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Mount Victoria and Mount Huber

Difficulty: 
Mountaineering (Glacier Travel and Steep Snow)
Elevation [m]: 
3472
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
32.0
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
1822
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
2470
YDS Difficulty: 
4
Ascent Time: 
8:30 car to Victoria, 2:40 Victoria to Huber
Bushwhackyness: 
None
Tripdate: 
Saturday, July 4, 2015

Carrying on with the 2015 11000er bonanza Ferenc, Steven, and I made the most of a short weather window to set out for two of the Lake O'Hara area peaks, Mount Victoria and Mount Huber.

Given the forecast we wanted to be swift and try to bag both of the peaks in a day from the road.  This meant that we would ascend the Huber Ledges rather than the more conventional Abbot Pass approach for Mount Victoria (with the benefit of being able to head up Huber on the way in or out).  Given our plan, waiting for the first bus at 830 was not an option so we met up with Ferenc at the parking lot and started walking in.

The approach road was as sloggy as expected but we made good time and around 2 hours after setting off were on the Wiwaxy Gap trail moving up towards the ledges.  The gap trail is in fabulous shape (as expected for an official trail in the Lake O'Hara area) and before long we hit the signpost marking the gap and were on the climbers trail.

 

Ferenc and Steven setting off from the parking lot.

 

Fast forward a couple hours to up on the Wiwaxy Gap trail.

 

The ledges route is surprisingly well cairned and there are even a few bolts (and a 2 bolt rap anchor at the top of the one harder step) along the way to help out.  I can see why people don't attempt this route unless it is dry though, loose rock would not be pleasent or safe!  Weaving up and climbers left leads to the unofficial bivy site for the route o  the edge of the lower glacier which would be best suited to one two person tent.  We took a short break at the bivy site quickly roping up and getting onto glacier for the first time that day.

 

Lake O'Hara always has lovely colors.

 

Ferenc on the trickier section of the ledge route (two bolts are visible in the zoomed in image).

 

Looking across to the ledges, the route follows the scree bench to the left side.

 

Steven and I at the bivy corral, time to get the rope out.  Photo by Ferenc Jasco.

 

The lower glacier was short, really just one rising traverse to a rock step (4th?) guarding access to the upper glacier.  We kept crampons on for the rock step which presented no difficulties.  The upper glacier was smaller than I expected but still sports a number of large holes, take caution as usual.  We set our sights first on the longer and harder of the two peaks, Mount Victoria.  Ascending Victoria from this side bypasses the infamous sickle from the Abbot Pass route but requires crossing a notorious shrund and then scrambling up a very loose rock chute.  We did both these things carefully and made our way onto the summit ridge.

 

Ferenc and Steven with Victoria's summit ridge looming above.

 

Looking back down the Huber glacier.

 

On the ridge views open up very quickly as one would expect.

 

Given temperatures this summer the ridge was quite dry with only patches of soft snow but mostly moderate scrambling between us and the summit.  On the way up from the glacier we saw another group descending back to Abbot Pass, Victoria is quite a popular peak!  Views from the narrow snowy summit were quite good with all the usual giants showing up.  Descending from the summit back along the ridge was quite swift and soon enough we were  back in the rock chute very carefully downclimbing to get back to the shrund (often parties will rap down this section if going for Huber after Victoria).

 

Steven on one of the lingering snow patches.

 

Just enough snow to warrant crampons, but mostly scrambling.

 

Ferenc and Steven on the summit of Mount Victoria.

 

Partial summit pano.

 

Much wider summit pano.

 

Looking down towards the route for Mount Victoria's North Peak, very rocky at this point!

 

Another summit pano.

 

One more zoomed in for good measure.

 

Looking over towards Mount Lefroy and the Fuhrmann Ledges.

 

Non 11000ers around Lake O'Hara seem a wee bit small from up here.

 

Ferenc and Steven downclimbing the ridge.

 

Interesting clouds rolling in.

 

Steven with Huber in the distance.

 

Once past the shrund it was time to head up Huber.  From Victoria we could see that a recent ascent party had left steps on the climbers left of exposed ice on reasonable looking snow.  The actual snow conditions were allright but quite thin in places kicking down to ice.  Steven lead the kicking upwards and before long we were on the summit of our second 11000er of the day!

 

The snow had softened enough to make walking down easier.

 

Up, up, up we go cutting a line just climbers left of the bare ice.

 

Partial summit pano from Mount Huber.

 

Another pano, zoomed in.

 

Interesting colors on the clouds rolling in from the east.

 

Many 11000ers in this image that I still have to climb!

 

Looking over to Mount Victoria's summit ridge.  In the zoomed in version you can see two climbers (near the middle) heading back to Abbot Pass.

 

Kicking back down in thin slushy snow above ice.

 

Descending back down Huber was a little nerve-wracking given the soft thin snow but soon enough we were back on flatish ground carrying on downwards to the bivy corral for a much needed brake.  After the brake descending the ledges proved to be quite quick.  We decided to rap down the hard step.  Or we'll Steven and I did, Ferenc downclimbed an easier line climbers left of the bolted face.

 

Never get tired of the color of alpine lakes.

 

Steven traversing back over on the Huber Ledges.

 

Below the ledges it became a 'one step in front of the other' trudge back down to lake level and then back out the approach road, thankfully at least on the Wiwaxy Gap trail views were nice.  We ended up making it back to the cars well, well after sunset but managed to get by without headlamps, 19.5 hours round trip.  All in all another good trip, nice to get some variety in approach routes than the usual trek up Abbott Pass.

 

Storms a brewin.

 

Interesting lighting on Biddle.

 

Back on the road.

 

Another 2 11000ers, quite a nice day-trip.

rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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