Monday, September 6, 2010

Ramblings with Eamonn

Took some time off from guiding the last while to do some climbing with my good friend Eammon. Our original plan was to try the North Face of Mt. Gekie in the Tonquin Valley near Jasper. The weather however had other plans and it rained or snowed most days so we stuck a little closer to home.
After a couple days cragging at Back of the Lake & Grassi Lakes we had a fun day on Yamnuska climbing Unforgiven, a mostly bolted 5.11c route to the left of Grillmairs Chimneys. Although rock climbing is super fun, we were both keen to get up into the alpine despite the snowy conditions.
We settled on trying to traverse as many peaks as we could in 3 days, starting with Mt. Sarbach by the Saskatchewan River Crossing on the Icefields Parkway. We had a very civilized 1:00pm start, but managed to make it up and over Sarbach to a high bivi below the Kauffman Peaks well before dark. The views of Forbes, the Lyells, and the Freshfield peaks were jaw dropping!
Eamonn near the top of Sarbach looking over the peaks we would traverse the next day.

Our rad bivi site between Sarbach and North Kauffman. Mt. Forbes is the biggest peak behind.
In the morning we started up the steep North face of the North Kauffman and were pleased to find solid (although snowy!) rock and not too much difficulty. It took less than an hour to reach the top, but getting down the other side was much trickier! This turned out to be the trend for the trip, and in every case it took longer to get down the south sides than it did to get up the North.
Eamonn on top of North Kauffman looking at the N. Face of South Kauffman, which we climbed next.

Eamonn climbing snowy rock somewhere along the way.

We ended up climbing North Kauffman (10200ft), South Kauffman (10200ft), and Eppaullette (10300ft) that day before descending into the Howse valley and camping at the river. All in all, we scrambled up and down tons of snowy rock, up to about 5.4, and did a few rappels. The only climbing section we belayed was one short bit between the two Kauffmans. I would highly recommend this trip, but you need to be very solid with your downclimbing & rappelling skills.
Eamonn on another snowy rock band.

The peaks we traversed, we stayed on or near the ridgeline the entire way.
In the morning we hiked out the Howse river to the car on a trail that was hard to follow since it was mostly buried under fresh bear crap.
J. Mills


  1. Looks great Jay, I have wanted to try the Kauffmann's for a while. Thanks for the pics and story.

  2. Nice going you've wanted to get that traverse done for ages?