Warrior Mountain & Mount Cordonnier

Summit Elevation (m): 2973 & 3021
Trip Date: Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Elevation Gain (m): 950
Total Trip Distance (km): 12
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you sprain or break something
Difficulty Notes: There is a minor glacier crossing which requires crampons or micro spikes and clear weather. Warrior is pretty easy otherwise. The traverse from Warrior to Cordonnier is moderate scrambling with exposure. You can avoid this by ascending our descent route in the north gully as marked on the map.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
GPS Track: Gaia
Map: Google Maps

We woke up in the Aster Lake campground on the morning of Wednesday, September 6th to another very clear and very smoky day. We were a bit sore after approaching Aster Lake and scrambling Mount Sarrail the day before, but we still had pretty aggressive plans. Our plans included ascents of both Warrior and Cordonnier and possibly adding a third summit – Mount Northover before returning to Aster Lake for another night. After eating breakfast we proceeded down the interesting trail along Aster Lake’s southern shoreline before heading across the gravel flats towards Warrior Mountain.

We follow the obvious Northover Ridge / Joffre approach trail towards Northover (R) and Warrior (L). Once we are around Aster Lake, we will go left off the trail and head up Warrior’s east face on the easiest line to the glacier which is out of sight behind the ridge at left.
Warrior Mountain and Mount Cordonnier Route Map

Warrior Mountain

Jon led the way up the lower slopes of Warrior and soon we were standing at the glacier. The glacier on Warrior is small and there was no snow on it so we put on our crampons and headed across unroped. In my opinion, if the glacier is bare ice like we had, roping up is overkill and could even be more dangerous than not roping. If you aren’t used to glacier travel (say you’re a hiker or scrambler), there is more chance of you stumbling on your crampons and pulling the rest of your group down the glacier when you fall and lose your grip than there is of falling into an obvious crevasse. Not to mention, there aren’t very many holes on this rapidly melting glacier anymore.

Once off the glacier we headed up onto the ridge connecting Warrior and Cordonnier and took off our crampons. A short while later we were on top of Warrior Mountain, our first summit for the day.

Rod comes up the glacier behind me, Aster Lake visible at far right and Kananaskis Lake in the distance. Mount Northover and Pushover with Mount Lyautey rising above in the distance.
Jon grunts up to the scree ridge above the glacier – the summit visible above us here and the route via the skyline ridge.
Looking back at Rod ascending the wide south ridge of Warrior, Cordonnier and its traverse along with Joffre in the background.
Summit views were limited thanks to thick smoke, but here we are nonetheless! Petain, Joffre and Cordonnier (L to R) in the bg.

Our views were once again ruined by smoke. We still had a fairly long day ahead, so we didn’t linger too long before heading back down the scree ridge towards Mount Cordonnier.

Great view of Mount Northover in the foreground and Lyautey rising over Pushover to the right. Jon and I would ‘enjoy’ the difficult scramble up Northover after first doing Cordonnier. I wouldn’t ascend Mount Lyautey until many years later in 2017.

Mount Cordonnier

The connecting ridge from Warrior to Cordonnier was more fun, but also more difficult than I expected. I don’t think Kane’s rating of ‘easy’ is justified for this ridge. I understand that he is probably rating it for mountaineers though, because he assumes that in order to get up Warrior you crossed the glacier and therefore are used to airy traverses. Well, it was quite airy and on one section it was also very loose. A fall off the left side would not have been fatal (probably) but sure would have hurt! A fall off the right side of the ridge wouldn’t have hurt very long, because it would have been fatal.

I personally think this is more than just ‘easy’ scrambling terrain. A slip to the left would be injuries for sure, probably severe. Going off to the right obviously isn’t even an option for survivability!

After that bit of excitement we plodded further up the ridge and onto the final section to Cordonnier’s summit. Again, there were short traverses here that were quite exposed, but also very fun. An hour after leaving the summit of Warrior, we were standing on the summit of Cordonnier trying to spot the New Zealand couple that we met in the Aster Lake campground on Joffre. I sincerely doubt they made the summit after looking at those icy slopes and considering their (lack of) ice climbing gear.

On our second summit of the day.
Mount Joffre is looking extremely icy this late in the (dry) season! When I climbed it in 2014 we could snowshoe straight up the 35-40 degree slopes of the Mangin Glacier to the summit without worrying about crevasses or ice. Mount Mangin at right.

After a short break we started back down Kane’s alternate descent from Cordonnier via the north gully.

Rod and Jon return from the summit over the impressive summit ridge.
You really don’t want ice or snow on this slabby section.
Rod and Kane’s alternate descent route down the north gully rising left to the summit ridge of Cordonnier behind him.

Rod and I got a bit off track but there was no major problems and we arrived back at the gravel flats. Jon and I headed over to check out Mount Northover while Rod chose to relax at camp. Good choice brother!

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