Mount Robson 3954 m
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Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia
At 3954 metres (or 12,972 ft), Mount Robson is a coveted goal of climbers from around the globe. It is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies and dwarfs its neighbours completely. Accordingly, it creates its own weather ---bad weather, generally! This is a view of Robson's south side from Yellowhead Highway.
In 1998, Mount Robson came into the best condition of some 15 years or more. Although there are several routes on the peak, I was happy just to try the standard South face route: Less technical than Kain Face, but probably more objective danger. This route has a much shorter approach and my back dislikes long walks with heavy packs. Click here for what helped (helps) me with my lower back problem.
Barely bigger than an outhouse: Cozy Ralph Forster hut is 1700 vertical metres above the trailhead, a pretty fair days' effort to reach. After that, it's 1400 metres more to the Robson's top. This is more elevation gain than peaks like America's Grand Teton, Mounts Rainier or Hood, but is comparable to The Alp's Matterhorn, if you don't ride up on the chairlift to Hornli Hut. Yep, this approach is a grunt.
Warning: Big file! Here's a foreshortened route photo of the Schwartz Ledges and the route up above, taken on descent. We drew the red line for everyone else on descent, one drop of blood at a time...
Here are the start of the Schwartz ledges with seracs above; they are perhaps 100 -150 ft high. You traverse to the left into the shadowy area right under them and back out left to safely outflank them.
Left: Crossing the dangerous Schwartz Ledges in early morning. Note person in lower right of picture. As you cross, you are briefly (for 10-15 minutes) under huge, towering seracs that periodically calve off and drop ice into a massive, deep chasm called the Great Coulouir. It will definitely ruin your day if a serac falls on you. Years ago, a member of the wealthy American Rockefeller family disappeared climbing this route, probably crossing on these ledges. His body was never found. In good conditions, this standard route cannot realistically be called difficult mountaineering but it is still a very serious undertaking. Furthermore, good conditions rarely occur: I waited 12 years.
Leaving the Danger zone: Below the seracs and just above Schwartz Ledges. The seracs randomly drop huge masses of ice onto the ledges, making them a risky place to linger. We can breathe easier now.
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© photos copyright by the author 1999/2000.