Mt. Andromache, a climber approach - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-14-2015, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Default Mt. Andromache, a climber approach

The goal of the trip was to evaluate loop return to Icefields Parkway from Mosquito/Molar via Hector Pass, should planned exploratory "Molar to Noseeum" would not work -- for full discussion, see Noseeum Lake and Mountain thread. Last time I was in the neighborhood was in August 2010 (scramble of Little Hector via standard Kane route), so this looked as a good trip. I was not sure how far I'd eventually get, but Hector Pass was a minimum; should visibility from this darn haze turn out not to be so bad, I'd consider running up Mt. Andromache via Kane route for some photography. But my hikes never turn out quite the way I plan them -- I tend to change my mind on the fly, if I see something interesting. This time was no exception. After clearing up the lower headwall (which is incidentally technical 'crux' for both Little Hector and Andromache, as most Kane troopers know) I turned left and picked good trail heading up towards seemingly unbreakable cliffs of Andromache. The quality of this trail surprised me; well defined, very wide and more than generously cairned. I've seen climber approach trails before, but they are usually skimpy and don't waste time switchbacking -- climbers don't need trails after all, right? But this one looked different, well traveled, more like some park trail. Coming to cairned junction where Kane approach for Andromache turns right and starts long trudge towards Hector Pass, I decided to follow 'climber' trail. Could it be there was some new hiking/scrambling route up Andromache from SW side? Or perhaps this trail would flank west slopes and then join Kane descent route that ends in Noseeum creek? All these questions needed answer. To cut long story short, and break all the suspense -- it is a climber approach trail after all.

[Click to enlarge GPS track on Google Earth; left leg is climber approach, right for Hector Pass]



[Trail ends around 2600m; about 400m below Andromache summit]

There are 2 gullies; left one looks more 'accessible', while right one was considerably steeper and deep into 5th class territory. In between I could see 2 guys with yellow climbing helmets fussing around on some ledges, throwing ropes and not making any progress. Where do you go from here? I don't know -- but I'd very much like to find out! I found this reference on dowclimbing, but he went through the cliffs way east, closer to Kane route. There is also this Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides article, but this does not look like the terrain from pic above. Someone on this forum must have the info; the approach is just so good, that it must be popular and well-known in climber community. For reference, here's how terrain looks looking down towards Little Hector:


Note 2 green nubs lower center right; trail comes up in between these 2, then heads up talus slope. These nubs are incidentally fabulous viewpoint and it is well worth trudging up to here if ambitions are low for going further. If you do go, note that gully between these 2 nubs is stiff class 3 territory:


It is angled about 70 degrees; going up I scrambled in the middle on somewhat skimpy, rubble covered ledges. Going down I did invert spider hugging the wall on (climber) left side. Climbers of course would not notice this; it will be just a warm-up for what is to come.

Coming down from this side-trip, I decided I still had time & continued over to Hector Pass. This is now normal Kane hiking approach & it will take 1hr 15min - 1hr 30min to the pass. Despite the haze, views of glaciated Mt. Hector are fabulous to say the least:


Coming to the pass, I scrambled up towards Andromache a bit, then descended on east side. This is just such a fabulous viewpoint and I cursed the darn haze. Length of Pipestone valley can be readily observed, with many familiar Skoki peaks in the distance:
[Panorama below Hector Pass showing easy descent slopes towards Pipestone valley. Twin-summit Molar mountain directly across; to the right sea of Skoki area peaks, including St. Bride, Skoki peak, Oyster, Wall of Jericho, Merlin Castle and even unusual angle of Richardson/Pika -- far right]

[Zoom on Molar Mountain]

I abandoned ascent of Andromache; too much energy spent, and too much haze. As most know though, you just turn left before Hector pass and trudge scree slopes up to unnamed lower, then continue over to true summit -- as seen on this pic from aforementioned trip up Little Hector 5 summers ago:

[Kane route up Mt. Andromache. "H" - Hector Pass, "U" - Unnamed subpeak, "A" - Mt. Andromache]

Return the same way; that headwall is quite unpleasant on descent, and I'd not like to come down in dark. To conclude, Molar - Hector loop also appears feasible, although I could not estimate amount of bushwhack in lower Pipestone slopes.
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Last edited by zeljkok; 08-14-2015 at 08:32 PM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-14-2015, 08:15 PM
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I did Andromache last weekend, and I did also see that other trail and wondered where it would go, but the trail up to Hector Pass was the route for me at the time. It's good that you explored that trail and answered my questions for me!

As you plan to explore on from Molar Pass, maybe you'd like to tack on this beautiful little tarn in the photo that I took from the summit of Andromache. I've also highlighted it in a google earth image. It may be a bit further than your planned route though, but it really caught my eye.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-14-2015, 08:55 PM
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Andromache and Little Hector are on my short to-do list, but I've been hesitating because of the headwall and its moderate rating. Is there much exposure, and if so, are there less exposed routes up it?

Great photography, as always!
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-14-2015, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by mclay1234 View Post
Andromache and Little Hector are on my short to-do list, but I've been hesitating because of the headwall and its moderate rating. Is there much exposure, and if so, are there less exposed routes up it?

Great photography, as always!
It's a short climb, but can be awkward on descent. I don't know if there is a bypass.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-14-2015, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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As you plan to explore on from Molar Pass, maybe you'd like to tack on this beautiful little tarn in the photo that I took from the summit of Andromache. I've also highlighted it in a google earth image.
Yes. I'm waiting for haze to clear for photography purposes, and now leaning towards overnight (doable as day hike). I'd probably bivi by that tarn immediately after south Molar Pass.

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Andromache and Little Hector are on my short to-do list, but I've been hesitating because of the headwall and its moderate rating. Is there much exposure, and if so, are there less exposed routes up it?
Matt: Looking at what you are doing now, you'll be ok with it. There is no exposure to speak of. There are 2 critical parts to note:

1) Lower down, hiking trail trail ends in (now dry) creek bed. There is a flag here. It is not obvious, but instead of crossing and bushwhacking on the other side -- walk up stony creek bed for minute or so, then watch for flag on other side. Trail continues here. It is bushy but much easier than fighting the shrubs. This trail will climb up lower waterfall on climber left.

2) Above lower waterfall is critical spot. More used branch continues straight up, and that has some scrambling and lose/rubble covered ledges. However, not obvious, is trail cutting to the right through bush. This is much better option. It becomes better defined as you go on. Only 'hard' point is low pine tree that straddles the trail; you must clamber over it! There is faded flag here as well. Past this tree, trail comes to Hector creek above upper waterfall. Easy rock hop, and then good trail quickly getting you to the basin.

Scramble up Andromache is just a talus slog all the way. Worth looking at this pic, in lower valley:


You have to get past this upper headwall; just go left and you should be able to pick up good scree trail that climbs on the left side. Once past the headwall, stay low. It is tempting to side-slope, but this is lose and not worth. Instead from top of headwall descend a bit to right to now dried seasonal lake, then on grass and wonderful slabs towards the pass. From there it is obvious -- just a scree bash, where any route is a good one.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-14-2015, 09:22 PM
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Ah, excellent! I'd heard rumors of the easier trail so it's good to know it actually exists. Thanks for the help!

I'm hoping to get both Andromache and Little Hector in one go, now I just need to wait for a day that is sunny with minimal smoke!
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-15-2015, 01:15 AM Thread Starter
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I'm hoping to get both Andromache and Little Hector in one go
That is a handful (of scree), but people have done it. Regardless of which peak ends as your last of the day, there is alternate way that avoids descending Hector headwall. For Andromache, it is asAlan Kane says - down to Noseeum creek. I think some people even climb Andromache that way.

For Little Hector, less known -- but tested in person:


Left red line is normal ascent via Hector creek. On return, keep descending west ridge till it becomes jagged, then drop down into tucked little valley, hidden from views (right red line). There are some meadows here and small stream. Then just trash down to the highway. No trail, but whack is not bad.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-15-2015, 08:35 AM
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"Someone on this forum must have the info".

Actually, yes, I do have the info. I and two climbing buddies(one of which is now sadly deceased but that's another story) put this route in over the summer in 2012. The climb is called "Achilles Spire" and is a 13 pitch 5.8 climb(5.7 variation). chek it out here:

http://gripped.com/routes/achilles-h...rockies-route/

with the only minor error in the picture(in the link above calling it "Achilles Heel") or google it as it's become quite popular over the years. IF you're a climber I strongly recommend doing it as it's a big rewarding day.

On another note, I suspect if the climbers-that you observed-were throwing down ropes they may have been rapping(although if early in the day I'm not sure why) or been off route.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-15-2015, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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ah, great! Thank you very much for info! This is the same route then as in Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides article I referred to in my report? They don't mention Achilles Spire, but it says it was put in 2012 by the same guy (Eric Dumerac).

Climbers were probably descending -- it was past 3 pm. I didn't stay long to monitor progress as couple of rocks fell down & I don't generally like being a target. But they were right on the route - up that tower that separates 2 gullies. Here's cropped pic, you can see yellow helmet:
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-15-2015, 05:33 PM
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ah, great! Thank you very much for info! This is the same route then as in Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides article I referred to in my report? They don't mention Achilles Spire, but it says it was put in 2012 by the same guy (Eric Dumerac).

Climbers were probably descending -- it was past 3 pm. I didn't stay long to monitor progress as couple of rocks fell down & I don't generally like being a target. But they were right on the route - up that tower that separates 2 gullies. Here's cropped pic, you can see yellow helmet:
yup. that's the route. The "gripped" link is far more detailed; should you be interested.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 08-15-2015, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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yup. that's the route. The "gripped" link is far more detailed; should you be interested.
thanks; this is way above my ability. But I love climber approach trails; even if you don't do the technical part you get viewpoints that most hikers miss.

"gripped" link is terrific; it is so funny how perspective is different. Hector headwall is dismissed with half-sentence "hike up to the left of waterfall", and that lower gully that would likely get (at least) moderate rating in Kane world is "easy scramble up a gully"
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