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Mount Hector

Difficulty: 
Snowshoe Mountaineering
Elevation [m]: 
3408
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
13.5
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
1568
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
1645
Ascent Time: 
5:20
Bushwhackyness: 
None
Tripdate: 
Friday, March 29, 2013

After honing our crevasse rescue skills through practice (and hiring a guide for a full day of advanced training) Steven and I thought it was time to try our luck at a bigger objective, Mt. Hector seemed a good place to start (we knew that it would be popular with skiers around this time and might even have a track to the summit which proved to be true!). After calling up Mike and Grant (who were also pretty excited about Hector) we met at the Lake Louise hostel and formed our 4-man rope-team for the next morning (I hadn't been in Lake Louise since... Monday).

The route plays out like described in the 11000ers book. Starting from the Hector Creek parking lot at the refreshing hour of 5am we headed up the gully (with associated avalanche slopes) following a ski trail from several days ago. The snow in the gully had a hard melt/freeze crust which made for crunchy if steady progress upwards. Around sunrise we were beneath the slopes of Little Hector and taking in our first view of Hector's glacier and distant summit block. The weather forecast for today called for intermittent cloud and sure enough swirling soupy mist flowed in and out of the glacier cyclically blocking off views and then revealing them again. We were lucky to have the ski tracks to follow which let us take a fairly optimized path up the glacier eventually reaching the steep final climb (which was not that bad at all with snowshoes). At the col between the false summit and true summit off went the snowshoes, and on the crampons quickly moving up the crux (a semi-snowy rock weakness which was only a couple moderate to difficult scrambling moves in these conditions) on to the true summit.

Views from the summit were as you would expect from an 11000er, BIG! Clouds blocked out our views Southwards but the snowy peaks all around (mostly below) more than made up for it. After snapping and bunch of pictures and taking in the view it was time to get out of the frosty wind and make our way back down. The trip down was much the same as going up and we have a few quick breaks to talk to the other two groups of skiers that were heading up today. Once back off the glacier it was time for a lunch break basking in the sun between Little Hector and Mt. Andromache and then ramble back down the gully to the creek. Another great trip, first 11000er in a long while.

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