There are a few mountains that having been hanging around on my ‘to-do’ list ever since I first laid eyes on them or read someone else’s trip report on ascending them. Some are really obvious like Mount Columbia or Mount Vaux, while others have just triggered something in me that makes me really want to stand on their summit. I first noticed Mount Patterson while descending Mount Weed across highway #93 in June of 2006. I don’t really know why, but I love the way it rises above the valley with the Snowbird Glacier and rugged rock towers catching the light.
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.
On Good Friday, April 22, 2011 I took my brother in law, Mike up his very first Rockies peak. He chose to attempt his first peak on alpine touring gear, which I thought was very admirable considering you can’t really find a more physically challenging way to climb a mountain than with huge skis and boots attached to your feet! 🙂
Summit Elevation (m): 2868Elevation Gain (m): 1000Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you break your leg. Unless you’re caught in an avalanche – then you could die.Difficulty Notes: Winter ascent includes serious avalanche risks. Learn how to manage these risks and perform avalanche burial rescues before attempting this trip. GPS Track Download: Download GPX File (right-click, save-as)Technical Rating: OT4 – Skiing; YDS (3rd)Map: Google Maps On Saturday, April 09 2011 So and I did the Bow Peak winter […]
On Sunday March 27, 2011 So Nakagawa and I skied to the summit of Crowfoot Mountain under a clear, nearly windless spring / winter day. I haven’t stood on a peak since I scrambled Midnight Peak way back on October 30 2010! I think that 5 months between peaks has to be some sort of new record for me. The last few outings I’ve had to the Rockies have been marked by cloud, wind and dreariness. So and I were both looking forward to a nice spring day with sunshine and melting snow but we knew that this was unlikely.
On Saturday, March 6 2010 I was joined by Scott Berry, JW and Janice to ski Vermillion Peak. We had a gorgeous day and sublime mountain views but on hindsight we probably should not have chosen this particular peak for an 8 degree day. The route up was clearly marked with a very hard packed track. The snow pack had about 2 inches of solid ice crust on top with facets underneath which did not inspire confidence in either the ongoing slope stability in the warm temps or for the ski back down. We followed the up track ’til there was a split just before the pass.
I woke the entire hut up at 07:00 on Sunday morning by turning on the stoves and lighting the lanterns. I paid for it by being recruited to help change the outhouse barrel!. I won’t go into detail on this except to say that the best way to ruin your morning appetite is to change an outhouse barrel. That is some nasty business my friends… By 08:30 we were packed up and ready to re-ascend the high col with heavier packs than the day before. I took some medication for my cold, hoping that it would be enough to get me through the day.
TJ’s alarm woke up the hut by going off repeatedly every 2 minutes for half an hour as TJ slept blissfully unaware of the annoyance with his industrial strength ear plugs. By 07:00 Ben had the lights on and the water boiling and we reluctantly left our warm sleeping bags for breakfast. TJ finally decided it was time to wake up and shut down his alarm. I barely managed to choke down some Nutri-grain cereal bars and some instant Starbucks coffee while TJ and Ben stuffed themselves with as much oatmeal as humanly possible.
On Thursday, February 18 2010 a group of us lit up the interweb with a flurry of emails regarding the upcoming weekend. The reason we were so excited was the weather forecast’s promise of an imminent stretch of bluebird days over the Rockies, specifically in the Wapta Icefields area. The Wapta is like any other ice field in the Rockies. If there’s even one measly little cloud in the forecast, chances are very high that you will be experiencing a white out once you get onto the glacier. It’s just the way the weather patterns work with large expanses of snow and ice when there’s any moisture around. Another bonus was the very favorable avalanche reports – somewhat of a rarity for a February snow pack in Alberta.
On Saturday, January 23 2010 I joined a nice large group of friends for a jaunt up Burstall Pass Peak in the Burstall Pass area of Kananaskis. Since I had a bat attitude (or “battitude”) on the evening before, I decided to sleep in an extra hour and try to catch the rest of the group on the way up the pass. I was a bit bummed out on the drive to K-country because the weather was very grey and depressing. I was starting to think sleeping in would have been a great idea.
I did something on Saturday, May 16th that I’ve never done before. I bagged a peak on skis on the May long weekend! Wietse and I had already made two half-hearted attempts at Snow Peak near Burstall Pass in Kananaskis Country over the winter of 2009. Finally on May 16th we decided that we’d had enough of this ‘easy’ peak and ended up summiting in perfect conditions in around 7 hours, round trip.
When JW and TJ invited me on a weekend ski trip either up White Pyramid or Cathedral Mountain I was more than ready to join them. We decided on May 1 2009 for a White Pyramid ascent. I didn’t know a lot about this mountain, but I did know that it was a lot of height gain since it’s next door neighbor, Mount Chephren has been on my “to do” list for while, and it’s almost 2 km vertical gain and not much higher!
I waited 3 years to finally accomplish what TJ, Megan and I did on Saturday, April 18 2009 – summit Mount Hector. Truthfully, on hindsight, it’s for the best that it took me this long. The ski down was much more pleasurable now that I’m more comfortable skiing powder. I’m not nearly as good a skier as TJ or Megs but I can enjoy myself rather than just do the ‘survivor skiing’ thing. Last year we made an attempt at Hector but turned around just before the headwall due to isothermal snow and a burning desire to ski something more supportive. At the time we were bummed out because the next week we found out that if only we would have struggled up the headwall we would have probably had a great ski day on the glacier.
On Thursday, March 12 2009 Bill Kerr, Wietse Bylsma, Kevin Papke and I set out to clear Kev’s head after a personal loss, the manner of clearing being a nice back country ski up some Wapta Peak. It’s been almost 2 years since I was last on the Wapta since I didn’t get up there at all in 2008 for some reason. I was also looking forward to finally bagging another peak for 2009 – my record of peak bagging in 2009 has been dismal so far!
On a beautiful day in early March, TJ, Megs, Wietse and I completed the French / Haig/ Robertson ski traverse in the heart of Kananaskis Country under the looming summit of Mount Sir Douglas over the French and Robertson Glaciers.
On Saturday, December 08 2007 a whole bunch of us skinned up the the ski-out at the Sunshine ski resort in Banff National Park with the intention of bagging a small peak near the ski resort called Twin Cairns.
On Saturday, February 10 I finally bagged my first summit of the year 2007 and first summit since October 14 2006. That’s almost 4 months without a summit. No wonder it felt so good. 😉
What a fantastic day in the hills! That about sums up my Mount Olive (and St. Nicholas) outing. After spending a fun but bone chilling day out on the Wapta 3 weekends ago in our Mount Gordon trip, this was just a great way to see the other side to ski mountaineering.