Mount Robson

July 17-19, 2017

3959m

Mt. Robson Provincial Park, BC

At elevation of just under 13,000 feet the tallest peak in Canadian Rockies – Mt. Robson does not need much introduction. Rising a shear 3000 vertical meters above the Yellowhead Highway this peak does not seem to fit in this mountain range regardless how you look at it. Instead the majesty of Mt. Robson is a good match so some worldwide famed giants in Patagonia or even the Himalayas. This is one peak that attracts everybody from everywhere regardless who you are – the tourists, day-trip hikers, backpackers to weekend-warrior mountaineers or even the world class alpinists, and regardless where you come from – the local areas, Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle or anywhere in North America. If you are a climber you know the existence of such a peak called Mt. Robson and that sums it up..

There is no easy way to reach the summit of Mt. Robson and every route goes at at least a level of “Alpine IV” making the summit bid a huge undertaking, but at the same time that makes a successful ascent of Mt. Robson one of the grandest prizes of mountaineering on this continent and for many, including myself this is a lifetime dream. I never expected this dream to come down at an age of 24 but I knew once the stars align I would go for it. Mt. Robson offers about a dozen routes along with various approach options. Only two are within my reach – the South Face (Schwartz Ledge) and the Kain Face to SE Ridge (standard route). While the latter is a longer route with more technical challenges the former is ugly, less aesthetic and notorious for objective hazards in particular, the serac falls.

The plan of making a 3-day ascent of the Kain Face via the “newly published” Patterson’s Spur approach among Ferenc, Ben and myself had been tossed around dating back to as early as the July of 2015 but after some detailed research we came to a conclusion that none of us had the “stones” to put it down. Our trip changed to Victoria/Huber in a single 19-hour car-to-car push which was pretty awesome nonetheless. Fast forward, now almost exactly two years later we all progressed to a higher level although I myself still never touched waterfall ice yet. Our original plan was Lyell IV but got switched to Mt. Robson at a mere single day before the trip date. Thankfully we had most gears ready but I still needed to pay a visit to Vancouver MEC for two last minute things – a brand new pair of Nepal Evo mountaineering boots and a Petzl Quark Adze ice tool. The rest of that day was spent packing and calculating the weight. It’s hard to go too light on this one and in the end my pack weight was under 18 kg not counting the 4-kg rope nor water. The whole day of Sunday was the drive – dense smoke after Kamloops and pouring rain near Blue River and Valemount. The weather was apparently better further north so that Ferenc had already done a head-start to the hanging valley while Ben and I would simply car-camp at the trail-head. The plan was to meet at the 2100 m bench halfway up the approach.

Mt. Robson via Patterson’s Spur, Kain Face and SE Ridge

Our alarm went off at 2:30 am on Monday morning and after about half an hour’s morning routine we managed to get going at a reasonable time. The initial 4 km or so down Kinney Lake trail was done using head-lamp and turned out to be the only “moving section” that we needed a head-lamp for the whole trip. The bridge crossing Robson River came sooner than anticipated and another 15 minutes or so later we arrived at the top of the switchback. A mandatory break was taken and then we correctly picked up the “Thoni Trail” heading into the hanging valley south of Robson/Resplendent but north of Campion Mountain. The trail was more well-marked but had more dead-falls comparing to my last visit (Resplendent Mtn. two years ago) but nonetheless our pace was good. In no time we crossed two dry mud creeks and then the trail turns into a eastwards direction. A huge mud creek was crossed with the assistance of a batman rope, and then we descended at least 50 vertical meters down into the valley floor out of the trees. A long section of rubble hopping was soon followed and then we got to cross at least 4 different creeks of which at least 2 required some degree of creativity but we both managed to cross by just rock-hopping.

Descending the batman rope on the forested approach

Ben hoping over one of the creeks

After the creeks for some reasons we didn’t find cairns or any form of a path until the grade steepened up. It was here that I finally picked up my fainted memories. The route goes up the first obvious break back up towards climber’s left and after getting into it we found plenty of cairns and paths again. The trail through the lower krummoltz field was more defined now although we still had to push through the bush at places. And then a key ledge traverse over to the climber’s right side, some “class 2” scrambling and then a long traverse back to the left (following GPS track and flags as it wasn’t obvious), up through the upper krummoltz field and then a tedious slog up scree and dirt later we arrived at a set of waterfalls. Not doing much of lingering we continued up, through a gully feature and onto a watercourse bench which we’d follow a long ways due climber’s right to access the “2100 m bench”. Looping back on the “2100 m bench” was long with numerous up-and-downs and then we met up with Ferenc who’s patiently waiting.

Ascending through the lower bushy stretch. Very steep but has a path

Waterfalls and the misty feel

Arriving at the 2100-m bench now. It was white-out for a long while

The low clouds finally lifted by now. A cool stream in the foreground

Up we went again. On my previous visit I unintentionally ascended the crest of an obvious moraine which was sketchy as hell so this time we descended and looped around. The terrain became shitty in no time but slogging up loose scree and scree-covered-ledges still beat concrete-hard moraine. The following 200 vertical meters seemed to drag on forever and eventually we opted to scramble up some 3rd class rocks which worked better. The next stop would be a flat shoulder just below the official Patterson’s Spur. This spur started off easily but soon became steep. Lots of 3rd class on loose ledges covered by pebbles was required and about halfway up we started encountering fresh snow and rime ice. The terrain became down-sloping and scrambling up the occasional 4th class steps with snow/ice and a huge backpack was quite a committing game, but we made to R/R col nonetheless, and in good time.

The ol’ Rockies scree slog. Not fun at all…

Instead of continuing up scree we veered right a bit and scrambled ledges

Partway up, looking down into the valley we came up from.

Ferenc bashing up more scree

Higher up on Patterson’s Spur now we started encountering fresh snow

Looking sideways across Resplendent Mountain

Ferenc leading the way up the last 200 meters

Arriving at R/R Col looking into Robson Cirque and the “Mouse Trap”

From here onwards the terrain soon transitions from scrambling to mountaineering. The weather was still cloudy and the route ahead was obscured in a white-out. Camping at the col instead? With our limited ice climbing experience and the fact this was all three of us’ first try on Mt. Robson there’s no chance we could have made it, so the decision was to push on regardless the weather. As long as there’s no rain we’d be fine although I did wish the clouds would clear up for at least the glacier travel part. Ascending the first tower along the Robson/Resplendent ridge was “moderate scrambling” at most but the alpine feel increased dramatically once we started to down-climb into the col between 1st and 2nd towers. Climbing up the 2nd tower was the technical crux of this ridge traverse which goes at “4th class” when dry. We had a shit ton load of snow/ice on route plus the fact we all carried a “Mt. Robson backpack” which made soloing this part a difficult task. Nonetheless we all made it. There’s a piton just below the crux move which I aided using an ice tool.

Ferenc ascending the first tower and sets up the tone

Traversing towards the second tower

Me picking my way up. Photo by Ferenc

Ben and Ferenc starting their climb up 2nd tower

Ben negotiating a tricky move

I waited to let Ferenc lead. He mastered the crux move like it’s easy

I found a piton and aimed by an ice tool hook.

Very airy at places. Photo by Ferenc

Ben climbing up the 4th class crux.

After this bit of excitement there were a couple more exposed ridges and towers to overcome and then we transitioned onto a snow arete descending into a “sickle” feature. There appeared to have another tower ahead and following the faint tracks by previous parties it seemed like we had to ascent over this tower too. Ferenc climbed up and he made it easy. I tried next but the ice slab just below the rock transition collapsed on me making a harder move plus I’m not a fan of crampons-on-rocks. After hesitating for a while I backtracked and went to check out the climber’s right side hoping to have a continuous snow line. It indeed did not disappoint me although this stretch of snow bypass was 45 degrees and exposed to the whole drop-off into some ugly icefalls by the “mouse trap”. Climbing it with one axe (too lazy to take the other tool out) and the ultra-heavy pack was quite interesting.

The typical terrain after the 2nd tower

If you don’t like height then don’t go here…

Ferenc charging up a snow arete towards another tower

A closer look at Ferenc

Ben balancing an airy section of the snow sickle

Me climbing up exposed snow to bypass the tricky rocky tower ahead.

Following the previous party’s tracks onwards we descended into another “sickle” feature and it was here that we were supposed to drop onto the glacial flats heading for The Dome. We made a bad decision to continuously follow the tracks up a steep and long snow arete to the next tower. There’s a lot of extra energy wasted here as the track simply led to a dead-end and it’s clear that the other party had turned around. This turned out to be a guided party which we found out later on a MCR Report. Backtracking is a very frustrating process but at this point we had no other choice. Down from the sickle I went to check out the bergschrund crossing and upon close examination (almost descended to the lip) it actually wasn’t that bad. A faint set of tracks (possibly by a different group) appeared on the lower side of the ‘schrund so I knew it’s a “go”. Without much of hesitation I went for it which required a couple dedicated down-climbing moves. Ben and Ferenc decided to take the rope out but now with me belaying from below the work was a lot simpler and we all got across without much of an issue. Meanwhile the ceiling lifted and visibility improved.

Frustrating back-track due to a misleading previous party’s track…

Me just above the bergschrund ready to down-climb into it…

Ben and Ferenc above the ‘schrund

Apparently the ridge section had consumed a good amount of hours and we weren’t doing good on time. Carrying onwards almost immediately after crossing the troublesome bergschrund thankfully the glacier travel was tame and easy. There’s only one or two crevasses to cross and the snow bridges seemed dead solid. I did play carefully by probing frequently though just in case. Finding a perfectly flat camping site was not that easy though but eventually we committed to one almost directly beneath the Kain Face. The most ideal one would be right on The Dome but we didn’t feel like doing unnecessary distance and elevation gain. This concluded the exhausting, 15-hour Day 1 although we still had a lot of work to do. Setting up camp on a glacier in winter temperatures is far from an easy fair, and once the wall was built, the tents were erected we still had to cook dinner and melt snow for drinking water. This process took forever but on the upside we got to stay awake until sunset. The sunset on Day 1 had the clearest (speaking the smoke) view of the whole trip so I’m happy about that.

Cruise sailing now, although with lots of probing just to be sure…

Gigantic crevasses

Resplendent Mountain

Looking over R/R Col towards distant peaks in Selwyn Range

Lynx Mountain on evening glow

Another shot of Resplendent Mountain – bagged in August of 2015

The dusk horizon over R/R col

The downside was very obvious that after such a big approach day how could we start at 1 am with only 2 hours of sleep? That’s next to impossible but after reasoning the conditions and weather we figured it’s not needed anyway. The whole climb would be done in sub-zero temperatures so the decision was made to “sleep in” till 4 am and go from there. This meant we couldn’t start until it’s bright and sunny already so we no longer needed to route-find in darkness. This was good as from early observation it seemed like the bergschrund on Kain Face could pose some problem, and we were right. The ideal spot was to cross right in the middle of the face but after checking it out closely we concluded that’s it’s impossible, or at least not without climbing some vertical/overhanging snow. That’s beyond our skill level so the “option 2” was to traverse all the way over to the climber’s right side. I did find a snow bridge to cross but not without difficulty and the few committing moves took a while. After all three of us got onto the Kain Face proper I led a line ascending diagonally towards climber’s left but soon enough I got tired of the traversing mode so went straight up the slope. Things were looking amazingly until we ran into the ice, about 1/3 of the way up this face.

Kain Face on Day 2 – let’s do it!!

Resplendent Mountain on a smoky morning

Our camp and Mt. Robson

Sunrise time!

Another look towards Robson/Resplendent ridge

Starting the summit day. Photo by Ferenc

This is just a warm-up

Me leading the way traversing a long ways due north to cross the schrund

Then, charging up the lower 1/3 of Kain Face. Easy peasy so far.

Now what… Running into ice so I brought the boys up and let them lead instead.

I continued charging up the now thin snow covered ice face for about half a rope length before concluding that it’s only going to get icier higher up. While technically I could have kept going but figured it’s better to let the others lead the ice as this is not where my expertise/strength is at. I had zero experience on waterfall ice before this trip while at least Ben and Ferenc each had a couple days on that. That’s not much, but better than zero I guess. I quickly built a 2-screw anchor and brought the boys up to the station. Ferenc took over the lead but a problem arose that we hadn’t previously planed the rope management strategy for this 3-man team thing, so he only got to lead a 30-meter pitch. On this pace it would have taken ages before we could top out above Kain Face so something different had to be done. Ben took over the next lead but he would ran the whole stretch of 70-meter rope and bring Ferenc and I up at the same time. And then Ferenc repeated the same for another run. Thing were looking easier now as it seemed like we were on snow again, so I untied from the rope and took over the lead kicking-step the upper 1/3 of Kain Face all the way up. Ferenc did the same at the tailing end of the team while Ben simply climbed solo while dragging the rope up.

Ben leading a pitch of alpine ice.

This shows the slope angle on Kain Face. Not too aggressive. 45 ish.

Ferenc taking over for another pitch of lead

Looking down towards The Helmet

Back to soloing now after running into snow on the upper 1/3

Almost on top of Kain Face now. Note the cornices that we had to avoid

Top of Kain Face looking up the SE Ridge

Ben looks tiny comparing to the terrain. Robson Glacier way down low

Another view from top of Kain Face showing Resplendent Mtn.

Ben almost there!

It’s an amazing feel to top out above Kain Face and even this itself had been a dream for me over the years, but now let’s focus on getting this peak done. It appeared that we had lots of crevasses to negotiate so we roped up again, and right off the bat we got to deal with a crevasse but then an ultra sketcky traverse with gigantic cornices on one side that we couldn’t tell the boundary, and 50-degree snow sloping down into thousands of meters of abyss on the other side. Being roped up felt exceptionally nerve-wrecking and there’s a reason why a strong climbing partnership has to be formed before undertaking such a grand objective. At sections we had to front-point into the slope while traversing sideways across. It’s a great relief once this stretch was finally over but the terrain quickly steepened again.

Just after the sketchy corniced section. None of us took photos on that part

This is a nice wide bench providing a well-needed rest

Taking a break.

Mt. Robson SE Ridge ahead. Let’s do it. Photo by Ferenc

Ferenc had warned me that the SE Ridge is just as difficult as the Kain Face and he was absolutely correct on this. Apparently he had done more homework than I did but the conditions was on our side this day. We would have no more ice from this point onwards and all the snow except for a couple spots would be in perfect step-kicking shape. The slope felt like some sustained 40 degrees with sections of 35-40 and sections of 45 but never got too ridiculously crazy. In other words, this is exactly the type of terrain that I can easily get into my “element” and just keep going. I’ve been leading the majority parts of my snow climbs to date and this paid off nicely as my muscles seemed never tired of this trail-breaking thing. The route-finding appeared to be challenging but actually not. Weaving around a couple ice bulges and crevasses we generally stayed on the climber’s left side of the ridge until higher up where more ice bulges forced us to go right onto the ridge (cornices to be aware). This also led to a cruxy step with some very rotten snow which I had to spend some time cleaning a channel and some steps.

As typical as it gets for the SE Ridge. It’s never ending.

Now onto a (sort of) wide bench below “the Roof” we encountered that now-famed overhanging snow gargoyle mentioned in some other trip reports. Climbing straight up the gargoyle is no longer an option and detouring to the right would put you into thousands of meters of exposure and some 50+ degree snow/ice. I didn’t even bother to look for that option and instead, based on earlier observation we would pick the long horizontal traverse option across the entire stretch of upper south face. This would involve more arduous work and facing into the slope while shuffling across 40-degree snow never seemed like a fun thing, but hey I had led tougher traverses before (Mt. Fee North Tower in particular). Not to mention that the snow condition was much easier than my Mt. Fee’s trip and the next thing we got around a corner, climbed diagonally up and then onto some steeper snow, and then we were on the “roof” with the summit only a few minutes away. Words cannot describe the feeling of reaching the apex of Canadian Rockies and there’s lots of moments of reflection and accomplishment going on. A 6-year journey led me to this point and even a couple days after a trip I still cannot believe we managed to pull Mt. Robson off on the first try.

Upon hitting that now-famed snow gargoyle just below the roof

Traversing a long ways across the entire stretch of south face was the only option

My favourate shot of the trip. New cover photo for my Facebook profile!

Me and Ben charging up. Photo by Ferenc

Ben arriving at the summit of Mt. Robson

Quite a few humps on the summit plateau

This is a huge cornice. Interestingly that our route avoids this cornice

Just as the Cascades Volcanoes, there isn’t much to see from Mt. Robson

Me on the summit of Mt. Robson

Our group shot on the summit of Mt. Robson. My 11,000ers #41 /58

After checking the watch we realized this summit stay would have to be a short one. The strategy of descent was easily made as among three of us we were all big fan of down-climbing snow without a rope even that meant on some heavily crevassed terrain. Down-climbing snow with ropes (but no protection) is pretty much the last thing I want to do and the only time I almost took a fall on snow was by tripping over a rope. Ferenc volunteered to add the extra 4 kg of weight while I opted to down-climb first. The snow was soft and a bit slushy which made down-climb plunging an easy task. I flee by in no time and except for the few cruxy stretches I got by with just one kick and some very long steps down. I did discover at least 3 holes though so eventually I got back onto the track and reversed our exactly line. The corniced traverse back to the top of Kain Face was sketchy as hell again and now with the softened snow I punched through right away while following the track. To not fall off the entire face I led a line traversing/front-pointing into the slope at generally 1 meter lower than our uptracks which was not pleasant, but worked nonetheless.

Traversing back across that long ass stretch below the roof

One last look at the overhanging snow gargoyle

Typical, typical down-climbing

Down, down, and down…

Me and Ben descending. Photo by Ferenc

Me and Ben traversing towards the corniced section. Photo by Ferenc

Ferenc down-climbing while Ben just below SE Ridge. Huge terrain no doubt.

Above Kain Face now

Taking a well-deserved break before descending Kain Face

Another lengthy break was taken on top of Kain Face before committing to the next section. The top 1/3 was all snow so there’s no point in using rope so we remained our position while down-climbing. I dropped in first but went down a little bit too fast and got hit hard a few times by the fallen ice/snow chunks. The face was sheltered from the wind at this point which meant I was sweating like a pig right away, but then the chucks of ice/snow fallen from above prevented me from taking a break, dropping the pack nor taking the down jacket off. Had I done that I might just get knocked off the face right away and “hands-on-tools” was a must. Lower down the soft snow slowly transitioned to some hard snow and then thin-snow-covered-ice. I kept down-climbing till as far as I felt comfortable with and the others soon caught up. After some discussions we decided to rappel, but can you imagine building your first ever v-thread on alpine ice and that’s on Kain Face?! That’s exactly our case but at least Ben and Ferenc had built v-threads on water ice before. The two 35-meter rappels took at least 2 hours if not 3 hours and I was freezing to death in that cold wind especially given the sweat. After the second rappel I figured I’d rather down-climb the now 45 degree ice so untied from the rope and did the exact. It wasn’t too bad and after a while of dedicated crampon placements the terrain transitioned to the hard snow and then I got to rejoin our uptracks which was a great relief. We were really worrying about having to find a way across the ‘schrund in dark but looked like that wouldn’t happen on this day.

The top 1/3 was down-climbing on snow

And then, we ran into ice so the rappelling starts

Ben leading down the two rappels we did.

Ferenc was still smiling

I believe this was actually my first time rappelling on snow/ice other than the summit mushroom on Atwell Peak, and also my first time belaying in this type of conditions other than the summit nipple of Peyto Peak. Lots of lessons learnt about how to dress properly in this scenario as on my previous winter trips I would be either “moving non-stop” or staying in the sleeping bag. Now the task was not reflecting on this, but rather to cross the bergschrund. It was scary as heck and the snow bridge was soft, but at this point we just committed to it and got over with it. After that it’s an easy, albeit exhausted stroll back to camp to conclude this 16-hour Day 2. Of course the day wasn’t over yet as we had to do that whole lot of evening routine which meant sleep didn’t come until after midnight..

It’s getting late now. We had to hurry up. Rope is off now so just some more down-climbs

On the morning of Day 3 we all woke up around 7 am. Ben at last got a weather update on his inReach saying clouds and rain would move in a day earlier leaving us only half a day’s weather window to get out. We abandoned the idea of making ascent of The Helmet given the new forecast, packed up the camp and down we went. And as usual, reversing our own tracks on a glacier meant no ropes and further meant a much faster pace. We also climbed back up the bergschrund without bothering with rope, and then over a couple snow aretes, a couple rocky towers. Ferenc down-climbed the 4th class crux while Ben and I rappelled it. I’m pretty sure both of us would be fine to down-climb but I needed to get more experience on rappelling especially with a heavy pack so I’m happy about either way.

Kain Face on Day 3

Hiking out

Lots of crevasses making for some cool photos

Ben and Ferenc looking tiny comparing to Mt. Robson

Ben ready to re-cross the bergschrund to get back onto R/R Ridge

Meanwhile I took a photo above the ‘schrund

A very strenuous move for sure..

We all bypassed this tower by down-climbing on exposed snow

Then, descending one of the many snow aretes

Onto rock now

Looking down from the crux

Ben and I opted to rappel it instead. Photo by Ferenc

Back to R/R col we took another long break. The technical climbing was put behind now but there’s still a long stretch of no-mistake zone. None of us was not looking forward to the descent on Patterson’s Spur with that heavy pack but we had to face it. Lots of down-climbing required as that heavy pack would simply knock me off balance had I used other techniques. My legs were super weak at this point and I couldn’t trust them and ended up falling far behind. After about 300 m down I had to call a break and give the rope to Ferenc, and then took the backpack off to down-climb a short, non-exposed, but technical step. After that things started to get easier although it’s still tedious as hell. A couple snow patches presented some relief to my knees and then we got to take another lengthy break at the “shoulder”.

Descending the typical Rockies 3rd class choss

This is a view looking upwards

Down-climbing a technical step with that pack was painful

You gotta repeat this type of moves again, again and again.

Finally off the spur and onto a “saddle” now.

Now below Patterson’s Spur we still had about 300 m elevation loss on shitty terrain before reaching the “2100 m bench”. This section was confusing and required lots of route-finding down a series of ledges intermittent by loose, down-sloping pebbles. I did not like it but with patience and a reduced pack weight it wasn’t too terribly bad. Lower down we contoured around the obvious moraine but then had to regain some height to reach the “2100 m bench bivy site” where we took another long break rehydrating. There’s absolutely no running water above this point and seeing a clean stream was such a relief as I had run out of water for at least a couple hours.

Very typical terrain on this stretch. Endless ledges and pebbles in between

Traversed around the bottom of that moraine

Back to the 2100-m bench now, looking back up the Patterson’s Spur (center shot)

With the weather moving in (we actually couldn’t tell due to the dense smoke, but we got a weather forecast update earlier in the day), there’s no point in pitching out tent at this site and instead we had to push all the way back out. At least now the no-mistake zones were behind although there’s still a shit ton load of ugly terrain and route-finding required. We got lost at the upper krumholtz field and ended up too far down-climber’s left. This costed us some extra effort, bushwhacking and some scrambling on down-sloping slabs to get back on track. The rest of the descent down into the valley was uneventful. Another mandatory break was taken by the creeks and then 4 consecutive creek crossings, a long stretch of rubble fuck hoping, a tiring elevation regain, a batman rope climb, a couple annoying deadfalls, two mud creeks and then a long steep descent we were back to Kinney Lake. Another break, and 5 km later we were back to the parking lot and this concluded the 13-hour Day 3 of our Mt. Robson trip.

Traversing back across the 2100-m bench with lots of up-and-downs

Cool glacial formation

Down into another draw

Descended this gully feature which I remembered from both trips

Still lots of height to loss…

Down-climbing a dry waterfall gully…

More 3rd class down-climbing.

Traversing a key, down-sloping ledge to link the two bushy stretch

Bushwhacking…

Down to the valley bottom now, 4 creek crossings still waiting

Batman style

Ben batman up the rope

Vege belay is the best solution for the two mud creeks

Back to this bridge now.

A very smoky view from Kinney Lake. No view of Robson from here…

The last 4 km of hiking… Done.

Satisfied but completely exhausted there’s no way Ferenc and I could drive home right away. It’s past 10 pm now and our realistic shot was taking a nap in Ben’s home in Jasper. This meant about an hour’s drive towards the opposite direction for me but I had the whole Thursday off too for the drive so that’s not a huge deal. The upside is that we got to visit that North Face Pizza again which tasted really good after such a tiring trip. But a big thank to Ben (and his roommate, Sean) for letting us to stay. The next morning we woke up earlier than we had planned for as someone’s cell phone alarm went off but that also meant we could have a head-start on the long drive home. I had some other ambitious plans but abandoned the idea of making another ascent or backpacking in the Rockies and decided to save that for later. The drive was very mentally exhausting as I didn’t get enough sleep. I ended up having to take at least 3 breaks including one nap along the way, but made back to Vancouver by dinner time nonetheless.

Is Mt. Robson the biggest ascent I’ve done to date? Oh hell yes… Is Mt. Robson the most technical climb I’ve done to date? Not quite… The summit mushroom on Atwell Peak still stands as the most technical snow climb I’ve done, the climb of Mt. Fee North Tower via North Face is by no doubt the steepest I’ve done (and without a rope), and then the south couloir straight up to SE Face on Mt. Bryce has the longest continuous steep snow climbing I’ve done. Was Mt. Robson an epic trip? It surely sounds very epic on paper, but let’s think about it. Except for the part of freezing on Kain Face rappelling and the uppermost 300 m descent on Patterson’s Spur I never felt worried that much. Everything felt very much in control and we didn’t even need a head-lamp to be honest. We didn’t even do much of a preparation for the climb and instead we called it in on Saturday, and pulled it off Monday-Wednesday in 3 days car-to-car which is certainly very different than what you normally read on other articles. That’s why I said a few years of pushing hard on this “steep snow climb” thing paid off nicely and as usual we did perfect on the timing part. Picking the right objective on the right time with the right partners means 95% success based on my experience.

Overall would I recommend this route to experienced parties? Oh damn yes. If you are pro at ice climbing and OK with some Rockies choss then this route is fairly free of any significant objective hazard and can be pulled off in 3 days if you are determined enough. That being said just because we did it this way that doesn’t mean everybody can do the same. There are some other articles worth reading, and having climbed with some of the authors in person I can tell you right here that those guys are much better technical climbers than myself. Think about it.

This is a view of Mt. Robson if you haven’t seen it before…

At last but not least, for pulling off such a big lifetime goal of mine both partners of this trip – Ben Nearingburg and Ferenc Jacso, deserve the extra credit of acknowledgement at the end of my trip report. Without their determination and experience on technical terrain this trip would not happen. That being said I played my role too leading wherever my strength is at and it was a awesome team work performance.