Icefall Lodge Climbing

In early August, 2007, ten of us spent 7 days at Icefall Lodge, which I had just visited on a ski trip the previous April. Personnel: Stan Wagon, Joan Hutchinson, David and Vicki Nebel, Jonathan and Jacque Kriegel, Bob and Linda Bekes, Phil Hage, and Kathy Franzen. We went in by helicopter and hiked out, on a trail that was just built by Larry Dolecki and Pierre. The week was pretty rainy, but there were sufficient spells of good weather that we got out every day, and five of us ascended Mt. Kemmel (about 10250), which provided a nice glacier climb (5 hours up, 3 hours down).

Highlights were the flowers, the interesting glaciers and rock, and a memorable ptarmigan encounter. The most difficult day was the final descent to the cars as the loads were heavy and the water crossings scary for some.


Saturday: Three-hour drive to trailhead. Three heli rides up with gear and 10 people. Larry and Pierre and crew did several loads to get stuff up to the lodge. At one point the plywood went flying and pilot Don McTighe did not like that. So helper Dan had to hike down.

Sunday: All ten of us try for Kemmel but the approach is rugged and we stop at the saddle, about halfway up.

Monday: The boys go to the La Clytte glacier and climb a bit on the bare ice. We took the high pass on approach and returned the lower way. Good weather, good flowers.

Tuesday: A smaller group tries Kemmel again by the glacier approach, but weather looks bad. In the afternoon I did a run down to the cars with trash and some gear. I heard a chan saw but saw no one, and then came to two very difficult stream crossings that took all my nerve to cross. On return I found the new trail that Larry and Pierre were working on, and eventually found Larry and Pierre. Then came a horrendous bushwhack (slide alder and devil;s club) to regain the old trail for the last thousand feet.

Wednesday: Mostly a rest day (I was exhausted). Explored the valley west of the lodge and found superb flowers, especially a hybrid yellow/peach columbine.

Thursday: The boys climbed Kemmel, using the approach of Saturday. Crampons were essential. On the slabs in the morning I flushed a ptarmigan that yielded a great photo. Weather was okay but not great, so views were poor. But the day went very well: there was about 10 inches new snow at the summit, which was interesting. And navigating the crevasses on the glacier got our attention on the way up.

Friday: A difficult descent on the new trail back to the car with heavy loads.


Icefall Lodge from Hill to the West

Kemmel Ski Runs in the Off-Season

The Gang on Kemmel's Slopes

Fun on the Ice

Peachy Columbine (and other flowers)

Ptarmigan Encounter

Bob Climbs the Steep Steps

Ten Inches of Fresh Powder

David on Descent

Icefall Peak

Joan Under a Snow Bridge

The Final Steps

Hut Owner Larry at Work

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