Mount Niblock

I couldn’t resist sending another report from a superb trip I did yesterday with Garland Jonker.

Mt. Niblock is the northernmost peak in the peaks surrounding Lake Louise. As shown in the pictures, attaining its summit involves a lot more than skiing: crampons were needed for a short stretch of bulletproof snow leading up to the col, and the summit ridge was quite airy. Our stay on the summit was brief because heavy black clouds arrived just as we did. By the time that we were back to our skis we were in the midst of a snowstorm, which changed to rain about halfway down the mountain. Needless to say, I was in “survival skiing” mode the whole way.

Data: 4h20m to the summit; 1h50m to descend to the car. Elevation gain 1200m

Everett at treeline on the long ski approach
Everett at treeline on the long ski approach
Everett cramponing to the col between Mts. Niblock and Whyte
Everett cramponing to the col between Mts. Niblock and Whyte
Garland skiing above treeline
Garland skiing above treeline
Everett on the col, the summit is in the near distance
Everett on the col, the summit is in the near distance
Everett scrambling on the loose ridge
Everett scrambling on the loose ridge
Garland contemplating the void as he makes the delicate last moves below the summit
Garland contemplating the void as he makes the delicate last moves below the summit
The view to the south. In the near distance is Mt. Whyte; beyond is Abbot Pass (Mt. Lefroy on the left, Mt. Victoria on the right)
The view to the south. In the near distance is Mt. Whyte; beyond is Abbot Pass
(Mt. Lefroy on the left, Mt. Victoria on the right)

A day of high adventure in the Canadian Rockies!

More Canadian Rockies Spring Skiing

Today Bev, Rob MacKenzie and I skied to a subsidiary summit (2820 m) of Crowfoot Mountain, which is located immediately east of the Wapta Icefields. It was cold (-8ÂșC) when we left the Num-ti-jah Lodge parking lot at 8:30. Up to treeline the snow was very crusty, even on permanently shaded north aspects — definitely late season conditions. Above treeline the snow improved steadily and the top 300 m of vertical, although a bit wind-affected (as shown in the pictures) was soft enough to make for excellent skiing (not at all “grabby”). The icy approach had softened by mid-afternoon, when we descended, but there are quite a few snow bridges over the creek in the canyon that you must negotiate that are not long for this world…. definitely late season conditions.

In summary: a fabulous day of spring alpine touring: no wind, no clouds, and great company!

Bev and Rob
Bev and Rob
Bev Skiing
Bev Skiing
Rob Skiing
Rob Skiing

crowfoot-1may2009-robskiing-2

Crowfoot Summit View
Crowfoot Summit View

The only picture that needs explanation is Crowfoot Summit View. It shows the terrain looking due south from our high point. Mount Balfour, the highest peak on the Wapta Icefields, dominates the right side of the picture. On the left in the far distance is Mount Temple. Quite a nice playground only a 1-hour drive from Canmore!

White Pyramid — Canadian Rockies

Yesterday Andy Paul and I bagged White Pyramid (3275m), a ski mountaineering gem in the Canadian Rockies. White Pyramid is immediately west of Mt. Chephren, a the very prominent rocky mountain just south of Saskatchewan Crossing. It is more of a mountaineering than a skiing objective, featuring big elevation gain (1680m) and a lot of time on foot scrambling over loose scree and postholing along the summit ridge. We were roped up for about half of the very windy ridge. The snow on the ski out — 1200 m of vertical from where we left the skis on the ridge down to tree line — was highly variable: from boot-top powder to grabby crust. We shared the mountain with a Calgary Alpine Club party of 4 that started hours before we did that we passed about halfway to the summit. Our car-to-car time was 8h 30m.

The attached pictures show highlights of this fabulous day in the hills:

whitepyramid_from_epaulette_lake_19april2009
Almost all of the route is shown — across the lake, up the moraines that are in the sun, then onto the ridge in profile on the skyline up to the summit at the upper left. Mt. Chephren is on the left edge of the picture.

whitepyramidapproach_to_ridge_19april2009
The wind-blasted face that leads to the summit ridge. Two of the Calgary ACC party that we passed at this point give scale to this wild scene.

whitepyramid_andy_bootpacking_to_ridge_19april2009
My companion at the point where the previous picture was taken. Andy is a powerful athlete who excels at anything he tries (right now he’s into mountain biking; he completed the Trans Rockies race last year…).

whitepyramid_halfway_up_ridge_19april2009
The view from the ridge on our descent. The Calgary ACC party is almost at the summit.

whitepyramid_everett_on_summit_19april2009
whitepyramid_andy_on_summit_19april2009

Everett and Andy on the summit, a very windy spot!

Sunday I rested!

Ski mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies

Now is the high season for ski mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies. Andy Paul and I enjoyed fabulous conditions when we climbed Mt. Field today. The picture was taken from the summit by Andy; that’s the Trans-Canada Highway 1300 m below. The run of 1200 m of vertical from the summit to the Takakaw Falls road was wonderful — boot-top powder almost all the way. As usual, Andy set a “take no prisoners” pace (5:40 from car to car), leaving me in serious need a day off….

mountfield-6april2009

Autumn (Fall) in Canmore, Canadaian Rockies

Enjoying Indian summer with day time highs in low 20s and freezing nights. Soon be time for ice climbing but presently still roller skiing…

And scrambling on Mount Princess Margaret, overlooking Canmore, on scramble devised by Everett and Doug Nelson in 2001 and repeated by Terry in 2002, with long variation involving 7000ft of ascent.