One ridge too many…

On Monday morning, Devin and I left Banff very early to try one more scramble before my plane (as the pouring rain of the previous night had killed any chance of doing real climbing). We arrived in Canmore at about 7am and hiked up to Mount Lady MacDonald, which was listed as difficult in our guidebook. The weather was very wet, if not exactly raining, and we went up in one cloud then in another. Past the abandoned structures that marked the end of the hiking trail (and the beginning of the scramble), it started to snow, although it was not feeling cold. The trail was not longer visible under the fresh wet snow and we went up the scree slope looking for the slabs indicated in the guidebook (since visibility was very poor…). We rather quickly found slabs and then faced a traverse on a narrow ridge with a knife edge, a very steep slope on one side and a vertical drop on the other side. There were footholds on the non-vertical side and by carefully moving along, sometimes in an undignified saddling fashion, we managed to (slowly) cross this ridge and to go down a dozen meters to another ridge that was announced as daunting in the guidebook. I was then convinced we were a few dozen meters from the summit, but, after reaching a second ridge, the clouds lifted to some extent, enough to see that there was still a long and exposed ridge to the true summit with at least as much snow… In fact, we had moved to the ridge too quickly and thus we were not on the scramble path! With no rope and no security point, this was getting too much of a gamble (dying for MacDonald?!) and we thus turned back for another ridge saddling… Even though we did not reach the top, this was a great scramble, most likely the most exposed I ever did!!! (Much more than the winter traverse of the Aonach Eagach, where my guide and I roped…)

3 Responses to “One ridge too many…”

  1. [...] as we had planned, we crossed the valley to check whether Lady MacDonald was more welcoming than last time. (Despite highly pessimistic and eventually misinformed warnings from the lady at the Canmore [...]

  2. [...] afternoon and am now in Banff for this exciting MCMC workshop! Also looking forward a hike with Devin tomorrow, hoping the weather will not turn to heavy snow! [...]

  3. Wow, what an amazing view! Not sure how much use is roping up on a ridge like this (other than telling your partner to jump off the left edge when you trip and fall to the right)

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