This past weekend my friend Dan and myself headed off to Mount Robson with plans to hike to the Ralph Forster Hut. The hut is located on the south summit route over half way to the summit. Dan has most of the pictures on his camera, so I will write a better report when I get the pics from him. But here are a few of my pics.
After reading a book on alpine huts in the rockies we came up with the idea to hike up to the Ralph Forster Hut on Mount Robson. Not much info could be found on this hike except for a small trail description and map in the "Selected Alpine Climbs in the Canadian Rockies" book. So we left Prince George on friday Aug.25th at noon and headed off to Mount Robson. It took us quite a while to get there due to the fact that Dan's 1973 VW van's max speed is 100km/h, 50km/h on the hills. So eventually we arrived at the BC Parks office at 4:30.
We went to the office and got all the info that they had on the route. Some detailed trail descriptions, different maps and photos. This route is not advertised and isn't really maintained like the other trails in the park. We were informed that some Japanese tourists had gone up the trail once and had to be rescued because they couldn't come down.
So after getting all the info that we could get, we headed off for the 7km hike to Kinney Lake.
The next day we got up early and were greeted with beautiful sunny blue skies, after some breakfast we headed out at 8:30.
The Ralph Forster Hut is located on the SW Ridge at 2470m, the trail is about 2kms in length with an elevation gain of 1800m.
We located the access trail and followed it until reaching the creekbed and outlet of the "Great Couloir". We followed this until reaching a huge ice tunnel that had been created by the creek. This is where the ascent began.
The trail follows the huge ravine of the creek for a while before entering into the steep cedar and fur tree forest that covers the lower slopes. The trail was very steep and heavily overgrown. Branches became ropes to pull ourselves up with.
After a few hours the trees began to thin out and we followed the trail closer and closer to the huge gully that plunged back down to begining of the trail. At this point we came to the first of 4 chained sections of the route. Back in 1997 anchors and chains were fixed to the more dangerous parts of the route. A fall from these sections would send you falling for a few hundred meters.
So up we climbed, some areas chained and some not(though it felt like they should have been), the route continues up and up and never really levels off.
Slowly we made our way up, winding up and over 3-4m rock steps, steep slopes covered in loose shale and rocks and up some exposed sections that definatly got my adrenaling pumping. We climbed the last chained section and a bivy site on one of the ledges, after this was a long debris chute of really, really loose rock. This section took forever due to the fact that the groung slid on every step. At 4:30 we reached the pass between the "Unnamed Peak" and the begining of the SW Ridge. The Hut was now only 150m above us and a fairly easy walk along the ridge, the only thing between us and the hut was a 10meter chimney rated at 5.3.
At this point Dan's legs started to cramp up and we both deceided against trying to climb the chimney. So close yet so far. So we deceided to spend the night right there. Since it was the first flat spot we had come to and there was a patch of snow, that was not much bigger than my backpack, it was perfect. We melted snow for the next 2hrs, built a rock wall around our bivy site and pigged out.
The view from up there was fantastic, house sized pieces of the glacier behind the hut continually broke off, sounding just like thunder, and the sun set was quite nice.
While watching the sun set I noticed movement at the hut, someone was heading off to get water.
So that night we slept under the stars at 2300m, the weather was perfect not a single cloud in the sky which is quite a rare thing at Mount Robson. It has been snowing quite regularly all summer up there. In the middle of the night Dan woke up and saw two headlamps leaving the hut and heading off towards the summit.
I awoke at 6:00am with frost on my sleeping bag(I had just bought an MEC Raven -12 bag and it was toasty) to see the sun lighting up the peak of Robson.
After some oatmeal we packed up and prepared for the descent. Slowly and carefully we made our way back down to Kinney Lake.
We made it down in half the time it took to ascend. At Kinney Lake people would ask us where we were headed, they looked at us like we were nuts when we pointed out where we had just come from. So after returning to the parking lot and devouring a couple poutine's at the Cafe Robson we headed back to Prince George.
This hike was a real grunt but totally worth the effort, someday I'll make to the hut and then hopefully to the summit.
Here are a few videos.