Columbia Icefields

Day 1:

After a leisurely start to the day we started the long flat slog up the Athabasca Glacier before reaching the crux of hanging seracs overhead. This was more of a steady plod than anything with some amusing moments watching other groups with crushingly heavy loads. The wrap off of the Athabasca around Snowdome was uneventful yet slow as we climbed into the thick cloud layer. We opted for the rope at this point and were grateful for small holes in the fog opening just long enough to catch glimpses of peaks around us.

With slower than expected progress we camped before our intended spot and got to the evening chores that are inherent with ski traversing; setup tents, try to stay warm, boil snow, dig, eat, hydrate & sleep. This is the mantra that we repeated every night upon returning to camp.

Day 2:

The South Twin

The temps dipped to -17 and after fitful night the crew was off to a slow start. With 7 kilometers of flat glacier to warm our cold toes we accepted that the plan of both twins that day was too ambitious. We decided to go for the low hanging fruit and leave the South Twin for another day. The North Twin was straight forward enough the only surprise was that there were crevasses to navigate through all the way to the top. The descent provided twistedly fun skiing on a mixed bag of high alpine conditions, non of which were soft.

More Slogging back to camp for dinner and hang out in the Megamid. Good times as we repeated the ski traverse mantra, dig, boil, eat, hydrate.

Day 3:

Mt Kitchner & Snowdome

We were up and at it in decent time to get both stoves roaring and with ample water for our morning mission we tagged two 11,000’ers; Mt Kitchner and Snowdome. While no more than a glacial hump, I’d walked by Snowdome a number of times on my way to more aesthetic summits and was happy this time to tick it off my list. The summit has the distinction of being a hydrological apex of sorts, with it’s flanks falling away to feed the headwaters of the Columbia, Athabasca and North Saskatchewan rivers that flow eventually into the Pacific, Arctic and Hudson Bay.

We cautiously skied down off the summit avoiding well hidden crevasses to eat lunch in the ‘Mid and tear down camp before heading home.

The ski out took 1/4 of the time, and soon enough we were out of our ski boots and off to the Post hotel for burgers and beer.

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