Mount Whyte lies just to the south of Mount Niblock and is a more demanding scramble.
I set off for Mount Whyte after scrambling up Mount Niblock and was greeted by some of the best scrambling I’ve ever encountered.
Although the route is rated as difficult in Alan Kane’s book “Scrambling in the Canadian Rockies” this is so only if you end up off route. The route finding is fun but route finding is not everyone’s bag. Personally I find it rewarding to find the weakness. One of my sayings is “Find the weakness in the mountain or the mountain will find the weakness in you.”. How true! This proverb could be used in other situations in life too, but should only be applied to objects.
The last few meters to the summit are sharply crested, but by that time you’ve had a good warm-up for such terrain. If you like mountain photography, don’t miss the opportunity to snap a few shots that illustrate the way people and the mountain interact. I like to show someone climbing a difficult section if I can.
Kane’s explanation of how to descend the alternate route to the south has changed in his new book, so if you have the old one beware. I ended up with more that I bargained for, especially near the bottom where difficult and dangerously steep and slippery, grassy ledges had to be dealt with. I circumvented them by detouring constantly left, but I still found myself clinging to narrow down sloping vegetated ledges by just a twig at times. Not optimal conditions. Kane now emphasizes going to the west further, before descending.
Dangers bring fears, and fears more dangers bring.
1615-1691, British Nonconformist Theologian
As soon as there is life there is danger.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803-1882, American Poet, Essayist
A few years have passed since this outing, but the events of the day, like all great days, are still with me, despite time. Bagged two peaks on this particular outing and I was a little bagged too, but not like you might think.
The day started at the Lake Louise parking lot, and before I got under way I took a photo of the pair of peaks together.
First I hiked along with vast hordes to the Lake Agnes tea house. There, we observed the usual feeding of engorged and obese members of order Rodentia. Then we marched away from the crowds along the north shore of the lake to the far end where last water was had.
Then the scrambling started. No snow remained on the talus below the first rock band so it was easy to reach it. We climbed up through the band, and I scrambled a different way than my partner for the day, and in my scramble lust didn’t look where I was going. Before I new it, I was out on a steep cement like agglomeration of glacial debris that had
rounded boulders embedded loosely on the surface.
Stubbornly I continued to grovel up the slope till it happened; several large rocks, some perhaps as big as a head, rolled down and bounced violently trough the narrow gap I had just penetrated.
I freaked out!….
ROCK! ROCK! ROCK! ROCK! …. I bellowed at the top of my lungs, almost coughing up one in the process.
I was really worried about the nice folks that we had just been talking to. No response came back.
I finished off my gravel grovel and topped out to the comment; That was a pleasant scramble.
Uh huh !
After all that, we traipsed across flats to the next part of the process, a long gully. Kane’s usual thin line in his book suggest that the proper way is straight up a prominent gully, or to the side of it. Our route was further to the right.
Once on the ridge below the summit block I stopped for lunch and joined a Catalonian couple on vacation from Europe. They were older than me, but I took from Lake Agnes to “reel them in”. These people are of the type that I want to become, old and fit.
I refused an offer of nuts, content to talk, with a disgustingly thick peanut butter and honey on brown bread sandwich glued to my tongue.
After that, I continued to the summit. The Catalonian woman passed on an offer from me to join us over the last bit to the summit. Her husband had just took off; somehow I guess he just knew she wasn’t into it. She was however very impressed with Canada’s Mountains. “The Alps are taller, but these mountains are so BIG” she said.
Next I traversed over to Mount Whyte
I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
1644-1718, British Religious Leader, Founder of Pennsylvania