Edith South, Mount
On Friday, June 30 I headed out early to scramble Mount Edith in Banff National Park.
Originally I was supposed to be heading up Copper Mountain but a certain person who I won't name cancelled on me. After Dave cancelled I was sort of wondering what I should do and thought that Mount Edith was a good choice for a solo scramble.
For some reason quite a few people on the scrambling webboard had already done this one but since it was on my 'list' for this year I thought I'd be totally unoriginal and give it a go - it sounded like fun and since it's so loose I planned to go early in order to avoid other people knocking stuff (i.e. pieces of mountain!) down on me.
I had to be back in Calgary on time so I purposely pushed myself a bit on this scramble. I was sweating about 5 minutes into it and was drenched soon after! The hiking trail to Cory Pass is very steep but well maintained and I made it to the pass in under 2 hours at a steady pace. I wanted to grab a bite to eat but the mosquitoes were so bad at the pass that I immediately headed up for the North summit of Edith instead.
The northwest crack sounded like fun so that's where I headed up. It's very narrow and soon I was swearing at my new SLR that was hanging from my neck and my backpack was getting stuck. My lens cap and lens shade fell off the camera as it swung into the rock and I watched them bounce down to the bottom of the crack. I finished climbing and then proceeded to go back down to retrieve the camera parts! Climbing that darn crack is a lot more fun without a pack! Without further incident I made it to the North Summit and after signing the virtual register and snapping a self-portrait I was descending to the center peak.
Overall I would have to say that Mount Edith kind of surprised me a little. The rock is VERY loose and crappy and I found that the scrambling was quite delicate until the most difficult peak - it was exposed but at least it was solid! After signing the real register on the center peak I looked for a way down to the third (South) Peak. Soon I found a trail and after detouring slightly around to a brief scree run I was staring up another pile of scree towards the infamous tunnel. I remembered my bad experience from the North Peak and proceeded up the mountain with only a water bottle and camera - choosing to leave my backpack behind because I knew I had to come back that way anyway.
My idea proved to be a good one. I made it no problem through the tunnel am a bit incredulous that some people feel the need for a belay here! I guess if you haven't scrambled the chossies before you may find the loose stuff a bit unnerving! ;-) I was very surprised at the looseness of the rock, even in the tunnel where I figured traffic would've solidified things a long time ago already. Maybe Edith isn't the popular gal I thought she was!
I was a bit nervous for the section after the tunnel because I've read that it's loose rock on down-slopping ledges, my version of the perfect nightmare! Actually I found it a lot more solid than the previous two peaks and the cairns are expertly placed. The key here is to follow Kane's description and don't gain height right away. Scrambling down another fissure and over the flake was fun, but I really didn't want that sucker to come down! In my humble opinion I think that the two wedges you have to scramble over (one by the flake and one in the tunnel) are the most dangerous parts of the route! The one in the tunnel actually moved on me on the way back down it - and you would be dead if that monster came down the tunnel after you...
Following the cairns, I came to the summit ridge and after a very refreshing walk on solid rock I was standing on the last summit. I took some pictures, glanced at the approaching clouds and walked back down the ridge.
Once down at the South / Center col again I started down the alternate descent. I knew I had to stick right but I may have gone too far to the right! I headed for a distinct (see picture) promatory and headed over it to skier's right down a narrow gully. The good part about that route is that it's relatively solid (compared with the rest of that rotten hill). The bad part is that it's solid. Solid on this mountain means only one thing - it's so steep nothing can stick to it, and that probably includes scramblers! There were two difficult downclimbs that I'm not sure I could've done if I was any shorter. I also didn't know if I'd cliff out, so I was nervous until finally I a spotted a clear route down to the Cory Pass hiking trail.
I made it back to the car no problem. The hiking trail down is VERY steep and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much on the way down as on the way up. My round trip time was just under 6 hours. Highly recommended scramble but you should do Mount Cory, it's neighbor, first so that you know what you're getting into.