We were up at 4am and out on the trail by 5am - trudging up the Snow Coach Road towards the Northwest bowl of Andromeda. The approach was tedious, 2 hours of hiking across moraine on a faint trail followed by and hour up an icefall - weaving in and out of crevasses and up and over steep ice, one foot on gravel the other front pointing on ice. After about half and hour of scary route finding we crested the glacier and picked our way across a very scary crevasse field, finally reaching the bergschrund and base of the route in 3 hours.
The planned on going on Skyladder (II) and coming down the East Ridge (II). Skyladder was an excellent straightforward climb. 3,000' of steep snow and ice climbing to a ridge crest. The route began with about 1,000' of 45 degree snow with good protection followed by 1,500' of 45 degree ice. Brad lead the snow and I lead the ice and we simul-climbed the entire route. After the ice face we had 500' of easy step kicking to the ridge. The route then traversed the summit snowfields via easy hiking in ankle deep snow all the way to the summit.
And that where the fun began... First I started down a ridge which we quickly discovered to be the wrong route. We backtracked, found the correct route and started down.
The East Ridge was long. We traversed corniced ridges in deep (knee / thigh) snow for about 2 miles until we reached the crux: 800' of shattered loose rock all the way down to the AA (Athabasca / Andromeda) col. We began downclimbing but soon found rap anchors and rapped 5 times to the col. The col turned out to be steep (60 degree) ice so we kept going - traversing under snow mushrooms. It was raining and a forest fire was burning to the west somewhere turning the sun red and the sky into a thick haze.
We traversed all the way to the descent route on Athabasca, dropped down talus and snow to the glacier and then hiked out.
16 hours after we started we were back at the car.
Mt. Andromeda Skyladder - II, 11,319'
- Route: Once you reach the base of Skyladder the route is pretty straightforward; 3000' of either snow or ice (depending on the time of year) to the summit. Once on the summit you can either descend the route, the E Ridge or the W Ridge. Rockfall, and avalanche danger can be high hazards on this route. Check out Toft's map or "Selected Alpine Climbs in the Canadian Rockies" for more information.
- Gear: Mountain axe, ice tool, pickets, screws, small cams or pins.
- Time: 15-18 hours RT.
- Notes: The Ranger Station at the Icefields visitor center has a journal detailing recent accidents, ascents and conditions of peaks in the area.
|| Mt. Andromeda
Description: Map of Skyladder route on Mt. Andromeda.
comments powered by Disqus