We have a habit of hitting the snooze button. This works great for Saturday mornings when all you really want to accomplish is making coffee, but it doesn’t work quite as well for alpine starts.
5:00am … after a few snooze delays, I finally rolled out of our incredibly warm double sleeping bag at the Hermit Meadows back-country campground and stumbled down to the bear lockers to grab the food bag that held our precious coffee… the only thing that had any chance of motivating us to put our shoes on and start moving. The climb from the highway to the campground the night before had proven to be significantly steeper than we anticipated, but was a mercifully short distance. For some reason I thought the campground was located right on the beginning of the West Ridge, but it turns out it’s actually another solid 300m of elevation gain from the campground to gain the ridge above the glacier to the East.
A coffee and some oatmeal downed, we donned our gear and started out. We had some beta from a couple who had “attempted” the route the day before, apparently they had taken a few hours to gain the ridge as the cairns were “difficult to follow” yixtxid. 1 hour later on the ridge, we were wondering how anyone could miss the towering piles of rock and heavily traveled boot-pack beside the waterfall, and we decided to disregard any further beta from them. So far, things were going even better than anticipated.
The ridge walk was absolutely stunning in the early morning light. After 2 weeks on the road, including a full 7 days in the Bugaboos, we had managed to nail yet another perfect weather day. As we crested the toe of the glacier and onto the ridge, we were greeted by the warm sun, and a view of our route to come.
“This is going to be a really fun day” was the thought we both had on our mind.
Following the ridge to the first few steps was spectacular. Massive drops on either side gave the route an incredibly exposed feeling, but the mellow nature of the terrain made it doable. It seemed at every turn things seemed difficult, but once we started moving the way became obvious and always a bit easier than expected.
“Do you want to take the lead?” I asked Jolene as we crested the first step of the route, and had our first real look at the complex ridge stretched out before us leading into the Gendarme traverse.
“Sure!” She responded, and promptly scampered off, picking her way through the fridge-sized boulders. It was amazing to see the change and progression that Jolene has made since our first multi-pitch together over a year previous. A fun 2 pitch 5.6/5.4 route at Lake Louise was our first kick at the can, and it was clear immediately that we would be doing a lot more big adventures together.