Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mt. Diadem & Wolley with Pat & Susie

Can you say "best views ever!"? That's exactly what we had from the top of Mt. Wolley last Friday after climbing the SE Face on Mt. Diadem and then traversing the ridge over to Wolley.

Mt. Wolley on the Left & Diadem on the Right. We climbed the snow gully in the middle of Diadem then traversed the ridge to Wolley.
Pat and Susie joined me again for an awesome 2 day trip into these lesser known 11000ft peaks at the North end of the Columbia Icefields. I had never climbed either mountain before but we were all psyched to give them a go! On Thursday morning we crossed the Sunwapta river and began the beautiful 4 hour hike into basecamp. Excellent views of Mt. Cromwell & it's subpeaks kept us entertained until the last hour when we could see Diadem/Wolley as well. In basecamp the weather was nice and we had lots of time so Pat & I went exploring on some nearby cliffs and found some superb rock climbing. It's not very often you find such good quality rock in the Rockies, especially in the backcountry near the Icefields! I had only a very small rock rack but managed to get top-ropes up on 4 different routes, all of which had sweet climbing on solid rock. Next time I will take more gear and rock shoes for sure!
Great rock climbing near basecamp with Wolley in the background.

Due to the hot days, we woke up at 1:00am on Friday and began the climb up the South East Face of Diadem. The route follows wide snow gullies and gradually steepens to 45 degrees near the top. After a couple ropelengths on the steeper snow, the exit to the ridgeline provided a very exciting finish! The snow steepened to almost vertical and then I had to chop through an overhanging cornice to reach the ridge! With 1000 meters of steep terrain below us, everyone found this final section to be quite exciting, including me! On top of Diadem we were treated to great views for at least 100km in every direction. Way to the North we could even see the top of Mt. Robson rising above everything else!

Climbing in the upper gully with Mt. Athabasca, Andromeda, Kitchner, Snowdome, and Cromwell behind.
Smiling in the sunrise on top of Mt. Diadem!

The view North from Diadem. Mt. Robson is sticking up in the back, left of center, and Mt. Clemenceau is the big peak on the right.

Mt. Alberta, with the N. Face facing to the right, and the East face in plain view.
From the summit we began a cool ridge traverse over to the top of Wolley. As we got closer, we began to be able to see into the infamous "Black Hole" below the North Face of North Twin, perhaps the most difficult alpine wall in North America. From the top we also had sweet views of the North & East faces of Mt. Alberta (see the N. Face of Alberta blog posting from last summer), Mt. Clemenceau (4th highest in Rockies) and hundreds of other big peaks. I counted 25 of the Rockies 54 11000ft peaks from the summit!
On the ridge traverse near the top of Mt. Wolley.
The beast of the Rockies - the North Face of N. Twin & Twins Tower. There are 3 routes up this wall, none of which have ever been repeated!
Mt. King Edward is the big peak in the middle and is a lesser known 11oooer.
Mt. Cromwell and it's subpeaks as seen on the descent. One of the Stutfield peaks is poking up in the back on the right.
Although the descent was a bit more complicated than anticipated, it went smoothly as we raced the warming temperatures back to camp. A nice hike out in the afternoon sunshine returned us to the highway. This is definitally a trip I will do again, and I had an awesome time with Pat & Susie who are always fun & enthusiastic to be with in the mountains!

J. Mills

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