The approach for Mount Hector
is the same approach used for Mount Andromache. From the small parking area, cross the road to the east and then cross Hector Creek to the south bank. Pick up a small trail there that leads to a very old fire road of sorts. Turn left and pick up the trail again on the south side of the creek as it meanders towards a headwall that contains several waterfalls. The trail crosses the creek to the north and starts a steep ascent up the left side of these waterfalls. Eventually it crosses one of the higher falls back to the east. Continue up some loose scree until you reach a broad upper alpine valley. Little Hector is to your right and Mount Andromache’s steep walls continue on your left. Head for the expansive col. Take the left fork up valley versus the right and avoid getting too high too early as the ground is faster and easier on the feet down low.
This is a 4200'+/- total ascent day.
Ascend one small headwall on the left that takes you to another elevated valley yet again. Stay low and head for the actual col between Mount Andromache and Mount Hector. You have two options. If you are more of a hiker, you can make the col and then turn left on easy ground to ascend an unnamed peak back west. If you are more of a climber, take a moraine rib short of the col that leads to an obvious gully/break in the cliffs above you and to the left. From below, this route might look impenetrable, but in reality it is quite a joy.
To my knowledge very few if anyone before me has ascended the cliff at this juncture. I built one cairn inside the deep gully giving direction.
After the loose ascent to the base of the walls, continue up the water worn gully on solid rock with steep walls on your left. Eventually you come to a fork, take the right waterfall
. Start climbing its left shoulder on good rock and then cross to the right below a steep waterfall (dry or wet) and ascend a low 5th class flake to the next level
. Move back left and continue to the top straight away. This fun scrambling portion drops you right below the southern flank of an unnamed peak of the same elevation as Mount Andromache. Ascend this peak on loose ground traversing left every chance you get. Eventually you need to go ahead and top out on the summit or to the left of the summit on a high 9500’ ridge. Follow this ridge back west towards Mount Andromache. You will lose elevation and then start to regain it as you approach the Molar Glacier on the north side of Mount Andromache. Avoid the glacier of course. If traversing in the winter, make sure you stay climbers left as much as possible. Once you crest the glacier, the small summit block is less than 100 meters away. There was a summit register in 2006.
The views of the Wapta Icefield
and Mount Balfour
across the Bow River are spectacular, not to mention Mount Hector
and its glaciated route to the south.
To make this a complete (and fast) traverse, you can easily descend the northwest ridge. Start descending the ridge utilizing the glacier intermittingly when and if you deem it safe travel. After 500’+ loss, you need to circumvent an obstacle to the west. Stay close to the ridge until you can clearly see a huge talus field bleeding down to your left.
This entire descent is hard on the knees. Few places will allow for much scree glissading in dry conditions. You will see the talus funnel down through a break in cliffs below you at 8000’. Follow the funnel down and eventually you will be rewarded with some faster ground. As you lose elevation, aim left for the road through the trees. This will not require much bushwhacking. You will be deposited about 10 minutes north of where you parked on the Icefields Parkway.
Helmet, Bear Spray, Hiking Poles, Gaiters, Alpine Ax if Snow Conditions, Possibly Crampons as well. I needed neither in mid October. Heavy Boots to Protect against the Large Talus on Descent.
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