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Tusk Peak - Overland from Athabasca River
Timestamp Free: 2019.09.20 - 11:46:20
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Park Ranges
Participants: Bob Saunders; J.A. Owen; Rick Collier
Difficulty: 4: This is a very demanding ski tour -- long and difficult, with considerable bushwhacking; the climb itself poses the risk of avalanche, and there are occasional steep snow/ice sections
An ascent of Mount Tusk by skiing up the Athabasca River, west on Fortress Lake, then following the Wood River to Clemenceau Creek and so on up to the Glacier.
I had been tweaked by several mountaineering associates for claiming a few years ago to have climbed all the 11,000'+ peaks in the Rockies; the primary horn of contention was Tusk Peak, which in the Climber's Guide (North) is listed as 10,960' (an elevation that often indicates a less than reliable guesstimate), but which on the topo map possesses an 11,000' contour. As well, at least one recent guidebook unequivocally asserts an 11,000'+ elevation. Naturally, we had to make sure. And the easy way to do this would be to fly in and wander up the peak; however, most of our group is morbidly frightened of helicopters -- which is a bit of a bummer since Tusk is in the middle of the very remote Clemenceau Icefield. Thus it was that we wound up engaged in a 10-day ski mountaineering trip in early May to bag but one peak (to be truthful, we would have accomplished more but seven of our ten days afflicted us with either heavy rain or driving snow).
We skied up the Athabasca River, turned W across Fortress Lake, and followed the Wood River ("a nasty side-hill tree bash, punctuated by avalanche slopes hanging above the river's torrent") to Clemenceau Creek, and so on up to the glacier. On the most promising day, we ascended Tusk, the only problems being the couloir leading to the Tusk/Irvine col and the usual blizzard conditions. Have we solved the great mystery of Tusk's elevation? Well, maybe, maybe not: our altimeter -- accurate to within 25' -- pronounced the summit of Tusk to be...
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