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Columbia, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 3747
Trip Date: April 18 2015
Elevation Gain (m): 2000
Round Trip Time (hr): 23
Total Trip Distance (km): 41
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something
Difficulty Notes: Crevasses, avalanches and a remote location in the middle of a large ice field are the main difficulties when climbing Mount Columbia. Don’t underestimate this trip just because it’s not technically that hard!
Technical Rating: MN8; YDS (II)
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I have been waiting many years to climb Alberta’s highest mountain and the 2nd highest peak of the Canadian Rockies. Ever since reading Dave Stephen’s day trip report in 2004 and a trip by JW and Raf in 2006 it’s been on my radar and in 2009 when a whole bunch of friends climbed it (but not without incident when a number of their party found holes while descending the ramp). I really thought I’d have done it by now, so what exactly was I waiting for? I was trying to be smart about it. While the “Big C” isn’t technically a very difficult climb, there are many hazards that can seriously challenge one’s summit push including;

  • Negotiating the icefall, serac zone and glacial tongue (aka the Ramp) on the Athabasca Glacier approach to the main icefield.
  • Whiteout conditions on the icefield itself – which are notoriously difficult to predict or anticipate.
  • Snow coverage over the many crevasses on the icefield and bergschrund on Columbia itself, and even the summit ridge of the mountain.
  • Avalanche concerns on the large and steep east face of the mountain.
  • Sheer distance and height gain from the parking lot to the summit and back – many people have underestimated the amount of effort, especially if setting a fresh track.
  • Wind and temperatures on Alberta’s highest summit at over 12,000 feet is a concern for summit day – especially if you’re a photographer like myself.

Complicating things was the fact that I wanted some views after all the work that ascending Columbia would entail. I have friends who have summitted in a whiteout, even when the weather everywhere else was mostly clear, and I knew I’d be cranky if that happened to me. Add in the details of finding partners with the same days available, a family and the small detail of a JOB (!) and you can start to appreciate why it took me nearly a decade to finally summit this highly desirable peak.

As the weekend of April 18th approached, all of the forecasts pointed to a strong ridge of high pressure building over British Columbia for at least 3 to 4 days. Making it a bit tricky was the fact that it wouldn’t quite reach the Alberta side of the Rockies which showed some cloud cover lingering. Normally any clouds in the Alberta forecast mean an automatic whiteout on the Columbia Icefield, but in this case things were looking a bit different since the clearing was from the BC side. After much back and forth, Steven, Ben, and I decided that we’d go for it. We all booked Monday off too, just in case we needed an extra day. We figured with 5 windows of climbing opportunity, we’d get it in one of them. 

Mount Columbia Route Map

Due to the closure of the climber’s parking lot (thanks to the Sno Coaches new starting spot where it used to be) we slept in the upper Athabasca parking lot on Friday night before getting up around 03:30 and starting our approach in the dark. With only around 3 hours of sleep (two noisy climbers parked next to my truck – next time I’ll pick the far corner of the lot) I was feeling a bit sleepy as we trudged up the relatively flat glacier to the first ice fall. We could see the head lamps of the two climber’s far above on climber’s left on the approach for Asteroid Alley on Mount Andromeda. Eventually we passed beneath them and lost our sight line of their route, I’m not sure they made it up or not but I’m thinking not as they didn’t have the best conditions in the world.

The big question for us was whether or not there would be a viable and safe route through the Athabasca Glacier icefall zones and beneath the seracs of Snow Dome and up the ramp to the main Columbia Icefield. In 2014 there was much concern and frustration in the climbing community about the condition of the ramp and approach and many were voicing the opinion that the route was officially gone forever. The only remaining (safe) option would be the Saskatchewan Glacier approach which is much easier but also MUCH longer and a PITA in the spring when the approach flats are melted out and muddy. On my trip up Mount Athabasca about 10 days previous, I’d noted that the ramp looked to be in perfect condition so we were very hopeful. As an FYI – I’ve observed that every few years the ramp doesn’t form normally for various reasons and the same panic always sets in that it’s “gone forever”. I think it’s going to eventually disappear, but we still have at least another decade before that happens IMHO. Don’t panic – wait for better conditions.

Sometimes you have to get creative to get through the icefall. This ramp was perfect except the 40 foot crevasse just off to our left.

As the sky got lighter we finally got personal with the lower icefall and I spotted a very nice line up the climber’s right side. There were two possible routes, the first being a skiable ramp right up beside a large crevasse while the second was a very steep roll even further climber’s right that could be ascended by kick steps. We skied up the ramp next to the crevasse and figured on descent we’d take the steep roll instead. The seracs were thankfully still quiet (in the shade) as we sped underneath them. The ramp was in perfect condition – wide and well filled – as we grunted up it with our over night winter packs weighing us down. As soon as the strong spring sun hit the seracs there was a large “CRASH” and chunks of ice and snow shed off above our route of an hour before! We also observed a large ice / snow avalanche from the opposite side of the valley beneath Androlumbia which went crashing violently down into the depths below. It was a stark reminder of the objective hazards one must pass before earning the right to many of the Columbia Icefield summits.

Looking back at the Athabasca Glacier from the ramp with the seracs on the upper L, Nigel Peak in the center and the lower end of the Snow Dome seracs at left.

From the top of the ramp we started the long slog across the ice field to the trench. We seemed to have the entire place to ourselves – it was wonderful! I was a bit nervous that the clouds might start thickening, but they never really did. I was so tired at this point that several times I literally nodded off and only the rope tugging on my harness kept me from falling into a deep sleep – that was a new experience for me! 😉 After what seemed like a pretty long time we finally started down into the trench. Here we had to wander about 1km south before there was a viable route through the crevasses that line either side of this geological depression that divides the ice field on the way into Mount Columbia and plunges down to the base of the Twins and Columbia Lake far below.

Our giant destination looms ominously in the clouds many kilometers distant beyond the trench.
Skiing down the trench on the Columbia Glacier.

We had decided that in order to give ourselves a good shot at the summit over multiple days (if needed), we would deny ourselves the pleasure of setting up camp either on the near side of the trench or in the bottom of it, but instead, we would go about 2-3km further – up the west side and closer to our destination. We were all tired by the time we crested a low rise above the trench and shrugged off our packs at a nice level spot with great views of Columbia and a straight run down into the trench for our return. It took us roughly 8 hours to reach camp. Mount Columbia stared us down as we set up our camp under a warm spring sun and very little wind.

Enjoying a pristine day in our camp kitchen.

As we set up camp, five snowmobiles came howling over the glacier from the BC side! We’d heard rumors of people snowmobiling to the summit of Snow Dome but never thought it possible. Well – after 6 years of attempting it these daring folks from Golden managed to navigate some pretty hazardous ice falls beneath Mount Columbia and spent the next few hours zipping all over the glacier. Obviously this wasn’t our ideal scenario but I realize that it’s a big world and there’s all kinds of ideas of how humans should enjoy themselves so I’m not going to say much more about it here. We chatted and they were nice enough – and very surprised to see us – more surprised than we were to see them! They weren’t doing anything illegal either as the park boundary runs from Columbia to Snow Dome and they stayed on the BC side of it. We were disappointed that ‘our’ perfect white canvas that we wanted for photos from Columbia was now full of tracks but c’est la vie!

Amazing views to the NW include Dias Mountain at distant right with Warwick Mountain 400m lower in front.

In a clear highlighting of different mentalities, one of the snowmobilers offered to tow us the rest of the way to Columbia! We politely pointed out that just getting there fast and efficient wasn’t really the point of our trip. 😉 They did offer to break us a trail to Columbia and after bagging Snow Dome they did exactly that. Unfortunately the snowmobile tracks were useful for crevasse avoidance (if they didn’t fall in chances were, we wouldn’t either!) but for skiing they weren’t ideal as they were too uneven to ski in and just as much work as the unbroken canvas right beside them.

Approach to Mount Columbia Bivy
Approaching the lower icefall on the Athabasca Glacier approach to the Columbia Icefield in early morning light.
Approaching the lower icefall on the Athabasca Glacier approach to the Columbia Icefield in early morning light.
Good coverage as we start up skier's right on the lower icefall - note the seracs coming off Snow Dome high on the right.
Good coverage as we start up skier's right on the lower icefall - note the seracs coming off Snow Dome high on the right.
Looking back down the Athabasca Glacier and the long moraine that acts as a nice handrail when visibility is low.
Looking back down the Athabasca Glacier and the long moraine that acts as a nice handrail when visibility is low.
Entering the first icefall with Andromeda rising at far left here.
Entering the first icefall with Andromeda rising at far left here.
Sometimes you have to get creative to get through the icefall. This ramp was perfect except the 40 foot crevasse just off to our left.
Sometimes you have to get creative to get through the icefall. This ramp was perfect except the 40 foot crevasse just off to our left.
This is a view up at the seracs hanging off of Snow Dome that we ski under to access the icefield.
This is a view up at the seracs hanging off of Snow Dome that we ski under to access the icefield.
Doesn't look like much until you see them collapse - looking nervously up at the seracs as we race underneath them.
Doesn't look like much until you see them collapse - looking nervously up at the seracs as we race underneath them.
Heading for the almost indistinct ramp - just above Ben and Steven in the distance and looking much smaller than it is.
Heading for the almost indistinct ramp - just above Ben and Steven in the distance and looking much smaller than it is.
Looking back at the Athabasca Glacier from the ramp with the seracs on the upper L, Nigel Peak in the center
Looking back at the Athabasca Glacier from the ramp with the seracs on the upper L, Nigel Peak in the center
Good coverage on the ramp.
Good coverage on the ramp.
The sun starts to hit the Snow Dome seracs. You don't want to be under them when this happens as they usually set off at first sun.
The sun starts to hit the Snow Dome seracs. You don't want to be under them when this happens as they usually set off at first sun.
It's a blue world of snow, ice and sky but at least we can SEE the sky!
It's a blue world of snow, ice and sky but at least we can SEE the sky!
Castleguard Mountain still looks like a mountain. In a few hours it'll look like nothing more than a bump on the ice field.
Castleguard Mountain still looks like a mountain. In a few hours it'll look like nothing more than a bump on the ice field.
Looking back at our tracks. Andromeda, Androlumbia, Castleguard and Bryce from L to R.
Looking back at our tracks. Andromeda, Androlumbia, Castleguard and Bryce from L to R.
Mount Columbia is already peeking out of the clouds but it's many kilometers away at this point.
Mount Columbia is already peeking out of the clouds but it's many kilometers away at this point.
Mount Columbia is already peeking out of the clouds but it's many kilometers away at this point.
Mount Columbia is already peeking out of the clouds but it's many kilometers away at this point.
South and North Twin loom thousands of feet into the sky, kilometers away to the north on our right.
South and North Twin loom thousands of feet into the sky, kilometers away to the north on our right.
Starting to trend south to avoid crevasses in the trench.
Starting to trend south to avoid crevasses in the trench.
Skiing down the trench.
Skiing down the trench.
Time to grunt back up the far side of the trench - our destination just peaking out above us now.
Time to grunt back up the far side of the trench - our destination just peaking out above us now.
Looking directly south to Mount Bryce from the bottom of the trench.
Looking directly south to Mount Bryce from the bottom of the trench.
Grunting up the trench with winter camping packs.
Grunting up the trench with winter camping packs.
Looking back down the trench - this is the icefall we avoided by going further south before descending the trench.
Looking back down the trench - this is the icefall we avoided by going further south before descending the trench.
Looking back over the trench towards Snow Dome.
Looking back over the trench towards Snow Dome.
A blank, white canvas for another 5 minutes. This is where we decided to set up camp. Steven thinks 3 hours to the summit from here.
A blank, white canvas for another 5 minutes. This is where we decided to set up camp. Steven thinks 3 hours to the summit from here.
Our peace and quiet is shattered! Our clean white canvas is also ruined. Oh well. It's a small world after all, I guess.
Our peace and quiet is shattered! Our clean white canvas is also ruined. Oh well. It's a small world after all, I guess.
Steven enjoys a break at camp. It's hard to get back on the skis after sitting down in the glorious, warm sunshine!
Steven enjoys a break at camp. It's hard to get back on the skis after sitting down in the glorious, warm sunshine!
Vern enjoying a pristine day in our camp kitchen.
Vern enjoying a pristine day in our camp kitchen.
Steven enjoys a break at camp. It's hard to get back on the skis after sitting down in the glorious, warm sunshine!
Steven enjoys a break at camp. It's hard to get back on the skis after sitting down in the glorious, warm sunshine!
A wonderful winter camp and warm, spring sunshine keeping things nice and toasty. It really doesn't get much better than this.
A wonderful winter camp and warm, spring sunshine keeping things nice and toasty. It really doesn't get much better than this.
Getting ready to tackle Alberta's tallest mountain - looking fairly insignificant from 5km away at distant right.
Getting ready to tackle Alberta's tallest mountain - looking fairly insignificant from 5km away at distant right.
West, South and North Twin peaks from near camp.
West, South and North Twin peaks from near camp.

Sidebar: Routes & History of Mount Columbia

Mount Columbia is the highest peak in Alberta and the 2nd highest (next to Mount Robson) in the Canadian Rockies. I think that deserves a short side bar. Unlike Mount Alberta or the Twin’s Tower, there aren’t very many routes on Columbia, probably due to its remoteness and the plethora of other peaks that folks can find new routes on. Even so, I’m surprised there aren’t any other routes than those listed here, considering how big and sexy this mountain is.

  • East Face II |  1902 James Outram guided by Christian Kaufmann. This is the standard route and is considered quite easy, technically. An excellent resource for the routes and history of Mount Columbia can be found on climbwild.netFirst ski ascent by Rex Gibson, Striling Hendricks and Ken Boucher in 1937.
  • South East Ridge II | 1924 by O. Field, E. Stenton, C. Smith and M. Brooks. This route is very slightly more difficult than the East Face route due to more (rotten) rock blocking the route – circumvented by steep face climbing on snow or ice. Robin Tivy writes about this route on Bivouac.com.
  • West Face 5.5 | 1951 by George Ball and David Micheal. I couldn’t find any more information on this route but it has been done by Rich Gebert as a pretty impressive solo effort in July 2004.
  • North Ridge V 5.7 WI3 | 1970 by Graham Thompson and Chris Jones. The first ascent of this route was very difficult and sustained climbing over 2.5 days. It isn’t done very often, as I couldn’t find very many trip reports detailing ascents of this remote and wild ridge. A modern version of this route was done recently by Colin Haley and Ian Welsted where they pretty much ascended unroped for most of the route, but did avoid some of the more serious terrain by traversing climber’s right.

After the sound of engines died off and the smell of gasoline diminished we finished digging in camp and looked at our watches. I think we all knew this would happen because we’ve done it many times before including Cirrus and Joffre. We tend to get bored quickly and after sitting around camp for 15 minutes someone suggested that we probably had enough time to “at least break trail to the base of the mountain for the next morning”. Yeah right! We were going to bag the peak on the first day and we all knew it. We dug a food cache to protect our dinner from the famous ice field ravens and packed our summit packs for a late afternoon / evening ascent. Steven figured 3.5 hours and having been there before (in a failed 2012 attempt), I was much more conservative at 5 hours. It was 15:00 when we left camp, so even 6 hours would be enough to get back in some day light. Off we went!

Are we even getting closer?! The snow mobile tracks helped avoid crevasses, which was handy (hence no rope here) but they were actually harder to ski in than the supportive snow to the side of the tracks.
A magnificent view of the group of “Twins”. From L to R, West, South, Tower and North Twin.

The huge bulk of Columbia never seemed to get closer as we labored kilometer after kilometer towards it’s huge base on the icefield. After an hour we were finally skiing up from a slight depression at its foot and after over 1.5 hours of skiing from our base camp, we were finally looking up at some avy debris on the east face and up our intended route to the summit. There were no tracks for us to follow here – it was time to break trail for over 600 vertical meters to the summit of Alberta’s highest mountain. We abandoned the snow sticks and transitioned to crampons and axes for the east face snow climb.

Soon we’ll abandon the snowmobile track and start trending left towards the lower SE face which rises just right of center here. Last time I was here we traversed to the skyline south ridge.
This is a damn big icefield compared to the tiny Wapta! Very happy to be here on such a clear day.

The southeast face looked fairly easy up close, but as we started kicking steps we realized that this was a big bloody mountain and wouldn’t give in quite as easily and quickly as we thought! The snow conditions were nearly perfect as Steven led masterfully upwards – one methodical kick step at a time. We went straight up climber’s left on the face, just right of some rock outcrops. Hours went by as we worked upwards – we were all feeling tired from the approach and the altitude by the time we finally got above the outcrop and started traversing slightly left over some massive exposure down the south face. Do not underestimate this snow face – it’s big and it’s bloody steep. At least 40-45 degrees in spots, depending on your line, and obviously very prone to wind loading and avalanching. We were lucky to be ascending on old avy debris as it was firm and had already slid. The upper face was even more solid, since any recent wind-loading had avalanched off and cleared down to the settled base below. I can see why many people turn back after coming all the way in to bag this “easy” giant.

The biggest problem with climbing the highest mountain around, is that you start off well below all of its neighbors and as you ascend, you keep looking over at them, knowing that you eventually have to climb higher than their lofty summits! I kept sneaking glances behind us at the huge mass of Mount Bryce – it was a wee bit depressing that we would be higher than it before we could claim our current summit. Every time I looked back at Bryce it still looked huge. We knew there were crevasses all over the place on Columbia and as we transitioned off the east face to the hard, windblown section just under the summit we could see seracs above us on our right and even more exposure to the south face on our left. We picked a line in between and continued cramponing upward until Steven yelled, “crevasse” and progress halted for a bit while he figured out how to cross it. With a lunge he was across and soon it was Ben’s turn. Except he found the crevasse a bit too friendly and soon Steven and I were both pulling hard on the rope while Ben worked himself out of the deep hole – thankfully he only fell half in!! Good thing we were roped…

Looking over the King Edward approach meadows at lower center with some of the Chess Group peaks beyond.

Soon after finding the crevasse we ascended a final, steep roll and popped out near the summit of Alberta’s highest peak to a wonderful evening view of countless other peaks – all of them lower than us. The wind was cool and clouds were starting to form but we were delighted to have the summit in the bag already on our first day. After a myriad of photos it was time to descend – while we still had enough daylight to do so safely. It was obviously going to take us longer than even my estimate of 5 hours since it was already 19:30 when we summitted and around 20:00 when we started our descent.

From L to R looking north towards Mount Alberta, Charlton, Unwin, Woolley, West Twin, Twins Tower, North Twin, South Twin, Warren, Brazeau, Stutfield, Stutfield East and Poboktan at far right distance.
Triad and Omega and Aqueduct Peaks at center in front of a distant Mount Tsar at distant center. Mount King Edward (which took me 3 attempts until summer 2017 to finally summit) at foreground center right with Clemenceau at distance to its right. The Chess Group of peaks at foreground left.
Bras Croche is a distinct peak at center catching some sun with Farrar and Mallory on the left.
Looking straight down the Bush River FSR, past Bryce on the left.

The descent went quickly – I managed to go down facing outward while Ben and Steven were more comfortable facing in. If the snow was any harder I would have joined them, but I’m heavier than those guys so my feet plunged into the slope no problems. 😉 The ski run back to camp was fast and easy and we finally got back just as darkness was settling in around us for a round trip time of around 6.5 hours from camp.

What a view! After 17 hours on the go and 3 hours of sleep, I’m ready to hit the sack though.

We finally stumbled back into our camp in late evening lighting after a 17 hour day, on 3 hours of sleep I might add! It felt really good to finally attain the summit of Mount Columbia after dreaming of it for so many years. I realize it’s not the pinnacle of mountaineering difficulty, but it’s a big, beautiful mountain and it threw up enough challenges to produce a nice summit-glow in all of us. We enjoyed some hot brews and supper before collapsing in our warm sleeping bags after a very long and tough day. Our plans for Sunday were to make our way over to Snow Dome, set up camp near the ramp and perhaps get me up Andromeda depending on conditions / energy levels.

Mount Columbia
Looking back towards camp along the snowmobile tracks with Snow Dome at distant left and Bryce at distant right.
Looking back towards camp along the snowmobile tracks with Snow Dome at distant left and Bryce at distant right.
The weather is perfect as we start our approach to Mount Columbia.
The weather is perfect as we start our approach to Mount Columbia.
The weather is perfect as we start our approach to Mount Columbia.
The weather is perfect as we start our approach to Mount Columbia.
The weather is perfect as we start our approach to Mount Columbia.
The weather is perfect as we start our approach to Mount Columbia.
A panorama of Columbia, the Twins and Kitchener / Snow Dome (R) as we approach on a gorgeous afternoon.
A panorama of Columbia, the Twins and Kitchener / Snow Dome (R) as we approach on a gorgeous afternoon.
You don't want a whiteout on Mount Columbia's lofty summit if you can help it. Note the crevasses to the right of our track.
You don't want a whiteout on Mount Columbia's lofty summit if you can help it. Note the crevasses to the right of our track.
A magnificent view of the group of "Twins". From L to R, West, South, Tower and North Twin.
A magnificent view of the group of "Twins". From L to R, West, South, Tower and North Twin.
Amazing views to the NW include Dias Mountain at distant right with Warwick Mountain 400m lower in front.
Amazing views to the NW include Dias Mountain at distant right with Warwick Mountain 400m lower in front.
Twins at center and the Athabasca River Valley running north to the left of them. On the left is Dias, Quincy, Catacombs, Massey and Blackfriars
Twins at center and the Athabasca River Valley running north to the left of them. On the left is Dias, Quincy, Catacombs, Massey and Blackfriars
This is a damn big icefield compared to the tiny Wapta! Very happy to be here on such a clear day.
This is a damn big icefield compared to the tiny Wapta! Very happy to be here on such a clear day.
Looking south towards Mount Bryce over an intervening unnamed peak with the snowmobile approach tracks.
Looking south towards Mount Bryce over an intervening unnamed peak with the snowmobile approach tracks.
Soon we'll abandon the snowmobile track and start trending left towards the lower SE face which rises just right of center here.
Soon we'll abandon the snowmobile track and start trending left towards the lower SE face which rises just right of center here.
Looking back at Ben and Steven as we slowly gain height to the base of Columbia.
Looking back at Ben and Steven as we slowly gain height to the base of Columbia.
The massive SE face awaits! Note the bergschrund clearly visible splitting across it's base and the rocky outcrop about half way up
The massive SE face awaits! Note the bergschrund clearly visible splitting across it's base and the rocky outcrop about half way up
Grand views of Bryce (L) with Rostrum Peak and Cockscomb in the background to its right.
Grand views of Bryce (L) with Rostrum Peak and Cockscomb in the background to its right.
Approaching the SE face directly now - it is very foreshortened and flattened in this shot.
Approaching the SE face directly now - it is very foreshortened and flattened in this shot.
Almost done the ski approach as we get near the bottom of the slide debris which would suck for skiing. Notice how 'small' the face looks from here?
Almost done the ski approach as we get near the bottom of the slide debris which would suck for skiing. Notice how 'small' the face looks from here?
Looking back down our approach skin track as we enter the avy debris field under the SE face of Columbia.
Looking back down our approach skin track as we enter the avy debris field under the SE face of Columbia.
Off the skis and roped up for the SE face snow ascent. It's starting to look big again.
Off the skis and roped up for the SE face snow ascent. It's starting to look big again.
Looking back at the icefield from the lower east face of Columbia where the angle is still gentle. Extra points if you can even spot 'tiny' Castleguard now.
Looking back at the icefield from the lower east face of Columbia where the angle is still gentle. Extra points if you can even spot 'tiny' Castleguard now.
Perfect snow conditions on the SE face.
Perfect snow conditions on the SE face.
The slope begins to steepen as we approach the first rock outcrop to the left.
The slope begins to steepen as we approach the first rock outcrop to the left.
Looking over the King Edward approach meadows at lower center with some of the Chess Group peaks beyond.
Looking over the King Edward approach meadows at lower center with some of the Chess Group peaks beyond.
Spectacular views over the east ridge next to the SE face and into BC, down the Bush River Valley at center. I've driven that road many times now.
Spectacular views over the east ridge next to the SE face and into BC, down the Bush River Valley at center. I've driven that road many times now.
Approaching the summit of Alberta's highest peak.
Approaching the summit of Alberta's highest peak.
Mount Alberta (L), Twin's Tower, North Twin and South Twin. West Twin looks tiny from this angle even though it's also over 11,000 feet!
Mount Alberta (L), Twin's Tower, North Twin and South Twin. West Twin looks tiny from this angle even though it's also over 11,000 feet!
Mount Alberta is a beautiful summit that I hope to stand on some day.
Mount Alberta is a beautiful summit that I hope to stand on some day.
Mount Alberta, Charlton, Unwin, Woolley, West Twin, Twins Tower, North Twin, South Twin, Warren, Brazeau, Stutfield, Stutfield East and Poboktan
Mount Alberta, Charlton, Unwin, Woolley, West Twin, Twins Tower, North Twin, South Twin, Warren, Brazeau, Stutfield, Stutfield East and Poboktan
Dias, Warwick, Massey, Quincy, Fortress, Catacombs, Dragon, Brussels, Mount Alberta, Charlton, Unwin, Woolley, West Twin, Twins Tower, North Twin, South Twin, Warren, Brazeau, Stutfield, Stutfield Eas
Dias, Warwick, Massey, Quincy, Fortress, Catacombs, Dragon, Brussels, Mount Alberta, Charlton, Unwin, Woolley, West Twin, Twins Tower, North Twin, South Twin, Warren, Brazeau, Stutfield, Stutfield Eas
Late day lighting on Clemenceau (L).
Late day lighting on Clemenceau (L).
Triad and Omega and Aqueduct Peaks at center in front of a distant Mount Tsar at distant center.
Triad and Omega and Aqueduct Peaks at center in front of a distant Mount Tsar at distant center.
King and Queen Peak of the Chess Group at foreground with the Sullivan River Valley beyond at left and Tsar at distant right.
King and Queen Peak of the Chess Group at foreground with the Sullivan River Valley beyond at left and Tsar at distant right.
Kitchener (C) and Snow Dome (R) almost look like they're part of Columbia's summit block!
Kitchener (C) and Snow Dome (R) almost look like they're part of Columbia's summit block!
Sundial, Dias and Warwick in the foreground to the NW.
Sundial, Dias and Warwick in the foreground to the NW.
The long SW ridge of King Edward rises from the icefield to the summit at lower left to center with the east face at center
The long SW ridge of King Edward rises from the icefield to the summit at lower left to center with the east face at center
Bras Croche is a distinct peak at center catching some sun with Farrar and Mallory on the left.
Bras Croche is a distinct peak at center catching some sun with Farrar and Mallory on the left.
Tsar Mountain is one of the least accessible of the 11,000ers thanks to a missing bridge over the Sullivan River gorge.
Tsar Mountain is one of the least accessible of the 11,000ers thanks to a missing bridge over the Sullivan River gorge.
Rudolph, Edward, Ernest, Mount Forbes, Walter Peak, Christian, Oppy, Mount Alexandra and Bryce at foreground right.
Rudolph, Edward, Ernest, Mount Forbes, Walter Peak, Christian, Oppy, Mount Alexandra and Bryce at foreground right.
Rudolph, Edward, Ernest, Mount Forbes, Walter Peak, Christian, Oppy, Mount Alexandra and Bryce at foreground right.
Rudolph, Edward, Ernest, Mount Forbes, Walter Peak, Christian, Oppy, Mount Alexandra and Bryce at foreground right.
Looking straight down the Bush River FSR, past Bryce on the left.
Looking straight down the Bush River FSR, past Bryce on the left.
Looking straight down the Bush River FSR, past Bryce on the left.
Looking straight down the Bush River FSR, past Bryce on the left.
Mount Clemenceau is one of only 4 peaks in the Rockies over 12,000 feet (Robson, Columbia, Clemenceau, North Twin).
Mount Clemenceau is one of only 4 peaks in the Rockies over 12,000 feet (Robson, Columbia, Clemenceau, North Twin).
Mount Sir Sanford is another highly desirable summit for me and is the highest peak in the Selkirk Range at 11,545 feet high.
Mount Sir Sanford is another highly desirable summit for me and is the highest peak in the Selkirk Range at 11,545 feet high.
The lovely Adamant Range in the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia.
The lovely Adamant Range in the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia.
The Bush Group of peaks includes Rostrum, Bush, Icefall and the pointy Rostrum Tower on the R.
The Bush Group of peaks includes Rostrum, Bush, Icefall and the pointy Rostrum Tower on the R.
Cirrus, Cline, Saskatchewan, Wilson, Amery, Chephren, White Pyramid, Howse and the Lyells at far right.
Cirrus, Cline, Saskatchewan, Wilson, Amery, Chephren, White Pyramid, Howse and the Lyells at far right.
Mount Bryce's north face is a damn impressive aspect to climb - far beyond my reach!
Mount Bryce's north face is a damn impressive aspect to climb - far beyond my reach!
Nice late day lighting as we start back down from the summit looking south (L), west (C) and NW (R) from Bryce to King Edward.
Nice late day lighting as we start back down from the summit looking south (L), west (C) and NW (R) from Bryce to King Edward.
Leaving the summit as evening sets in.
Leaving the summit as evening sets in.
The rope disappears over the edge as I approach the lip of the upper east face.
The rope disappears over the edge as I approach the lip of the upper east face.
You can see the steep roll just under Steven here where we transition onto the steepest part of the face.
You can see the steep roll just under Steven here where we transition onto the steepest part of the face.
This photo makes the slope look shallow - it's not! Steven is crossing the open crevasse that Ben was half buried in on the ascent.
This photo makes the slope look shallow - it's not! Steven is crossing the open crevasse that Ben was half buried in on the ascent.
Same shot as previous, but now the angle is more apparent.
Same shot as previous, but now the angle is more apparent.
Soon the rope will come off as we get to the steepest part of the face and past the upper crevasses.
Soon the rope will come off as we get to the steepest part of the face and past the upper crevasses.
Looking back up and across the rock outcrop, showing the angle of the face as we descend.
Looking back up and across the rock outcrop, showing the angle of the face as we descend.
Down climbing the east face of Mount Columbia.
Down climbing the east face of Mount Columbia.
Ben downclimbs the SE face.
Ben downclimbs the SE face.
I'm catching up to Steven now, as I feel comfortable facing outwards and plunge-stepping down the lower face.
I'm catching up to Steven now, as I feel comfortable facing outwards and plunge-stepping down the lower face.
This isn't a slope to take lightly. It's not technically difficult but it's huge, steep and full of holes.
This isn't a slope to take lightly. It's not technically difficult but it's huge, steep and full of holes.
A final panorama as we exit the SE face of Mount Columbia, looking over the icefields to Andromeda at distance left and Bryce at center right.
A final panorama as we exit the SE face of Mount Columbia, looking over the icefields to Andromeda at distance left and Bryce at center right.
Looking back at Steven and Ben as they ski down from the east face of Columbia in fading light.
Looking back at Steven and Ben as they ski down from the east face of Columbia in fading light.
Late evening lighting on the Twins.
Late evening lighting on the Twins.
What a view! After 17 hours on the go and 3 hours of sleep, I'm ready to hit the sack though.
What a view! After 17 hours on the go and 3 hours of sleep, I'm ready to hit the sack though.

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