Rudolph Peak (Lyell I)

Summit Elevation (m): 3507
Trip Date: June 26 2015
Elevation Gain (m): 1350 from hut, 3200+ from Valenciennes FSR
Round Trip Time (hr): 9 from the Lyell hut
Total Trip Distance (km): 14 from the Lyell hut
Related Trips: Icefall Brook Approach, Lyell I, Lyell II, Lyell III, Lyell V, Arctomys Peak, Farbus Mountain
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something
Difficulty Notes: Remote mountain bush roads, indistinct and exposed trail and glacier travel in very remote terrain.
Technical Rating: MN7; YDS (II)
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps
Photos: View Album

Edward Peak was easy after the ‘schrund on Ernest, but what would Rudolph be like? Well – it was smack in the middle of the previous two. We had no technical issues up it’s south ridge, it was a moderate scramble at most. The only difference between it and the other Lyell peaks, is that Rudolph is a rock scramble rather than a snow climb. There was some exposure down the east face, but it was avoidable, if desired.

Ernest Edward & Rudolph Route Map from the Lyell Hut
At the Rudolph / Edward col, looking up at the moderate scramble to Rudolph’s summit along the rock on the right hand edge of the southwest face.

The views from the lofty summit of Rudolph Peak were, of course excellent but the shadows were getting longer and longer as we finally topped out on our third 11,000er of the day. I was forecasting an 18 hour day by the time we got back to the hut and well over 3,000 meters of height gain on the day. A day filled with mind-blowing views and quite overwhelming to be honest.

Valley of Lakes with Monchy, Erasmus and Arctomys at left. Forbes and Mons Peak at center and Christian, Edward and Ernest at right.
Christian, Edward, Ernest, Cockscomb, Whiterose, Farbus, Alexandra, Oppy and Queens (L to R).
Fantastic views deep into the headwaters of the Alexandra River at lower center. Peaks include Alexandra, Oppy, Bryce, King Edward and of course, Mount Columbia (L to R).

For the descent between Rudolph and Edward peaks, we chose to take off the snowshoes and use our crampons instead. The slope was steep with two bergschrunds cutting across it and even a small icefall to pass through. Corbett mentions a route up Edward Peak’s east face direct to the summit, that is now an overhanging serac with a pretty large ‘schrund splitting across it. Maybe in a very high snow year?! The warming climate is certainly having an effect on many of the snow / ice 11,000ers, especially in 2015 with an extremely dry and warm spring / early summer.

Interesting Facts on Rudolph Peak

Named by Sydney R. Vallance in 1972. Aemmer, Rudolph (Rudolph Aemmer was an early mountaineering guide in the Canadian Rockies.) (see biog.) Official name. Other names One of five peaks on Mount Lyell. First ascended in 1926 by Alfred J. Ostheimer, M.M. Strumia, J. Monroe Thorington, guided by Edward Feuz jr.. Journal reference CAJ 16-142.

Eventually the ‘shoes came back on and the never ending plod began – back across the main Lyell Icefield, back up and over Christian Peak’s south ridge and down and up to the hut before finally descending to a very welcome abode just as darkness settled in around us.

Keeping the crampons on as we pass through the small icefall from the steep east face of Edward Peak. Arctomys Peak and Erasmus at left.
A sublime sunset just before we have to regain height to the Lyell Hut.

Our stats for day one were enough to make me tired just thinking of them. I think I set a new personal distance / height gain record for a single day trip, with over 26 km of total distance and over 3350 meters of total height gain in 18 hours of almost continuous travel. Considering our egress time of only 4 hours from the Lyell Hut you could approach the Lyells from the Valenciennes FSR with a day pack, climb three or four of them and go all the way back down in less than 24 hours if you’re fit and motivated enough. You’d be rushing through some terrain that’s better spent with some time to let it soak into your soul though.

I had a feeling I might be sore the next day and popped a couple of stretches-in-a-bottleAKA “vitamin i” before consuming some serious calories and heading up to pass out on my bunk until the next morning. Our plans for day two was to scope out Walter Peak’s west glacier and possibly ascend this hardest of the Lyell peaks before ascending Christian Peak – the fifth of the Lyells.

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