Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Mt Aberdeen and Haddo Peak 2016

Wednesday July 20th, 2016 Mt Aberdeen and Haddo Peak 3,151 metres

Synopsis: 4 stars out of 5, in the right conditions it is a varied and interesting climb with the opportunity to bag 2 good sized peaks in brilliant surroundings. We took the Paradise Valley descent which added some interest, and some bush whacking.

The three of us had a somewhat alpine start out of Canmore and left the car at 6 am, nice to be able to get a parking spot at Lake Louise. The approach follows the trail around Fairview and we made the junction with the trail down to Paradise Valley at 7:30 am with an elevation gain of roughly 600 metres. We continued up the Fairview scramble trail for 10 or 15 minutes until an obvious path cut left.

This trail works through the trees and eventually breaks out onto packed scree. 

As per the directions, we followed along and eventually crossed to the other side of the valley and followed a cairned trail to the base of the Aberdeen snow slopes, arriving at 8:40 am and roughly 2550 metres. Much quicker than my last attempt when we followed the valley bottom.

Jackie, Steven and I donned helmets, harnesses, crampons and roped up. Steve led and I was the lard ass at the end of the rope. We were very lucky, even though the cloud cover didn't allow for the freeze we were looking for over night the continued cloud cover kept the snow from getting sloppy and even more important kept the rock fall at bay.

The recent snow made for easy steps and we followed the right hand edge of the snow slopes until we ran into the ice proper. Steve did a great job of leading and we simulclimbed with a couple of screws between us at all times. The ice was pretty good however there was some excavating necessary along with the spindrift associated with it.

I don't know whether it was due to it being my first alpine day of the season, the fact that 24 hours of adrenaline was a couple of days before, or just being out of shape but I struggled a bit. 10:45 am saw us at the top of the technical climbing at 2750 metres and over a couple of big slots. One I managed to penetrate into trusting Jackie's foot prints, failing to consider the likely 75 lb difference in our weights!  Steve built an anchor and we took a breath. There were a few rests along the way but my calves were pretty much screaming.  We calculated that the more technical climbing amounted to 160 metres of elevation gain and took us roughly 1:15 hr. The bottom line is that it went well and the cloud cover stuck around so we didn't have much for rock fall. Using one technical tool and a mountaineering axe did take a bit of a toll on my right hand knuckles though!

The next step up to the Aberdeen/Haddo col was prefect snow bucket steps most of the way. We passed the 'shrund on the left hand side and once we made it up to the upper rock band and went left above there was some ice that made for two great screw placements for a running belay.

We were on the col shortly after noon at roughly 3000 metres. The three of us essentially walked to the edge of the snow and left behind the crampons, rope and packs as the summit of Haddo looked pretty close. 30 minutes later were on topwhich by my watch was 3070 metres. Yes it's farther than it looks, however we were lucky to have an easy packed scree slope that we made good time on. There was a summit register that went all the way back to 1973! Either a lot of people skip the peak or don't bother filling out the register. Here's a look back at Aberdeen from Haddo.

15 minutes later we were back at the col, roping up for the final snow slopes. When the sun popped out you could see the old tracks under the new snow and we pretty much stayed on the left hand margin of the slope. The snow did get a touch sloppy, especially close to the rocks however as soon as the pitch backed off the snow firmed up. Jackie did a great job leading the charge and we set up a belay up the final slope and rock step.

2 pm and 3151 metres saw us on top. What a vista! Victoria, Lefroy, Temple and Valley of the 10 peaks all laid out before us. The view of the final snow slopes of the east ridge of Temple were superb. A great place to be, the sun was coming out from time to time and although the wind was around it wasn't terribly strong. It's nice to be able to enjoy the summit!

We took the Paradise Valley descent, which basically headed straight down the other side. However contrary to directions down a couple of hundred metres the more packed trail goes descenders left side of the ridge line and we followed it pretty much straight down all the way to the Paradise Valley creek. The start was actually pretty quick descending with great scree followed by snow, easy on the legs.

Quite a ways down right in the middle of the photo above there is a small col, we continued through it and found a fairly established trail on the left side of the creek. It took us a fair ways down until a small amount of bush whacking was necessary to reach the creek itself. The three of us arrived at the creek directly below the lower col at 4:30 pm at just over 2000 metres in elevation.

Once down at the creek we lost a little time monkeying around a bit getting to the main trail. We crossed the creek and found a decommissioned trail going the right direction however came to an area without a bridge. We then attempted to go up the slope to find the Paradise Valley trail. The bush whacking got pretty bad and we failed to find it so ended up going back to the creek and following a variety of animal trails and making the best of it, afterwards finding that the trail had been decommissioned some time ago.

It took us 1:45 hr to find the bridge down stream and the trail proper which lead us back to the car at about 8 pm. Having said that I would take this way down again is it avoids rappelling, potential rock fall and the climb back up to the col in the heat of the day. It looks like it is best way is to traverse skiers left just above the creek and stay on the near side of it until you find the bridge. In the end it was a 14 hour and 1750 metre day. Great to complete a climb I had been hearing about for years, in good condition and it sure was good to get back in the alpine!