Mt Athabasca AA Col Scramble route - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-27-2009, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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Default Mt Athabasca AA Col Scramble route

So thanks to nmcan84 I discovered that there might actually be route up Mt Athabasca that did not have any real exposure to the dangers of the glaciers that pretty much surround the mountain. Well the route is actually very straight forward and rewarding. Thanks again nmcan84. The rout follows the AA Col mountaneering route until you find your self looking to your right at a very evident pinnacle at the top of the ridge above. It is just before the actual ascent route on the AA glacier to gain the ridge below the silverhorn route. The scrambling is pretty much your choice of scree and more scree, or you can find some pretty solid areas of ledges. We ascended the steeper gully that was actually a bit hands on climbing scrambling, and descended the more open scree gully for a fast scree ski descent. The AA glacier is filled with fairly large crevases that would make for a long and frustrating route, and the bergschrund would have been difficult to deal with. I can't really see anyone wanting to do this route unless they were to take the route we found. Once you achieve the ridge above the AA col you are a simple hike up to the silverhorn summit and then another hike along the summit ridge. I hate to see Athabasca become the new easiest 11000er out there, but this route is pretty straight forward and is not any more difficult then Temple. On top we ran into a couple who ascended the siverhorn route I believe, and the gentleman was surprised that we made our way up the AA glacier. He siad that we need to be careful there were actually very big 30 meter deep crevases all over this route and that many of them are close to the edges of the glacier. Well we saw many deep and dangerous crevases, but none were on the route that we took on climbers left. Please use caution if you attampt this or any route up the AA col as we may have just under estimated the dangers. It always pays to be alert and to evaluate the dangers before just heading out there based on someone elses trip report. If you do though, good luck and be safe...
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2009, 09:50 AM
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Nice going Randy. Earlier this year some of my friends went up this route and a couple of them said the exact same thing; that it's pretty much a scramble.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2009, 10:15 AM
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That's messed up. I wonder then why there are so many stories of people having scary descents coming down the AA route when they all just could have taken the scramble down. Obviously not too many people know about this option. Sounds like it would make an easy way down after coming up different routes.

So do you go on the AA glacier at all, along the edge of it, or well off to the side of it? If it's just skirting along the edge are you sure that it's not just rubble covered glacier there, or is it off the glacier all together?

If standing at the AA col would the route be on skiers right side then? Is it easy to find coming down? Taking the "scree gulley" down, does it cliff out any where?
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2009, 10:18 AM
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I've heard alot of stories of people rapping down the edge of the AA col off of mank when snow conditions in the ramp were crap. Too bad they didn't know about the scrable option lol.

Interesting.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2009, 10:26 AM
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quote:Originally posted by time2clmb

That's messed up. I wonder then why there are so many stories of people having scary descents coming down the AA route when they all just could have taken the scramble down. Obviously not too many people know about this option. Sounds like it would make an easy way down after coming up different routes.
I suppose it depends on snow conditions. Even though they're on the windward side, early in the season the various gullies leading down from the saddle to the AA Glacier bowl can be avy-prone.

As for "scary" descents, I think it's only the 'schrund that's a little dicey. The scary-as-hell AA Col descent is on the Andromeda side of the col, which is WAY steeper (beyond most people's ability to down-climb) and can be difficult to find the bolts or rig anchors.

Personally, I much prefer descending the North Glacier for the fine views and much shorter time on rubble. I hate the AA col descent just because of the lack of snow and ice. Safer yes, but sucks.

With glacial recession, lots of peaks might end up being little more than scree slogs/scrambles. Heck, I guy a know scrambled Mt. Alberta recently. The gear was so poor they didn't bother with a rope or pro.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2009, 10:31 AM Thread Starter
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[/quote]
So do you go on the AA glacier at all, along the edge of it, or well off to the side of it? If it's just skirting along the edge are you sure that it's not just rubble covered glacier there, or is it off the glacier all together?

If standing at the AA col would the route be on skiers right side then? Is it easy to find coming down? Taking the "scree gulley" down, does it cliff out any where?
[/quote]

The route is most likely all rubble covered ice. At a couple of spots the rubble gets a bit thin and you can see there is ice under it. There is a fairly defined trail in spots and it is very solid. In most spots we are on a huge amount of rubble. We felt pretty confident that there was no danger of anything other then rock fall from above. We anticipated that we might need gear and brought everything we would need if necessary. As it turned out we dumped our ropes below silverhorn and our packs on silverhorn. The entire time you are on skiers right of the main glacier. The glacier is snow free up until it becomes steep and there are lots of crevases. The gully's were easy to find and ther were about three that would have worked. The descent gully we took was a simple scree ski out. We just took turns and then moved out of the way for the next to avoid the rock coming down.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2009, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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quote:Originally posted by johngenx

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by time2clmb

That's messed up. I wonder then why there are so many stories of people having scary descents coming down the AA route when they all just could have taken the scramble down. Obviously not too many people know about this option. Sounds like it would make an easy way down after coming up different routes.
I suppose it depends on snow conditions. Even though they're on the windward side, early in the season the various gullies leading down from the saddle to the AA Glacier bowl can be avy-prone.

As for "scary" descents, I think it's only the 'schrund that's a little dicey. The scary-as-hell AA Col descent is on the Andromeda side of the col, which is WAY steeper (beyond most people's ability to down-climb) and can be difficult to find the bolts or rig anchors.

Personally, I much prefer descending the North Glacier for the fine views and much shorter time on rubble. I hate the AA col descent just because of the lack of snow and ice. Safer yes, but sucks.

With glacial recession, lots of peaks might end up being little more than scree slogs/scrambles. Heck, I guy a know scrambled Mt. Alberta recently. The gear was so poor they didn't bother with a rope or pro.
Yeah that's exactly it. The route is longer and harder on your feet. The traditional routes are more challenging technically and rewarding. I felt like we cheated! We are looking at Mt Thompson as well. It seems there may be a route that skirts the bow falls glacier toe. I want to do this one this winter and next summer to have a ski tour and scramble ascent that not too many have scrambled yet...
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2009, 12:04 PM
 
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[/quote]

With glacial recession, lots of peaks might end up being little more than scree slogs/scrambles. Heck, I guy a know scrambled Mt. Alberta recently. The gear was so poor they didn't bother with a rope or pro.
[/quote]

Mount Alberta eh! I am very interested... is this guy on CT?
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2009, 02:11 PM
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quote:Originally posted by 430Marten
Mount Alberta eh! I am very interested... is this guy on CT?
Not a CT member. Leads 5.11+ trad, so the 5.6-5.7 Japanese Route on Alberta wasn't technically difficult for him, but he was quite disgusted at the low quality of the route overall. Speaking to people doing Alberta in the last couple years, it sounds like it's a bit easier thanks to being drier, but the rock quality is falling fast. (get it?)

I used the term scramble a little tongue-in-cheek, as it's actually called "soloing" as it is most definitely fifth class rock.

As for Mt. Athabasca, I think right now the two finest routes on the peak are the Silverhorn and the Hourglass. The Silverhorn presents steeper now (last year I figured 40 degrees for quite a bit, a couple short stretches of 45, but steeper than the 30-35 it was years ago) and turns to ice much more quickly during the summer. We pitched it out, and it was slow, but on a bluebird day, it's a great place to "hang out" climbing alpine ice.

The Hourglass has not been done by me, but I've looked at it from some angles, and it looks great. There is one moderate-angle rock bit that shows thorugh later in the year now, but looks simple. The crux ice pitch used to be very close to vertical, but from where I've peered down it before, it looks like melting has actually reduced the angle (unlike many ice routes!) and a friend of mine that has twice completed it thinks the ice crux has backed off from WI3+ to WI2/3. The lead is not difficult, it's just being above a screw with that many meters of air under your boots that is mentally challenging. Well, for me anyway!

The North Face is better for the hardasses out there. The rock step is much tougher thanks to melting and with several reliable people I know rating it 5.8-ish, it's out of my league now. 5.8 alpine rock is way above my pay grade unless I'm with a light pack and rock shoes AND following! The pro is non-existent and the fixed pin is now quite a ways above the ice, meaning a missed clip will result in a serious injury fall.

The Hyperspace Bypass is supposed to be interesting, but I haven't been on that side of the peak. We began the NE ridge some years back, and backed off in disgust. It was easily the most rotten rock I've been on, and the moves were not fun at all. The Hyperspace Bypass goes up the ice of the NF, but veers climber's left, avoiding that shit of the NE ridge. The final few pitches of the NE ridge are supposed to be a terrific 5.6 Scottish Gully, but I haven't been anywhere near it, so I can't tell you first hand. I'm not keen to onsight it, so I'll wait to go up with someone either more talented than me, or that has done it before.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2009, 02:57 PM
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I just saw your buddies pics of the bottom of the gulley next to the aa glacier. Looks easy enough to find. Good to know there is even yet another option for descent off of that thing.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 08-30-2009, 11:50 AM
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Nice one! Good to see you got up!

I climbed athabasca again recently with candy sack. We were going to go up the same way(scree)
but opted for the aa col instead. John is right,it is better on the north glacier if conditions are good. We had the pleasure of doing boths routes
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 08-30-2009, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by 430Marten

With glacial recession, lots of peaks might end up being little more than scree slogs/scrambles. Heck, I guy a know scrambled Mt. Alberta recently. The gear was so poor they didn't bother with a rope or pro.
[/quote]

Mount Alberta eh! I am very interested... is this guy on CT?
[/quote]

it is dow williams probably,incase you were wondering
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 08-30-2009, 12:26 PM
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quote:Originally posted by nmcan84
it is dow williams probably,incase you were wondering
Dave O Williams, indeed. We'd had some plans to get together at the Num-Ti-Jah lodge on that Monday, but I headed north instead. The amount of stuff he's climbed and skied is staggering.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2009, 12:05 AM
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scramble up Alberta???? ya right.
Everett called it 5.9, but it is not that hard. I had to build a piton station at 60m, but of course we took our gear out, so if you follow this version you will have to have a hammer and pitons From the Dow Williams story of Alberta 2009 on summitpost. If you call that a scramble then...
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2009, 06:27 AM
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quote:Originally posted by telkwa

scramble up Alberta???? ya right.
If you call that a scramble then...
I was kidding...
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