Thursday, 15 September 2011

Mt Cline 2011

Sunday/Monday  Jul 31/Aug 1, 2011 Mt. Cline 3361 metres, 11,027 feet
Synopsis: 3 1/2 stars out of 5, an 11,000er in a remote and interesting setting, great to see familiar peaks from another vantage point however the notches were the most interesting bit of climbing.

We all met in Lake Louise, Brian coming from Alexandra ACC Calgary section camp.  Left Louise at about noon in two vehicles as I was heading back to Edmonton afterwards.  Brian had the forethought to ask about ropes and pots at the park kiosk entering the Icefield Parkway and thus had to go back to Louise for pots.  Val and I had a little extra time to get ready at the trailhead.  The day started off nice and sunny in Canmore however by the time we hit Saskatchewan crossing it was pretty cloudy and as we waiting it started to rain however was short lived.  Sara and Brian arrived and we left the cars at the Thompson Creek trailhead at 2:15 pm at roughly 1380 metres asl.  Followed Bill Corbett’s directions to the biv site and they were pretty much spot on, with the help of some flagging tape.  A fair amount of wandering in the bush through the old burn however a good trail for most of it.  We did go too high just before entering the trees for the traverse right however spotted flagging and was easily remedied.   Great views of the David Thompson valley and front ranges.  Gained the two lakes and chose a bivy site just at the far end at 2340 metres, a gain of just over 1000 m after 4 ½ hours.  Beautiful spot however turned out to be fairly breezy.

The bivy site is in a basin with high walls all around, especially to the west.  The clouds were screaming by and we really couldn’t see what the weather would be until it was on us.  Brian and I tucked in behind some bush with our biv sacs and the gals put up their one man tents.  Just as we had everything laid out it hailed for a bit and then rained.  We scrambled to get up Brian’s sill tarp and it resulted in a Cajun style supper – blackened!  Got to bed about 9:30pm and had the sill tarp arranged tent fashion over our heads however the wind blew hard much of the night, from the other direction – lots of flapping and not much sleeping however warm and dry.  

We both slept through alarms set at 5:30 am, however Brian woke at 6 to save the day, a high cloud hid any blue to start however it started to burn off.  Morning gruel and off at 7:15am.  The start was obvious from the biv site and we climbed scree and snow up to a ledge and an upper lake.  Choice of scree or slabs up to the glacier and we chose the slabs.  Good travel on rock interspersed with the occasional hard snow patch and as promised Cline slowly started to come in to view a fair ways back.  At one point on the slabs could look straight down at the biv site, great view and it was clearing up nicely.  Fairly quickly gained the glacier however as it was flat and very crusty we didn’t rope up.   Pretty straight forward travel to the ridge, once on it an interesting section just before the notches.  Arrived at the first notch just after 10am at 3125 m.

Good bolt and pin on the other side, slung a block to get started and I lead.  Some light snow and slick bits in the area so I put on my crampons for the only time that day.  Easy down climb and somewhat awkward move around to the chock stone.  Climb up the other side was great fun and set up an anchor to belay the others over.  Took a little to figure out the second notch, belayed from the same anchor as the first and descended on climbers right.  Brian slung a horn and belay folks up from that end and I went last setting it up like a laundry pulley.  Great fun step across with lots of exposure.  We left the laundry pulley system in place, tied everything off and carried on at 11:45 am.  45 minutes of climbing through scree with a pretty good trail and the odd hard snowy bit and we were on the summit at 12:30am.

Very little wind, blue sky and great views in all directions!  We spent ½ hour on the summit, eating lunch and naming summits – could see all the way to the Lake Louise group, the Goodsirs, Columbia, Bryce, the Lyells and Forbes!  Down climbed quickly to the notches and made good time now that we had it dialled.  Great side pull for the step back over on the second notch.  Left the notches at 2:10pm and was back at the camp at 3:30pm.  8:20 hrs and 1050 metres climbed.  We celebrated by feasting on cherries and blueberries that Sarah brought, packed up and headed out at 4:20pm.  Interestingly after not much wind high the biv site was likely the windiest part of the mountain.  Pretty uneventful descent and we were back at the car at 7pm.  A very enjoyable couple of days, not a classic climb but the notches kept it interesting and great views from an unusual vantage point.

For all the pix: