The parking lots at the icefields are certainly an interesting place. During a nice weather system like the one we experienced, it morphs into a bit of a village with parties camping out to get an early start on their objective, whether it be skiing onto the icefield, steep skiing on Athabasca or Andromeda, mountaineering, or alpine climbing (mountaineering without gaiters). Of course rolling into the parking lot at the casual hour of 04:00 and seeing headlamps bobbing up and down the toe of the glaciers coming off Athabasca and Andromeda quickly makes things seem very real. Maybe I should have gotten up earlier. Oh well, I'll just move faster and make it up on the trail.
The loss of the "climber's" parking lot has been lamented over, but we are really only talking about a kilometer of fast walking in running shoes to shake the legs out.
Skyladder is a classic alpine climb and also a must-have in every Rockies shredder's resume. Travel through the moraines was quick with a well beaten trail. Once we put the ski boots and skis on, a firm crust also provided fast travel, though requiring finesse on the sidehills.
|The line poking out over the glacier. Rumour has it that the glacier is starting to cause issues for more and more climbers.|
|A fast crust and no issues on the glacier. Sounds like that is easier said than done for this glacier|
|It felt good to be back booting up steep snow. I kicked it into high gear.|
|Safely down after a great ski|
Top elevation: 3450m
Total Vertical: 1450m
Round trip distance: 12km
Line length: 500m (from glacier to subpeak)
Silverhorn: A white Silverhorn in the sun was staring us down as we walked back to the cars after skiing Skyladder. There were no questions what our objective for the next day would be.
I've been turned around before on this mountain. It is easy to underestimate one of the "easy" ways up a mountain with so many routes. When the Ramp Route is in ski-able condition, it is also puckering, requiring a traverse across a steep slope above seracs. I had a harrowing experience there two years earlier when a ropemate triggered a small wind pocket as we tried to gain the ridge. The plug was quickly pulled on that day.
Once again, we were able to make it up a decent way with shoes on. The freeze wasn't quite as good as the day before which was a bit of a bummer for the ski down. We were not able to enjoy prime corn conditions up on the glacier so that we could ski a gully down to the moraines before it got too warm.
|The Silverhorn. Great coverage this year!|
|I'm not usually one to care about summits, but I had no desire to "experience" the Ramp Route ever again, so I made sure to tag the summit. We also put the skis on and skied along the ridge.|
|Finding some soft snow at the bottom|
Top elevation: 3491m
Total Vertical: 1500m
Round trip Distance: 10.5km
Line length: 270m
line of the Week