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Mount Athabasca

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mount Athabasca is one of those mountains that always comes up as a possible objective but something always gets in the way of the plan (I can count 6 times over the last year when it was on the menu but switched for whatever reason). So after checking the forecast and seeing pretty much perfect conditions, our choice was clear and Grant, Ken, Steven, and I set out at the groggy hour of 1:30 to head up the AA col route.

The AA col route is probably the most reliable way up the mountain (and is often is good conditions when the other options arn't in shape) and seemed like a good choice for our first foray up Athabasca. Setting out from the climbers parking lot up the snowcoach road a well worn trail quickly showed up on the climbers left which led us gradually up the moraine. As this part of the route is almost always done in the dark its a good idea to bring along a gps as it is fairly easy to loose the trail though even just scrambling up the moraine will work from most lines. Once above a headwall we got our first glimpse of the AA glacier (with the wonderful looking bulk of Mount Andromeda looming overhead) and soon after the rope was on and up we went. At least today there weren't any obvious signs of crevasses on the climbers left of the glacier and it didn't take long until we were starting up the slope to the AA col. The slope to gain the col was is excellent shape today with a few patches of ice but otherwise good snow, and some avi debris filling in the 'shrund making travel even less complicated! Our ascent was fairly well timed getting alpineglow on Andromeda and surrounding peaks just after gaining the AA col. From the col it was time to ditch the rope (we ere on rock now) and head up to the Silverhorn and eventually the true summit. There were no real difficulties from the col to the summit, a bit of scrambling and then back stepping in snow but the ever expanding views made us slow down a bit to take it all in. Views from the summit were excellent, this was a great day to be up here with stellar visibility of a sea of peaks from all over the region showing up! Despite the excellent views we were eager to get back down below the col before temperatures started to rise and so we reluctantly started back down re-tracing our steps and were back down on the AA glacier swiftly and then winding down (the now very obvious trail) the moraine back to the climbers lot.

Athabasca is a big mountain, and given how excellent the views from the summit are I'm really glad we waited for a day with good visibility and great snow conditions! Can't wait to head up some other peaks on the Columbia!


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