Ascent of Mount Victoria on 2017-07-10

Climber: Jan Triska

Others in Party:Mike Caswell
registered mountain guide
Richard Jagodzinski
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, July 10, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Victoria
    Location:Canada-Alberta/British Columbia
    Elevation:3467 m / 11375 ft

Ascent Trip Report

My big mountaineering goal for 2017. It didn't disappoint.

At a glance, here is the sequence:

Day 1 - hike in from Lake O'Hara, via Lake Oesa, up the Abbot Pass. Steep snow, rolling scree and overall steep grade made this a bit of an adventure in itself. Amazing views down into the Yoho National park.
We stayed at the hut and did a bit of preparation for our climb the next morning.

Day 2 - summit day
Mike, Rich and I GOT UP AT 2 AM, were out of the door by 3 AM. Travelled as a rope team of three the entire way. First section was to climb and scramble up to the SE ridge itself; some technical rock sections and slightly awkward traverses were involved in this part. Probably Grade 3 to 4, but interspersed with easier, almost walking, sections. We used belays at a couple of instances.
Next - and most significant - part of the route was the long traverse across several high points, en route to the south summit. terrain was mixed: much travel across exposed snow ridges, up and down features along the ridge, and a few sections where we dropped down and traversed very steep snow slopes. There were also some instances of mixed climbing, naturally awkward with crampons on rock. I found the famous 'Sickle' to be not very challenging but there were two other sections where I experienced some fear and trepidation. The exposure is huge - some 800 m down a glacier into Alberta, while the BC flanks fall off sharply in a series of rocky couloirs. The crux of the climb was probably a short sideways traverse, followed by a steep mixed climb. Mike belayed us on this section.
Summit reached in 5.5 hrs time, at 8:35am! We were only the second party up the peak this season.

Need I say the views from the summit ridge are matchless?! It is truly one of the high points of the Canadian Rockies.

The traverse back and descent down to Abbot Pass hut proved to be as exciting and challenging as the ascent. Snow quality started to deteriorate around mid-day and I found myself falling through on some of the snowy traverses. The final descent to Abbot Pass featured a couple of belays (again, set up very professionally bu Mike)and a short rappel down a broken cliff band.

We staggered back to the hut at 2:20 pm, more than 11 hours into the day. That was some serious alpine terrain...likely my biggest and most involved day, yet.
much whiskey drinking and lounging around the Abbot Pass hut followed.

Day 3 - get up at 6am, leave the hut by 7 am. A steep but comfortable hike down, with heavy packs but light hearts. It was raining a bit, a strange change after an intensely sunny day on the ridge the previous day. We arrived back at Lake O'Hara in less than three hours of hiking.

A definite classic. I would recommend Mount Victoria for experienced people or for parties who want to push their personal boundaries bit. Doing it with a professional guide ensured that Rich and I not only summited but that it was a relatively safe expedition and some learning of rope techniques took place.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Final stretches of the SE Ridge of Mount VICTORIA. The mix of snow features and rocky ramparts is typical of summertime conditions on this classic alpine ridge (2017-07-10). Photo by Jan Triska.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1500 m / 4921 ft
    Grade/Class:Class 2 mountaineeri
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide, Hut Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1500 m / 4921 ft
    Route:SE Ridge
    Trailhead:lake O'Hara  1967 m / 6454 ft
    Time Up:1 Days 4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Days 3 Hours 

Other Photos

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The overall view of the start of the SE Ridge of Mt. Victoria. The ascent starts at the Abbot Pass hut, pictured. (2017-07-10). Photo by Jan Triska.
Click here for larger-size photo.

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