After being inspired by both Andrew Nugara's and Rob Eastick's recent ascents of this relatively obscure and out-of-the-way peak, Wietse and I decided to give it a shot on a beautiful April Friday. I should also mention Bob Spirko who started the whole re-interest in the CMC valley peaks again.
You will have to work for this peak! Our day started off rather dull and dreary with a gray sky, but high spirits were enough to carry us the 400 vertical meters up Yamnuska's east ridge. From here we should have paid more attention to the trip reports and maps (how often haven't I said that?!) because we ended up doing some rather nasty bush whacking both on the way down and the way back up from the CMC valley. This was nasty off-roading, something I strongly suggest you avoid at all costs. I've tried cleaning up the GPS track so it's not too bad.
[Yamnuska's impressive south face catches some of the limited morning sun as we make our way over the east shoulder.]
[Mount Doom rises to our left as we make our way into the CMC valley under thick morning cloud.]
Eventually we made it to an over grown road that we followed further along the north side of the ridge until we met up with another trail running down into the valley and took it all the way across the creek and the major trail running east-west into the valley. We followed this trail under the impressive CMC wall, Mount Doom and Wendell's east peak. As we got closer and closer to the end of the valley, the steep walls of Goat Mountain, Hassel Castle (Old Fort Peak) and Morrowmount rose imposingly above us. We also started to realize how long this trip is! It took a while (and some wasted elevation gain - hint: don't gain elevation before you come around the west end of Wendell) to get around to the southwest side of Wendell. By the time the final scree slog to the ridge came into view the clouds had disappeared and we were under brilliant blue skies.
[After our hellish bushwhack the open slopes of the CMC valley are a big relief!]
[After hiking for about 3 hours we are coming around the southwest should of Wendell. This is the view back down the valley.]
Bolstered by the change in weather we raced up the scree. NOT. The scree was kind of loose and kind of frozen so in a word - it sucked. Big time. We decided to cut up to climber's right instead of the easier (but more scree) line to the left. On hindsight maybe the ridge splitting the scree slope would be worth investigating. We ended up at a slabby section that was tricky because of all the snow and ice. The wind was also a concern, but thankfully it came and went in short but very intense bursts. Wietse managed to gain the ridge via a slabby route that he didn't want to down climb and I went up a steep, narrow snow gully.
[Morrowmount rises up majestically behind Wietse - who is definitely NOT impressed with the scree that he is struggling up! ;-)]
Once on the ridge we headed up over the pinnacle. Andrew indicates a way around the pinnacles, we came up between them and couldn't find a way around because of all the snow and ice. The ridge was narrow in places and I would rate this scramble as moderate because of a few 'no slip' zones. The snow and wind made these a bit tricky but no big deal.
[Wietse on the ridge between the two pinnacles just after the crux. The summit rises in the distance to his left.]
[Wietse comes up the second pinnacle. We really didn't see any ways around the pinnacles because of all the fresh snow.]
After the fun parts on the ridge the rest of the route is just a hike to the top. We enjoyed a few minutes taking pictures but than the wind drove us back down.
[View off the summit, looking east. Looks peaceful eh?]
[Ok - maybe not THAT peaceful after all! The wind gusts were nasty!]
[When the wind died down it was downright pleasant at the top.]
[The mountains to the southwest look formidable from this angle. I think this is Lougheed.]
[The coolest view of Windtower that I've had yet.]
[An impressive summit panorama looking from north to west to south includes Baldy, Midnight, Fisher, Old Goat, Ribbon, Old Fort, Lougheed, Windtower, Rimwall, Gap, Big Sister, Morrowmount, Peechee, Girouard, Orient Point, End (L to R). ++]
The scree was quite a bit more fun on the way down than on the way up! I even managed some decent boot-skiing but that was over quickly as we reached the valley bottom and made our way back out.
[Wietse is pretty tiny compared to the east face of Morrowmount as he descends from the summit of Wendell.]
[Wietse nearly blows off the mountain in a furious gust of wind that nearly knocked me off my feet about 10 seconds after this photo!]
[The wind dies down again as Wietse climbs the pinnacle on the ridge.]
[You want to be careful on some of the more narrow ridge sections - especially in the wind that we had.]
[Wietse descends the steep section just under the ridge. This was tricky because of the icy conditions but a lot safer than down climbing the slabs.]
[Spindrifts off the top of Morrowmount as we descend.]
[The valley is quickly warming up as we continue our descent down the CMC valley behind Wendell.]
[Ridges coming off Goat Mountain and Hassel Castle make for a dramatic backdrop to the valley. This was a very beautiful spot - especially with the blue sky and fresh snow.]
[The backside of Yamnuska still has a lot of snow on it in the afternoon.]
[Looking north at the CMC wall and part of East Wendell.]
[A zoomed in view of the wall.]
[A brooding Yamnuska wall greets us after another wonderful day out in the mountains.]
An excellent day out - but very long. I think we went about 21km and a total of about 1600(+) meters height gain. I'm very impressed with Andrews time of around 7 hours. We took over 9 and were going pretty steady most of the day. The bushwhacking didn't help us with energy levels or time! A good early season objective.