Crowsnest Mountain Attempt
Elevation: 2785 m
Elevation Gain: 1100 m
The origins of the name “Crowsnest” are the subject of some debate. While some believe that the name is a reference to a massacre of Crow Indians by Blackfoot Indians near the present site of Frank, the more common explanation holds that George Dawson named the peak (and various other features in the area) based upon a (mis)translation of the local Cree name (ravens nest). The steep cliffs which give Crowsnest Mountain its characteristic appearance are the result of a geological feature known as the Lewis thrust which forced the older rocks of the summit over the younger rocks that form the peak’s base. These steep cliffs lend a foreboding air to the peak and created the impression that its ascent would be “impossible”. Drawn by the challenge, illustrious mountaineer Edward Whymper (who was the first to reach the summit of the Matterhorn) sent a reconnaissance party to the area in 1904 to scout for a route to the summit. Lacking patience, this party failed to wait for Whymper and completed the first successful ascent of the peak in 1904. News that his men had successfully summited without him as alleged to have “greatly displeased” Whymper.
September 8 2011
After being turned back just short of the summit by ice last year, I planned to head back down Highway 3 to finish the job. Lise was eager to join me as she drives past Crowsnest Mountain on a regular basis for work and has had her eye on this gorgeous peak for some time. Unfortunately, after being turned back by ice on my last early season attempt at this peak, it appears that I may not have learned my lesson regarding early season attempts on Crowsnest (read: don’t try it until late July when the snow will *hopefully* have melted off the north face ascent route).
The day started by having to cross a small creek. Where are Lise's shoes you ask?
"FUCK!" In a flash of brilliance, Lise opted to toss her shoes across the 10 foot wide creek rather than to carry them. While doing so, she managed to throw one of her shoes directly into the only tree anywhere nearby, causing it to ricochet directly back down and into the stream.
Wringing water out of her shoe.
Just to make life more fun, we had to ford the creek again half an hour later. This time she kept her shoes on. Same result, however, soaked feet. I have real boots so my feet stayed dry...
Showing off how it's done.
Groveling up the steep scree cone just above the treeline. It's bad enough that I had to do this once without actually getting to the summit, but twice...*sigh*
And done. Despite the mountain being relatively dry, a patch of what appeared to be snow was lingering in the crux gully. When I went up to investigate, I found that repeated freeze-thaw cycles had turned this into sheer ice. You win again Crowsnest, you win again.
Icicles and verglas coating the walls of the crux gully.
Ice falling on Lise. Time to GTFD!
Heading back down. We didn't get as high as last year, but we were still only 300 vertical meters short of the summit.
The weather in the photos may look nice, but looks can be deceiving. In typical Crowsnest Pass fashion, the wind was 70 km/h, gusting at 90 km/h. What we have pictured here is a waterfall that was flowing upwards rather than down due to the high winds.
Graceful monkey descent technique.
Perched on the edge of the world about half way down.
Playing with my ice axe.
Glissade! The fastest hardest snow I've been on...ice axe definitely required!
Rock'em sock'em scramblers.
The photogenic Seven Sisters.
Distant Window Mountain.
Back down earlier than intended; we decided to nurse our wounds with a pint. This place MORE than lived up to its name…