North Twin

May 9, 2015

3730m

Columbia Icefield, AB

The mighty North Twin is the 3rd highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, also the highest entirely in Alberta. Together with the nearby Mount Columbia, it’s considered by many ski mountaineering parties as one of the must-do’s in the Rockies. Technically it’s nothing but a walk-up on skis but the challenges came from weather, conditions, crevasses and maybe even “high altitude”… Among the 4 Twins, it’s the highest but also the easiest, both technically and speaking the approach, so needless to say it sees a lot more visitors than the other three. Kevin, Ben and I did it as the 3rd objective of the grand 4-Twins-in-a-day, after ascending South Twin and then West Twin in the morning.

Ascent routes of the 4 Twins

Ascent routes of the 4 Twins

To bag all 4 Twins in a day, the most logistic way is to grab North Twin is by traversing it, ascending via the south ridge and descending down the direct face towards the camp, that’s exactly what we’d do. After reversing our skin tracks made earlier in the morning we started the long grind up the south ridge. Initially we removed skis and boot-packed since the terrain was very steep. Due to the tiredness and the time of the day, Vern decided not to accompany us up North Twin so went back to camp by himself following our tracks. After saying farewell to him Kevin, Ben and I continued up (with skis on this time). There’s really nothing worth noting other than the endless slog…

The long south ridge of North Twin

The long south ridge of North Twin

Looking back we could see the CSMC group ascending South Twin

Looking back we could see the CSMC group ascending South Twin

Already high up on North Twin now

Already high up on North Twin now

Near the top there was some rolling terrain

Near the top there was some rolling terrain

Ben and Kevin skiing up North Twin, with Columbia and South Twin behind

Ben and Kevin skiing up North Twin, with Columbia and South Twin behind

The true summit ahead

The true summit ahead

Near the top the terrain started to get a little bit narrower and more rolling. We managed to ski to within 50 horizontal meters to the true summit. The final bit was an easy boot-pack on the ridge crest. Too bad thank to the huge cornice we didn’t get a 360-degree panorama view from this lofty summit…

Ben taking a break on the summit of North Twin

Ben taking a break on the summit of North Twin

Panorama from the summit of North Twin. Click to view large size.

Panorama from the summit of North Twin. Click to view large size.

And, this is our next objective!!!

And, this is our next objective!!!

After successfully ascending my 25th 11,000er our day was still not done yet. Looking over the edge we got to see our next objective, also the most exciting one. We took a necessary break on the summit of North Twin, switching gears to crampons and ice axe and prepared for an ascent of Twins Tower.

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