Friday, February 26, 2010

Mt Robson solo attempt

The south face of Mt. Robson, line drawn to my highpoint at the Swartz Ledges.

Taking advantage of excellent snow conditions and weather, I set out on Monday to try and solo the South Face of Mt. Robson. I had come down this route a few years ago after climbing the Emperor Ridge so I had a good idea of what to expect. I left the car mid-day and skiied to Kinney Lake before leaving the skiing and continuing on foot. For the first few hundred meters of trees above the lake the snow was unsupportive and it was slow going and exhausting wallowing upwards. Eventually I made it to treeline and as expected the snow improved dramatically. Lots of snowslopes and a few sections of moderate ice & rock climbing led to the hut. I stopped for about 30 minutes to melt snow and rehydrate while watching an amazing sunset.
Sunset from near the Mt. Robson hut.
As darkness arrived I continued up more snowslopes and easy rock sections and was making excellent time (under 9 hours from the car) to the Swartz Ledges, about 80% of the way up the mountain. I was feeling strong and was confident that I was going to reach the summit. However, upon reaching the Ledges I became aware that the seracs above were much more active than last time I was here, so I decided to sit in a safe spot and watch for a while. It turned out that there was a pretty steady stream of ice fall across the route from the seracs above and continuing didn't seem like a good choice.
Contemplating my options below the Swartz Ledges.
Disappointed, I started down and made it back to the hut a couple hours later. It was hard to be upset though since it was an amazing moonlit night without a trace of wind in one of the most amazing places in the Rockies! Even though I didn't have a sleeping bag, I decided to spend the night in the hut and enjoy the sunrise the next morning. It didn't get too cold so it was actually a pleasant night and the morning was spectacular! After enjoying the view for a while I headed down and was back at the car brewing coffee in no time.

A sweet view of Mt. Whitehorn, with Robson's Wishbone Arete in the foreground.
As much as I would like to try again, I think the seracs on this route are a bit too dangerous to be considered a reasonable proposition. There are much better and safer ways up Robson.
J. Mills

1 comment:

  1. Wow, anyone can see that the South Face is extremely challenging and dangerous. Especially solo!! You are lucky you made it back. Even Reinhold Messner would find this a challenge, and probably not do it. It's no less difficult than the Eiger or other famous faces.