July 2, 2012
Waterton Lakes National Park, AB
Anderson Peak is the highest of the group Bauerman – Anderson that’s often ascended together as a traverse, in the north-western part of Waterton Lakes National Park. For Eric and myself, it was the last objective of our ambitious 7-peak (or 8-peak if counting the unnamed) traverse squeezing Newman/Spionkop/Avion with Bauerman – Anderson Traverse into one day.
It was getting late and we were hurrying to get to the top before sunset. There were still quite a bit of boulders to deal with to get down Lost Mountain. When I got down to the Lost/Anderson col, Eric showed up on the summit of Lost. I left my backpack on the col, and started the final trudge. This slope is very foreshortened and involved about 200 m elevation gain. But on the other hand, I got probably the most spectacular view of the day, sunset on the western horizon over the peaks in the Purcells; giants in Glacier National Park with low angled sun beams on towards south; a full moon rise over the shoulder of Mt. Blakiston towards south-east! I successfully beat the sunset making to the summit of Anderson Peak (9:42PM). I also found the first summit register of the day, but the pen was in very bad shape… I could hardly write on the book. Eric showed up about 15 minutes later and we cheered for this giant achievement! What a day. It was not the time to worry about the descent, but rather just admiring the views.
But eventually it’s the time to worry about the descent as we’d go down a route that we didn’t ascend, in the dark without GPS devices. The route didn’t look particularly difficult to navigate though as it’s basically following a gigantic avalanche path all the way down… The initial part went by pretty quick – scree and occasionally, short cliff bands. After about 20 min down, Eric said we should have gone skier’s left to the major snow line which would be much faster. We refilled water as well. The downside for the snow line was, we couldn’t stay too close to the middle, as we could see a big hole from above, just like crevasses. Eric has better skiing skill and he enjoyed boot skiing down that line, while I used the grass and scree / talus on skier’s left. The gully went on forever, and we eventually reached the bush part. We thought the bushes were better to skier’s right so we crossed the stream… BIG MISTAKE. (In Nugara’s book, it says climber’s right, so skier’s left…) We didn’t even know there was a big scary waterfall down, especially doing all of these on headlamps. For the next 1 hour or so, it was mainly negotiating thick bush just like our first day in west Castle. And we had to try not slipping as a fall would send us down to that waterfall… One word to describe, miserable. But with some patience we eventually made down to Blakiston Valley trail without mishap. I didn’t take photos in the dark so I don’t know how long it took us to get down. Looking back, the mountain was shone by moon light, and view was very spectacular. Too bad my camera sucked at low light photography…
The rest of the day was a mere 4 km slog on a maintained trail back to car, with headlamps on of course. There was nothing to describe here except for perseverance. The downside was, we missed all of the views in this valley. Anyway, I had to come back for Lone Mountain and Kishinena Peak on the continental divide. We made back to car by 0:45 am, so a total of 15 hours 45 minutes for the entire day.
I ate my other burger in the car, and rested for about half an hour. Eric had to work on Tuesday, so I had to drive to Edmonton all the way from Waterton Lakes. I didn’t feel like driving fast in dark, so mostly 10-20kph BELOW the speed limit. I took 4 breaks along the way and I have to say the driving was the most terrible and exhausting part of this trip. The gas stations in Pincher Creek were closed, but thankfully I could drive to High River for gas, otherwise we would have been stuck. We got sunrise views in Calgary and arrived at Edmonton by 8:30AM. Eric was about 2 hours late for work but that’s fine. I managed not to sleep for the rest of the day in order not to mess up my sleeping schedule. I need to mention here that, I’ve done lots of all-nighters during the past 2 years, mostly in Grade 12, including a drive from Vancouver to Jasper & Hinton to Edmonton, starting at 10PM.