Ascent of Mount Columbia on 2014-07-30

Climber: Arthur Harris

Date:Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Columbia
    Location:Canada-Alberta/British Columbia
    Elevation:12274 ft / 3741 m

Ascent Trip Report

Arthur and I drove from Boulder, CO through South Dakota (finishing the p1ks), and North Dakota (Saddle Butte). We then bagged the highpoints of Manitoba and Saskatchewan "on the way" to the icefields of Alberta. I managed to get about three hours of sleep each night, allowing us to keep on this brutal schedule of driving.

We metup with Steve Brown and Dave Green. Adam Helman, the mastermind of the expedition, was on injured reserve and could not make the climb. We all had experience with glacier travel; Steve and Dave were particularly knowledgeable with their previous Denali ascent. It was quite a range of age, with Arthur being only 13 and Steve and Dave being over 55.

The upper ice falls on the Asthbasca glacier was the crux of the whole trip. We had to hop from ice block to ice block with deep crevasses in between. It made Rainier look like a cake walk. We had lots of minor falls into hidden cracks, but nothing severe. After ascending to the ridge, a white out enveloped us. We couldn't even follow a compass bearing and so camped at the triple divide point (entirely accidentally).

Camp 2 was at the trough, setting us up for an easy summit attempt on Day 3. The face of Columbia was heavily crevassed and devastated by avalanches. The far left shoulder has a steepest slope of 45-55 degrees. It was hard to tell because we were climbing through a whiteout again. Fortunately, we were ascending so all we had to do was go up and avoid crevasses. The snow quality was good for climbing. Our crampons could grip and our ice axe shafts penetrate. I wouldn't want to tackle that steepness in August. There was some avalanche danger so we beat a hasty retreat after getting to the true summit.

Summary: 4 days at a relaxing pace, crevasse danger far exceeding Rainier.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Breezy, White-out
mixture of white-out and blue skies

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