The group met at Takakkaw Falls outside Field, B.C. and had to hike in everything we would need for the week. This wasn’t the most pleasant hike of the week as most people had 80+ litre packs on. However we made it and it sure was nice to have the hut as our base for the week. The rest of the day was getting settled in the hut, getting gear organized, and identifying and planning the routes to the various peaks in the area.
The first day of the camp took us into the mountains where the leaders found a patch of snow so the group could practice anchor techniques and rescues. This was done in the shadow of the infamous Mt. Kerr, a peak that some of the members have been chased off several times previously, leading to its nickname, Mt. Cursed. Fittingly, the snow instruction was cut short as weather moved in. The rest of the day was spent reviewing details about the days’ instruction, doing some land training of glacier travel techniques and general camping activities like organizing gear, eating, and exchanging stories in the hut.
Day two was when the serious mountaineering began. The group split up into two teams. The group I was a part of headed straight for the largest peak in the area, Mt. President. It would be a long ascent and to ensure we missed the unfavorable weather forecasted for later that day we decided on an alpine start. Getting started before sunrise also afforded a little more time for the group to not be rushed throughout the day. This was especially important, as there were two members of the group who had never been on a glacier before, so use of the gear and their techniques were new. Besides the excitement of reaching the summit I also had the extra adrenaline rush of falling into a crevasse. Though it wasn’t very wide and I was caught at my arms and backpack, it still happened in the blink of an eye and got the adrenaline pumping!!
The third day the groups switched and now my group attempted a run at Isolated Peak. It would involve more glacier travel but still a very manageable peak. The hike started out through a wonderful looking valley, that several people commented that it looked like the setting for The Sound of Music. We arrived at the glacier at the same time the weather moved in. It wasn’t a large threat for our group but the other group, now attempting Mt. President, had weather moving in on them much quicker and darker than on us. The leaders in the two groups were maintaining radio communication and the decision was made that both groups would turn around. Unfortunately we didn’t beat the weather back to the hut so some rain accompanied our walk. However, this didn’t dampen our spirits. At the hut we got our wet gear hung up, started a fire in the wood stove, got the water boiling and settled in awaiting the arrival of the second group descending Mt. President. After the rain cleared a group of spirited members took off to summit Mt. Kerr.
The last two days of the week continued much the same. Early morning starts and summits. Other notable adventures included a double summit day of Mt. MacArthur and Mt. Pollinger. It was a special day as all members were out in one large group, making 4 rope teams spread out over the glacier, a traverse between the two peaks with a 30 foot rock climb (another first for me) and a snow storm that chased us off the peak of Mt. Pollinger. The final day had groups all over the mountain ranges. Teams took off to capture the summits that evaded them previously, Mt. President and Mt. Isolated. One group took off for a very long ridge, the Whaleback, and took the long way back.
The final day included the hike out. Hiking downhill with lighter packs made for a much more manageable hike. The whole week was topped off with a tradition of the ACC Sask Section, a burger and beer at Bill Peyto’s Café in Lake Louise.
The camp was a wonderful experience. It’s a great way to discover new territory and take time out of the day-to-day. It’s not surprise that two Saskatchewan Section Alpine Club of Canada leaders that led the camp, Jeff Dmytrowich and Mark Rosin, received the Earl Brooks Leader Award for strong commitment to learning and applying technical and leader skills, as they were absolutely fantastic in their leadership. Patient with new members and professional in their approach and always willing to answer questions. At the start of the camp Mark quoted Alex Lowe by saying that “the best climber in the world s the one who is having the most fun”. I’m sure there were a lot of the ‘best climbers in the world” on this trip as a lot of people had a lot of fun.
– Scott Lacey, ACC Saskatchewan Section Member