Mount Henry MacLeod
July 24, 2013
Brazeau Icefield, AB
After summitting Mount Brazeau, and then Valad Peak, Shaun, Clayton and I were on our way to the last objective of this trip, namely Mount Henry MacLeod. Being near the more famous 11,000ers, both Valad and Henry MacLeod are often overlooked. However, they’re both very high on elevation. Henry MacLeod is just shy to be another 11,000er by 30 meters… This is also an awesome looking mountain from the approach valley, or from other side (Coronet Mountain side), and definitely deserves more attention.
Getting to Henry MacLeod from Valad is merely a hike on scree and occasionally snow. The descent from Valad Peak was a enjoyable scree run and up the other side we stayed more on snow. Note that Henry MacLeod is higher than Valad so you need to gain all of the elevation that you just lost and plus some extra. The summit view was awesome though a bit of haze started to roll in. I was very glad to get up Brazeau before the haze rolling in.
On the way back we backtracked to Valad/Henry MacLeod col, and then contoured around Valad Peak on its gentler side. This added some extra distance but given the softened snow pack we wanted to stay on the easy slopes. It was very hot by now with all the sun baking around. I was leading on the way back and I did get surprised by quite a few all-the-sudden knee-deep-postholing. I thought I was falling into a crevasse, but thankfully I wasn’t. Overall despite the heat we didn’t get much post-holing issue. We couldn’t use our uptracks because simply we didn’t leave any uptracks, and it involved a bit of guess work to get back to the critical spot where we gained the icefield in the morning. This would be near impossible in a white-out condition without accurate GPS tracks.
Travelling down the dry glacier part was very scenic. Even though I’ve done many glaciated peaks, I think it was my first time on a dry glacier other than the SnowCoach tour on Athabasca Glacier. After ropping off it was a scenic hike back to our campsite. I especially like the serac view, but we had to go through that section quickly since we saw fresh serac debris.
It was at about 2pm only and we had the entire afternoon ahead. We wasn’t on a rush to get back home early so we just took our time enjoying the experience. It was too hot to just simply lying on my bivy sack though. After a long time I went up the highpoint nearby for sunset photography and it was needless to say, awesome.
The next day we woke up at 7 and started our return at 7:30 in the morning. The descent on scree wasn’t fun neither but at least it was faster than slogging up it. Once into the trees we managed to find the trail to avoid unnecessary bushwhacking, and then it was mostly a relaxing, but long walk back to our cars.
There wasn’t any surprise waiting for us at the last bit which was good (if you know what I’m talking about). Overall, it was an awesome trip out with awesome peaks bagged.