Trip Report

Friday July 18, 2015. Fly to Calgary, meet David Nebel, drive to Golden. My crampons will not fit David's boots. We find some used crampons in a shop and think they will work after some resizing (they do work).

July 19. Clear day. Meet guide Pierre Hungr at 8 am at the Alpine hangar and fly in smoothly to camp at Houston Lake. There is a large boulder with tent sites around it right at the lake shore; perfect. After setting up camp we climb to the ridge S of Houston Pass via some snow and ice to check all the gear, which works well. While traveling the ridge N to Houston Pass David slips and his shin is pierced (through his pants) by a very sharp rock. Lots of blood. Pierre expertly dresses the wound with steri-strips and it heals well over the next few days, not really causing David any problems. But is was a very deep gash!

Sunday July 20. A little cloudy but we decide to go for Moby Dick by the standard south face route, pioneered by Sam Silverstein et al in 1959. Started at 6 am. The weather stayed cloudy, with no view of the summit, for several hours, but a few hundred feet below the top it cleared and we got decent views once at the top. The moraine approach was no problem. The slabs from the moraine to the ice were no problem. The ice was a problem as we had to zig and zag to avoid crevasses and at one point we needed a big jump, slightly upward, over an unavoidable crevasse. Pierre protected that with ice screws, one on either side. Then we had a section of clean snow that took us to the bottom of a long rock ridge. That went easily and we reached the final snow field to the summit ridge. From there it was an easy scramble to the summit. A register there showed climbs in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2013, so it appears the peak is not often climbed. We could see Battle Abbey well, and Butters Peak, but light clouds blocked the view west. The climb took 7 hours. On descent Pierre just lowered us on the snow, and it all went smoothly, though near the bottom we tried to avoid the crevasse jump, but had to do another wide one. We reached camp at 7:30 quite exhausted after a 13.5 hour day. And because of all the crampon work our feet were tired and sore. But we were elated to have gotten the prime objective for the week on the very first day.

Pierre observes that the wonderful ski down from the summit in good conditions would take about 15 minutes.

Monday July 21. Rest day. We did a short hike around the lake to see if there was an easy route up Claggart (there was not). Slept most of the afternoon. Weather was clear this day.

Tuesday July 22. We started at 6 am, aiming for the direct south ridge of Harpoon from Houston Pass, a classic route in the area. This forms the west end of the Harpoon Glacier. The rock was excellent; some loose, but also solid granite for climbing. David decided to stop about a third of the way up, and waited on a ledge as Pierre and I continued. It was a very long ridge, with many towers and lots of 5.4. At the top we stepped onto the upper glacier easily. A hidden part of a crevasse swallowed my lower half, but it was not a problem. After getting past that we decided that an attempt at Proteus (10660 ft) was more logical than the smaller Harpoon, so we climbed the glacier to that peak and scrambled to the summit. Just before the summit we could look down a couloir straight to our camp: fully 4000 feet. Awesome. The summit yielded great views in all directions, and it was of course pleasing to bag the highest peak in the area. Descent was slow as my knee tired, but steady. Classically the descent is by the glacier, but that would not have been easy, so we descended the same way. David waited 5.5 hours and we all continued down easily and back to camp at 6:30 for a 12.5 hour day.

On snow below Houston Pass David spotted wolverine tracks, and then we found a small piece of wolverine fur. He was headed to our camp. But camp was untouched!

Wednesday July 23. Another rest day, though with lots of rain. We walked around a little in the afternoon. This was the one year anniversary of my knee replacement.

Thursday July 24. We went to Houston Pass and the left towards the notch in the transverse ridge off Billy Budd that was so critical to our traverse in 2004. David waited while Pierre and I went across a scree slope to steeper and loose rock (with some fixed ropes) up to the notch. From there the view to Stygian Pool and Scylla was fantastic. This was the exact point, and only cornice-free point, in the ridge that we came through in 2004 on our ski traverse from Snow Ocean to Battle Abbey. Easy return to camp where we packed up.

We were ready for the helicopter at 4 but at 4:30 a huge fog bank rolled in quickly, covering our whole valley. And then rain. It looked pretty bad. But a light lifting at 5:15 caused Pierre to text Alpine Helicopters that he thought it was okay. Despite heavy clouds and some fog the pilot (Mark) had no trouble getting in at about 6:00. He brought in another group of three to replace us. Surprising to me to see two groups here in two weeks. It was led by Jeremy Mackenzie of Kananaskis area.

Friday July 25. David and I took the gondola up Kicking Horse Ski Area for a nice high ridge walk for 2.5 hours. Spent night at the usual Super 8 near Calgary Airport, with dinner at Earl’s.

Saturday July 26. Fly to Denver. Lines at airport (United Airlines) were horrendous.

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