Advanced Women’s Alpine Asulkan Traverse

Whew…this was another great trip! Good, weather, great peeps, and a truly amazing setting! Kir and I ran this trip last year and decided to run it again this year due to popular demand. It is a hard, taxing and exposed traverse…and we were super impressed with the girls on this course!

We met up in the parking lot at Rogers Pass, fresh, clean, keen and ready to go! Final decisions on gear had to be made at this point, knowing that everything we carried with us would have to come the entire trip! We opted for 2 light 2 man tents and one very old…(like 15 years and hundreds of field days) Megamid. I kind of swore last year that I wouldn’t use the Megamid again, but at the same time, it is the shelter that made the most sense! It truly is a remarkably resilient shelter! Two stoves, 3 pots, fuel, food, ropes, gear and personal items…you get the point…the bags were not LIGHT!

The first day consisted of 1200 meters of elevation gain on a wonderful hiking trail. It was hot, hot hot, but the views just kept getting better! When we got to the base of Abott, weather looked unsettled, so we quickly dropped our beastly loads and took a quick scramble up Abott to bag our first summit! So nice to be free of the pack for a bit. We then headed to our first idyllic bivy spot and set up camp, and practiced skills that we would need for the next few days. Luckily, everyone was quickly dialed in, because we were soon enveloped in a thunderstorm. We ate our dinner quickly, and bombproofed our camp and shelters and prepared to hunker down. So, the Megamid…which I learned at this spot, was one pole segment short…and had a few new tears in the shelter…still withstood the storm no problem! This thing might still be good for another 15 years!!

The next morning we rose early, to on and off skies, but felt like we should get a jump on the long day ahead. We ate, repacked our bags and took the snow slop up to Afton. Here we began to pitch out the lovely ridge on Afton.

Nice blocky quartzite climbing, just easy enough to do with big boots and big packs! The ladies did amazing and we moved swiftly up this summit. From here, it is a bit of a scramble down, to the Rampart, Afton col, where we took a much needed break before starting Rampart.

Last year due to weather we had to bypass Rampart…which wasn’t a ton of fun, so I was excited to do the ridge this year. The weather looked just promising enough, so we went for it. The first half had great, easy, but exposed ridge traversing. All was good until we hit a cairned trail that bypassed the ridge for a ways. This looked like the way to go,since the ridge above turned black with licken and lack of travel…however all the rain we had this spring must have created havoc and soon we were skittering on a vertical sandbox. This took a bit of time to safely pass through, but the group persevered with a good attitude and we finished the ridge up Rampart on nice blocky quartzite again! After the summit, we continued down the ridge a ways until we found a nice flat meadows with running water.

We took off the packs and enjoyed the flat ground and water! As a group we decided to camp here instead of continuing on for another 3 hours to Sapphire Col, since we had already been traveling for 12 hours and this was an amazing spot!!

We made camp, ate a great dinner and enjoyed the views and a great sleep! The next morning, we packed the bags again and continued off Rampart and got on to the Lily Glacier. Due to an unstable weather forecast we decided to bypass Dome and take the glacier to the col. This was a great decision as just as we got to the hut/shoebox…it started to rain and thunder. We happily packed ourselves in and made quick work of getting into napping mode:) An hour later, we woke and crawled out to good skies and decided to try for Dome from this direction. We hiked up and got roped up on the ridge, but soon the weather stopped looking promising. A few people (smart ones I might add…) turned around….and 4 of us continued on.

A bit farther along the ridge, well on our way to the summit, we also decided that the cloud that was approaching was not going to sneak by without something to say. We turned around and started back. A simultaneous boom and lightening had us moving back exceptionally quickly! We caught the rest of the group with adrenaline still in our veins and watched the cloud scoot off as fast as it had come and the skies turn blue again….go figure…

The next morning, we rose early to bluebird weather and started the Jupiter traverse. What an incredible day of weather, great rock and super fun traverse over 4 peaks, with some glacier between.

The women did amazing and after a long day we happily made ourselves at home in the Asulkan hut. It felt great to enjoy the luxuries of this larger hut and the comfy mattresses!

That night Colleen hiked in to join us for the last day as she was feeling better. It was great to have her come along as it was a real bummer that she fell ill right before the course started.

One more early morning, and we headed up to Youngs peak before heading home. This peak was a nice change from the other one, without our heavy packs and it being all glacier, snow and ice. We pitched out the steeper tongue and enjoyed views off the backside from the summit.

The hike back to the cars was slightly painful, but the knowledge of clean cloths, cold drinks and future burgers and showers was enough to keep the legs moving!

Thanks ladies for such a wonderful trip! We were really impressed with everyone, taking on the challenges and endurance of the trip and with great attitudes!

And of course, a special thanks again to OR for the Palisade jackets and Sterling Rope for the hollow blocks and cordalettes!!


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