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Scree, Snow, and a Smattering of Visibility on Eiffel Peak

Easy Scramble (Dry)
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A Tree or Two Off the Wenkchemna Pass Trail.
Thursday, June 2, 2016

With a degrading forecast Ken and I were looking for a rather short objective but something that would have the potential for nice views if the weather did start to clear up. With that in mind heading up around Moraine Lake seemed like a decent plan, wiht the prospect of lingering snow higher on the peak to give a little more excitement to a normally straightforward scramble route. Even at 7am the parking lot was already starting to fill up (still much better than in the middle of July though). With a quick rearranging of gear we set off on the Sentinel Pass/Wenkchemna Pass trail on the numerous switchbacks as the trail snakes upwards to treeline.


Setting off from the Moraine Lake 'trailhead'/massive parking lot.


Gaining the ridge after leaving the Wenkchemna Pass Trail.


To intersect the ridge connected to Eiffel we rambled along the Wenkchemna Pass Trail until seeing an opening in the bushy slopes above and wandered up to the ridgecrest. From here there were only smatterings of snow which were easily avoided but the upper mountain was very much still in 'winter-mode' wreathed in both a cloak of snow and a shroud of cloud. Reaching the snow wasn't too tricky, if anything there are too many trails on this particular peak! Here and there we would come across recent footprints in mud and snow showing that other folks had been up here recently. The most scrambly bit was a small rock step through the dark grey band which was thankfully dry.


Looking down towards Sentinel Pass and Mount Temple.


The upper slopes of Eiffel Peak still looked fairly wintery.


Ken climbing a brief scrambly section.


Higher up the last bit of the peak turned into an easy snow climb kicking steps up a narrow gully and then up the upper SW face. The footsteps of the prior group were helpful at times but even without those progress was pretty quick (snow does make for a much more linearly up progression than switchbacking on scree). Before long we made it up to the giant summit cairn and could take in the (very localized) view of the nearby Eiffel Tower (which looking particularly menacing in the gloomy light). A stiff chill breeze made us not too excited in sticking around on the summit plateau so started to head down soon after while the snow had softened just enough for very effective plunge-stepping.


With about 150 vertical meters to go towards the summit we hit sustained snow.


The rest of the route up to the summit.


A chilly summit cairn.


The 'Eiffel Tower' beside the summit looked fairly spooky today.


As is often the case in the Rockies, the weather started to improve just when we started to loose the advantage of our high alpine perch. As we worked our way down more of the Valley of the Ten Peaks became visible, and soon enough only the great Deltaform Mountain remained in the clouds (and even that became visible by the time we made it back down to the trail). On descent we were kind of glad we came up from Wenkchemna rather than the Sentinel side as a very slushy snow slope would have awaited us from the more easterly trail. Once back on the trail we ended up running into a few other groups who were heading up to the pass and generally enjoying the swiftly improving weather conditions!


Heading back down things started to clear up a bit.


Sure enough lower down we started to get views.


The Sentinel Pass trail is one of the most througoughly gouged scree lines I know of.


Back down on the Wenkchemna Pass Trail.


Moraine Lake and Mount Fay make an impressive sight.


I must say that in terms of a short day-trip with (the potential for) great views Eiffel Peak is a pretty good choice. Might have to come back later on in the summer on a day with better weather to get a few better shots of the area!</

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