Regular Posts Tagged ‘Claire Wilkinson’
Assiniboine with Claire, Andrea and Kir
6th Sep 2011Posted in: Blog, Private Alpine, Private Guiding 0

Claire, like many Banffites…has had the longterm dream of climbing Assiniboine.  Ever since she saw it, she was in awe of this magnificent peak, and this would be the year she wanted to try.  Since that dream was hatched, Claire has really focused on learning the skills necessary to climb a peak like this…and has gotten a ton of rock, ice and alpine routes under her belt in the last couple years.  This was a good thing, because this year…Assiniboine was and is no easy task.  What often is a nice scramble with some rock steps was a snow and ice covered mountain.

We decided to ask Kirsten and Andrea if they wanted to join in our adventure so that I could have the confidence of knowing another guide (and an amazing guide and friend at that!) would be on the mountain as well to help with the descent and the longer day.  Andrea has also climbed a ton with all of us so it was a natural fit!

One of the best parts of climbing Assiniboine is the lift in….what a treat…especially on a bluebird day!!

helicopter to Assiniboine lodge

Once we were dropped off at the lodge (that is under reconstruction still), we started over towards the ledges that take us to the Hind hut.  This looks like quite an unlikely way up to the hut but once you find the right way, it is pretty easy travel.  other then having to tunnel through a rather dirty snow bridge, the approach was pretty fun!

appraoch to Hind hut

We got to the hut and enjoyed our fabulous dinner and watched a party on the mountain that were descending.  It was 4 and they were still above the red band, so we knew we were going to get a late night wake up call:(.  Despite that and our early alarm setting, we tried to go to bed.  A very sleepless night as the crew arrived at 11pm and made dinner before snoring peacefully after their long day.  Our alarms went off at 1am, and I don’t think I slept more then 20 minutes.  it was a rough start!

We headed up in headlamps and made great time.  We seemed to find a good route despite the darkness, and soon we were facing the Red Band.  This was some of the coolest climbing on the route.  Some ice and mixed steps took us into the grey bands, and the girls were all climbing well.  By 8am we were at the grey step and after several times of asking how people were feeling we finally had to be honest about the reality that Andrea was not feeling well.  A group decision to head down was made as we all knew that going down would be slower then going up.  This was true!  We also narrowly missed a huge spontaneous rock fall from above that just thankfully missed us.  A good reminder of how the wind and warmer temps, loose rock and icy slopes can be a recipe for heinous rock fall.


We made it down safe and sound and tired and everyone felt good about the decision and crashed out for a much needed nap before dinner.

The next morning we woke up early to head down before the forecasted rain set in as we had the whole 34 km hike to get back to the car!

the hind hut

A great trip all in all.  Kir and I were really impressed with Claire and Andrea.  The terrain was different then anything they had been on before and all their ice and rock skills played a role in how well and quickly they climbed.  A fun adventure with the shape that it was in, but for sure a more time consuming one.  An amazing peak that certainly deserves a great deal of respect:)

Women’s Advanced Alpine Camp Rogers Pass
10th Aug 2011Posted in: Blog 3

We had an ambitious week lined up for these Alpine veterans.  The plan was to meet in the amazing Rogers Pass and do a traverse of high alpine peaks for 5 days….taking everything we will need with us on our backs.

Deb Mckague on Asulkan Traverse

This camp should really be called the family reunion, as that is what it feels like…the yearly gathering of good friends and mountain comrades.

Claire wilkinson and Andrea  Lyman in front of Sir Donald

We arrived at Rogers Pass to a good weather forecast and blue skies…just what we needed to really try this objective!  After a good packing session in the parking lot, and crucial decision making over shelters and other key items, we started up towards mt Abbott.  Just getting to the first peak involves over a 1000m of elevation gain!  This is no small task with the loads we were carrying.  As we approached a decision point the weather started to set in.  Clouds that strongly suggested an electric storm had us calling it a day at the base of Abbott.  There is a great little lake, good flowing water and a few flatish spots for tents just off the ridge near Abbott and so we took advantage of this last good bivy spot before the ridge would unrelent for the next stage.

Kirsten at first biby for Mt Abbott

That night, as predicted it rained.  In the parking lot we decided to go with 3 tents, a 2 man, a 3 man and a megamid…my old megamid….instead of 3 people carrying 3 individual bivies.  This proceeded to haunt me throughout the night as the rain persisted and persisted.  Several times I got up to check on the 3 in the Megamid…would they be wet?  would they be up all night?  would they be cold??  I have slept 100’s of nights in a megamid in working with NOLS, but for some reason I was worried.  Everytime though I checked on them, I encountered 3 snoring, dry and warm alpinists…so despite my sleepless night, they had a great one!

Mt Abbott

The next morning, the weather did not look very promising.  we knew that if we started the traverse, we were quite committed for some time.  We didn’t want to hunker all day though either…so we decided to go for it!  Abbott was a great warm up. A nice unroped scramble, which still felt challenging with our packs and the slippery quartzite.

Group summit shot Mt Abbott

After we found our way down, we hit our next small challenge…a bump between Abbott and Afton.  After some scouting, we decided to take the snow around it instead of up and over.  At this moment though, the rain really came down! We pulled out the megamid and siltarp and hunkered down.  20 minutes later we made the snow traverse and started up Afton. This required a rope, with our heavy bags and the every slippery quartzite.  Numerous pitches in sometime downpouring rain eventually got us to the summit!!  Some more hunkering time under our tarp, a fixed line for the summit traverse, and some entertaining down climbing got us to the Rampart, Afton col.

hunkering mt Abbott mt Afton

Here we had to make another decision.  Going up over Rampart to the Lily Glacier would involve a ton more rope travel, which would be time consuming and the day was passing quickly and we were moving slowly with the wet quartzite.  Kir and I scouted a bit and decided to try and contour around Rampart to get to the Lily Glacier.  It would prove to work…but be less then fun!  Much sidehilling on scree, rock jumbles and wet high angled grasses kept us focused!  After a solid 2 hours we got to the glacier though!  Hitting the glacier we put our crampons on for easier travel and made a move for the Sapphire col.  This was another solid hour and a bit of travel as we watched rock fall continously be belched from the side of Swanzy…ick….

Sapphire col hut bananagrams

The final push up to the col was a bit of a grunt, but by 9:30pm we made it to our home!!  We got water going, soup, appies, dinner and desert and headed for some much needed rest!

The next morning…rained again:(  Kir and I hardly slept in the tent as the temps were quite cold.  Everyone in the hut seemed well rested though and we all decided to have a forced rest day due to the weather.  We filled the day with an attempt on Dome (we should have brought the ropes up there!!), some anchor work and some fun filled hours of bananagrams made out of paper!  hilarious….

the group sapphire col

The next morning, after all 8 of us slept in the little hut, we awoke to some promising weather!  We got up early, packed up and headed out!  We cruised up Castor, and then did some rope work to get up Pollux and Leda right as the weather moved in us yet again!

andrea Lyman on Jupiter traverse

What a fabulous ridge though, great rock, and huge cornices made for amazing exposure.

Jupiter traverse

Everyone moved methodically and safely and after hours of work up high on the ridge we were able to descend to the Swanzy/Asulkan glacier and up and over to Mt Jupiter.

Sue Kuznik on Castor

Tagged Jupiter and struggled to find our way down in a low cloud/whiteout.  After much more down climbing and effort we reached Asulkan Pass!!  We were ecstatic..we could see the hut that promised us good sleeps, dry beds and endless water…

group at end of Jupiter traverse

The coolest part, was a massive set of grizzly tracks the went right up and over the pass…looked pretty recent too!

Grizzly tracks Asulkan Pass

We got to the hut and claimed it as our own, tea, snacks, soup, dinner, lots of smiles and laughs, and the smell of drying footwear we headed for bed. We set our alarms for early as we wanted to try Youngs peak.  Of course at 5 in the morning though, the weather once again proved to not work in our favor, rain all night, no overnight freeze and soon the hut was back to the sound of snoring…

That morning we feasted on “leftover” brunch.  Cheesy pitas, fried turkey slices, coucous hot cereal, tea, coffee…it was wonderful!  Full and happy , we made the most of our warm hut and practiced rescue skills, belay escapes, reversing a reverso, lowers etc.

rescue skills in Asulkan Hut

Eventually we rallied and packed our bags for the last time for the final trek down to our cars.  A nice mostly rain free hike down, we returned to some clean clothes, chips and ciders from Andrea and Claire and some final photo ops!

Thanks OR

Thanks again ladies for an amazing week.  Kir and I are always so inspired by your motivated, your endurance with the long and ardous days, your positive energy and your keenness to learn and put your skills to work.  It was an ambitious week, made more challenging by very hard weather, and we couldn’t have done it with a better group!  Thanks OR for always supporting these courses with your generous jackets….they are SO appreciated!