Ascent of Mount Assiniboine on 2017-08-29

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Assiniboine
    Location:Canada-Alberta/British Columbia
    Elevation:11864 ft / 3616 m

Ascent Trip Report

7h20 round trip from Hind hut by NW ridge, fun scrambling on mostly good rock to YDS4 (guide book says YDS5.5), unroped on ascent, 4 rappells on descent, significant loose rock but no real problems if due care taken. Hut has to be booked by phone (see summitpost; phone is manned weekday mornings only; there are camping /bivvy platforms outside - worth asking about these when phoning as we read somewhere that camping isn't allowed).

6h30 approach from BC side, road mostly excellent, last few miles rougher, maybe OK in 2WD, bridge just before trailhead is damaged, our RAV4 crossed OK with care. NB there is chicken wire at trailhead for defending vehicle against ?porcupines; if unable to cross bridge, would need supply of chicken wire or to risk it. 4h30 walk out. Involves loose scree and awkward hard pan making ascent and descent immediately above Lake Assiniboine difficult and unpleasant. Glacier had some small crevasses easily crossed or avoided, no snow cover, we didn't rope up.

After our Farnham attempt, we returned to the Invermere hostel and in the morning Greg managed after a few attempts, to telephone the Assiniboine office and book the hut for tonight. We then made the two hour drive to the southern (BC) trailhead. Majority of gravel road is excellent surface, but constant quarry traffic make it a slightly unpleasant, very dusty drive.

Early pm we reach the trailhead, use the chicken wire provided to protect the car, and head off up the trail, which is signposted and has a trail register a few metres along. Two major creeks soon crossed, the first by stepping stones, easy (after a drought), the second bridged. Pass Lunette Lake, short sharp descent, a few fallen tree obstacles but nothing major. Trail follows R (E) shore of Lake Assiniboine, skirts foot of talus field then climbs moraine, heading up R thru a rocky defile, becoming awkward steep scree, with a short section of nasty hardpan at top, then gentle talus ascent beside creek to reach glacier. Meltwater has made last few metres into muddy quagmire.

We crampon up the glacier, no rope needed as no lying snow, but a few small crevasses to avoid or cross. Col is obvious to L but route takes a shorter line above glacier, initially heading straight up stable boulders, then trail at foot of crag, then up awkward scree / hardpan gully to cross the Mt Strom ridge. Here is a cairn, and a tent, whose owner plans to climb Assiniboine tomorrow. Easy scree/talus descent then a couple of snowfields (crampons not needed in soft pm snow) lead to hut, with superb evening views of our peak, showing off its Matterhorn profile. Two girls and two men (a guide client pair) are watching a party of two finish their descent, which they just do before dark, after a 15 hour day. This isn't encouraging, but we'll have a guide on the route plus a GPS track, which should simplify route finding.

Hut has stove, utensils and sleeping platforms, water has to be collected from nearby stream (glacier outflow); we bring sleeping bags.

Next morning we leave just before light, descending rough mostly stable talus to a small snowfield/creek, ascending then descending to another creek before ascending L up loose scree to a moraine ridge which we follow to foot of climb. This starts with an easy scrambly gully, route then generally keeps across to L on scrappy ridge above glacier, alternating easy scrambling and steep stony trail.

The Red Band is a short steep scramble YDS4 then we cross L to gain the NW ridge, rocky and well defined with an impressive drop L to the glacier. A few steep scrambles, YDS3 or 4, the false summit then fairly level narrow arete to summit. We gradually gained on the guide and client, and summit just after them, in 3hrs.

Cold wind so we drop back down to start of NW ridge, have food then make our first rappel, from an unofficial anchor, down a snow gully. Traversing back to ridge we follow it, making a longish steep rappel, a short one then a full 25m; these last three being bolted anchors. Red Band also has an anchor just L of ridge (large cairn) but we cross further L and descend our ascent gully (cairn at top and bottom). Remainder of descent is mostly zigzag scree paths, with a little down climbing; we miss the path a few times. Guide is a little faster than us in descent; we are a little quicker on the scree and talus below and arrive back at hut just after them, 7h20 round trip. Quite smoky today: sun is red with little power until late pm; views quite limited.

Guide is Paul, from England but now based in Canada and working for a Canmore company. We compare notes; he's quite intrigued by Mt Farnham which we can confirm is far harder (looser) than this peak. After an hour at hut we head down. Ascent to Strom ridge is easy, on stable talus. Descent to glacier not too bad, initially on bad hardpan but then rough slow scree which it's possible to ride, slowly and carefully. Descent to Lake Assiniboine is initially on nasty hardpan but soon becomes talus then reasonable scree.

We're down about 7pm and drive back to Invermere hostel. Only available food is a fast food burger but we celebrate in better style next morning with a big breakfast. Greg heads home after a very productive 10 day partnership; I head for Dunn Peak which is the easiest remaining ultra (Edith Cavell was tempting but has access complications due to roadworks, and I've had enough of Rockies scree for the time being.

Assiniboine photo album
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8615 ft / 2625 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Hut Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:8615 ft / 2625 m
    Distance:19.3 mi / 31 km
    Start Trailhead:3249 ft / 990 m
Descent Statistics

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