Summit Elevation (m): 3500
Elevation Gain (m): 1900
Round Trip Time (hr): 24
Total Trip Distance (km): 40
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Columbia ice fields route includes severe crevasse issues and snow slopes. Don’t minimize these risks and learn how to manage them before attempting this trip.
GPS Track Download: Download GPX File
Technical Rating: MN7; YDS (I)
Map: Google Maps
The day after our exciting ascent of West Twin and attempt at South Twin (including a crevasse incident) we were in the mood for a slightly easier approach and summit. Since TJ, JW and I were ‘only’ looking for one more day on the Twins, we’d set up our camp much closer to the exit on the ice fields and on the southwest side of Kitchener instead of going the extra 5km closer to the Twins / Stuts area. This was fine for our group but didn’t work out for the other group of Anton, Ian and Kev. I think if they were closer they could have at least gone for the Stutfield Peaks and still managed a few more of the northern ice field summits. As it was, they were feeling to tired on Sunday to go all the way back to the Stuts.
Anton, TJ, Ian and I had never done Kitchener and Anton, TJ, JW and I had never done Snow Dome so the decision for Sunday was to get up on time and first ski up Kitchener. Then we would pack up camp and carry the heavy packs up and around Snow Dome’s west side. From there we would drop the packs and take just the safety gear on a short ski to the summit. Ian and Kev would join us about 1 hour later at the bag drop location and we would all head home. If the conditions were too nuclear we were prepared to hang out for a bit above the headwall and ramp on the Athabasca Glacier until the snow (hopefully) firmed up a bit.
Interesting Facts on Mount Kitchener
Named in 1916. Kitchener, Horatio Herbert (Viscount Kitchener was a British Field Marshall who organized the British armies at the beginning of WW I. He was lost when HMS Hampshire struck a mine in 1916.) Official name. Other names Douglas, Mount (see summary) First ascended in 1927 by Alfred J. Ostheimer, guided by Hans Fuhrer. Journal reference CAJ 16-21.
The night was very warm but the snow was still supportive as we worked our way up Kitchener. We avoided any unnecessary height gain or loss and managed to make the summit from camp within about 1.5 hours of leaving camp! No fuss – no muss but it was HOT at the summit. I’m not talking ‘warm’ – the sun was actually burning down and there wasn’t a breath of wind either. TJ very cautiously probed around the summit area and we stayed well back of any possible cornices / ice falls on the edge. This is not an area to play cute with and we didn’t.
The ski back down to camp was fast and easy – a glorious morning with so many peaks all around it was impossible to count or even take notice of all of them. There is nothing quite like skiing down an easy-angled glacier on such a day. Those moments tend to stick with me through the years as snapshots of pure happiness. This is why I enjoy skiing summits and take the risks to do it. Kitchener is not a difficult peak if you ski it from the west side but don’t get too casual with the crevasse hazards either. Like any area of the ice fields it demands attention and respect and then it’ll give back amazing views and a nice ski run back down.
After packing up camp it was time to head over to Snow Dome and then home.