In 2012 I made my first attempts at peaks on the massive playground of rock, snow and ice that’s known as the Columbia Icefield. The first attempt was an ill-fated try for the namesake peak, Mount Columbia itself, in February. It was my first major winter camping trip and I learned a lot about winter camping and traveling on the icefield itself. I made a lot of mistakes on that trip and on hindsight I’m lucky that nothing tragic happened (more on that later). We approached via the Saskatchewan Glacier on this trip.
I’ve been dreaming of the Matterhorn of the Rockies since I first laid eyes on her while on a hiking trip to the area in 2008. I never actually thought I’d be climbing its NE ridge but it was fun to imagine! Towering over everything in its vicinity and visible from almost every prominent peak in south Banff and Kananaskis , Mount Assiniboine is a big, beautiful mountain that has inspired climbers from all over the world to test its charms.
Wow. That 3 letter word pretty much sums up this trip. Don’t bother reading further unless you’re interested in more detail. Wow. There – I just said it again. This was one of those trips that’ll stick with me for the rest of my life – or at least while I have a reasonably intact memory. Eric Coulthard is one of those people who dreams up trips while looking at his extensive online library of photos and possible routes. While climbing Mount Fryatt a couple of weekends ago with him, he suggested that he might be giving Mount Amery and some other peaks in the area a shot this fall.
On August 25/26 I joined Kevin Barton and Eric Coulthard for a trip up Mount Fryatt in Jasper National Park. This mountain has been on my radar for a number of years due to its remoteness and the beautiful bivy site that was rumored to exist under the SW face. When Raf climbed Fryatt back in 2009 I was quite disappointed that I couldn’t join him. I waited patiently for three years and made my ascent in perfect conditions. Sometimes I get the sense that I’m rushing to complete peaks – this trip proved once again that it’s the journey that counts – not the summit.
Sometimes in life you get a chance to do something that you’ve always wanted to do but scares you a little at the same time and you have a choice to make. Is it one of those moments that you jump in or jump out? Monday May 7 2012 I was presented with such a chance. Since our failed attempt at Mount Columbia in February, Ferenc and I had been planning a repeat 2 day trip to get redemption. Our plan was to wait for optimal conditions in May before our next attempt. TJ was also keen on Columbia so I agreed to keep him in the loop.
A group of us had originally planned a trip up to the Asulkan Hut in Rogers Pass for the weekend of April 19-23rd. Due to poor conditions the objective was changed at the last hour to Peyto Hut on the Wapta Ice field instead. Some of us could only make it for Friday night while a group went in on Thursday already and left on Sunday. Wietse, Scott, Kelly and Robin all headed in on Thursday. They initially had intentions of climbing Mount Habel after getting to the Peyto hut but the warmth of the hut combined with deteriorating conditions led them to drink beer and eat good food instead!
The first week of February 2012 was looking pretty promising for weather and avalanche conditions in the Alberta Rockies. Since Hanneke wasn’t on call for the weekend of the 4th I decided to send out the “who’s in?” emails to start organizing at least one day of backcountry skiing – hopefully involving a summit of some kind.
Mount Des Poilus has been on my radar for quite some time. Originally it was always a ski objective but lately I’d also been looking at it as a possible summer peak. After reading Andrew Nugara’s one day ascent of Yoho Peak and a separate (impressive!!) one day climb of Mount Des Poilus I had the brilliant idea to combine the two with a bivy to eliminate two long day trips and a repeat of the somewhat tedious approach. When Raf indicated that he was also interested in Des Poilus as a summer trip, I told him of my plan to spend 1.5 days near the Des Poilus glacier and combining Yoho and Des Poilus into one trip. He loved the idea. On August 13 & 14 2011 we were joined by Alan Fortune for this little adventure.
One of my goals for the 2011 canoe trip was to make it feel like we were on a route we hadn’t done before, despite having done a very similar route in 2009. One way to make this happen was by doing it in reverse from our previous outing. I also added some variations – obviously these could be ignored depending on weather and other factors.
After ascending Mount Ball and Beatrice Peak the previous day, we awoke to clear skies on Sunday morning, August 15 2010 ready to tackle Stanley Peak. Thanks to Dave Stephens we knew there was an easier route than the Kane bash up the face – we could ascend southwest slopes to the summit. We had an idea that instead of coming all the way back above the headwall to our bivy site before going back down Haffner Creek, we could descend off Stanley’s south slopes and cut off a good part of the bushwhack. This would be a bit dicey because of cliff bands guarding the south side of Stanley but we felt good about finding a route off, so we set out with our full packs.
I woke up at 0315 on Saturday morning, August 14 2010 eager to drive to the Marble Canyon camp ground and a bushwhack up Haffner Creek. OK, I wasn’t exactly eager, but I did wake up! I arrived at the parking lot around 06:00 and by 06:30 our party of four was starting up Haffner Creek.
After ascending Mount Daly the day before, we were up at 07:00 and ready for an easier day on Mount Niles. We got what we wanted. Mount Niles is a much shorter and simpler scramble than Daly is. There’s no glacier, no cliff bands and really no route finding if you stick to the trail / cairns. We ascended the same drainage as the day before and got to the upper meadow. From there we descended slightly to climber’s left and made for the pinnacle, following cairns through the boulder field.
On September 25 2009 my brother Rod and I headed into Sherbrooke Lake and beyond in Yoho National Park to see what all the fuss over Niles Meadows and it’s neighboring peaks, Mount Daly and Niles was. The fuss is well founded, as it turns out! The hike to Sherbrooke Lake gained more elevation than I expected. We gained about 200 vertical meters before the lake already – and felt it with the bigger packs! Rod is a flat lander from Winnipeg and he did pretty darn good considering! Just wait till he turns 30.
After a solo scramble on Observation Peak, I met up with Keith Bott for the trek into the bivy on Mount Chephren on August 07 2009 in the evening. I had Chephren on the radar for a long time already and finally all the pieces of life aligned to allow me a good chance at this giant. And make no mistake about it. Chephren is every bit the giant you may have heard or suspected it is! Just gaze at it from the highway sometime and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how big this mountain really is.
It all started with Linda Breton planning a group trip to the Stanley Mitchell hut in hopes of having a more successful outing than the group trip last year.
The only Kane scramble in the Skoki that was left after 3 days of scrambling was Redoubt Mountain. Jon, Rod and I packed up our camp at Baker Lake early on Thursday morning, September 8 2005 to head for Boulder Pass.
A very frosty morning of September 7 2005 found Rod, Jon and I hiking out of our Baker Lake back country campsite to tackle a long day of scrambling more peaks in the Skoki region of Banff National Park.
Jon and I woke up early on September 6 2005 to clear skies and started up the trail to Hidden Lake and the slopes of Pika Peak.
Jon, Rod and I scrambled Mount Richardson under a cloudy, snowy sky on September 5. The weather didn’t look very promising at first and for most of our ascent we had no idea where the actual summit was!
In early 2005 the emails and phone calls started circulating among our canoeing group again. When the dust finally settled we agreed that another trip through Woodland Caribou Provincial Park (WCPP) was in order.
The day started out predictably with Dad’s attraction to bizarre adventures. Just as we were pulling onto the road destined for Wallace Lake we noticed a strange noise from the left rear of the truck.