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It’s not every day that you get to tick off a dream mission from the adventure wishlist. However, this summer has somehow become a bit of a collection of check marks and high-fives that I honestly didn’t think were possible earlier in the spring. I suppose it is a testament to not just setting realistic goals, but also putting in the significant effort required to accomplish them. I started the summer with two main goals: Climbing at least two 11,000’ alpine routes, and leading 5.10b by fall. With Athabasca in the bag (more or less) in May, the next 11,000’ers to come were still a bit up in the air.

After failing miserably on a Whooley/Diadem bid in July, and another failed Mt Joffre trip due to logistics and weather later in the month, I wasn’t sure what the rest of the season would hold for me. It wasn’t until deciding to go with a group to Lake O’hara & Abbot Pass Hut that the idea of Climbing Mt. Victoria crept into the picture, and ultimately became the greatest trip and accomplishment that I had this year.


Abbot Pass Hut

The group I went with was a massive team of 13 people, most of which were staying at Abbot as the end goal, while a smaller team (including myself, Anthony, Ben, Tracey and Justin) had decided to give Victoria an attempt as conditions were looking to be as good as they really ever get. The long haul to Abbot Pass from Lake O’hara was mostly uneventful, however I have to say, the sunset and subsequent alpenglow we experienced was easily the best I have ever seen!

  • September 8th, 2012
  • EX1
  • 5.2mm / f/3.4 / 1/60 sec

Sundown over Lake Oesa

We set in for the night, and thanks to Tracey’s organization of food through Yamnuska, had one of the best hut-dinners i’ve ever had. Yamnuska really knows how to do hut food, freeze dried or not. After a fantastic dinner and half a bottle of wine (maybe a bad idea), I set down for the night. Thanks to my kid-like excitement (have I mentioned i turn into a kid on Christmas Eve before mountaineering trips?) I didn’t actually get any sleep that night at all. Maybe it was more due to the chorus of snores in the hut loft, or maybe the altitude (Abbot Pass Hut sits at 9,598’), but either way, 4:00 am came extremely quickly, and I wasn’t exactly in much of a mountain climbing consciousness when it did.

We pounded some eggs, hashbrowns and bacon at around 5:00, with two other teams ahead of us already setting out up the mountain. We decided it would be a bit pointless to start out in the dark due to route finding challenges on the first section of the face, a decision that ended up being a good one. The other two teams hardly made any progress in the first 2 hours, and by the time we set out to climb around 7:00am, their bobbing headlamps were still in sight above the outhouse.

  • September 8th, 2012
  • EX1
  • 5.2mm / f/3.4 / 1/125 sec

Tracey on the face

We made good progress after roping up at the outhouse. There were a few tricky rock steps right out of the gate, however decent quality scrambling, and Tracey’s fantastic leading brought us up to the main part of the ridge in a short 2 hours or so.

  • September 9th, 2012
  • EX1
  • 5.2mm / f/3.9 / 1/350 sec

Traversing a very loose rock step over some major exposure

Conditions were good, however a fresh load of snow on the face ascent to the ridge added to the alpine nature and difficulty of the climb.

  • September 9th, 2012
  • EX1
  • 5.2mm / f/3.9 / 1/250 sec

Ben on the ridge

We managed to pass the first group at the ridge, and made great progress to the “Sickle” section - a knife edge ice step that has you climbing in an incredible, exposed position out over the East Face with ice tools and crampons. The sickle was bomber ice with a 1-2” dusting of snow, making for a fun and challenging section of climbing.

  • September 9th, 2012
  • EX1
  • 5.2mm / f/5 / 1/1500 sec

Descending the easier sicle section

We belayed the section, and all made it down safely quickly as the group caught up with us. With the sickle out of the way, the rest of the ridge mostly went without a hitch. The rock steps were challenging and fun, and within another two hours or so we were standing on the summit!

  • September 9th, 2012
  • EX1
  • 5.2mm / f/6.7 / 1/1500 sec

Mt Huber with the Goodsirs and distant Bugaboos

After taking in the views (and a few clif bars), we were back on descent, and made it back to the hut in 4-5 hours. I had a quick dinner, and then made the 12km descent to the Lake O’hara campground in about 1.5 hours to meet up with my friends who I would be camping with.


Riding the limestone pony

All in all, Victoria turned out to be the ultimate highlight of the entire year by a long shot. The increase in challenge on the route was much welcomed, and the opportunity to co-lead a major summit in the rockies with such an excellent party made it absolutely over the top perfect.

  • September 9th, 2012
  • EX1
  • 5.2mm / f/5 / 1/1000 sec

Traversing another rock step

The excellent weather didn’t hurt things either. It really felt incredible to finish off what was the last major goal for me this year, a summer that started out pretty unassuming to start with.


The Team

It’s worth pointing out here exactly how important the people are that i’ve been lucky enough to spend time with over the year. The Victoria crew, the Athabasca crew, the Wholley/Diadem group - every trip, whether epic success or complete failure was made awesome by the people who I travelled with. These people have become some of my best friends, and i am endlessly grateful to each one of them for the conversation, laughs, and shared adventures we’ve encountered.

  • September 9th, 2012
  • EX1
  • 6.5mm / f/3.6 / 1/90 sec

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rinatus (rinatus)  over 5 years ago

truly a story, thx!