After successfully scrambling up Lake Louise giant Mount Aberdeen by completely non-technical means, our ragtag group of enthusiastic scree sloggers set our sights towards nearby Haddo Peak. From Vern, Steven and Ben’s accounts of their 2015 winter ascent, we knew that the traverse to Haddo might involve an exposed ridge, a difficult down climb and a steep glacial slope; none of their winter photos made me want to attempt this, however, we thought that we might as well see what things looked like during the summer…
Looking towards nearby Haddo Peak from the summit of Mount Aberdeen. It looks close; there's just the small matter of the glacier between us and it.
Mike was good enough to make his way out along the exposed connecting ridge to check out the down climb while Matt C. and I enjoyed Aberdeen’s comfortably broad summit. His assessment: the exposure wasn’t “too bad” and the down climb looked manageable. *Sigh* Guess we’ve got to give it a go…
Mike and I make our way carefully along the short but unnervingly exposed ridge towards the down climb (photo courtesy Matt Clay).
Mike was definitely more excited to tackle this down climb than either Matt C. or I were (look at that grin)! Fortunately, the down climb involved only moderate moves with good solid holds as you worked back and forth on ledges. Nevertheless, the run out below the down climb was onto steep glacier making it a “no-slip” zone. I would, therefore, categorize this section as difficult scrambling. While Mike and I made our way towards Haddo, Matt C. decided that the difficult terrain was beyond his comfort range and opted to wait for us on Aberdeen’s spacious summit.
A small rock bench below the down climb provided a convenient place to crampon-up for the forthcoming glacier crossing.
Although the snow slope here wasn’t ridiculously steep, Mike and I opted to down climb facing inwards out of an abundance of caution. By this time, the snow had softened considerably and we weren’t about to chance a slip 1400 vertical meters above Lake Louise!
Pinnacles provide pretty frames for the view of Mount Temple’s north face as we traverse towards Haddo. After the initial down climb, we stayed close to the glacier’s edge (above the bergshrund) in the hopes of avoiding any unseen openings.
Mount Temple, Sentinel Pass, Pinnacle Mountain and Eiffel Peak across Paradise Valley.
Mount Hungabee and the Horseshoe Glacier/Lakes make for a scenic backdrop beyond rocky outcrops.
Mike breaks trail/sweeps for crevasses (thanks!) as we near the Haddo – Aberdeen col.
Descending a final steep roll before the col. While the run-out below this roll was onto a fairly level bench, the snow pack here was almost completely gone. Crampons were necessary to safely descend the bare glacial ice.
Looking back towards Mount Aberdeen (and the tracks marking our glacial traverse) from terra firma at the col. Click to see larger.
A cornice guards the south side of the Haddo – Aberdeen col with the always lovely Mount Temple beyond. Wanting to avoid avalanche terrain traps, this is where Vern, Steven and Ben gained the upper ridge of the Aberdeen massif during their winter ascent. Fortunately, the summer ascent of Aberdeen presents no such avalanche concerns allowing scramblers to avoid the steep terrain that Vern etal. encountered on this route!
Mike “enjoys” the gentle 80 vertical meter slog to the summit of Haddo Peak from the col.
Haddo Peak may be an outlier on the Aberdeen massif but its summit panorama offers something that Aberdeen’s does not – an outstanding view of Mount Aberdeen itself! From left to right: Mount Hungabee, Ringrose Peak, Glacier Peak, Mount Lefroy, Mount Aberdeen, Mount Victoria, Collier Peak, unnamed, Pope’s Peak, Vatican Peak, Mount Niles (distant), Mount Whyte, Mount Daly (distant), Mount Niblock, Mount St. Piran, Mount Hector (distant), Lake Louise, Fairview Mountain, Whitehorn Mountain (and more distant Skoki peaks beyond), Lipalian Mountain, Saddle Pass and Saddle Mountain. Click to see larger.
Looking back towards Mount Aberdeen’s steep north face, replete with impressive icefalls. If you look closely, you can see our tracks along the glacier’s upper reaches. Look closer still and you can see a tiny stick figure (Matt Clay) monitoring our progress from the summit!
Looking back towards Matt Clay, Mounts Lefroy, Aberdeen and Victoria from the summit of Haddo Peak. Mouse over to see Matt Clay’s view of us (tiny colored pixels on the summit) from Aberdeen – looks like Haddo was further away than we thought!
Looking down to the Aberdeen Glacier’s blue tongue as it laps over the lower headwall. Glacial ice becomes blue when it has been sufficiently compressed over time to force out trapped air bubbles. Ice containing air bubbles scatters light and, so, appears white. Without air bubbles, however, the ice (like water) absorbs red-orange wavelengths and, therefore, appears blue. Science and mountaineering – awesome!!!
Lake Louise also appears to be absorbing red-orange wavelengths of light. Mouse over for a closer view!
Looking over Saddle Pass towards the Lake Louise ski area and a plethora of Skoki summits. Fairview Mountain and Saddle Mountain bracket the pass to the left and right, respectively.
The “Haddo Snow Spot” offers up an intense contrast to the greens of Saddle Pass and Paradise Valley, the red rock of Sheol Mountain (center) and the beautiful blue water of Lake Annette at the foot of mighty Mount Temple. Click to see larger.
Sheol Mountain, Little Temple and Lake Annette. This little gem of a lake is actually hidden from the summit of Aberdeen and the view of it from here makes the side trip up Haddo more than worthwhile in my opinion!
Haddo Peak offers an absolutely outstanding vantage from which to examine the north face of Mount Temple. Mouse over for a closer look at colorful Lake Annette.
Summit selfie with the always photogenic 11,626 foot-tall Mount Temple.
Paradise Creek winds its way down Paradise Valley from the Horseshoe Glacier at the foot of Mount Hungabee with the Valley of the Ten Peaks rising up beyond.
Taking in the views before heading back towards the glacier and poor Matt C. (waiting patiently atop Aberdeen). You can clearly see why the down climb above the glacier is a “no slip” zone!
The continental divide makes for a scenic background as we work our way back towards the panorama of the Aberdeen Glacier and Mount Aberdeen. Click to see larger.
Mike and I retrace our steps back onto the glacier.
Steep going under the hot July sun. The bushwhacking and scree slogging below weren’t enough fun on their own so we decided to add some post-holing for good measure!
Mike tackles the last steep bit of glacier below the down climb (except that it’s an up climb from this side)!
Employing good holds to climb back up the crux rock step. Definitely easier to climb up than down!
Mike and I pause to catch our breath on the airy ridge before re-joining Matt C. on the summit of Aberdeen.
Soaking in the Aberdeen summit views for the second time today! Aberdeen – Haddo – Aberdeen…does this count as 3 summits? Of course by the time that we returned, Matt C. had grown somewhat restless (were we really gone 2.5 hours?). Nevertheless, Mike and I had to rest and refuel on Aberdeen for a couple more minutes before we could all start our long descent back towards Paradise Valley. Click to see a larger version of the panorama that kept Matt Clay amused for over 2.5 hours (thanks for waiting)!
After stumbling down the 120 vertical meters of knee-jarring gray boulders, we soon found ourselves back at the col. From here, a loose scree slope allowed us to quickly descend towards the snow, rubble and brush below.
Shadows begin to creep across the valley as the afternoon turns to evening and our day begins to look like it’s going to be a LONG ONE!
Easily plunge stepping down the snow. This slope is a perfect steepness to allow easy travel on summer snow; as a result, I would recommend ascending Aberdeen earlier in the season before it melts away!
Evening light across the valley on Sentinel Pass, Pinnacle Mountain and Eiffel Peak. As we continued downwards, we eventually found the rushing mountain stream which we’d lost earlier in the day. Here, we happily rested and quenched our thirst. The 5 liters of water that I consumed on this trip are a testament to just how hot a day it was!
Deliverance from the scree! A wonderfully soft carpet of wildflowers greets us as we return to the valley bottom.
Looking back towards the veritable rubble highway leading up Mount Aberdeen’s south slopes.
Thrashing our way back alongside Paradise Creek. As you can see, the flow was much too vigorous to consider fording so we opted to bushwhack back alongside its north bank towards the decommissioned trail. We found a faint trail in places but it was quickly lost in numerous thickets. As the evening shadows grew longer, my GAF level tumbled and I soon found myself crashing through stabby forest as fast as I could with little regard for the skin on my legs, arms and face. By now, I just wanted this day to be over!
Gorgeous views of Mount Temple anaesthetize the pain (somewhat).
Hallelujah? After uttering many curses at the scrubby wilderness, we finally found our way back to the dull Paradise Valley approach trail. From here, a mindless, foot-numbing 5 km plod was all that separated us from the sweet reprieve of air conditioning, beer and burgers!
Ending a gorgeous day with a gorgeous Paradise Valley view! The day was long and tiring (13 hours round trip) but SO UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY WORTH IT. The summit of Mount Aberdeen is surrounded by spectacularly steep cliffs and gravity-defying glaciers. This is truly the realm of mountaineers – but, thanks to an easy scramble route to the top, you don’t have to be a mountaineer to enjoy it!