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One More Time - Mount Athabasca Attempt
Timestamp Free: 2020.03.31 - 07:23:21
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Park Ranges / Columbia Icefield
  (1 days)     Elevation Gain: 1150m
Participants: John Shellenberg (leader), Eric Coulthard, Bob Depradines, Tomoko Hagio, Jessica Smith, David Wasserman
Difficulty: 4: Roped glacier travel; some routefinding
A GMMC group of six attempts the normal route on Mount Athabasca, turning around when snow conditions high on the mountain are bad.
People to whom it would never occur to climb a steep, icy mountain peak often ask why anyone would want to do such a thing. Hanging out with climbers has taught me that climbers often ask themselves the same question, especially when getting up at 1 or 2 a.m. for an alpine start.

I'm not sure why I have tried several times to climb Mount Athabasca. I don't consider myself a climber. I'm just starting to overcome the feeling that I'm putting on a costume when I strap on my helmet and harness and grab my ice ax and crampons. I don't suffer from summit fever; my goal is not to "summit or plummet" as John Shellenberg likes to say, but more to see what I can see, and if possible capture it in a photograph.

Despite all this, I found myself joining yet another Grant MacEwan Mountain Club trip with the goal of ascending Mount Athabasca by the "normal" route. (Surely climbing isn't a normal behaviour?) My first abortive effort to climb Atha-B (I'm on first-name terms with the peak now) was on my Yamnuska Mountain Adventures "Snow and Ice Long Weekend" introductory climbing course in 2002. Students usually attempt Athabasca on the third day of the three-day course, under the careful supervision of highly qualified mountain guides. When it rained all night before the third day, their expert opinion was that we should climb Wilcox Peak instead.

My second shot at it was dead before it left the gate. A planned GMMC trip was redirected when an unusual mid-summer avalanche swept two people off the normal route in July of 2005; we decided to scramble up Cinquefoil instead. See Cinquefoil Mountain.

Weather was the culprit again for another GMMC trip in June of 2006; first we postponed the attempt from Saturday to Sunday, climbing Boundary Peak instead and hoping...

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