Summit Elevation (m): 2874, 2934
Trip Date: Monday, September 1 2003
Round Trip Time (hrs): Unknown
Elevation Gain (m): 1400
Total Trip Distance (km): 14
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3/4 – you fall, you break something or worse
Difficulty Notes: Moderate to difficult scrambling along the summit ridge between the peaks with some serious exposure. Loose ascent gully to Tyrwhitt from the Grizzly col. There is an alternate descent route that others have used for scrambling Pocaterra.
Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)
Map: Google Maps
Another beautiful day in the Rockies. This time it was just Jon, Kev and me. We got to the Highwood Pass around 0900 and proceeded down the path to the Grizzly Col. The trail was in excellent condition and after a pleasant hour or so we were ready to tackle the scree slog to the summit of Tyrwhitt. After reading several descriptions of this scramble I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was pleasantly surprised however, once we started up. If you stick to the right the exposure is greater but the climb is more pleasant. On the way down hit the scree and everything is good!
We made it to the summit in another hour – so two hours from car to summit #1. From here things got very interesting. I think Kane’s rating of ‘moderate’ for the traverse over to Pocaterra should be upgraded to ‘difficult’. I’ve done the final ridge on Lady MacDonald and this was just as exposed – if not more so – especially at the very end just before the summit. After enjoying the summit views we continued the traverse to Pocaterra.
For the first half of the traverse between Tyrwhitt and Pocaterra we lost a lot of elevation (maybe 200 m). We pretty much went back down to the level of Grizzly Col before re-ascending to Pocaterra. After this the scrambling is a lot more fun and you have a choice to hit scree on the left or go right along the ridge with an airy drop on your right. I chose the ridge and didn’t regret it. Closer to the summit of Pocaterra there was another choice. The ridge got super-exposed and while I went up the ridge, Jon and Kev took the scree to the left. It quickly became apparent that I was going a lot faster then they were because they had to negotiate some tricky terrain on an angle while I just had to keep my footing on dry rock.
As I kept scrambling along the ridge the exposure kept increasing. Finally when I thought I was at the summit I realized that I still had a bit to go. It’s just after this point that the rating should be ‘difficult’. I had to hold onto a rock that looked kind of unstable while I kind of hung out in space and swung down a notch in the ridge. A slip from here would absolutely sting! (i.e. it would kill you) Any scramble that involves this kind of move rates ‘difficult’ in my books! Fun – but serious. I quickly made it to the summit after this and after taking some photos I went to look for Jon and Kev.
Unfortunately for Jon and Kev they were not to make the summit from their position. They climbed high up on the ridge but still had to climb over the difficult section and it just wasn’t worth the risk for them. The notch where I descended was so steep and loose that it would have been a real bugger to climb – if not downright impossible. We finally made it back to the top of Tyrwhitt after another 2 hours for a round-trip time of 4 hours from Tyrwhitt to Pocaterra and back again.
My advice to you is: if you don’t like exposure don’t even bother with the ridge from Tyrwhitt to Pocaterra. I loved it but it was a long outing and the elevation gain / loss thing really gets to you on the way back up to Tyrwhitt. (Update 2019: Another good option is to follow Sonny Bou’s route up the east face of Pocaterra.)