Mount Sturdee

August 22, 2020


Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park, BC

Mt. Sturdee is an impressive rock tower immediately to the west of Mt. Assiniboine. It started to become a bit more popular in the recent years probably because the guides started to take clients up there. It does make a fun add-on or consolation objective for those aiming to climb Mt. Assiniboine itself. There is no “scramble route” on Mt. Sturdee as even the easiest route involves one pitch of rock climbing near the summit. The approach to Sturdee/Assiniboine col can be done from either the north side (glacier travel and steep snow), or the south side (scree). I think most guided parties take the north approach as it makes sense for the north ridge of Mt. Assiniboine, but I did it from the south side to combine Mt. Sturdee’s ascent with Lunette Peak. The full story of this trip will have to refer to Lunette Peak’s trip report as that’s the primary objective.

Lunette Peak SW Face and Mt. Sturdee. GPX DL

We had a group of six going for Lunette Peak and this was the first day, after making the bivy at 2400 m. Natalia opted to rest at camp but Steven N., Jesse, Yanick, Noah and myself decided to press on as we had more than 5 more hours of daylight time. None of us came prepared with “beta” but Steven and I did remembered some vague ideas of what to expect. We would haul all of our rock gears and climbing ropes just in case. The slog towards Assiniboine/Sturdee col was very foreshortened but not terribly bad, probably because of some snow patches. Being able to plod on snow certainly eased the pain factor. The original plan was to ascend all the way to the col, but we changed our mind halfway up the gully. We bailed climber’s left out of the gully onto some chossy 3rd class ledges. The main reason was that we were all tired of the scree slogging and wanted more hands-on scrambling. Managing rockfall on those 3rd class ledges wasn’t particularly easy though, so I’m not sure if we actually saved any time.

Our camp at 2400 m under Mt. Assiniboine’s SW Face

Starting the trudge towards Assiniboine/Sturdee col

Steven N. leading the way with Mt. Sturdee in front

Plodding on snow for as much as we could

Noah scrambling the typical 3rd class ledgy and chossy terrain

A zoomed-in view of Mt. Sturdee’s summit block

Aye Mountain behind

Steven, Noah and Jesse scrambling up.

Higher up Yanick and I stayed climber’s right of a major snow patch while the other three went the left side variation. The main reason to separate was to reduce rockfall issue. The result was that Yanick and I took the easier line, reaching the base of the technical pitch above Assiniboine/Sturdee col about 20 minutes earlier. The pitch looked easy enough that Yanick offered to just solo it and fix the rope. It looked pretty steep to me, but the holds were plenty and all positive, such that the pitch felt like just “low 5th class”. Above this pitch we had another short but tricky step to scramble up, followed by a hidden chimney feature to pop onto the summit.

Yanick picking his way up the typical Rockies choss

Yanick looks small with Assiniboine’s SW Face behind

Steven, Jesse and Noah with a sub-summit behind

Yanick leading towards Assiniboine/Sturdee col

Yanick studying the technical pitch

The glacier on the north side of Assiniboine/Sturdee col

A head-on view of the technical pitch on Mt. Sturdee

Nestor Peak at center shot

Mt. Sir Douglas dominates the skyline

The north face of Eon Mountain

Yanick starting the pitch

Yanick soloing partway up the technical pitch

A sideways view from this technical zone

Steven N. coming up the technical pitch on a fixed rope

Steven N. scrambling up an exposed and tricky step above the crux

Approaching the summit

Partial Summit Panorama from Mt. Sturdee. Click to view large size.

Partial Summit Panorama from Mt. Sturdee. Click to view large size.

Mt. Strom and Wedgwood Peak in foreground

Aye Mountain and Eon Mountain

Nasswald Peak in the shade

The shadow of Mt. Sturdee on Mt. Assiniboine’s lower west face

Me on the summit of Mt. Sturdee

Another photo of me on the summit of Mt. Sturdee

A sub-summit tower that appears extremely technical…

Steven Noel on the summit of Mt. Sturdee

A wider view looking north including the glacier and Mt. Strom

The views were sick that Steven N. and myself opted to linger for at least half an hour to soak in the experience. The others went down to set up the rappel. Steven and I did one additional rappel to avoid that short but vertical step above the technical pitch. The rest of the descent back to camp felt like a drag but was overall uneventful.

Descending through that hidden chimney

Steven N. leading down the first rappel

The second rappel got us through the crux

Indian Peak left of center in foreground

Coiling the rope below the crux pitch

Another photo of the shadow of Mt. Sturdee

Descending the typical chossy terrain

Another photo of Aye Mountain and Eon Mountain

The typical BC Rockies view

Finished the 3rd class ledges section

Evening colours on Aye Mountain

The massive SW Face of Mt. Assiniboine lit by evening sunlight