A month ago, I moved from Toronto to Kamloops to become a mountain guide I have tried to spend as much time as possible in the mountains. You don’t move 4500km in order to do something half-assed. I have been throughout British Columbia and Alberta and the one place that has left the greatest impression on me is Mount Robson. The scale of the mountain, the unique environment of it and the ease of driving up the relatively straight and flat Yellowhead Highway, all make this mountain my favourite. This is the story of my third time at Robson this month, I hope you all enjoy and you can suck some beta out of it.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 – 0530 – Berg Lake Trail Head
“I just saw a black bear. Look out for the bears”
This was the last advice the bus driver gave me as he pulled away from the side of the highway. Leaving me standing alone in the always present Robson rain at 4:30 in the morning. I feel like I have spent my whole life for this moment, hiking solo up to Berg Lake and a reconnaissance of the routes to summit Mount Robson. My first move would be up to Kinney Lake and to rest for a few hours. I hoped that the rain would let up or else I was in store for a long, cold week. It took a lot of willpower to get to this point, and all I want to do is get out of here.
0830 – Kinney Lake
I have arrived at Kinney Lake. The wind and the cold continue but that is to be expected in the Northern Rockies. On my way in a couple passed me, one woman riding a bike with a giant rucksack and a gentlemen hiking out. He said that they had been up at Berg Lake and that the weather had been beautiful but they had left as the weather turned for the worst. I have never been to Robson when it wasn’t “taking a turn for the worst.” I have just eaten and am about to pass out in the shelter, hoping to move on to Whitehorn before Berg. It looks like there are two other campers here.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 – 19:30 – Whitehorn Campground
It has been a world wind trip over the last twenty-four hours. I met two fantastic people Branden and Alex from the great northern city of Prince George. After chatting with Branden it turned out that they were planning on moving up to Whitehorn or Berg Lake. As much as I love to solo in the backcountry in the snow, I figured if I tagged along with them it would probably be a little safer.
It was quick moving up to Whitehorn and after eating and a little contemplation we continued on to Berg. It was a brutal march to Berg Lake in the snow past Emperor Falls and running on zero sleep. I knew that there was a shelter at Berg Lake and after leaving Whitehorn, none of the other campgrounds would have been appropriate due to the snow. It was definitely worth it though; Hargreaves Shelter was an amazing sight after that march. I took tonnes of photos, waiting for the perfect mix of clouds and mountain. The clouds would move around the summit of Mt Robson and Rearguard in a conveyer motion, coming up from the Valley of a Thousand Falls and up Robson Glacier. With the moon in the background it was some of the most amazing landscape I had ever seen. It wasn’t long though before I got into my sleeping bag and was out cold.
I woke up at 800 this morning to the sound of a big porcupine eating the bench that was outside the hut. Before taking off for warmer climes of the valleys, Branden and I went for a hike around the Berg Lake area. We ended up pushing to the nose of Robson Glacier. Easily the largest of the three glaciers at Mount Robson, even though it has retreated almost a kilometer over the last hundred years. The ice caves at the nose were quite interesting, compared to the huge seracs on Berg and Mist. We were out of the Berg Lake Campground by 1:00. The moving was slow from Berg to Emperor Falls, but once we hit the slope of the Emperor Hill we were literally running out of there. After a quick meal at Whitehorn, Branden and Alex left for beautiful Prince George and I am going to find a camp.
2200 - Whitehorn Campground
Made camp, a half shelter with ground sheet. I little bit of a step down from my accommodations last night. I have been speaking with Robert and Debbie for the last couple hours. Turns out they are teachers from Kamloops up in Robson with an adventure tourism class. They told me about a marathon that they run up to Berg Lake and back, I thought I was hard core running down Emperor Hill. They also told me that the bear danger in Robson is probably much less than I was imagining.
Thursday, 31 May 2012 – 1623 – Greyhound Bus to Kamloops
I woke up at 0730, lucky for me it didn’t rain to hard last night. I did not want to put my half-shelter to the test. The mosquitoes were out in full force though. I was packed, had eaten and was moving by 0910. It was easy and quick moving most of the way out, although I took the horse path around Kinney Lake and the trail was still pretty wild from the winter. I got to the Yellowhead Highway the Kinney Lake Rd with twenty minutes to spare before the arrival of my bus. I waved like crazy; this was one bus I did not want to miss.