St. Nicolas Peak
April 8, 2012
Wapta Icefield, AB/BC
St. Nicolas Peak is a striking peak viewing from Bow Hut. It’s not particularly big compared to many other objectives on the Wapta, but is one of the ‘sexiests’ on the Icefield. The ascent is relatively straightforward but it not a walk-up. Near the summit there’s a moderate to difficult scrambling section with considerable exposure. I did it as the second objective of my first trip up Wapta Icefield.
It was still early after finishing Mount Gordon, I re-joined mom on the Wapta Icefield, and soon we found ourselves following three skiers towards St. Nicolas/Olive col. This side of the slog was not as foreshortened as the never-ending slope on Mt. Gordon. St. Nicolas Peak appeared to be a serious ascent from the col. Mom couldn’t handle any exposure, so she decided to wait for me at the col. I solo’d the rest of the ridge from the col. The terrain got steeper and steeper (I mean, steep towards each side) as I moved towards the summit, and the final block looked scarier and scarier as well. Bypassing several false bumps on slightly climber’s right side, I could manage to snowshoe all the way to the base of the last bit, the crux. Some people would appreciate the protection of a rope for the crux. It’s a shear drop to your left and very steep snow slope to your right. There’s absolutely no room for error. If you want to do it without a rope just like I did, you gotta have some winter difficult scramble experience. And don’t forget, you have to down climb it. After the crux, I was just a couple steps from the summit.
Down-climbing the crux was definitely scarier than coming up, but it didn’t impose too much of a problem to me. Downhill snowshoeing from the col to Bow Hut was fast. We re-filled our water bottles in the Hut. The rest of the day back to parking lot was a pure slog and seemed to drag on forever.
I got a couple big blisters on my foot…. Too BAD. I still have lots of energy though, and the weather on Monday looked to be promising, but I had to go back home…