I was on the way to Alaska a few years ago, with no arrival date in mind… so I drove along the Canadian Rockies, hiked here, climbed there… great time. Anyway, I was near Jasper one night and had this great idea… I’d do Cavell’s east ridge the next morning. Looked like a beautiful route, lots of great rock, airy… everything you’d want in a climb. To this end I parked, cooked, ate, drank, and crashed in the back of the truck.
My nice plans were ruined around three, when I crawled out of my warm sleeping bag to piss and found the ground was white.
It took me a while to drive around the mountain and find the trailhead for an easier route that next morning. I skidded and swore a lot in the 2WD truck. The snow had stopped but of course some still graced the roads. By the time I pulled in, the sunlight was on Cavell’s summit (and parts of the mountain that were a lot lower, too), which I could see from the parking lot. And of course, there were bear warnings at the trailhead but once again I didn’t see any of the animals, which I suppose was fine….
The first part of the trail was relatively flat and headed west for a while, around the bulk of the mountain. Cavell’s summit was south of the truck but the north face was huge and steep and I’d by now elected to take the west ridge instead. Probably it was the only good, easy run, what with the snow and lack of a partner. I stomped for a few miles, then cut south on a side trail which angled up through some woods, higher and with great views of nearby mountains (Throne Mtn. was pretty impressive) finally this route ended up in a huge cirque, formed by the west and south ridges of Cavell. The snow was around but wasn’t much of an obstruction, other than the fact that I skidded every once in a while. I imagine the east ridge would’ve been annoyingly wet and sloppy, though… probably a good thing I didn’t go that way.
There were no clear trails up to the ridge, so it involved some slag-hill climbing. Always fun in the snow. Grunt, grunt. Slip, slip. Finally gained the ridge and saw the summit, a bit of a ways away. I had to throw on gaiters at this point, as the ridge was far deeper in snow, with some fun ice over the rocks… still the going was fairly easy - just not too quick.
I’d gotten on the west ridge a bit too early (so now I had to lose some elevation and do a bit of a snowy and rocky ridge before I could actually start heading UP toward the summit). The work wasn't technically difficult - just time consuming, especially in the snow. I hit the down part, headed back up the ridge, and moved up toward the summit as the day wore on. The final piece of the ridge had the only hard part, some class 4 (or the equivalent in winter climbing – there were some good winter conditions up there at the end). I probably could’ve gone around it, as I did on the way down, but didn’t feel like it… I wanted to do something harder and unfortunately picked a crappy spot with powdery shit-snow over rock. Oh well… nice try. At least I got to de-virginize a new ice axe. Even if it was a completely unnecessary short cut.
So a little bit of 45 degree rock and snow and ice there, then on to the three summits, the middle of which was the highest. I think. I checked them all out; they all seemed pretty close. Views were pretty sweet, especially from the one furthest east. Although unfortunately the snow started again just before I got up there. Thanks, o ye gods of weather. And then headed down. Down was a little quicker, as I cut off the ridge sooner and dropped into the cirque in a better spot… slippery but easier ground. Nothing too spectacular went down on the way out. Good climb, fun day, a little snowy but it was a lot prettier that way –
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