Robson Kain Face

Page Type
Trip Report
Location:
British Columbia, Canada, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Aug 19, 2007
Activities:
Mountaineering
Season:
Summer
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Robson Kain Face
Created On: Aug 28, 2007
Last Edited On: Aug 30, 2007

The Plan

Mount Robson

After climbing Aconcagua together Mark (Denver, CO), Chris (Springerville, AZ) and I decided to give Mount Robson a try this August. Our plan was an ascent of either the North or Kain Face depending on weather and conditions. Two weeks before leaving I had contacted the Mount Robson Park Rangers to inquire about the climbing conditions. To my disappointment they informed me that no one had gotten above 10,250' but that the routes should be in condition the later part of August. This was great news for us so I met Mark and Chris at the Calgary Airport on August 16th. After a quick lunch we drove 6 hours to Valemount, British Columbia passing through the beautiful cites of Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper. For those who haven't had the opportunity of driving along this amazing highway it's nothing but spectacular as seen in this shot of Athabasca and Andromeda. Arriving at the Best western motel just outside Valemount in the early evening the weather appeared fine and we were all excited about the upcoming climb.


Flying In

Mount Robson
Mount Robson

The following morning we drove to the Mount Robson Visitor Centre to register our climb (voluntary but a good idea) and after discussing the upcoming weather forcast decided on ascending the Kain Face as a low pressure zone was about to move through the area. We drove to the Dennison Gravel Pit about 1.2 kilometers east of Mount Robson Provicial Park and boarded a Yellowhead helicopter piloted by Dale Brady. Dale flew us to The Dome at 10,250' avoiding the two to three day approach. OK, now I know many people would consider this cheating but in our defence, and not comparing ourselves to anyone in particular, a couple of fantastic climbers just put up a new route on the Emporor Face using just this tactic a couple of months before. I heard they later skiied down the Robson Glacier but at least we walked out (hehe)! Besides, as soon as we arrived Dale few out three groups of guides and climbers who had just summited the day before.

The View

Mount Robson

After everyone had left we quickly set up camp and took it all in. The view of the Kain Face and summit pyramid from our tent site was awe inspiring and we were looking forward to the climb and the weather looked good. The mountain, however, had a different plan in store for us as we would soon find out.







Scouting the Descent and Three Days in a Tent

Mount Robson
Mount Robson

After a good night sleep we woke to sunny skies and decided to climb nearby Resplendent Mountain to help our acclimatization. We roped up, crossed the Dome and headed towards the ridge along the Robson Cirque leading to the Resplendent/Robson Col. At the first rapel we soon noticed dark clouds forming around Resplendent's summit so we opted to stop and scout out our descent route down the Robson Glacier. The weather soon turned worse as we returned to camp and out tracks were quickly covered over by fresh snow. For the next three days the weather dumped rain, sleet and a foot of fresh snow on us pinning us down with nothing to do but eat, read and sleep. As our deadline for being overdue drew near my thoughts turned to those unfortunate climbers on Hood this past winter.


Time to Leave?

Mount Robson
Mount Robson

On the fourth day there was a slight rise in barometric pressure and the weather appeared to be clearing. Feeling this may be our chance to leave we packed up camp and roped up for the descent. After only 1/2 hour making our way to the ridge the weather again closed in on us and we had to return to the Dome and set up camp again. Throughout the reaminder of the day and night we waited as the pressure continued to rise but visibility was poor all day until the following morning.

Now It's Time

Mount Robson
Mount Robson

With better visibility we agian packed up and left the Dome. Approaching the ridge Mark found a couple of small crevasses the hard way but besides a few hyperextended fingers on one hand was none the worse for wear. After rapping the upper section we simul-climbed the middle portion of the ridge until arriving at the second rappel. The second rap allowed for some free-hanging on the rope but caused several loose rocks to become dislodged when pulling the rope sending me ducking for cover beneath the overhang. We again simul-climed the reaminder of the ridge with some good exposure on either side. After several hours we eventually descended the upper portion of the Robson Glacier to the bottom of the Cirque. From here we could really see how badly broken up the Mouse Trap Icefall was and why everyone was commenting on how poor a shape this area was in.
Mount Robson
Mount Robson

Berg Lake Trail

Mount Robson
Mount Robson

After spending the night at the Robson Pass campground we hiked 24 kilometers to the trailhead in beautiful weather. This probably would have been a great day to summit as the previous snowfall might of set up well during the clear skies of the past two nights. Overall we had a good trip even though we didn't get to summit. We learned a lot about the mountain and its unpredictable weather. The best thing I've taken away from our experience is to schedule more days for the entire trip and wait lower down in the valley for a bout of high pressure to move through the area. Even then the weather isn't guaranteed. Like Dow Williams and William Marler will tell you...hey, it's the Rockies.





Comments

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chris_goulet

chris_goulet - Aug 30, 2007 5:26 pm - Hasn't voted

She wouldn't allow you?

Hey Brad, I don't see a summit pic, so I guess she wouldn't allow you guys up. Congrats for a fine attempt! Do you feel the obsession building up? Looking forward to the rest of the TR. I'd like to read some emotion in there if you can. (Well, maybe with the heli, it might damp the emotions cuz it takes away from the build-up.)

Brad Marshall

Brad Marshall - Aug 31, 2007 12:12 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: She wouldn't allow you?

No summit pick Chris but I gained a lot of experience about this one. Will definitiely return.

Andinistaloco

Andinistaloco - Aug 31, 2007 10:32 pm - Voted 10/10

Maybe next time...

but glad you made it back okay. Killer pics, too!

Brad Marshall

Brad Marshall - Sep 1, 2007 12:51 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Maybe next time...

Hey Walt, thanks and you look really good for someone of your age!

mtnman455

mtnman455 - May 8, 2009 5:28 pm - Hasn't voted

Flying in?

Brad, I must say that I do consider flying in cheating, especially since my partners and I climbed Robson car to car in a crazy epic you can read about here titled "North Face Epic." But you have caused me to question exactly what "flying in" is. Those great climbers who need not be named who climbed the new route on the Emperor Face weren’t really climbing a mountain as much as attempting a new route. So, my argument is that if you fly in above the base of a mountain you are climbing a route, but if you start at the base you are climbing a mountain. I'm sure there are a million people on this site that will disagree with or find an issue with my rule I just made up and really didn't think much about, but it is a rule that I can live with. The biggest issue I have with flying in is that you miss out on the best part of the climb, the approach! But I do commend you for choosing to walk out. It is a long hike. Anyway, it is a good TR and great pictures. That mountain is not easy to climb, flying in or not. The weather in Canada is horrible.

Brad Marshall

Brad Marshall - May 8, 2009 11:06 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Flying in?

Congratulations on climbing Robson car-to-car and thanks for the comments regarding my TR and photos.

As for the "flying in" critique that's your prerogative. You don't have to do it but please don't pass judgement on others based on your morality. It always amazes me when climbers with modern technical gear draw some line in the snow and say "hey that's cheating!". Here's a question, what isn't cheating?

mtnman455

mtnman455 - May 12, 2009 12:48 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Flying in?

I probably wasn't too clear in the post, but what I am trying to say is that I don't consider flying in "cheating" anymore. But I do believe there needs to be a distinction between flying in and climbing from the base just as there are many distinctions in climbing between what gear is used or the style of the attempt. I agree with you that climbers need to be careful about what they call cheating when in reality the attempt was just a different style then they are accustomed to...this I am guilty of.

Brad Marshall

Brad Marshall - May 12, 2009 6:43 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Flying in?

Perhaps I read your comments wrong with respect to flying in and, if so, I'm sorry. To be honest I still don't get what all the fuss is about. To me climbing is climbing. People should feel free to do what they want and it shouldn't matter. Of course, that all depends on whether or not we feel we should be comparing ourselves to others. For example, I've been to Aconcagua several times and used mules to move gear in while others carried most of theirs. Did I cheat using mules? Maybe, but that's the norm down there. I've met many climbers who carried in most of their gear (but not all) simply because they couldn't afford the mules. Was their climb more difficult? Hell yes. Do I respect them for their effort. Sure do and I told them as much. To me having respect for another's accomplishments far outweighs what I do.

mtnman455

mtnman455 - May 13, 2009 12:52 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Flying in?

I think you just pinned it. It really is about the level of respect. I respect Conrad Kain's successful attempt chopping all those steps all the way to the summit way more than I respect my own attempt, but should that take anything away from my attempt? I don't think so. And I don't want to take anything away from your attempt either. Once you start to compare yourself with others it becomes a slippery slope. And even the most extreme purest will have his own issues. For example, did you make your clothes from wool you spun from sheep you sheared, or did you buy your jacket at REI?

Thanks for the tread. I enjoyed it.

Brad Marshall

Brad Marshall - May 13, 2009 3:05 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Flying in?

Hmmm, make my own clothes. That reminds me of the story about Earl Denman's attempt on Everest. Good old first Canadian attempt. Do you know the story? 1947? Had to sneak in to Tibet dressed as a Tibetan? Almost arrested by the border patrol? Walked 300 miles in and then out with no boots!? Climbed with Tenzing Norgay (when Tenzing was young). Made it to the North Col before their equipment let them down. Denman had made all of it himself, tents included.

mtnman455

mtnman455 - May 14, 2009 3:23 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Flying in?

Wow, I haven't heard that story. Sounds epic. What an experience.

Brad Marshall

Brad Marshall - Sep 8, 2010 12:44 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Give me a break

Been over this a zillion times. Everyone's entitled to their opinion but show a little class at least. Not everyone climbs according to your ethic nor should they.

Viewing: 1-12 of 12


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