This is a 5200’+/- total ascent day.
If one is intent, as we were, on bagging both Haddo Peak and Mount Aberdeen and then descend into Paradise Valley, this climb is more of an Alpine III adventure verses Alpine II based on time required. Also lending to a grade change would be the resulting steepness of the Aberdeen Glacier tongue making the first three pitches of ice somewhat steeper. To an avid waterfall ice climber it is still a walk in the park. To more tepid alpine climbers, this obstacle has resulted in many folks not reaching the summit. On our climb, an ACC trip consisting of five climbers took an enormous amount of time ascending this portion of the climb. We started at 4:30 am and bagged Haddo Peak and then Mount Aberdeen at about 11:30 while the ACC crew were just then reaching the bergshrund and looked to be turning around despite starting their trip at 4:00 am. Direct sun on the rock and ice above make for typical objective hazard.
The Saddleback trail starts near the boathouse along the southern lake shore and passes by all the parking areas. Take the Saddleback Trail to the saddle between Saddle Peak and Fairview (3.7 km at 2200' gain). If you are running shuttle for the Paradise Valley exit, park a vehicle at the Paradise Trailhead off of Lake Moraine Road. However, this shuttle only saves you 2kms of extra hiking versus if you stay on the Moraine Lake Trail to Lake Louise. You can make it to the Saddleback Trail in an hour if you are athletic. Once at the col, turn right and follow the Fairview scramble trail for a short distance taking the first signs of a thin trail to your left. Traverse the lower southern slopes of Fairview and descend ever so slightly (losing several hundred feet) into the Aberdeen Glacier drainage below Sheol Mountain
. Follow the drainage for a short distance and start up steep moraine to your left. There is little evidence of a trail here and many make the mistake of following the drainage to the ice which is a longer approach.
The steep moraine allows you to traverse to a good starting point on the tongue of the glacier at the lower left hand side. Rope up here.
Either simul-climb or pitch out three full 60 m pitches up the steep section of the ice to the crevassed glacier above. Once you gain the broad section of the glacier, angle right towards a notch that gives up grand views of Mount Victoria. This line avoids the larger crevasse openings to the left. Turn back left at the notch and study where you want to cross the bergshrund below the icefall. The traditional line has been to cross at the far left below a rock band and traverse back right and up steep snow. I found a line that went right on the bergshrund and allowed me to protect a potential fall into the bergshrund via three exposed ice patches.
The line constantly angles back left out of harms way until you reach rock that can be easily scrambled up. This line eats up about 6 ice screws, two per ice patch and involves some traversing on snow/ice. The traditional line to the left crosses the bergshrund at a much broader gap and puts you directly below rock fall. We witnessed fresh rock fall on this line in July, 2007.
Once you reach the col, un-rope and continue (turn left) up to the summit of Haddo Peak at 10,070’ which is nothing more than a hike. The imposing north face routes of Mount Temple are directly to the south. Once you return to the col, determine whether you will rope up for the snow slope traverse to Mount Aberdeen. Unless you are placing snow protection into the slope, roping will have little meaning.
We soloed across the slope without crampons, but a fall here is deadly as steep ice lies below you. Angle your way to the comfortable Aberdeen summit.
The views are nothing short of spectacular. Mounts Temple, Deltaform, Eiffel, Pinnacle, Hungabee, Lefroy, Victoria, Unnamed, Pope, Hector, Daly and the list goes on and on. There are active summit registers on both Haddo Peak and Mount Aberdeen.
You have two descent options. Either rap the ice on the route you just ascended or walk off the southwest summit ridge of Mount Aberdeen. I chose the latter for a more complete experience, ascending one valley (Surprise) and descending through another (Paradise). After descending 500’-1000’ on large rubble down the southwest ridge of Aberdeen, you arrive at a soft col. Face south and descend soft ground and snow for over 2000’ down to the top of a significant drainage. Proper glissade or butt glide technique can make this descent short and sweet. Once down to the top of the drainage, find a sheep trail that meanders down the left ridge above the drainage. Eventually drop down into the drainage and head for Paradise Creek. Cross to the other side of Paradise Creek for the first of three creek (river!) crossings you will need to make before getting to a commissioned trail (read bridges). The third river crossing will obviously be the deepest and most concerning.
Eventually you tie back into a commissioned trail. Hike out to the Paradise Trail Head (10kms) or back to Lake Louise (12kms).
60m rope, crampons, 6-8 ice screws, helmet, glacier self extraction gear, glacier clothes, ice tools, poles for the approach and river crossings