Archive for scramble

One ridge too many…

Posted in Books, Mountains, Travel with tags , , , , on September 16, 2010 by xi'an

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…)