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A Spring Ascent of South Twin Peak
Timestamp Free: 2018.01.22 - 22:57:04
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Park Ranges / Winston Churchill Range
(3 days) Elevation Gain: 1800m
Participants: Ben N, Steven S, Kevin B, Vern D
Difficulty: 4: Glacier travel with crevasse, serac and avalanche hazards. Remote winter climbing and camping skills necessary.
A 3 day ski mountaineering trip to the remote northern end of the Columbia Icefield and an ascent of South Twin Peak.
2015 was an interesting winter in the Rockies. Many ski resorts had to close early, thanks to low snow and temperatures that soared above normal. Calgary didn't even seem to get winter at all. In a strange twist, however, we started to notice that the glaciers and mountains along the Divide had plenty of snow coverage - even though valley bottoms were completely melting out. I'm still not sure what caused this, but one theory is that the snow that fell, stuck - more like a coastal snow pack than a regular Rockies one. Whatever the case, when Ben, Steven and I traveled up the Athabasca Glacier to the summit of Mount Columbia in late April we were delighted to discover great coverage and a fully formed ramp up to the main glacier. When our schedules lined up and the weather started to look good for the second weekend in May, we made plans for another trip to the northern peaks of the Columbia Icefield. I still had to climb two peaks there - Mount Cromwell and South Twin Peak.
After a long approach to a winter camp on May 7th, followed by an ascent of Stutfield Peak and Mount Cromwell on May 8th, we awoke to a clear, cold morning on Saturday, May 9th to give the Twins a shot. We were starting with South because that was the only peak I'd be joining the team on since that was the only peak remaining for me in the area.
I strongly dislike trying to stuff down breakfast in -15 degree weather while my feet are crammed into my still-frozen ski boots, but instant Starbucks coffee helped with the task immensely. Before long we were skiing the humps between our winter camp and North Twin. Instead of climbing most of the way up North Twin before descending to the col with South Twin, we followed an obvious bench traversing North Twin's south flank and leading eventually to...
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