Well, Wow. I must say that the 2013 Mountaineering trip was more than I expected, more than most expected I think. First off I’d like to say thanks to the leaders and organizers of this years trip you all did an amazing job. Thanks Jeff, Dave, Mark, Joel, Ivan and anyone I missed.
Starting off the trip was a rather nice with a short helicopter trip up the valley, the views coming up from where we parked went from green and rolling brown to white grey and jagged, the terrain was steeeep. The first days objective was a mountain called Doubletop, it was supposed to be the easy day but I’d have to say that it was likely one of the hardest. There was much scree and bushwhacking then the never ending slope to what looked like the top…but it wasn’t, all in all it was still a good day.
The second day out was Glacier Training, we were taught how and why roped travel was necessary and over the next few days the glacier would change and it would become much more apparent why these skills should be second nature. We went over things like crevasse rescue systems, how to tie in and prussic up a rope, how to properly walk on the glacier as well, walking should seem fairly self explanatory but there is some thought that has to go into it.
Up next was Unicorn, ahh yes the unicorn that was a great day we got to experience the environment in full effect, searing heat, chilly wind, lots of vertical, a really long walk. Crevasse crossings and continuous elevation gain were part of the trek to the base of the rock climb only after a big ass bergschrund crossing, that’s a German crevasse they’re different. The rock portion was basically a scramble to the top with the exception of the last few meters which were low 5th class rock climbing…in boots. once on the top there were stunning views over the surrounding area. There was even a humming bird that followed us to nearly the top of the mountain too.
A trip up the other way to Friendship Col and on to Sentinel Peak was on the list of activities for day four. This day took us out the back of the hut up a hill and out into a large meadow with a river and a few small lakes, it’s not the type of meadow that one might think of, this one had large boulders, granite sand, scree and a few smatterings of grass here and there. Once at the top of the col there was a short trek across the glacier to Sentinel Peak where we made it 99% of the way up. The last few feet were just a bit too precarious for the group to manage safely, however the views of Sir Sanford were great, Sir Sanford dominated the views, this mountain is an absolute behemoth.
Day five took us to Mount Colossal with some members opting for a tour of the glacier. Mount Colossal is a rather deceiving mountain when it’s viewed from the hut, it looks like a bump covered in snow with a few rocky outcroppings, no big deal easy stuff right. Nope! This was about as close to alpine climbing as we were going to get. It was certainly full on enough, the glacier crossing was familiar at this point as we had been on it a few times earlier in the week and when we got to the first bit of rock this is where the Col Girls, “We don’t go all the way”, broke off for their tour of the glacier. The rocky outcroppings were jagged, steep, unforgiving and awesome! Along the way to the ridge there was a steep (60~70 deg) snow slope crossing that made you realize just where you were and what you were doing. Imagine stepping off a solid rock onto snow that’s soft, now imagine that snow angled so steep that when you stand if you reach out in front of you the snow is right there for you to touch. If you look down you see the snow run out below your feet about a hundred feet down then nothing, after that the glacier many hundreds of feet below that. Time to move, tool, feet , feet, tool, feet, feet away we go. The whole experience was fantastic. Jeff was at the front of the rope that I was on and at no time did the thought of “What the hell am I doing here” ever cross my mind. We didn’t summit this mountain as the route was too long and we would have ran out of time, the group was a bit too large to do this mountain in the time that we had available to us but it was still super fun. The trip back was more of the same but much faster and uneventful which is always a good thing.
Friday, Day 6 was a big day for Kurt and I, we traveled with the group up Friendship Col to bag Mount Damon and Mount Pythias. Today started out as a slow day with minor objectives, basically an easy day up to the glacier to go at your own pace on Damon and Pythias both are simple scrambles about 45 mins round trip each after that there was an opportunity to try some hands on crevasse rescue and self arrest, good stuff and fun. After the days activities Kurt and I headed up to the Mount Quadrant Col where we headed as far around to Houdini’s Needles as we could with the time that we had we ended up back at the hut at 5:30 that day, about 3.5 hrs behind everyone else
Saturday was the Ride down day. It rained, it was foggy, it was plain old miserable but we were fortunate enough to have fabulous weather for the rest of time that we were there so there were no complaints. The weather broke and we were outta there by mid afternoon back at our cars. The sun came out and it was another great day to travel home.
The Selkirk’s area was a real eye opener it was rugged yet peaceful and with the early morning light and crisp air there was a moment where I looked around and couldn’t believe how amazing this place was and wondered why more people wouldn’t want to come out to places like this and experience what places like this have to offer, I realized that these places make you work hard to get here and you get out what you put into it, besides if it were easy to get here and too many people came to these places then they wouldn’t look the same or even feel the way they do. Maybe its better that these places are left alone and only accessed by like minded people that want to enjoy this place in it’s gnarly magnificence and leave it the way it was intended to be.