on to get it done and over with. We came over the edge of the first rise only to discover another rubble slope ahead. After replenishing our Gatorade slushies with slightly pink snow (does anyone know if that stuff is bad for you?) we continued on. Wietse was operating on about 4 hours of sleep and by the time we arrived on the summit of the unnamed peak he was looking a little tired. After a quick break we pushed on to the slightly lower summit of Mount Andromache.
[Descending a snow bank between Little Hector and Andromache.]
[Wietse grunts up Andromache's south rubble slope with Little Hector rising dramatically behind him.]
[Hiking up Unnamed with Hector and Little Hector in the background.]
[Wietse is getting tired on this HOT summer day. Maybe two peaks was pushing it a bit!]
[The summit ridge of Andromache.]
It didn't take long before we were going back up rubble slopes to Mount Andromache's summit. The summit view was less spectacular than Little Hector's, mainly because of the afternoon cloud. It took us about 3 hours and 40 minutes to go from the summit of Little Hector to the summit of Andromache. Wietse started to feel better again after relaxing for a bit at the summit and we started down the Northwest ridge to complete the traverse of Andromache.
[Sublime views of Mount Hector and Little Hector.]
[Cataract Peak looms over Molar Creek meadows.]
[More views to the north over Noseeum's ridge towards Bobac Mountain.]
[Vern on the summit of Andromache.]
The northwest ridge looks pretty daunting from the summit but you should not be intimidated by the snow and rock. The ridge is actually some of the best scrambling you're going to get in an 11+ hour day so don't ruin it by going all the way back down through Hector Pass! This is the only part of the day that deserved the 'Moderate' rating in my estimation and it was rather fun. The snow (glacier?) can be avoided easily on the left and we never actually had to touch the snow for the remainder of the trip. Every time you think there's no way to avoid the snow a new route possibility opens up.
[Wietse comes down the interesting ridge.]
My advice would be to simply follow the ridge as far as reasonable (there's a large cliff / block to stop you eventually) and then traverse around that block on skiers left and continue back down the spine of the ridge. Trying to shortcut down to skier's left will only result in side-hilling some of the nastiest slopes I've ever encountered. As a matter of fact I would highly recommend that if you HAVE to traverse this mountain you should ASCEND the descent route and descend over the unnamed peak and back down through Hector Pass.
The scree slopes off the Northwest ridge look so inviting from the road but trust me, they are HELL. The scree is a special brand of Rockies rubble that I've only encountered a few times. When you view the slope you think you're in for an awesome scree run but once you're on it you realize that it's rock-hard aggregate! The rock just didn't break up under our feet. It was like running down a cheese grater - and that wasn't fun at all. I will take tricky cliff bands over this stuff any day. Once in a while the rock would be loose and then you'd be the cheese on the grater and you know what shredded cheddar looks like - well know I know what it feels like as it's being shredded!
[Looking down a mild looking ridge to Noseeum Creek that is actually hellish concrete-hard scree!]
[Looking over Noseeum Mountain.]
[Looking back up the innocent looking ridge.]
[You can see Wietse is struggling to maintain his footing here!]
Wietse was started to feel cold by the time we neared the bottom of the rubble heap and considering it was about 30 degrees in the blazing afternoon sun, that was not a good thing. We took another short break just before tree line where we noticed that something big had been tearing up our slope in search of something to eat. The bear spray was re-holstered to my belt as I led the way off Andromache, down toward the refreshingly cold waters of Noseeum Creek.
I walked back along the Parkway 2km to the parked car while Wietse took a well deserved break at the creek. A nervous looking guy was waiting by the pullout near our car and after chatting with him for a few moments I knew why he was nervous. Apparently he was with two other guys who were supposed to be scrambling up (and presumably down) Andromache. He had turned around shortly after starting the scramble but his two friends continued. Now, 9 hours later they still weren't back and when I told him that we had not seen anyone else all day he was really nervous. There was nothing I could do for him at that point so I wished him good luck and drove back to Noseeum Creek to pick up Wietse. (I've been looking for accident reports on Andromache but haven't seen anything so I trust they made it off the mountain safely.)
[Impressive looking Little Hector from the walk back along hwy #93.]
Once back at the Noseeum pullout we chatted for a short while with an older gentlemen who I think was named 'George'. (I now think this was George Brybycin, a well known local Rockies landscape photographer.) He was considering going for Noseeum Peak but didn't know if he could navigate through the canyon created by the creek. He told us that he'd been climbing for about 40 years and how every year he climbs Mount Hector from Little Hector. I asked him if he used an axe or crampons and he kind of laughed. He just scrambles up there! I mentioned the glacier and snow but he dismissed it as 'not a big deal'. It reminded me how sometimes we can make everything a big adventure requiring all sorts of fancy gear but for some experienced mountain travelers even a glacier can be crossed without fancy equipment, using experience and a cool head.
After bidding George "good luck" we headed home.