Monday, 20 May 2013

Columbia Icefields 2013

Fri/Sat, May 17th/18th - Columbia Icefields

Synopsis: The Columbia Icefields are one of my favourite places to visit, big country and far from crowded.

This was an ACC Edmonton Section trip that David led with the goal of Twin's Tower and Kevin, Rob and myself tagged along. The weather forecast wasn't brilliant and we knew we would likely be working around some weather.

Friday at 8:30 am saw us starting up the road from the climbers parking lot. Not an alpine start however with lots of climbing and heavy packs we figured the daylight would outlast our legs.

It took about an hour to slog up and then down the coach road to the end, rope up and start up the Athabasca glacier. The night hadn't been particular cool, with temperatures in the parking lot of -2 C, and it was warming up quickly.

You gotta love the feeling of space once underway and with mostly sunny skies the views were fantastic! We hurried through the serac fall area on the way to the third icefall.

We were on top of the third icefall at 11:30 and turned the corner to join the Columbia Icefield itself. 500 metres were gained up to this point and a great view back was our award.

Once we turned the corner, headed north and joined the Columbia Icefield proper Mt Columbia came into view.

It was getting very warm, not helped by the elevation or carrying overnight packs so a couple of breaks were had enroute.

We made the call to set up camp just north of the Snowdome shoulder at 4 pm at an elevation of roughly 3200 metres. Great views of the North and South Twin.

After probing the immediate area for crevasses we dug out a couple of tent platforms and a bit of a kitchen. There wasn't much wind but you just don't know when it's going to pick up.

That evening it cleared off spectacularly and we hung out enjoying the view, the sunshine and the joys of melting snow for rehydration. Unfortunately, I went a little light on sunscreen and had a bit of a glow the next day.

Given how west we were there was daylight until 10 pm and when we woke at 5:30 am there was no need for headlamps. Unfortunately in the morning there was definitely a low pressure system from the west moving in.

After some lively discussion the decision was made to head out via the summit of snowdome. It wasn't the call I would have made but it's a team thing and I was happy to have an opportunity to be in such a great place.

We were packed up and out by 7:30 am and two hours later were standing on the hydrological apex of the summit of Mt Snowdome. Apparently this point feeds all the Pacific and Arctic Oceans as well as Hudson Bay.

After that it was a quick ski down to the coach road...

Followed by the usual huff up the moraine.
We were back at the cars just before noon. All in all a spectacular place to be!