Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mt. Victoria NE-Face

Almost exactly a year after my first attempt with Andrew we lucked out with yesterdays weather and conditions and skied of the main summit of Mt. Victoria. It had just stopped raining when we pulled into the parking lot in Lake Louise at 3.30 in the morning, and the spirits were not too high. The 3 tequila filled girls from the Chateau were still on the hunt for some boys and did not make our departure any easier. A non supportive, half inch crust and lots of avalanche debris from days prior brought us to the upper bench below Collier and the start of the glacier, where we experienced the delayed sunrise to the east.
Our objective, basically just left of the Summit in the center, sees the first light at 6.30.
The weather is slowly improving and warm, moist air gets replaced by cold and dry. The finally supporting crust was covered with 10cm of new snow from last nights storm.
Big crevasses on the upper glacier bench call for caution, I would not want to be there during bad visibility.
This time Ross Berg was joining us, freshly imported from the coast and still keen to ski.

After crossing the bergschrund it was time to boot pack. Definitely one of the more exciting places to start up a steep face like this. You either want to make sure that you are absolutely certain about your stability assessment, or have no clue at all and just go for it. I personally thought it should be o.k., since Andrew and Ross started to follow me.
The higher you climb the face, the more peaks are starting to show. Here is Mt. Collier and the rocky Mt. Hector in the back ground center.
Andrew takes the lead through the shallow 55 degree section. Here our crampons and axes were scraping on the rock for about 10m.
Higher up on the face with the frozen Lake Louise way down there. A very intimidating exposure for ski touring, feels more like alpine climbing indeed.
And finally at the summit by 9 o'clock sharp, other people have a hard time meeting for climbing in the Summit Cafe at that time.
The views were almost out of this world, the Goodsirs in the left foreground, and the Bugaboos with Howser tower and Mt. Conrad to the right on the horizon. Mt. Huber is the little guy in front below.
Hungabee on the right, then Neptuak and the beautifully shaped Deltaform. The NE face of the Sickle below and left in the sun.
After a cold half hour wait on the summit, Ross dives in first, with Lefroy in the background.

Andrew styling down the face, he finally got his equipment issues sorted out and ditched his telemark gear.

Some impressions on the face from the boys.
Ross lower down on the glacier ripping the dry powder from the previous night.
A look back at the face, it looks soo much better after you've skied it.
Something strange happened on the way down below the glacier. We got ready for some shitty skiing on breakable crust above an isothermal snowpack, but instead we enjoyed real good corn snow all the way to the Lake. Even the Lake was more frozen than when we crossed it in the morning. After our early start in the warmer, rain soaked snow, it must have cooled down just enough to freeze more solid again. Good and bad is a very fine line mid May.

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