a busy month. A week after I got back from the Tetons I flew to Calgary to join Mike
Haponiuk for a week of climbing in the Canadian
Rockies. We'd hoped to tackle the south face of Mt. Robson, a
long-standing nemesis of mine, but
according to Mike's informants recent snow had put Robson out of
condition. Instead, we turned our attention
to two other climbs on my list of unfinished business – Mt. Bryce
the east ridge of Mt. Temple (11,624'). Mt. Bryce was high on
as well, as he'd made two attempts on it earlier in the year, both
times being turned back by bad weather.
and his Honda at the trailhead for Mt. Bryce. Undeterred by the
fact that it was already past 6pm, Mike suggested hiking up to the
site that evening – which would have meant that we'd have stumbled into
camp at 11pm or so. I managed to persuade Mike to sleep next to
the car instead and save the hike for the next day.
||Mike fording Rice Brook on the approach to
Mt. Bryce. There used to be a bridge here for logging trucks, but
logging operations stopped a few years ago and the bridge has now been
removed. Fortunately the water is only about 2' deep if
find the right spot to cross.
||3rd-class scrambling on the approach to Mt.
Bryce. One advantage of Mike having been up here twice before
that he'd figured out the most direct way to get to the bivvy site.
|Mike relaxing at the bivvy site. From
here the route goes onto the glacier and then up the obvious snow
slope. The summit is behind the big rock
buttress, hidden in clouds.
||We left camp at 3:45am the next morning and
we were almost at the summit by the time it got light. Here's
Mike climbing over the bergschrund below the final snow slope.
||This is me climbing up the final slope of
Bryce, just as the sun was rising.
|Mike leading the way along the summit ridge
of Mt. Bryce. Some years there is a double cornice to contend
with, but fortunately not this year.
||Here I am on the summit ridge of Mt.
In the backgound one can see part of the Centre Peak of Mt. Bryce
||Mike on the summit of Mt. Bryce, at about
7:15am. In the background are Mt. Alexandra,
the five summits of Mt. Lyell, and in the far distance Mt. Forbes.
|The view north from the summit of Mt. Bryce. On the left is Mt. Columbia and on the right are the Twins (South and North).||This is me starting the descent from Mt.
Bryce. In the distance on the left is Mt. Athabasca.
||Looking back at the main summit of Mt. Bryce
from part-way up the Centre Peak.
|Mike is on a quest to climb all 54
peaks in the Canadian Rockies higher than 11,000', which includes
Bryce's Centre Peak, so he sprinted ahead while I
followed part-way at a more liesurely pace. Here he is high up on
||Mike on the descent from Mt. Bryce, at the
top of the snow slope leading down to the south glacier.
||Mike lower down on the descent. Higher
up the slope was covered in firm snow and we were able to kick steps,
but here there was just a thin layer of soft snow on top of hard
ice, so we had to front-point our way down.
|Here I am back on level ground at the edge
of the south glacier. We got back to the bivvy site just around
||We hiked out the same
afternoon. Here's Mike almost back at the car, with Mt. Bryce
behind him. From here the summit is about 8,500' higher up.
||We spent the night in Golden, B.C., and the
next day drove to Lake Louise. Here's Mike filling up with
essential nutrients at the Lake Louise mall.
|The next day the weather was unsettled, so
we passed the time visiting tourist spots around Lake
Louise. This is Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
|| Lake Louise and Mt. Victoria.
Probably the most-photographed view in the Canadian Rockies.
||This is me at Lake Agnes, with Mt. Whyte in
|Panoramic view from the Lake Louise ski
area. From the left: Mt. Temple, which was to be our
next objective; Paradise Valley; Mt. Aberdeen (with the small glacier
below the summit); Fairview Dome (just to the right and in front of
Aberdeen); Mt. Victoria; Mt. Whyte; and Mt. Niblock. (Rick and I
had scrambled up Fairview Dome back in 2002; here's a panoramic
view from the summit.)
|The next morning we started the East Ridge
of Temple at 3am, climbing by headlamp (lots of 4th-class
scrambling). Our timing worked out well – we reached the start of
the 5th-class climbing just as the sun was
||Mike at the top of a short 5th-class step on
East Ridge of Temple.
||Here I am on the Big Step, a 200m section of
5th-class climbing (up to about
5.7). The rock quality here is pretty good, at least by
Canadian Rockies standards.
|Me leading the top pitch of the Big Step. There are a couple of awkward chockstones on this pitch, and the crack behind one of them swallowed one of Mike's cams. It's probably still there, if anyone want to go back with a crowbar to try and extricate it.||Mike at the top of the Big Step, with Mt.
Fay and Moraine Lake in the background.
||Above the Big Step are the Black Towers. They're are technically easier than the Big Step but reputed to be the climb's psychological crux. However, I found the traverse across sloping, rubble-strewn ledges below the Black Towers to be the scariest part of the day.|
|Mike climbing the Black Towers.
They're rated 5.4, but if you find the right way they're mostly
4th-class, so we didn't bother to rope up. In any case, there's
hardly any protection here.
||Here I am climbing the Black Towers.
||Me at the top of the Black Towers, with the
Trans-Canada highway and the town of Lake Louise far below.
|Mike on the glaciated summit ridge, the last obstacle between us and the top.||Mike higher up on the summit ridge, with Mt. Deltaform in the left background.||This is me on the summit ridge.|
|Two very happy climbers on the summit of Mt. Temple. We got here at noon, 9 hours after leaving the car. From here it's an easy descent down the other side of the mountain.||Mike never goes anywhere without his
Blackberry. Here he is checking his e-mail while he phones
home from the summit of Mt. Temple.
||The north face of Mt. Temple, as seen from
Lake Louise the next morning. The East Ridge is the
Panoramic view from the summit of Mt. Temple (5,400 x 600 pixels, 776kB). Some the peaks one can see in the distance are Mt. Assiniboine, the Bugaboos, Mt. Sir Donald, Mt. Sir Sandford and Mt. Forbes.
|Mike in his tent at the Lake Louise
campsite, checking his Blackberry again.
||On the final day we'd planned go climbing on
Yamnuska, but we found the access road blocked by the RCMP on account
of a shooting incident in the vicinity (yes, really). So instead
we went to Kid Goat, a nearby crag, where we did a bolted
climb called Gray Waves.
||This is me on the third pitch of Gray Waves –
a pleasent way to spend the last day of my vacation.