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The Death Bivouac - Mount Biddle from Lake O'Hara
Timestamp Free: 2019.09.19 - 00:38:29
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Park Ranges
  (3 days)
Participants: Harry Spier, John Northwood, Rick Collier
Difficulty: 5: Technical climbing from 5.3-5.4
This article recounts an ascent of Park Mountain and Mount Biddle in 1987, during which the bivy the previous evening was more spectacular than the actual climb
It was a considerably long time ago that I ascended Mt. Biddle (10,888') -- August 8, 1987 (whew! almost 19 years as of this writing), and that was back in the dark ages when I kept only a bare minimum of notes on my climbs. As a result, I am trying to assemble some valid details from the nearly inaccessible reaches of my memory about this peak that might help 21st century alpinists.

I do recall having a great time on this ascent, partly because of the people I was with, partly because we took two days to climb this major summit, and partly because the climbing and route-finding was quite exhilarating.

John Northwood, Harry Spier, and I took the bus up to Lake O'Hara in the late morning of August 7 and then humped our loads (which included bivy gear and an array of ropes and pro) up to McArthur Pass and then through the boulders to Lake McArthur. A lengthy rubble traverse leads around the SW shore of the lake - much of this 1.5 km hike is on a marginal trail. And, of course, the surroundings are spectacular, with ridges and massifs rising above on three sides to form an amazing amphitheatre.

At the far SE end of the lake, the cliffs, which have been rising off to one's right and up to the Biddle/Park ridge, ease off; following a scree cone upwards, one eventually finds evidence of human traffic in an on-again/off-again zigzag path up the left side of a steep couloir. Nasty in early season, with icy sections and rockfall, in August this ascent is a straightforward scramble leading up 1200' to what the topo calls Biddle Pass (8500') at GR 465/859 on 82 N/8 (Lake Louise); this col is more of a pass on the S side down into upper Misko Creek than it is on the N.

We arrived at this point about 4:00pm, backtracked W from the pass over a wide rubbly ridge, and found...

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